January 16, 2009

Don't Wear This. Ever.

When I was staying with Red-haired Niece in Big City Like No Other, we had a couple of quiet evenings on the couch with our laptops — and a television set. Since I don’t normally have access to cable television, I told Red-haired Niece I wanted to see a reality television show that my friends keep telling me about. It’s called, “Clothes You Shouldn’t Wear” or “That Looks Awful on You” or “What not to Buy” or something like that. I can never remember the exact title.

Red-haired Niece obligingly taped a couple episodes of the show. I told her that my friends kept threatening to send my name into the show, and she warned me, “Um, that’s not a compliment.”

Here’s how the show goes: two fashion know-it-alls descend upon an unsuspecting person. They announce to her that they’ve been secretly taking all kinds of unflattering photos of her, which they intend to show on national television. Furthermore, her friends are all in on the secret.

What happens next is truly bizarre. Does Unsuspecting Woman Who Wears Unflattering Clothes get angry at her friends? Does she demand that close-ups of her butt in pink flowered hotpants be deleted forever? Does she throw a temper tantrum and threaten to kill the next photographer who comes near her? No. She acts like she’s happy to see the Fashion Police and would just love to be mocked on a television show. Yes, that’s right. Perfectly normal reaction.

The Fashion Duo ask her to choose her favorite outfits, so that they can make her stand in front of a mirror and mock her. Then they throw most of her clothes away. I think I’d like that part of the deal. I’d have a whole lot more closet space when those two got through with my wardrobe, let me tell you. Then they give Poorly Dressed Woman enough money to feed a whole village of starving people and tell to go buy some new clothes with the money.

Next, Badly Dressed Woman wanders helplessly through stores in Big City Like No Other, knowing she’s not supposed to buy the unfashionable crap she’s been wearing, but acting pretty clueless about what she should buy. She mutters things like, “God, I hate buying clothes.” (This is what makes my friends think I’d be perfect for the part.) The Fashion Duo watch her on a small screen and make snarky comments, sometimes screaming things like, “Oh, no! Why would you even try that on?”

The horrible part is that they make her go shopping ALONE. I mean, really. Who goes shopping all by themselves? Where are her girlfriends? Her sisters? Her mother? No wonder the poor woman can’t remember the rules and is trying on those narrow walking shorts that make her thighs look weird. Come on. Even I know enough not to go into a dressing room alone. It’s like entering a dark alley in the city or swimming in the ocean. It’s dangerous without a friend.

Of course, in the end, Snarky Fashion Duo come to her rescue. Mostly, they offer wide-legged pants to “create a flattering silhouette” for all those times she’s going to be posing on a pier in front of sunset. Then they always add a jacket. These two really like jackets. And they make stupid comments like, “And here are some fun shoes.” Fun shoes? How are shoes supposed to be fun? I mean, unless they're tap shoes or roller skates, it's hard to see what could be fun about footwear.

I almost forgot the best part. She goes off into another room and this guy does stuff to her hair. He doesn’t let her look at what he’s doing, just swirls her away from the mirror and starts cutting away like crazy. Since I hate making decisions about my hair, I think I'd like that part. Except for one thing: he always wants to dye the hair. That means in just a few weeks, the poor woman is going to have roots. Then her friends will send her name into the show “What Not to do to Your Hair.”


outside voice said...

What a great description! Even though it's totally formulaic (e.g., the bit where Snarky Fashion Duo "rescues" lost shopper on day 2 after bemoaning at how said shopper is butchering the rules), I still have watched this show far too many times. I almost can't turn the channel, especially if I start watching when they send the poor person into the walled Mirror of Doom room.

And you're so right about the hair! He usually does so much layering and product that she's going to have to spend 4 hours every morning to make it look even a little bit like he did. (And just a random observation: shouldn't HE have better hair, as a stylist?)

Rana said...

Hee! I love this show - but, yeah, I have a few pet peeves about it.

1) The hair coloring thing. Dealing with roots is a Pain In The Ass.

2) Let's give the woman with glasses contacts! Uh, no. I LIKE my glasses.

3) Pointy toe shoes are comfortable! Really! Your toes don't go into the point! BULL.CRAP. They do. They also make it hard to walk up stairs, let alone run. They are only comfortable to people who wear stilettos all day already. Plus they're really stupid looking.

4) Not everywhere dresses like they do in New York. In Oregon, my daily wardrobe of fleece and sweaters and patagonia pants and comfy shoes is not only normal but trendy. You only wear suits and blouses and kicky little trench coats when you're interviewing for a fancy office job. If you wear them every day your friends will mock you.

But other than that I like the show.

And you're definitely not as bad as some of these people! (The people who wear wildly inappropriate or ill-fitting garments are the ones who really need help.)

MonkeyPants said...

I have flipped past this show on occasion. I also get annoyed about the 'fun shoes'. Fun? Can they keep my feet happy through several miles of walking per day? Then they're not fun!

The hair is also another sore point for me. The woman who cuts my hair knows that I am willing to towel it dry and finger-comb some gel through it. If I need to do anything else, it won't happen.

Rana's #4 resonates as well. Where I live in Vancouver, Gore-tex and fleece are the order of the day. I once had an impromptu job interview where I protested, "But I bought a jacket for this interview!" when I was wearing a sweater and jeans.

Busymomma66 said...

I also, am guilty of watching far too much of this show then it deserves. I have most of the same issues with the show as the other. One other issue I have is that the stores they shop in have shirts that cost aout $300, and pants the same. Why o why can't they show how it would go in a normal store?? That $300--that's my entire budget for the year! ;)

Anonymous said...

1. Yeah I have watched this show many, many times. The snark gets less wearing after a while.
2. If you are losing all your clothes, and have to buy "good quality" as they define, $5000 does not go that far. But the amount really is obscene.
3. I have come to hate the hairstyle guy- not for the coloring, not for the hard to maintain styles, but for the way he tortures the poor folks that just do not want to have "short" hair. I go do housework during that portion of the show.
Chris in NY

YourFireAnt said...

"...Then they throw most of her clothes away. I think I'd like that part of the deal..."

I thought all you HAD were jeans, brown sweater and red fleece. How could you afford any throwing away?!



Seeking Solace said...

OK, I am gonna take some heat here.

I think the duo does a service. There are some folks out there who are supposed to be professionals who do not dress the part. Now, I say this as someone who was in an ultra professional field for a while. The way you dress does matter. It sucks, but it's true. You can’t honestly tell me that the way some of these people dress for their jobs is remotely acceptable. Even when I was an attorney, with not much money to buy clothes, I still found great pieces, either at 70% off or at Goodwill, that were professional and flattering.

I wear pointy toe heels and flats and they don't hurt at all. No, my foot does not go into the point. If yours does go up half a size and get the heel insert.

I think some of you miss the point about good quality wear. Spend the money on the staples, suits, dress pants, etc. I have a beautiful Land's end suit that meets all the Duo's requirements. I've had it for 8 years and it still looks great. It takes time and a good eye.

OK, I could rant some more, but I don't want to hijack the comments.

Rana said...

Seeking Solace - I do in fact agree with you about everything you wrote - EXCEPT the pointy-toed shoes.

Look. I have WIDE toes and NARROW heels. I have high arches. My feet are a half size different from one another. _Ballet flats_ give me blisters, and I wear through the low heels I have on my shoes at a rate that astonishes shoe repair guys. I walk fast, and I walk hard. I pound my feet. NO heels are going to be my everyday shoes, let alone ones that consist of a strip of leather shaped into a wedge that is exactly the opposite shape of my feet mounted on a tiny pointy heel and flat sole.

My mother, when she was in college, wore high heeled shoes with a narrow toe. She has not worn heels any day in my life that I can recall, and yet her feet are _deformed_ to. this. day. by having done so.

I've tried pointy toed shoes - in several sizes - just to see what they were like. They DID hurt, and they did. not. fit.

And I'm not kidding about the stairs thing - a friend of mine had to go up them sideways because the points were so pointy that her heels could be on the steps.

And yeah, I suppose I could jury rig a pair with pads and blister guards and corn pads so that I didn't blister or cramp or suffer bruises - but I'd rather just wear shoes that comfortable right out of the box. (Not all of which are Uggs and Crocs and orthopedic shoes, btw.)

Now, if you love them and they are comfortable for you more power to ya.

But your - and Stacy's - assumption that the only reason a person might not like them is simple prejudice is just wrong.

(Sorry, touched a nerve. My mother's feet - and the pain and shame she has suffered on account of them - have haunted me for years. Didn't think you were going to get a flame war in your thread, did you, jo(e)?)

Ianqui said...

Petty as it sounds, I've come to think that I would really love to have a wardrobe makeover (and also hire an interior designer). My sense of style (both clothing and for my home) is crappy, and I know it, and while I try to wish that I didn't care, I just do. And even though it seems that I'm saying I'd like to have more fashionable clothes, I simply wouldn't know what to get if I tried. So I persist with my cheap H&M and Old Navy clothes, because I don't want to buy more expensive stuff if it's going to be unfashionable anyway.

Not having lost the baby weight yet doesn't help.


Bardiac said...

Now aren't you glad you don't watch cable?

I only disagree with you on one point, Jo(e). There ARE fun shoes. Hiking boots, for example, sneakers too. Biking shoes, for sure. Somehow, I have a feeling this show isn't helping people go play outdoors, is it?

Seeking Solace is absolutely right that a good suit will get lots of us through important meetings, but I thank my lucky stars every day that I don't have to live in them!

Seeking Solace said...

Jo(e): my apologies, but I feel I need to defend myself here.

Rana, I certainly did not intend to touch any nerve because of the shoe thing. But to claim that I have some sort of prejudice is very hurtful to me. Those who know me know that I would never intentionally say anything that would be deemed as prejudice. I only meant my comments as a suggestion, not as some mean spirited slap in any way.

You don't know me, but I understand better than you think. I have narrow heels, have deformed toes because of years running track, and doing dance and gymnastics, so I completely understand how difficult it can be to find comfortable shoes. I also have rheumatoid arthritis and know what pain is like since I deal with it every single day of my life. There are days, like today, where I CANNOT WALK AT ALL. So forgive me if I get a little defensive. Bu when someone calls me out who doesn’t know jack about me. I tend to get a little pissed. If you want to say your peace to me, you can find my email at my blog.

Rana said...

Um, where did I say you were prejudiced?

The only time I even mentioned the word was in saying that I disagree with the idea that people don't like these shoes because they are prejudiced against these shoes for no reason. (Which is something the dynamic duo often claim)

And what part of "I agree with you about everything you wrote except the pointy toed shoes" did you miss?

I stated my reasons for disliking these shoes. I thought I was pretty clear.

I also thought I was pretty clear in stating that if the shoes work FOR YOU that is fine.

But the SHOW repeatedly implies that there is no legitimate reason to dislike these shoes, and that is just wrong. So when, on the heels of my statement to that effect you basically said, no, the show's correct (implying "and you are not") I reacted.

Probably I over-reacted, but neither am I wrong. We are both right - I think there are good reasons to dislike these shoes, and you like the shoes on your own personal feet.

What's wrong is the show's repeated belief that these shoes are right for everyone. They are not.

I apologize for jumping down your throat with my assumptions about your intentions. May I have one in return?

Keri said...

Hee hee -- your description of this show made me giggle. I'll admit that I have watched many episodes of this show, but agree that there is something kind of odd about it. (Not that I'd say no to a whole new wardrobe...)

Magpie said...

I've never watched that, and I think I never will. :)

Patti said...

I always call fun shoes stupid shoes. If I can't run a mile in them, forget it.

locksmith mesa said...

I'm too. That's stupid

Silver Creek Mom said...

Please don't hate me but I do watch that show at times. I don't go looking for it.

BUT Interesting note...one epidsode I was had them show up at some womans work (she was a hair stylist) and she wouldn't talk. After she was finsished she went into to bathroom and would not come out. It took a lot of cajoling for her to come out and she was PISSED! (if I can say that here)
She did agree to the whole thing (there wouldn't be a show if tshe didn't) but it makes me think how many people do get pissed and they just move on to the next. NOT every one want fashion advice.

AHEM... Beleive it or not I do have a pair of pointy shoes that are so freakin comfortable that I can't wear any of my other shoes( When I wear heels at all) I used to seel clothes so I needed good shoes on my feet and yes I could walk miles.

Now I wear flat boots, but I've always been a boot addict. I must have 10 pairs. LOVE BOOTS.

Twice said...

I think this show has gotten more snarky over time. Sometimes, I do think they do a good job, particularly with people who are using big, bulky, and/or unmatched clothes to hide.

I really don't like the hair guy. He really doesn't listen at all to what the women might like, gets testy when they do express an opinion and his solution for all women over 30 with long hair is a bob.

Carmendy (sp?) seems more reasonable in terms of working with the women. If they don't wear much makeup and don't want to, she'll just show them a few things for a night out or something. I do however, hate that all makeup people think eyebrows are bad.

Zhoen said...

The original British version was much less snarky, very body-positive, practical, helpful, and did not involve hair dye. And funnier, I thought. Much more an attitude of, you're-beautiful-but-hiding-it-in-bad-choices.

I can't stand the US version. Too mean.

liz said...

I would actually like to be on the show. Please call them and make them give me $5000 and new bras!!!

Shalet said...

Those people would have a field day with me! But, really, who has $5000.00 to dump on a wardrobe? Any wardrobe? Certainly not me. I'll stick with my t-shirts and jeans thank you very much!

bsouth said...

Goodness, what a horrible sounding show.

Anonymous said...

what I would love to see is someone taking all that money, shopping at the Goodwill, than donating the rest.

jo(e) said...

Anon: That's a great idea! If I'm ever on the show, I'll do that.