Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fashion Faux Pas?

I know I have a reputation for being thrifty when it comes to clothes, but all the money I save shopping at the thrift store is really just to make up for the stuff I buy but barely ever wear. The clothes that I really, really wanted but now me cringe when I think about them. I am NOT talking about the heavily shoulder padded boxy blazers or the flannel shirts of the 80’s or our well-loved stonewashed jeans. We looked HOT in those and you know it.

I’m talking about those articles of clothing that are perfectly fine, but that we wear once and realize they just don’t work for us. Have you ever been caught in an outfit that is suddenly so emphatically, undeniably WRONG, that you wonder whether being naked would be better than keeping it on one second longer? This usually happens to me in a public place w/ no mode of escape.

This happened to me last week at a school fundraiser. I wore a satin retro-50’s June Cleaver cocktail dress. I had bare legs and high heels. It was 13 degrees outside and not much warmer in the building. I had forced myself out of my cozy sweatpants only moments before, knowing that this was a pretty formal affair.

My ankles still had sock indentations on them. I was freezing, but ready to suffer for fashion. All the other women wore fitted wool skirts, tall boots and sophisticated and WARM sweaters. I wanted to rip the cozy little scarves off their necks and fashion a poncho for myself out of them.

Great dress, wrong occasion.

Other times, I’ve tried to wear things that just weren’t me. A Target tube top, for instance. While I’d never be accused of wearing "mom jeans," and I WAS the first person in my high school to get a 1986 asymmetrical haircut (check it out!), any attempts to be on the cutting edge of fashion leave me feeling self conscious and uncomfortable.

When I think of cringe-worthy outfits, the very worst was when I tried too hard to look cool. I was in grad school and was headed back to my old college for homecoming. I had super long hair, had shed the college 15 and I was looking pretty darn good.

My outfit of choice? A velvety pseudo-gothic tunic, black tights, chunky shoes, and ripped jean SHORTS over top. Eeek. In my defense, I was an English major, I took women’s studies, and I felt slightly artsy. I wavered slightly about my choice when my brother-in-law asked, “You’re going to wear THAT?” but what did he know?

I dismissed him and forged ahead. It wasn’t until I walked down the crowded stairs into a frat party that I realized my outfit stunk. I couldn’t pull it off. A snooty girl from another sorority looked me up and down and her eyes settled on my velvet tunic. “I never thought these parties were FORMAL!” she laughed.

Most recently, I wore a nearly floor length sweater found at the thrift shop with the tags still on it. I should have taken that as a clue that it would take a mighty strong woman to pull off this sweater. Seeing as I am neither Stevie Nicks nor Elvira, I don’t think I’m that woman. Halfway down the hallway at church I’d had so many positive comments I wanted to crawl in a hole.

You see, it is my personal belief that when an inordinate number of people feel compelled to comment on any one article of clothing, it is a bad sign. I came to this understanding after witnessing far too many compliments of nightmare haircuts and fashion trainwrecks. I realized that people feel like they have to acknowledge some outfits, even if it’s with a bogus compliment. They may even think they are being sincere.

These are the same people who say, “Oh, have you lost weight?” every time you look good. They don’t seem to realize this implies they thought you looked like a lard butt before. You may have just gotten a nice new pair of earrings, but they just have to play the weight card.

So, for all of my money saving, I must admit I’ve wasted a chunk of change on clothes that simply don’t work for me. I’d LOVE to hear what similar bombs are in your closet. I’m not alone in this, am I?

And, for the first An Inch of Gray Giveaway, I have a lovely floor length black sweater to mail to that lucky someone. Must be at least 5’3” to enter!


Debbie said...

I think I'll pass on that sweater! But yes, I have quite a few bombs over the years myself. I have finally learned to really question my comfort level in something before I buy it. But mistakes do still happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm only 5'2" so I am going to have to pass on the sweater. But I do have a black leather vest I'd be happy to ship free of charge. What was I thinking?! Just because my husband is cool enough to pull of black leather doesn't mean I am!

BTW, weren't you voted "Best Dressed"? I thought that was a lifetime free pass to wear whatever you want!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

For me it's usually shoes. I'm thinking specifically of some hot pink sandals that I bought online from Ann Taylor (probably 7 years ago). They have NEVER been worn. Sure they were a great sale price and nice looking shoes, but that color?! When was I ever going to wear hot pink shoes?

Keetha said...

I so hate shopping for clothes. HATE IT. Because you must try things on and that's too much trouble and takes so long and crap there are books somewhere to look at.

When I have to buy something, it's often from Target. That way if it's a total disaster, I'm not out much money.

Gretchen said...

I am going to let some other lucky reader have the sweater-dress.

I have the opposite problem: everytime I buy something it looks exactly the same as something else I already have. I'm so unoriginal! I like to shop but can't ever find something I like that's different than what I already own.

I did have one red velvet short blazer. It seemed like a good purchase at the time. I was pretty cold.

Pamela said...

I think you always look fabulous!!!!

Ash said...

Girl you rocked that hair cut! Honest.

Fashion bomb? I'm lucky if I get out of my yoga pants and slip on some jeans before I head for afternoon pickup - I'm a walking Hiroshima.