Ah, trends. Silly little sartorial rules that prey on our innate need to fit in and look cool. Take oxblood, for instance - the “purplish-reddish-brownish hue” every blog plotzed over this past fall, singing its praises like it wasn’t the same exact fucking color as maroon.
The vast majority of trends are just like oxblood – re-branded spins on shit we’ve already seen. The more inspired by the past a given trend is, the easier it is to shop secondhand. Hence the reason I am SO EFFING PUMPED that the long-overlooked nineties are finally back.
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On an AuH2O stock run a few weeks back, Kate and I came across two labels of note.
One was vintage. One was pretending to be. The label at left hails from a time when shoppers actually gave a shit about where their clothing came from. A time when textile workers had real, live rights.
An International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union tag basically says Hey, no one was killed or injured or forced to work overtime or paid unlivable wages to make this garment you’re buying. Isn’t that cool?!
Sooo cool. Sooo retro. Made in the U.S.A. with morally sound manufacturing practices – the only vintage trend that’ll never make a comeback.
The label at right reads, WE CREATED THIS GARMENT TO STAND OUT FROM ALL THE REST. EMBRACE THE IMPERFECTIONS OF YOUR SHIRT. THE HOLES, STREAKS AND SPOTS HELP CREATE THE “VINTAGE LOOK.”
I smell a vintage-inspired shitshow of verbiage. And it STINKS.
Note to Project E: Damaged things are cool when they’re old and actually have a bit of fucking history attached to them. Not when they’re intentionally beat up, marked up and made in China like everything else.
That being said, an item’s age doesn’t necessarily make damage a foregone conclusion. To imply as much makes me wonder if you know jack about vintage at all.
Vintage means classic styles and good fabric, responsibly produced in a way that enables the resulting garments to stand the test of time. Holes, streaks and spots hardly do it justice.
Ditto for those fugly, double Xs slapped on every synthetic top you import. Blech.
So, it’s Saturday night. I’m supposed to hit a party with my BF in Brooklyn but I’m all kinds of exhaustified. I decide to be responsible (read: drink cocktails at my apartment instead of at a bar), tell the BF to have a boys’ night and settle in for an evening of total control over the clicker (“remote”, for those of you who didn’t grow up in Jersey).
Five minutes into vegetating, I remember Saturday night TV sucks monkey balls. Disgruntled, I select some program about Fashion Week on the off-chance it’ll make me give a flying fuck about the charade. Only after I’ve refreshed my double-vodka-splash-of-grapefruit do I realize the channel I’m watching is QVC. It appears I’ve stumbled on a fashion show comprised entirely of QVC apparel and accessories. Innnteresting.
Imagine, if you will, the textile equivalent of a diesel-filled eighteen-wheeler spinning out on a highway and totaling five cars before bursting into a fiery ball of toxicity. Except less sad and more fun, because no one dies or gets screwed over by their insurance or whatever. The QVC runway is the Fashion Week equivalent of a multi-car pileup – a ghastly, poorly lit parade of tacky, ill-fitting synthetics set to mind-numbing synthesized string instrumentation, and it’s taking itself verrrrry seriously. The melodrama of the event only adds to its inherent hilarity – even the models look like they’re about to bust a nonexistent nut laughing. I’m not watching so much as rubbernecking.
At the conclusion of the runway segment, I’m obvs too wildly entertained to tear myself away from the nylon/poly carnage. I ready myself for the product bonanza portion of the evening by splashing a little more vod (eff the grapefruit) into my Priscilla Queen of the Desert cup. Perky host Lisa Robertson fills the screen, clad in an overwhelming amount of red. I have no idea what she’s saying. I’m too busy gaping at the presence of Heidi Klum.
My first thought is, Wow, how nice of Heidi to swing by QVC’s party on her Fashion Week rounds and pretend she likes their jewelry! Except Heidi’s doing more than smiling and nodding at the pieces – she’s GUSHING with PRIDE.
I’m confused. Is it possible that this darling of the exclusive, uppity and uber chic faction of the fashion industry actually designs a line for QVC?
It is. As the glitz bombardment begins, I learn that Wildlife by Heidi Klum isn’t just a line of QVC costume jewelry – it’s a way for otherwise trend-shy women to dabble in fashion’s latest via the power of accessories. Gag me with a spoon.
First up, the Ombre Chain Bib Necklace. Heidi’s all kinds of psyched about it; Lisa is absolutely losing her shit. My eyerolls don’t do jack to dampen the onscreen enthusiasm: Both giddily don the bib chain and proceed to discuss its merits at length. This goes on for approximately four minutes.
At first, I’m non-plussed. It’s a bunch of chain linked together costing upwards of fifty bucks, and a generic interpretation of edginess to boot. Heidi and Lisa keep talking.
A great way to vamp it up without going overboard; The perfect hint of edgy; Dress it up or down; Look at all the necklines you can pair it with, it’s a fabulous with a low-V OR a Mock-Turtle; Rose Gold is very trendy right now; Eek! It’s even more wearable in Gunmetal!
Okay, fine, maybe the chain bib is kinda cute. Borderline cool. Still, it’s not something I’d look twice at if I saw it in a boutique.
The thing is, I’m not in a boutique. I’m in the comfort of my own apartment. I’m two vodkas deep, alone and just the teensiest bit bored. AND QVC KNOWS IT.
Retail value of $75.00; Call now, and snap up the Chain Bib Necklace at its one-time-offer price of $54.50! Lisa gets an update from her invisible earpiece, and delivers the news to the camera with intensity. We started with 400 offers, and we’re already down to 200. Heidi beams at the camera; the necklace glows right along with her. Lisa looks concerned, like she wishes she had an infinite amount of these offers so everyone could experience the unbridled ecstasy of the bib chain. If you’re going for the Gunmetal, we recommend picking up the phone immediately. We don’t want to see you miss out on this incredible piece at this amazing value.
The ticking clock flashes on the screen. One minute, thirty seconds left. Heidi says “versatile” about nine thousand times. I sip my drink and listen attentively to her adorable German lilt. I’d probably get it in Rose Gold, as I already have a lot of silver. Heidi’s right – that color’s totally In.
The number of offers left plummets from three digits to two. Maybe I’ve confused generic with versatile, maybe the bib chain’s lack of in-your-face badassness is what makes it chic with an edgy cherry on top. I could buy this necklace. No one is stopping me. I could say I got it on Etsy or eBay. No one would know.
The offer expires. I exit my trance-like state and wonder what the fuck just happened to me.
I’m the snobbiest of skeptics where home shopping is concerned. I’m immune to impulse buys, and I’m cheap in the dirtiest sense of the term. A fifty-four dollar necklace that was, in retrospect, totally meh should have been a breeze for me to resist. In any other context – boutique shopping, ebrowsing, whatevs – it would have been.
What was it about the chain bib necklace that made it so tempting on QVC?
Nothing. Because on QVC, it’s not about the necklace, cocktail ring, coat, skincare line or whatever else they’re selling. It’s never about the thing. It’s about establishing a connection between you and said thing. QVC dreams up a story of you and the thing, and delivers it with a warm smile and nurturing vibe. It swaddles you and the thing in a blanket of promise. Sartorial satisfaction, material bliss – it’s yours! All you have to do is pick up the phone. Like, now.
QVC brought me thisclose to buyer’s remorse by getting into my head. The real jaw-dropper is, I’m not mad at them. I’m impressed. I sat through the Wildlife segment in its entirety, playing with fire every time a new piece hit the screen, marveling their ability to make me love something I’d otherwise not give a shit about every single time. It’s quite the accomplishment. Particularly if the viewer’s a cold-hearted skeptic like me.
I’m too fascinated to stop now, which means a psychological experiment is in order. I drink vodka. I watch QVC. I allow myself to get irrationally sentimental about stupid material things. I write about it.
In the next installment, I’ll observe the selling powers of QVC maharajah Isaac Mizrahi. Stay tuned. Unless you think this idea blows or whatevs. Mwah.
Every time I hit Shopbop for Hanky Pankies, I make the mistake of forgetting to browse by brand. Instead, I hit the general “Panties” category, where I’m inevitably confronted by a slew of offenses in the form of two hundred dollar underwear.
I’ve always wondered how upscale lingerie companies a la Kiki de Montparnasse stay in business, but I’m not the kind of jackhole who’d ever pony up two benjamins to find out.
Think a $195 thong is the stupidest thing in existence?
THINK AGAIN.What. The. FUCK.
The fact this garment costs $175 is par for the Kiki course and heretofore, the least of my concerns. No. What concerns me most is the Why factor, as in why, WHY does it EXIST?
Color, season and general over-the-toppedness suggest it’s post-wedding bridal garb, you know, in case you feel like putting on a tail after tying the knot.
It’s a piss poor explanation at best, but so is the idiocy you see before you, so whatevs.
Surprise! Miss me? Good. Ditto. Discussion on the absurdity of Spring’s Retro Trend shall heretofore commence. Clarifying the meaning of “retro” as it relates to style is probs a good place to start. Let’s jack some knowledge from Wikipedia:
Retro is a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of “retro” style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc. It generally implies a vintage of at least 15 or 20 years.
You hear that, chickadees? Old shiznat is In. So In that Topshop sent two chicks from its design team over to AuH2O yesterday to spy on us, which was half-flattering and half-absurd. (What’s wrong, Topshop? Is the shitstorm of sparkles and feathers and other overpriced barely-wearables not going as well as you’d hoped?)
Retro basically means stolen from the past. This makes it the easiest trend in the history of trends to thrift, should you choose to incorporate elements of it into your wardrobe. Tie-front blouses, long skirts, printed button down shirts – there’s about nine kajillion of all the above in every shape, size and color in every Salvation Army Family Store and every Goodwill Outlet Center on the planet. For serious.
The tops below were snagged on a stock run earlier this week… before I’d even browsed Shopbop’s latest trend schmend lookbooks. The extent of the Retro sham eventually became clear.
Swearsies, my vintage striped blouse is 100% silk too. Nothing’s wrong with it, aside from the fact that it’s been duplicated, coined the “Clean Sheer Striped Shirt” and perverted by Madewell‘s $95.00 pricetag. Grossness.Am I on glue here, or does the earth-toned, Safari-inspired trend thing happen EVERY SINGLE SPRING and just rotate what it calls itself? I guess this year it’s masquerading as Retro; next year it’ll be Natural or something equally vague. Whatever.
A few small differences between my thrift find and its retail copy, err, inspiration (also by Madewell – someone on that design team def digs Goodwill.) One: Mine is linen – a fabric of equal caliber to silk, IMHO. Two: Mine is olive, as opposed to poop brown. Onto the prints!Okay, okay, I’m aware that the Tommy Bahama number at left isn’t objectively attractive. It could possibly be deemed ugly as sin. Guess what? I don’t give a RAT’S ASS. I think it’s AMAZING. I think it’s my favorite top I own right now, and I think I’m going to wear it all spring and summer, possibly to family events, where it will undoubtedly embarrass my mother.
My feeling is, if you’re gonna go tie-front, go big or go home, and if you’re gonna go print, go loud while you’re at it. I wore it to work yesterday, assuming it’d be slow because it was a weekday and the weather was absolute shite. We ended up getting slammed for the bulk of the afternoon, which obvs means that in addition to being awesome, the Tommy Bahama is also lucky.
For today’s version of the aforementioned lucky top, see the Adhan Sleeveless Blouse by Equipment. It’s a little less loud and little more modern… I might even call it cute. Oh, except it’s effing two hundred and forty two dollars.
I’m sorry, but a top costing more than two Benjamins better take ten pounds off, make my boobs look perkier, go with every thing I own, and have a lifespan of approximately 75 years. If it doesn’t do any of the above, it’s not a top at all. It’s a FELONY.
Peacey outtie and a big fat MWAH.