Jun 2, 2006

What not to wear

Submitted for discussion:
  • A couple weeks ago while people watching in downtown Philadelphia I saw a girl walking down the street wearing a silky short halter dress. She had the legs for it: long, glossy and tanned. But at the end of those legs were a pair of drugstore flipflops and the filthiest feet I've ever seen, absolutely black with hideous, thick, unclipped toenails. I nearly gagged.

  • On Mother's Day, I saw the couple downstairs leaving in their Sunday finest. He wore a tie and sportjacket. She wore a dress that stopped about half a foot north of her knees. Trouble was: Her legs were like tree trunks.

  • Standing on line at a gas station convenience store behind a teenager who was buying a huge assortment of junk food. A friend of hers stood outside the glass door signalling the girl to hurry up. She was wearing sweatpants rolled down below her pubic bone and a shirt ending way above her bellybutton. She emphasized this arrangement by leaning her elbows against the door and pushing her tummy forward. I've seen mothers of eight who had better looking abs.

Don't these people have a mirror available? Or a kind friend or mother who will steer them gently toward more appropriate clothing?

Robin Givhan discusses these sorts of sartorial mishaps, which are all too frequent when the thermometer rises. And the reemergence of the legging adds another worry.
Anyone who recalls the fashions of the '80s will remember that stretch leggings were embraced by a significant portion of the population. They were attracted by the comfort and -- thanks to a high percentage of spandex -- an easy fit. This democratization of a trend resulted in the unpleasant sight of chunky legs tightly swaddled in spandex. Telling a woman of a certain girth not to wear leggings is a delicate proposition because, in so doing, one has to wade into issues of self-esteem, body image and discrimination. One would be committing the politically incorrect sin of pulling certain people aside and saying, "You shouldn't. You can't. Don't." But there it is. The truth stings.

Can there be such a thing as too much self-confidence? One must consider that question regularly. So often women embrace a trend that is by all measures unflattering on them -- low-rise trousers, shrugs, miniskirts -- and yet they still strut proudly along the street, head held high, shoulders back. Is it petty and mean for a dear friend to pull such a woman aside and explain that today, at this moment, she is a blight on the scenery? Is that the duty of a true, honest pal? The renaissance of leggings may force more than a few friends to ponder that very dilemma.

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