Why I Laugh at Fashion

Project Run Way .. Run Far Away

Mar 2, 2011 by

The short, snarky answer is because it’s a (often mean-spirited, ugly) joke.  Of course, it can also be fun, in very small doses. The Women’s Style section of the NYT gets about a five-minute flip-through before it heads for my recycling bin.  While it can be interesting from a sociological viewpoint, and there are occasionally interesting articles, the bulk of the Sunday supplement is ads and extremely odd constructions worn by extremely unhappy-looking women.

Well, I’d be unhappy too if I lived on cigarettes and lettuce.  But I digress.  If the “fashion” doesn’t even look good on the runway, why would I want to think about it? I love reading/thinking/learning about art, but a pile of rags worn by a depressed anoxeric ain’t art.

Let’s not confuse “fashion” with style, regardless of what the NYT chooses to call its Sunday supplements. Fashion is a deadly self-reverential, mega-bucks industry that makes much of – well – nothing. Meryl Streep’s little riff, in The Devil Wears Prada, on the historical importance of the navy blue sweater aside…sorry, it’s still only a sweater…NOT worth destroying people and careers.

Then there’s the marketing scam of slapping a designer name on something like a white shirt or black pants, made somewhere in Asia, and marking up the price about 1000%. Ralph Lauren is a marketing genius – selling the whole old money American WASP lifestyle – but, c’mon. If I paid that kind of money for something I could buy at Target, I should have “sucker” tattooed on my forehead. If you define yourself by wearing someone else’s name…well, that’s just sad.

Then there are the “fashion experts” who critique everyone.  They can be fun to watch…for about five minutes…but…this level of snark from people who look like they got dressed out of the Salvation Army reject bin…in the dark…after a three day bender?  Puh-lease. FAB-U-LOUS, they’re not.

Style on the other hand comes in all shapes, sizes and ages. It’s an attitude about life – not a designer label.  It’s confidence without arrogance. Kindness, integrity, generosity, openness of both mind and heart  – all are critical to true style.

Audrey Hepburn had it, even when she was wearing a simple turtleneck.  Whats-her-name Beckham?  Never, no matter how many Birken bags she has in the closet. (That she reportedly owns a hundred Birkens should tell you all you need to know.)  Then there’s poor pathetic Courtney Love; she’s still a playa in “fashion” for some indiscernible reason.  And so it goes…you either got it or you ain’t and no amount of designer couture will help if you don’t.

So, me? I strive for style…with elastic waists. 😉

About the Author

Mary Schmidt Has Written 26 Articles For Us!

Mary is a proud Corporate America refugee, having long ago decided that quality of life is far more important than quantity of stuff. However, that said, she thinks money is a very good thing - when used as a tool, not a success measurement. In addition to writing for us, she blogs about business development and marketing at www.maryschmidt.com and about marketing to and by women at www.lipsticking.com. In her consulting business, her clients have ranged from mega-corps such as Hewlett-Packard to local Mom & Pops.
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  1. Tish,

    I love your #3. Designer fashion can be extremely interesting – and if it is, unwearable, by anyone. Call it art, but don’t try to sell it to fashion slaves, please. (Madonna in those rabbit ears comes to mind.)

  2. Tish Grier

    I’ve been thinking about just this thing this week! As I slog thru a pile of Women’s Wear Daily’s, tryinng to figure out the difference between fashion, style, and courture, I think it’s this:

    1. Fashion is what they sell to people who don’t remember those styles the first time around. Nowadays it’s a mishmash of stuff from the last 50 years of the 20th century, and is often more like costume than what grown up women would wear.

    2. Courture is the stuff that no normal sized woman could ever wear. Courture works are either works of art or expressions of the designer’s over-indulged ego. But normal women don’t wear it.

    3. Style is what you end up with when you figure out who you are. It’s a combination of a lot of stuff, might incorporate pieces of current “fashion” but is the true self expression of a grown up who truly fills the shoes she is wearing.

    just a thought on the whole thing…

  3. Fashion Week goes "sustainable" http://bit.ly/h30Edh wonder what Gf author Mary Schmidt would think? http://bit.ly/fAvOHG

  4. Oh Mary, you hit a nerve here. I love clothes. I love colors. I love watching fashion shows and I marvel at the people who still believe women, real women like you and me, will be attracted to their outrageous creations. Clearly, fashion designers create for each other, not us.

  5. Great post, Mary! When I see a “designer” label with “Made in China” right next to it at a price that’s simply obscene, it makes me want to return to the days when I made most of my own clothes (I actually did!)

    I appreciate your point here…..it’s not just the economics, it’s the culture. Once women learn to take back their power, they will be strong enough to wear whatever they want rather than dressing to impress everyone else. – SerenaK

  6. Debra Pearlman

    Mary, what a great comment on the need to be “in.” You could not be more on-target (or should I say Target?). We each get to define our own image and style. Debra

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