Thursday, January 03, 2008

25 Things to Never Wear Again (Allegedly)

I'm not a maniacal Oprah fan--you know, those women who run around in circles flailing their arms and crying when they FINALLY see her live and in person for the first time. However, I enjoy her shows, love many of her meatier topics, and think she uses her considerable influence in a very positive way (though the word "kingmaker" comes to mind when I think about her endorsement of Barack Obama--even though I'm totally down with the idea of his being our next President. But I digress.).

I don't subscribe to O magazine or read it all that regularly, but I like it enough to occasionally pick up a copy when something on the cover sounds interesting. So I picked up this month's issue, sucked in by the "How Not to Look Old: 25 Things Never to Wear" feature. As someone who lives in faded jeans and my beloved Janis Joplin concert T-shirt (Lucky Jeans replica, not vintage), I could probably use a few pointers as I navigate my sartorial way through my (gulp) late 30s.

First thing I turned to when I opened the magazine was the HNTLO feature. I quickly found the "25 Things" list, buried in the corner of a not-so-exciting "what to wear" feature article emphasizing the wonders of dark denim jeans and a black and white cashmere cardigan. (Como se dice BORING? I'm not one to argue over the formidable perks of a great pair of jeans, but paired with a black-and-white cardigan with gold buttons? Really? If I wanted to look like my second-grade teacher, I would shop the Iowa garage sale circuit, thanks.)

A list like this--short, sweet, and to the controversial point--is made for blogging about, so here, without further ado, are O magazine's "25 Items That Just Gotta Go" from your closet this year ... with commentary:

1) Holiday sweaters with bells and appliques (i.e. reindeer, teddy bears, bumblebees, pumpkins). WORD. No item of clothing makes me want to don a sandwich board and take to the streets in protest as much as a holiday sweater. And I'm sorry--the older I get, the more friends I have who adore their holiday sweaters and would just as soon lop off their own heads as not parade around in them every year come December, so I know I'm offending some holiday sweater aficionados. But IMHO, unless you're an elementary school teacher (kids like sparkly), are playing Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones' Diary, or are being ironic, you should stay far far away from what basically amounts to a bad traffic accident interpreted through yarn and sequins.

2) Granny necklaces that tell how many grandchildren you have. I have no problem with these. Oprah hates grandchildren.

3) Souvenir T-shirts. This had BETTER not include my near-sacred faux vintage Janis Joplin shirt. But OK, I'm guilty on multiple counts here.... I have couple from Honduras; one from the FBI Academy at Quantico, courtesy of my SIL; one from a dive shop in the Caymans; a New Zealand All-Blacks jersey from Wellington; and one from the Police reunion tour this past summer. (And, Oprah, you'll get THAT one when you pry it from my cold, air-drumming fingers.)

4) T-shirts with meant-to-be-funny sayings. Yeah, Oprah, YOU tell my husband he can't wear his "Sofa King" T-shirt anymore.

5) Overalls. Gone. (So comfy. So riddled with handy pockets in all sizes....) It was a hard parting, but I finally got rid of them a couple of years ago because, yes, I did look like Farmer Brown.

6) Acid-washed jeans. I don't think I ever got on board with the whole acid-washed denim thing (Eeeuw.), but if I did, I purged them from my closet in the late 80s. Like everyone else should have, unless said jeans were at any point the only thing standing between you and a cold, horrible death from hypothermia.

7) Ripped jeans. Right. Can't say the same about those. My favorite Lucky Jeans--a faded pair with flowers embroidered along the back waistband--split a knee last winter. They are so cozy and fit so well, I wasn't about to make one little knee-hole be the end of our otherwise beautiful relationship. Take that, O magazine! I will not conform to your petty little, advertiser-pandering fashion standards! I will not cavalierly toss an article of clothing that has otherwise been so good to me (and to my Latina booty, in particular). I will not go gently into that carefully pressed, dark-denimed night!

8) Shoulder pads. ARGH! Gone! Gone a long time ago! Death to shoulder pads! Does someone out there doubt the utter sensibility of this? What insane Asian-sweatshop manager is still putting these into shirts and jackets?

9) Flannel shirts. Another hard parting, but I did get rid of mine after we left Seattle in the late 90s, once I got over my multi-year mourning period for Kurt Cobain. ("I'm so happy. 'Cause today I found my friends. They're in my head. I'm so ugly [in my flannel]. That's OK, 'cause so are you.")

10) Muumuus. And I need Oprah to tell me this, why?

11) Photo handbags. Never had one. I'm not a big purse person, but when I do buy one, it's usually an attempt at looking presentable and not like someone's grandma. But this kind of strikes me as similiar to the grandma necklace--what's the harm in bragging-through-pictures about your kids/grandkids?

12) Flesh-colored hose. What kind of "flesh" are we talking about? "Flesh" as in the "flesh"-toned crayon in the Crayola box, which has historically been the freshly-scrubbed faint peach color of a white person from Scandinavia? Or do we mean "flesh" as in the same color as your personal skin tone, whether you're black, brown, tan, faint peach, olive, or purple with green spots?

I have no clue, but later on in the article, the author recommends instead wearing opaque tights (Classy!), fishnets (Classier! Just ask Britney!), or something disturbingly called "leg spray" (No comment.). I am beginning to take her recommendations with a very large grain of salt.

13) Penny loafers. Never liked these. With my wide feet, they made me look like I was wearing giant man-shoes. No sacrifice here.

14) Oversize blazers. But who doesn't want to look like a Century 21 realtor?

15) Mommy robes. But I LIKE my pink, fuzzy, Hey-I'm-A-Tribble! bathrobe. It's sooooo cozy. Isn't that the point of a robe--to wear at home when you're feeling extra cold or a little sick and need some comfort? It's not like I'm giving dinner parties in the thing.

16) Thin gold chain necklaces. I don't like necklaces in general--they make me feel like I'm being strangled. But women who wear them aren't exactly screaming Fashion Don't! at me when they walk around with an innocuous bit of gold around their necks. I don't get this one.

17) Elastic-waist pants. :::eye roll::: THANKS, O. You've saved me from a closet full of elasticized, no-iron polyester gabardine. And here I thought I looked so groovy.

18) Granny undies. But they're so handy! It's underwear, AND a bra!

19) Baggy sweats. OK, I have seen people out in public in some really gross, baggy, stain-covered sweats, and there really should be a law. But when you're feeling cold or sickly, nothing beats giant, cuddly (clean!) sweats and a pink fuzzy, Hey-I'm-a-Tribble! bathrobe.

20) Bearlike, full-length fur coats. Is there actually a place to wear one of these where you wouldn't look utterly obnoxious? Plus, I don't think you'd last long before being assaulted with a can of paint. This is, after all, the Age of PETA.

21) Short shorts. Yeah, because I WANT everyone to see my cellulite. Thanks again, Captain Obvious.

22) Cargo pants. OK, now that's just unfair.... First the overalls, and now you want to take my cargo pants? Recommending instead "trousers in black, white, and cream." Yeah, I'll let you know how those cream trousers do next time one of my daughters has a birthday party and I'm serving party food to little clingy munchkins with pizza-and-ice-cream-covered hands.

23) Stockings with reinforced toes. This is later clarified to be an offense only when worn with open-toe shoes. Which only makes sense....

24) Three-piece suits with vests. I telecommute, so there isn't much danger of my breaking out the three-piece suit anytime soon....

25) Backpacks. Right. Backpacks. No, I never go out with a backpack instead of a purse, especially with two preschoolers who need juice, extra clothes and entertainment carted around with them wherever they go. Oh, no, of course not. No backpacks here....

Any fashion don'ts you're stubbornly clinging to? Any fashion dos you're loving right now?


Cathy in AK said...

I'm not an Oprah fangirl either, but she does take on some interesting topics.

As for her helpful fashion hints, like you, there are certain things I won't give up. Mommy robe, elastic-waisted pants (hey! elastic is your friend after a certain age/width. And mine are cottony, not polyester), ripped jeans (for the same reason you have, Tracy--they're worn in and fit well), flannel shirts (in AK, flannel is socially acceptable, and perhaps expected). The hose one makes me scratch my head, not that I have much need for hose here, other than as a first of many layers against the cold. In that case, who cares what color they are?

Why is the "C" word (no, not that one...comfortable, I mean) a fashion no-no?

Thanks for the post, but I doubt my closet will see much change in the near future : )

Jennifer Y. said...

What? Leather vests without a shirt didn't make the list???? LOL...sorry couldn't resist one more comment about the book cover.

I don't think I own/wear anything on her "Don't" list...hmmm...but I am far from fashionable...LOL. Oh, wait I do have the t-shirts...but they are comfy.

Tracy Montoya said...

I agree--when you're at home, especially, or going out in the cold or rain, there's no reason to stuff yourself into some stiff, itchy, uncomfortable outfit just because you'll look great as you run through Target. And yes, upon reflection, I do have elasticized waists in my closet. But they're attached to otherwise attractive clothing made with nice fabric, and it's not like I'm tucking a turtleneck into them. Stupid, judgmental list.

My flannel was baaad, Cathy. Way oversized and pilly and it didn't work outside of Seattle. I might want it back though, once I get to Minnesota.

Tracy Montoya said...

Leather vests without shirts did not make OPRAH's list, Jenn, but they would definitely make mine! LOL!

And I highly recommend the pink fuzzy Mommy robe from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. It's soooo lovely.

MaryF said...

Okay, I was wincing at the Christmas sweater thing, but I AM an elementary school teacher, so....

I love my souvenir t-shirts. It's kind of tradition to wear them the first week of school (during inservice).

My favorite Laurens are ripped to shreds, but I only wear them around the house....

I don't get the hose and the necklace thing though.

LOL on the leather vests ;)

Tracy Montoya said...

Mary, I have lots of friends who love Christmas sweaters, so I think I'm in a minority. And yes, as an elementary school teacher, you get a pass anyway, because kids like sparkly things! I do have a T-shirt with a reindeer on it, so I'm guessing that I'm edging into holiday sweater territory, anyway!

Writer & Cat said...

My kids adore Christmas sweatshirts so I wear them at home, along with elastic waisted sweatpants, the occasional fluffy robe, the flannel shirts (wearing a flanny and some elastic waist cotton pants right NOW), the blacklisted t-shirts, the ripped jeans (mine are ripped at the bottom, where I had to cut them off because I am too poor to pay for real alterations), the photo handbag (mine is a bookbag with postcards of my website on it), the flesh colored hose, and the Granny undies (who KNOWS if you're committing the "sin" of comfy Granny undies besides you and your family??). In 5 years, most of the things on the list of what you must wear will be on the "What Never to Wear Again" list, meaning eventually there will be NOTHING WE ARE ALLOWED TO WEAR!!

Jody W.

Tracy Montoya said...

So true, Jody. I think it comes down to just wearing what makes you feel good, and the listmakers can cram it.

Angryromancegrrl said...

This is what O came up with? Surely they can do better….and the alternatives? So B.O.R.I.N.G. For the record, will never give up my comfy robe. Cathy was my roomie in college and she knows that the first thing I do when I get home is put on my robe! Mmmmm

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Um, according to this list, I make a few fashion errors.
But no one is taking away my Mark Martin T-Shirt man.
And I love wearing baggy sweats. Sorry. *blushes*

Tracy Montoya said...

Jen, I just publicly noted that I have most of these in my closet, as did just about everyone else who commented. No need to blush! : )

Who is Mark Martin?

Tracy Montoya said...

Sharron, I think O should stay far, far, away from anyone's comfy sweats and comfy robe. That's just not right.

Amy Jandrey said...

I'm sure my MIL is right now furiously cleaning out her closet to burn any and all things on that list that may be in that closet. And she would wear the cardigan, BTW.

And Tracy, Mark Martin is a NASCAR racer. Although I much more prefer Dale Ernhart JR or Tony Stewart. Well, maybe Matt Kinseth or Kevin Harvick. Or....well, you get the idea. Daytona 500 in a month, baby!

Nice to see you again! I'll come around more often, I promise!

Ms. Yingling said...

Wearing the penny loafers right now and am proud of it. There are some things, like wool shorts, that were never right, but in general I ignore fashion advice and embrace my Inner Little Old Lady.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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