Wednesday, March 25

what not to wear?

I'll be the first to admit that I was something of a fashion disaster when I was in my twenties. It was the nineties, and I fully embraced the whole stretchy-pants or tapered pants/giant shirt look, which did nothing for my body other than to make it look more round and square than it actually was. In my thirties, I lost some weight and had more options but wasn't quite sure what to do. Somewhere along the way I found the TLC show What Not to Wear, and learned a lot from our friends Stacy and Clinton. Like the power of a structured jacket, or deserving to look cute at any size. And the importance of fit, and that neutrals go with everything, and contrast is better than matchy-match.

I obsessively watched this show for about three seasons, and would even watch marathons of episodes I'd already seen! ("Oh, I love this one. Her hair ends up really rockin'...") Then, somewhere along the way, the show soured for me. Maybe it was Stacy's refusal to believe that some people actually do have foot problems that keep them from 99% of cute shoes. Or the way everyone on the show ended up looking kind of the same. Or the episodes (rare, I admit) in which I felt like the makeover killed something fundamentally joyful and right about the person. What is SO WRONG with having a funky sock collection? Life is short, and getting shorter by the second. If a skull and crossbone scarf makes you happy, you should wear it.

A bunch of my structured jackets and cute heels went into the giveaway bag, as I admitted I was never wearing them and when I did, I didn't feel like me. Now, I guess I have a uniform, and that uniform is jeans, and my comfy ecco sneakers, and some kind of upper-body coverage. Last month, I actually went to the grocery store in my pajamas and snow boots, which is a total WNTW mortal sin.

I do dress a lot better than I did 10 years ago, and work harder at looking my best on a daily basis. But, the older I get, the less I tolerate other people telling me how I should look or act. WNTW is like anything else...just a tool. Maybe you'll learn some stuff you can apply to your own life. Maybe not. No amount of "Shut Up!"s from Stacy are worth not feeling like you.

17 comments:

Alyson Noel said...

I agree. Makeover shows kind of depress me once the initial fascination wears off. Everyone ends up so--*tame* by the end. It kind of kills the rebellious spirit they had before!

Sadako said...

I feel the same way; at first I liked it, but now it just feels kind of like they're trying to make everyone into a Stepford person.

Erika Lynn said...

I can see where you are coming from, but i think they personalize the styles to each person but with certain staples. And if they come out more confident then I think it is a good thing. I love the show and usually have it on at noon everyday while I am cleaning around the house

Sara Hantz said...

I agree, they do all look the same at the end of it..... though if they offered to do me a make-over I'd accept :)

Sara Z. said...

Yes, I would not reject the $5000! Erika - you're right - sometimes a really profound emotional transformation takes place and it's moving to see someone call themselves pretty for the first time after struggling with self-worth and acceptance.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I'm not a makeover person and I am all about the funky socks. In college, I considered my funky socks to be a real guy-magnet.

cynjay said...

I'm a WNTW junkie, I admit it - although you'd never know it from looking at me. I think it makes you feel better when you look at the "befores" and say that at least you don't look THAT bad.Knowing WTW and doing are two different things, plus I NEVER wear heels.

The best episode is the one with Peanut the little dog who gets her own chic wardrobe.

Amy said...

I much prefer the Original British Version with Trinny & Susannah, because even though they were sometimes mean, they at least took the time to LOOK at the person's body and figure out what worked for that body shape.

I do NOT like the US version of the show. They don't care about dressing for body type, but are more interested in "fashionable."

Not the same at all.

And you're right. Just a tool, really.

adrienne said...

My feeling watching shows like this is that their recommendations for how to dress just don't fit my life at all. I spend my time working with kids, cooking, cleaning my house, bombing around outside, writing. While a nice dry-clean-only blazer might look good, it's just not something that fits into the often messy work I do all the time. I think part of it is the difference between an introvert and an extrovert. Being an introvert, I never go anywhere to "be seen." I go out in public either to meet friends or DO something. So, anyway, I like to settle for looking decent and being comfortable, and makeover shows usually just cause me anxiety.

Leigh Brescia said...

Thank you!!! My mom loves that show, and she doesn’t get why I don’t watch it. Yes, some of the participants look better when it’s all said and done, but I can’t help but feel that they’re not really being themselves.

It reminds me of Steve the Pirate in the movie Dodgeball. Dudes, just let the guy be a pirate. Life’s too short.

(I really want to be a pirate, actually.) :)

ann cannon said...

My worst paranoid fantasy is that my family will drag me and my stretchy Nike pants (which I love) onto the show for a fashion intervention.

Melissa Walker said...

I'm not a huge fan of WNTW. I do think they make everyone end up looking the same in lots of cases. But I like the idea that everybody can step up their fashion game, if they WANT to. It's just fun sometimes, if it's by choice.

Also: There are so many cute flats that no one should ever wear heels.

Gerb said...

My daughter is a funky sock collector - and she takes it a step further. She and her cousin take one sock each from the pair, kind of a best-friends thing. So they both wear funky, mis-matched socks, and no Stacy or Clinton could ever take that away from them. : )

Sara Z. said...

I wonder how much all the "promotional consideration" things from Macy's and Zappos and H&M and all that play into the way they all end up looking similar...

A Literate Musician said...

I completely agree. People are always so concerned with looking like everyone else. They surrender their individuality by letting someone tell them they aren't good enough as they are.

Amanda Ashby said...

I use to watch the UK version years ago which I liked but just sort of phased out of! Though if anyone tried to make me trade in my Converse for heels things could get messy!!!!!!

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh my.
Such irony that I would drop over and happen upon this particular post right after I did a post on the fashions and fads of the 1970s....
My dear woman, NOTHING people wore in the 90s (okay, sagging pants on teen boys excepted here) can compare to the 70s. The 90s did not have polyester pull-on pants, pastel leisure suits, and collars that reached to your elbows.