Real women don’t wear white silk jumpsuits
That’s it. I am done with fashion magazines. Officially. I am never buying one, or reading one … or even nonchalantly flicking through the pages of one in my dentist’s office again. Ever. Again.
Since my teens I have bought women’s fashion magazines off and on. The frequency dropped off as I got older but I would still occasionally buy one on impulse, sucked in by the glossy pages, the surreal photo of that actress I like on the cover and the promise of a few hours of mindless engagement with fashion, celebrity and perhaps even a decent article or two.
However, every time, from the first page to the back cover, I would travel a well-worn path through the six stages of fashion magazine consumption:
4. Feeling hugely ripped off
5. Feeling hugely stupid
6. Arriving at the conclusion (yet again) that fashion magazines are simply a whole lot of crap wrapped up in glossy paper. Not to mention a gazillion ads for things I wouldn’t contemplate buying even if I could afford them. I mean really, how many kinds of perfume does the world need? Surely, we have enough by now. But I digress ...
I was like Homer Simpson and the donuts. I kept doing the same thing expecting a different outcome each time - funny how that doesn’t work out.
This week I reached for the donut for the last time. And it was one fashion spread in particular that was the unfortunately-timed stumble that broke the catwalk model’s back (Would you believe I put almost no thought into that proverb twist?). The opening page promised ‘everyday dressing’. With hope in my heart I turned the page. White silk jumpsuit. White dress. White knitted bra. White coat. You’re kidding me. The highlight was an outfit that looked like the hybrid of fisherman’s overalls and a butcher’s apron. Perhaps if a butcher went fly fishing this is what he would wear.
Every outfit was about as far from being ‘everyday’ as one could possibly get. They breached a few basic rules of everyday fashion for the everywoman mostly by being white but they managed to tick a few more boxes by being weird, impractical and horrendously expensive.
Aside from that Russian lesbian nightclub I was at last week I haven’t seen too much recently in the way of head-to-toe white. It looks silly. It is silly. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would willingly wear white on the bottom half of their body. It just screams ‘Please come and tip that tin of beetroot all over my person.’ All white looks silly and is a stain-removal nightmare. It is not what anyone wears any day, let alone every day.
Wacko, weird … outré
These clothes, and many of the clothes you see in fashion magazines, are just plain ‘outré’ … which is hoity-toity ‘Watch me randomly insert a French word into this conversation to convey the impression that I am fluent in French, ergo I am sophisticated and cultured’ speak for ‘weird’ (roughly translated). Somewhere in the world right at this moment a non-French fashion designer is using ‘outré’ to describe the clothes they make, as though that’s a good thing.
Butcher’s fishing overalls in translucent white silk may be everyday wear for Lady Ga Ga (hell, she probably wears that kind of thing to the gym) but for those of us who live on Planet Earth it’s called ‘fancy dress’.
I work in an office with a casual dress policy so what is deemed to be acceptable workwear covers a pretty broad spectrum of clothing. However if a woman turned up to work dressed in one of these all-white numbers she would raise more than a few eyebrows. And why? Because she would look really weird.
In the real world women like to ensure their breasts are supported and their nipples concealed before leaving the house in the morning. It comes in handy for avoiding unwanted attention and saggy boobs. So to wear one of these sheer tops featured in the magazine you would need to wear a bra and a camisole or tank top underneath which kind of makes the outfit not look the same as it did in the magazine.
But of course this isn’t what the designer or the fashion editor want you to be thinking about. They want you to imagine that when you wear the outfit it would look the same as it does on the model in the studio after several lighting changes have been made to ensure that her nipples can’t be seen. Or failing the lighting adjustments, an offending nipple would simply be Photoshopped out of the picture later.
A knitted bra top costing almost three hundred dollars. A skirt that appears to be a piece of fabric (and not much fabric either) wrapped around and fastened with a safety pin: $650. A cotton jacket which bears an uncanny resemblance to a lab coat: $450. Baggy white shorts which only a gorgeous sixteen-year-old model could get away with - and even then only barely - more than two hundred dollars. Seriously? Even if you liked these clothes and had the money to buy them wouldn’t you be a tad embarrassed to hand over this amount of money for them?
If I think of where Australia’s most fashionable and wealthy women live it would be the likes of Prahan, Mosman, Paddington - apologies for the Melbourne and Sydney bias but they’re the only cities I’ve lived in. I’m pretty sure the women you would see walking down the street in these suburbs would be dressed in some variation of what I, and a lot of women, are wearing at the moment: Jeans, boots, cardigan, scarf.
In the office, most women wear pants or a skirt, a nice top, a cardigan or a blazer. We like to be comfortable, warm and modest (usually). We like to look nice without drawing too much attention to ourselves. Which leaves me still trying to figure out how the clothes in this magazine qualify as ‘everyday’.
Perhaps women in Milan or Paris dress are wearing baggy white shorts and lab coats to the supermarket and to drop their children to school but in my experience it’s not the way Australian women dress on a daily basis.
I know that fashion is about fantasy in many ways. It’s about how women aspire to dress rather than how they actually do dress. But the fashion industry is still about producing clothes that women want to wear and are willing to pay for. Fashion designers aren’t making clothes for unicorns and fairies.
They operate in a commercial world and need to sell their products and make money. I’d like to know who, if anyone, is handing over their hard-earned cash for a see-through white silk jumpsuit. I tend to think it’s going to end up on the clearance rack at a significantly reduced price.
As for the last fashion magazine I ever bought … it ended up in the bin.
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