The Emperor’s New Leg Warmers

Inspired by Malibu Hooker Barbie

Is it just Las Vegas–home of plus-size metallic spandex–or are this year’s fashions downright ugly? I know, I’m a novelist, not a fashionista, but even this t-shirt-and-jeans gal noticed that none of the current fashions are wearable.

Look at this cocktail dress made for domestic-minded fairies in colors stolen from the Playdough collection. Gotta love the floppy hip pockets and industrial-grade zipper. If the serrated bodice doesn’t poke your eyes out, you risk a “wardrobe malfunction” if a gust of wind disagrees with the 14-inch-long canvas cotton skirt. Classy.

It’s not just that the 80s are back like a raging case of the shingles, but it seems the psychedelic colors and patterns of the 60s had a one-night stand with the boxy, slouchy silhouettes of the 80s, and their progeny is . . . ah, well I’m not even sure what to call these abominations of the textile industry.

Southwest trailer park marathon runner?

I took these pictures at Target today in a fit of frustration, but I’ve seen similar fashions all around town and in catalogs. So if the discount retailers copy the department stores, who in turn imitate the runway designers, does this mean we’re facing a fashion pandemic?

Take this, uh, tank top thingy. You’d have to see it in person to appreciate the truly radiant hue of grandma’s-lipstick-orange. Sitting pretty in Target’s junior section, we can assume it’s a knock-off of a knock-off. So the original designer, some famous guy with a fake French name, is sketching at his desk, channeling the essence of Summer 2012. He thinks, “Well, who wants to emphasize the waistline? Bah. How about exposing the upper arms and the flesh surrounding the armpits? The general public has very nice back fat. And who doesn’t adore a Navajo burlap chunk on the bosom? Bingo!”

His boss, wearing a sombrero and smoking some weird opiate outlawed even in Shanghai said, “I love it!” and the 85-pound Norwegian model looked terrific in it, because she could make a seaweed hat look good. And that’s how the whole mess started.

30% off? Does that mean if you trimmed off 30% of the fabric, you might have some semblance of a blouse?

The general public could be hypnotized by the flourescent lighting, or maybe it’s the elevator music brainwashing customers, but I have to assume this clothing is actually being purchased from stores, with customers’ hard-earned money?

Perhaps the 80s boxy shirt was designed by quadrangle-shaped people, and I’m being a bigoted jerk for making fun of them. By the way, I think those are quail in the print on the green shirt, with smears of what I hope to high heaven is not bird poop under their tails. Let’s call them pinstripes. The other pattern on black, believe it or not, is a leaf-amoeba motif.

Nothing says BOOTY! like font-size-400-neon-paisley-print shorts. Don’t worry, no one will even notice the cellulite below the 2-inch inseam.

These shorts were not found in the Junior’s section. Flattering that Target thinks older women have what it takes to pull off the Daisy Duke look, but even with the large print, I can’t tell if the graphic is paisley on crack, or bisected colon fragments?

What really puzzles me is, who wants to draw a whole lot off attention to that part of the body, the 12 square inches these shorts cover? Don’t we typically ply smoke-and-mirror fashion tricks such as a cinched belt, bandeau-wrap or ruching to flatter the figure? These shorts scream “Never mind my muffin top and thigh cellulite! Oh, and that is not the flabby half-moon of my fanny hanging out the back. Haha, no, that’s just my pancreas.”

When haz-mat suit meets microscope slide…

I’d like to know who actually looks good in these clothes? Even if one–heaven forbid–likes these colors and designs, can one honestly say they look good on? Really? Better than the tried-and-true classic designs? I’m thinking of the tea dresses from the 50s, tailored jackets, princess seams, wrap-style blouses, bias-cut skirts, A-line skirts, pencil skirts, trumpet skirts–any skirt, really. Even good old-fashioned jeans and t-shirts, so long as they’re cut to flatter.

What do you think of this sundress/tablecloth thingy? Maybe girls with dark skin can pull off the pollen-mustard color, but who has a torso the shape of a Prius? (That’s a denim bodice, not stretchy.) Note the recurring theme of baggy waistline and slouchy silhouette? Why, for the love of all that’s good-looking? I don’t know about you, but the 80s were not kind to me. (Or to my hair.) With the exception of Michael Hutchence, not much good came out of the 80s. Why then, did a conglomerate of that decade’s worst make a comeback?

The only explanation I can think of, is that somebody lost a bet. Or is being blackmailed. A big-name designer, I suppose, got drunk on absinthe, put on a pair of antlers and danced on a table, then was forced to recreate her high school yearbook for the Summer ’12 portfolio to keep the video off YouTube.

Betty Flintstone called, and she wants her shirt back.

Not long ago, you couldn’t have paid people to take these clothes home from a thrift shop. Our kids would only wear them on “Mock the 80s Day” at school. So why is this suddenly the latest fashion? On second thought, I think there is a far more sinister conspiracy afoot.

We’re unwitting subjects of a mass socio-economic experiment. Malicious aliens want to know the extent of our pack mentality as part of their pre-invasion plotting. They want to see how many of us will wear neon yellow leggings just because the mannequin is. As in that fable, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” people are going along with it since everyone else is. All right, fine, America. But don’t come crying to me when Martians take over your suburb and force you to watch non-stop videos of a codpiece-wearing David Lee Roth doing toe-touches and the full splits. I told you so.


  1. psychicquill says:

    I’ve only bought *one* item of clothing these last six months because everything is soooo ugly. The one thing was a Hello Kitty shirt. Agree re. the 50’s styles . . . I want me a crinoline. 😉

    • I think you and I would get along just fine at a deli with chocolate dessert, Psychicquill. And I’m glad to hear it’s not just me who is repulsed by this year’s fashions…

  2. Elizabeth Clarke says:

    So hilarious!! I may or may not have read it several times over, and just as amused each time… I have been doped into thinking that some of these fashions are cute, mostly because I see bones walking around in them, and at 90 lbs a brown paper sack looks good! What happened to Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Deborah Kerr?! Those were delicious styles…

    • Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for visiting. I also love love love Grace Kelly. Love, and I admit to being rabidly jealous … I agree that the best fashions flatter real body types, not only some anorexic model.

Go ahead, tell us what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: