Everyone is a fashion critic lately. This doesn’t ordinarily bother me. In fact, based on my ocassional obsession with fashion magazines and ongoing online subscriptions to Women's Wear Daily newsfeeds, Style Feeder and other assorted fashionista-geared publications, I generally fancy myself the chief of the local fashion police, although I lack the nerve to actually issue citations to strangers, no matter how well-deserved. As for friends and loved ones .... well, I have called out Boyfriend for letting his pants ride down low enough that I (and the whole world) have a full view of his underwear. Yeah, I know it's a 'look,' but I don't care who you are or how much I love you, I don't want to have to see your underdrawers in broad daylight out on the street, thanks. And when he asked, I (gently) suggested that no, he should just fuggedaboutit and not tuck his beautiful cable knit vee-neck sweater into his pants, unless he really wanted to look like some gangster from New Jersey. When shopping with a gal pal, I have issued a slow "Well .... (pause for effect) ... there might be something better..." during a dressing room consultation.
In general, I have a decent sense of personal style (I think), a perception frequently reinforced by positive feedback from others, and which, in my mind anyway, justifies my self-appointed status as fashion cop. Lately, however, I have been on the receiving end of a couple critiques that could be classified as less than favorable. Granted, I have not had any run-ins with Tim Gunn or Heidi Klum or Stacy London or anyone else involved in the made for television fashion industry. But still, depending upon the source of the commentary, it matters to me. Like when Boyfriend gives me the once over after I am dressed for work and says, “Oh, I see you have your school marm outfit on today.” Ouch. At least he has a sense of humor about it. And when I check the mirror, sure enough, an odd-length skirt plus a slightly baggy sweater is clearly frumpy, does not equal my best ensemble and warrants a change into something less hideous.
When I ask Boyfriend for his opinion on my attire, I am genuinely interested in what he thinks. It’s not that I can’t dress myself, it’s just nice to get his feedback. And when I ask and he (gently and humorously) suggests that perhaps the sweater from 1980 isn’t the best choice from my extensive wardrobe, I gladly change into something else, say from the WalMart 2005 collection, and make a mental note to retire the offensive item to the “on the way to Goodwill” pile (not to be confused with the “I just bought it at Goodwill” pile).
Recently, I bought three cute hats from Target that I was excited to show him. That was the night he declared me to have “the worst taste in hats.” I’m afraid he’s probably right. Of course, it would have helped greatly if there was a mirror anywhere within a quarter mile radius of the accessories department. Schlepping hats to the fitting rooms to use a mirror seems silly (but maybe that’s just me), so I was checking hats in the pathetic sliver of a mirror mounted on the sunglass rack. Note to retailers – you might sell more stuff if people could see what it looked like on them. Of course, the retail mirror shortage may explain a lot of the fashion frights running around town … grown girls in Loony Tunes pajamas and fluffy scuff slippers at WalMart and Kroger … men with gigantic keg shaped bellies protruding beneath shrunken, stained tee shirts and butt crack exposed by saggy pants … elderly grannies with gray hair and tattoos sporting schoolgirl plaid miniskirts … chicks in skin tight low-rise jeans with gigantic muffintops overlapping the waistband ... and lord help us all, leggings have made a comeback. Brace yourselves for some scary, scary days ahead. Listen people -- just because something is made in what you think is your size, it doesn't mean you should wear it.
The ultimate in scathing fashion criticisms, however, come from Boyfriend’s five year old son. They are raw. They are unsolicited. They come from nowhere. He has repeatedly scoffed at my oversized brown sunglasses, pointed at me, and in the midst of his laughter, spit out, "You look like a bug." A couple weeks ago, my new, favorite dark denim skinny leg jeans were in the laundry so I was wearing my once-favorite Gap boot cut jeans that are now a full size too big and definitely fit better when I weighed a few pounds more. I had cinched a belt to keep them from falling down. Hey, we were at home. In any event, I was standing at the kitchen sink washing a dish or getting a drink of water and staring out the window or something, and suddenly my pants were being yanked down by the back waistband, my belt nearly shredding my hip bones. I turned around, expecting it to be Boyfriend goofing off, and there’s Junior, his eyes level with my butt and his tiny fingers gripping my jeans. And as matter-of-fact as if he was delivering a weather report, he said to me, “Your pants are up too high.” Called out for bad fashion. By a kindergartner. Guilty as charged. Ouch!