Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Looking Stylish (and Pregnant)

I don't know if this is a normal symptom of being middle aged, but I have no patience for fashion trends anymore. I find myself increasingly irritated every season by the atrocious, unflattering crap that is peddled as the latest must-have fashion. Before I go further, I want to apologize upfront because I am going to slam some popular fashions - and you may wear one or both of these (perhaps even proudly) - so don't take it personally, okay? To each his own - I am sure if you saw what occupies my closet, you'd find plenty to slam as well. Disclaimer over.

My fashion disgust started with capri pants which, my mother told me, were called pedal-pushers and clam-diggers back they first came into fashion several decades ago. Well, since we all the know the fashion industry is often short on creativity and would rather recycle the same silly things over and over again rather than be creative and invent something new, to my horror capri pants came back into style about 8-10 years ago and every spring since then they have come back again and again, filling pants racks in every store, giving women from coast to coast the look of tree stumps for legs. Capri pants are long overdue for a slow, painful death because in my estimation, they are floods, plain and simple. This is the song kids used to sing when I was in junior high to anyone whose pant legs rode even a quarter inch above their shoe laces:

The flood is over, the land is dry
Why do you wear your pants so high?

Maybe I was traumatized by this song and my hatred of capri pants is a symptom of PTSD. In any event...

When my man, Tim Gunn (of Project Runway), universally condemned capri pants as unflattering on practically every woman, I shouted HURRAY from the rooftops. Thank God I am not alone and somebody feels about them as I do! Yet, to my dismay, they just will not DIE. They still fill most of the pant racks at every store in the spring and summer and woe to the woman (i.e. me) who would like to buy a full-length pant. Happy hunting.

The latest horror show is the babydoll top (a.k.a. maternity smock) trend. It came into style last spring and I was horrified to discover just the other day that the trend has resurfaced like an unkillable cockroach, infesting 90% of the square footage dedicated to women's tops in every clothing store.

Here is my beef about the maternity top trend: why would any woman who is not pregnant, want to look pregnant? Being pregnant = being BIG and round, right? Most women do not want to look big and round, yet the babydoll/maternity top (a style which provides women with a big and round silhouette) is back with a vengeance this spring, which tells me the trend must be selling pretty well. This despite the fact that I have yet to see a woman (aside from 6 feet tall, 100 pound runway models) who don't look about 20 pounds heavier in this style of top. I have been utterly perplexed by the ongoing popularity of this trend.

That is until I put my Childfreedom thinking cap on (the one with the little propellers) and thought about this a little more deeply. Could there be a psychological explanation for this seemingly inexplicable consumer behavior? Perhaps there exists a subconscious desire in most women to be pregnant and this fuels their desire for the babydoll/maternity top. Where would such a subconsious desire come from? Well, let's see: pregnant women are fawned over, celebrated, told they are radiant, beautiful, glowing, miraculous and showered with gifts. All the popular celebrity and women's magazines are chock full of photo spreads of beautiful, sexy, pregnant celebrities in stylish maternity clothes. Pregnancy = beauty, virtue and accomplishment in our culture and now, even sexiness. What woman doesn't want to be beautiful, virtuous, accomplished and sexy?

You've undoubtedly heard the saying that art is an expression of culture. Well, this is my theory for today: the maternity top trend is an outward expression of the pregnancy obsession that has our culture in its death grip.

Perhaps I am overanalyzing. I do tend to do that sometimes and after all, fashion isn't generally that deep. But this theory makes a heck of a lot more sense to me than the idea that women just want to look fatter.


Unknown said...

I am guilty of loving capri pants. However I agree you have to have a particular body type in order to make it work, and many women who wear them do NOT.
I'm with you on the hatred of babydoll tops though. I just lost 30lbs and cannot bear to add to my waistline - I did so much work to get rid of those inches!! Unfortunately my husband loves them - possibly because most of them also have low necklines. Please let that fashion die!

CFVixen said...

LOL....I so agree with you. I do, however, have a couple pairs of capris although I just bought onto this trend in the last couple of years. Reason: I have nicely toned calves, but not so nicely toned thighs. So they kind of work for me. Kind of. I'd be much happier to wear shorts if my thighs looked a little beter.

I do not "get" the maternity tops. And it's not just the's the patterns. Why do I need some kind of psychedelic pattern all over my top?

I do not keep up with fashion very well. Like I said, it took me years to get brainwashed into the capris. I can go through many seasons without buying into the fad du'jor. And thank goodness for that. I don't like looking at pictures from years ago and grimacing about what I was wearing. I would especially feel silly if I looked pregnant when I do everything in my power to avoid getting in that state!

loribeth said...

Also a capri lover here. But I totally agree with you on the babydoll tops. They might look good on a skinny 19-year-old, but every time this overweight, pushing-50 woman tries one on, I feel ridiculous ("someone hand me a lollipop"). I think you're on to something re: how it reflects the current societal obsession with all things pregnancy-related.

firefly said...

I tend to shop online and don't get stuck looking at endless racks of the same thing, but I agree, most everyday fashions these days are completely awful.

I so want to walk up to a teenaged boy with his jeans hanging off his, uh, posterior, and PANTS him in front of all his friends. Who came up with the idea that belting your pants around your thighs so your underwear is hanging out looks COOL?

Ditto with the fashion of wearing a tank with spaghetti straps that doesn't cover your bra straps. Ugh.

Unfortunately, I'd bet this baby-doll trend is aimed at teenaged girls, and I think you're right about the subliminal pregnancy message.

Steph said...

Those empire waist shirts came out about five years ago here and they just won't go away. I have to wonder if it is an art imitating life issue and they designed those due to all the overflowing muffin tops burning my eyes these days.
I actually just purchased my first par of "capris". I call them pedal pushers, but whatever. It took forever to find a store that sold them. I live in a fashion-y area wear capris are endlessly mocked. I needed some for camping.
My mom has one of those tops we all call her maternity shirt. Ick.

Anonymous said...

I wear capris because I have very ugly legs that even exercise won't help (I inherited my mom's stumpy, chunky, shapeless legs), and I don't wish to hurt peoples' eyes by wearing shorts. It's also too hot here to wear pants all the time, and I can't move someplace colder. So, unless someone wants to fork out for me to get cosmetic surgery on my legs (and I don't see that happening), everyone will just have to deal with my fashion choice.

As for the boys wearing very droopy pants, that started when I was in high school in the early 1990's, and it just will not die. Ugh!

Gumby said...

I like the pedal-pusher/capris too for much the same reason as the others - my calves are OK but thighs are too fat and lumpy these days to subject others to viewing them (thanks to mom's side) and it just gets too damned hot and humid here to wear pants all the time. Also, I always wear them with some very low cut sandle-y shoes to give length to the leg that shows.

Those godawful tops though! Ugh! I had a couple tops with that type of shape in the early 90's but they were sheer - to the point that I had to wear a camisole/tank underneath - so my thin 19 year old shape was clearly visible underneath. These days there's no way in hell I would wear anything like that. I need all the shape revealing help I can get!

And yeah, I SO want to pants every IDIOT I see doing the tacky pants thing. There's a reason they call it a WAST BAND - it's because it's supposed to fall at YOUR WAIST!!


the_gypsy said...

Oh my god. I love this blog (just found it today) and I LOVE that some one else hates those dammed babydoll shirts!!!

In the 90's when babydoll dresses were popular, I tried one on and looked 7 months pregnant. The newer tops are even worse. I thought it was just me - I have broad shoulders, boobs and hips (yes folks, I have an hourglass figure!). But I thought it was just MEEEE that looked absurd in them...they're kinda cute on the teenagers I work with....

I wondered why anyone would want to look pregnant when they're not. Silly me who doesn't want kids! :p

As an aside, I've always had an issue with my thighs - I wear capri's all summer because Florida is too hot for jeans! :p

charmed said...

I just found your blog and started reading backwards through it. I wanted to leave a note in defense of babydoll tops. I like certain ones b/c I am big chested and have a larger stomach than i would like(which I am working on) and baby doll tops look pretty good on me, they excentuate my large boobs and draw attention away from my stomach and actually make it look smaller if the top fits right. so they are good for some people who are not pregnant or don't want to look pregnant. I actually thought it would make me look pregnant before I tried one on one time and realized it was a really good style for me. although sometimes it draw TO MUCH attention to my breasts.

but as far as capri pants go, they can die.