Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Leggings are Not Pants...and Other Fashion Advice I Should NOT Have to Give

I always think, look, I totally shouldn't have to point any of this out, but there are some things that I guess have to be said, people. 

Maybe it's because I'm from the 80s, where the most out-of-line we ever got as teenagers was wearing too much makeup (Cyndi Lauper style), too many layers of bangles and scrunchy socks, and neon colors…Madonna wannabes that we were.   Also, there were shoulder pads.  But I have to say that, even then,  AT LEAST WE MATCHED THE NEON COLORS.  And we kept our butts covered, people.  Covered. 

(I almost said "Back in MY day" right there, but I'm not THAT old.)
Nowadays, I look around at what women are wearing, on purpose, in public, and I have to wonder--Did no one teach these girls the basics of coordinating articles of clothing, or how to dress to flatter their body type, or at least appropriately cover most of it in various social settings??  It always baffles me.   

I'm no fashion maven.  I don't shop (like, ever), or buy whatever's 'hot' this season.  But for crying out loud, it takes roughly the same amount of time to put on a matching outfit that flatters my figure (no matter what weight I currently am), as it does to throw on pajamas.  There's always a top and a bottom involved, and some shoes.  It's not rocket science to glance in a mirror and check to see that I don't have back-rolls lining up under my bra because my shirt or sweater is too snug for the amount of Christmas cookies I've eaten this year.  Muffin tops are not like vampires.  They DO show in a mirror; all you have to do is LOOK.  If you see one, those pants need to go in the "skinny jeans" pile until you don't see a muffin top when you put them on again--THEN, you can wear them out of the house.   No one wants to see that.  And covering the muffin top with a spandex top just makes it worse.  If you HAVE to wear those pants, for whatever reason, then at least join me in putting on a looser top as a clever disguise and make a vow to eat fewer cookies or start working out or something.
Soooo, in the interest of education and helpfulness (hey, it's Christmas, I'm here to help) is a list you can read, memorize, write on your hand, or print and hang on your bathroom mirror, as a reference guide, in case you're wondering whether that outfit is "fine" to go out the door in.  I can't believe I even have to say some of these, but if your moms or friends or every fashion magazine and store mannequin haven't helped you, then maybe THIS will. 

Here are a few of my Least Favorite Things:
1.  Leggings as pants.

This is just WRONG, even if you're a size 00

 I have been living in leggings straight thru since the 80s.  Every day, even before they came BACK into style.  Possibly before you were born.  Leggings and a long t-shirt are my uniform (at home).  I think I pretty much invented this outfit.  Here's the deal though:  Leggings are NOT. PANTS.  They aren't!!  The rule is…if you're wearing a skin-tight garment on the bottom; you balance it with something long and looser on the top.  If you wouldn't wear just nylons and a shirt to work…Apply that rule here.  No one wants to see you running around in just leggings, a waist-length t-shirt, stilettos, and a puffer vest (gag), no matter how cute your figure is. The only place I think anyone expects to see leggings all the way up is if you're starring in a workout video.  Shoe choices--Leggings look good with flats or the oh-so-common tall boots, but not with loafers, Keds, Crocs, or Uggs (more about shoes later).  High heels DO work if the top of the outfit is long and dressy--then the leggings become like tights and voila--flattering outfit.  So, basic rule of thumb with leggings:  Put them on and turn sideways in front of your mirror.  Your top should hang PAST YOUR BUTT.  It's iffy even if it's just right to the top of your thighs at the back…which is not quite long enough to be flattering, but the leggings-as-pants thing should really stop.  Just--ew.  Have mercy.

See this?  Yes--super cute
2.  Pajamas, sweats, or slippers.  In public.  No.  No, NO NO.  Unless you are riding in an ambulance, I guarantee you, you had time to put on regular clothes.  This is just lazy and sloppy beyond belief.  I get it--you don't "care what people think" about how you look.  How about YOU caring about how you look? No one wants to see your dirty sweats or Superman PJs hanging off your butt while you scuffle around the store in slippers that I wouldn't wear to wash my car in.  So, telling yourself it's OK because you don't care what we think…this tells me you are a rude and possibly inconsiderate person, which makes me like you less, even though we'll probably never meet.  Which is sort of sad.  Maybe you're not rude and inconsiderate, but all we're given is that one first impression of you, and "Rude Slob" is what this says to me.  Or, I should really quit going to Wal-Mart…
3.  Quit with those giant, stupid, furry boots that make you look like you cut the legs off a woolly mammoth and used them for leg warmers.  The 3" round furry puff-ball pompon things don't help either.  Actually…these boots don't work with anything.  There should be a boot-burning somewhere, and these should be the kindling. 
Somewhere a yak is running naked
Let's hit the beach! Wait--my feet are cold. 
4.  Boots with shorts.  (Triple demerits if they're the boots above).  I get it about the cute cowgirl thing, and on some girls (at the fair, in the summer, with the horses), the cowboy boots and cut-offs look *can* be cute.  But be careful it doesn't cross over into the WTH category.

5.  Dirty sneakers.  I don't…even--just, why.  Even clean sneakers, to me, scream soccer mom, which is a term I despise (even though I am crazy about my kids' sports games), so I avoid sneakers (even brand-spanking-new ones) unless I'm actually jogging or hiking or shooting hoops.  Wait.  I don't jog.  Cute Keds to a volleyball game, sure.  But sneakers, to me, just don't help any outfit, or at least very rarely.  They're for SPORTS.  I have too many fun summer shoes NOT to swap the sneaks for a cute sandal or a pair of flats.  Put on whatever you're wearing, and then put on the sneakers.  Then pull out your cutest heels or sandals and switch out the shoes.  See?  It changes the whole look, even if you're wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.  And yes, there ARE comfortable other options.  Sneakers, to me, just always say "I don't care; no one looks at my feet anyway".  Which segues into…
6.  Gym clothes when NOT inside the actual gym.  You work out.  Good for you.  But get dressed AT the gym.  It takes like one minute.  Unless you jogged to the store for some soy milk or electrolytes or something, we probably don't need to see this, either.  Toss the spandex in your gym bag and put on some jeans or even leggings before you leave…also see #1 above.

7.  Socks with sandals, or socks with Crocs.  Just--No.   This shouldn't even have to be explained; yet, many people do it.  So…officially:  NO SOCKS WITH SANDALS.  And Crocs are only acceptable (and then only barely) if you are in Home Depot, where you had to race over in the middle of a yard project to get that emergency bag of potting soil, and you are possibly still covered in garden dirt, and you literally did not have time to put on different shoes.  Even flip-flops would be better…  (Again, yes, I see a shoe theme here, but sorry, shoes really do change things).
Unless you have some scary foot disease, this = 50 lashes
8.  High heels.  Heels are sexy, no doubt about it.  They are fun to wear, and they accentuate nice legs and all that.  But--don't wear them if you can't walk in them.  You should be able to walk as if you're not IN heels, when you're in heels.  Comfortably and confidently.  If you're wobbling and tip-toeing along in them, you need to go to a shorter heel, or spend some time seriously practicing; otherwise, it's just embarrassing and we are afraid you might actually fall down.
9.  Spaghetti straps and sheer clothes.  2013 was like the year of sheer.  Maybe I'm being old-fashioned again, but when I was growing up and learning to dress myself, one of the cardinal sins was do not let your undergarments show EVER.  NEVER EVER EVER.  So the trend lately of spaghetti strap tank tops just kind of…shorts out my brain.  I'll be standing there with this super cute shirt, but…it has spaghetti straps.  My kids insist that it's totally OK if I just put this on over a bra and walk out the door.  But, my bra straps are then showing.  What the heck?  Do you see this?? My bra is showing.  That, to me, says white trashy to the max.  Next year will it be ok if our underwear are showing? (I won't even START on the guys with the pants hanging down…you guys look ridiculous; WHY don't you know this?!? See also #11.)  And those sheer tops are adorable, but then again, I'm always wondering, what do you wear under them (I know!--spaghetti-strap tank tops).  But then they'll also have some odd cut-out at the back, and there I am again--holding it up and peering through the hole at my kids and going, "WHAT do you wear under this? This hole is right where my bra hooks would be."  And they're like, "Yeah…so?"  

10.  Flares.  Wide-leg pants.  Bell bottoms.  Different names for the same hideous garment.  I don't know what fashion designer ever lied to us enough to get us to believe that there is a body type ever born that looks flattering in flares.  I hated them in the 70s, even in 2nd grade, and I have hated them ever since.  Women's legs have a lovely tapered shape.  When you put a pair of bell-shaped pants on, they exactly reverse the contour of our legs.  Shorter legs look even shorter--stumpy and wide.  Long legs look like the bottom of a cypress tree or an upside-down mushroom.   A nice straight leg will always look longer and more attractive.  I'm always partial to a tapered leg, because that's the shape my leg IS, but straight is OK too.  Flares don't flatter anyone, and the sooner we all revolt against them, the sooner they might go the way of kaftans and tall headdresses.

11.  Low-rise jeans.  Ok.  Again--I may be old-fashioned, but womens' waists (you know, the part where we are the narrowest?) is way up there, above our hips.  Remember the hourglass analogy?  The midpoint is NOT on the bottom half of the hourglass--just saying.  Jeans that sit with a waistband accentuating our widest point, aside from being a pain in the ass (pun intended) to keep UP, bend over in, or sit down in, are just not flattering.  Some slimmer girls who are still 100 pounds soaking wet can pull this off, but if you have curves or have had kids (or stretch marks), you have probably already realized that these are not for you (or me).  These can be cute on the right figure, but make sure you HAVE that figure before trying these.  You also might be surprised how much more flattering a higher rise can be--a flatter stomach and a defined waistline come to mind…Also please, for the love of God, if you are going to wear these, check when you bend over, to make sure we are not subjected to a view of half your underwear and/or that tattoo that screams "Classless" across your low back.  You'll also be glad you missed the cringes of horror as the rest of us Grown-Ups are forced to look away from that and any muffin top above the sparkle-pocket pants you swiped from your teen's closet.
Your homework for this week is to get dressed, then go and LOOK IN THE MIRROR.  Full length.  All sides.  Is your butt covered?  Do you need a softer fabric or a looser shirt so those confidence-killing bra-bumps or back rolls don't show? Is that a stain on your shirt? Does your 15-year-old need her jeans back?  Take a minute to fix these things before you go out--you'll feel better; we'll feel better.  It's a win-win.

I know.  It's a lot to take in.

P.S. -Disclaimer--In case you're wondering, "wow, this chick is shallow"…Yep--This is me at my most shallow and ranty.  Although I do believe in taking care to look at least somewhat pulled together, I'm not a fashion freak (at all)--More of a leggings and t-shirt, stay-at-home kind of girl, and I'm usually barefoot (go figure).

I have had sort of an overload of regular grown-up stress lately, and 2013 has been an especially hard year--sort of just one long series of "I can't believe that just happened" kind of stuff, none of which needs to be shared with, oh, the wholeentireworld.  Since sarcastic joking is my way of dealing with pretty much everything, and I don't feel like adding to the general angst at Christmas, I thought I'd throw in a rant about fashion instead.   After all, I was a very snappy dresser, back in the 80s.


  1. This is a quote I will treasure for all of time: "Unless you are riding in an ambulance, I guarantee you, you had time to put on regular clothes."

    1. Thanks! Some truths just randomly jump out at me like that. lol.

  2. All I can say is thank you!!! You have provided an important public service with this rant.

    1. You're welcome! I'm here to help... :D

  3. OMG - I am so pleased I found someone else who actually WRITES! This is brilliant and ALL true. I was getting paranoid about writing more than 100 words in my blog because everyone seems to be following some sort of weird trend towards minimalism - like some one is taxing words all of a sudden, love your blog! Not sure why I am signing in on Google as that blog was never used.

    1. Well, I... am so glad to find someone appreciates all the MANY WORDS. I can't write small. I can't. Or...I try, and it sometimes works. But usually not, because my mind babbles way too long to write less. You can't imagine how many editor-type people I've had tell me "Edit, edit, EDIT. Make this SHORTER! Cut it in half!" *shrugs* --sorry, I can't.

      ("taxing words"... HAHAHA love it. )