By Anna Jacob
During the last year I have endured a day job in the midst of the sickeningly trendy Brick Lane in East London. Although I have the ominous daily feeling that I am living in the world of Nathan Barley, some of this toxic trendiness has managed to seep into me. I now sport the type of fringe I had as a 5 year old and am seriously considering buying a pair of yellow brogues.
Now, there is nothing wrong with fashion generally. (Except that it seems to enslave young women in the richest and poorest societies both – and I have now seen two men on Brick Lane carrying women’s handbags.) I think it’s nice to look nice, to know what suits you and to express your individuality through the choices you make at Topshop.
However, a line must be drawn somewhere!
We have throughout history seen the re-emergence of many dubious and delightful fashion items from the past, and I for one, live in hope that the day will come when I can resurrect the Spice Girl style platform trainers which are lovingly kept in the bottom of a cupboard at my parents’ house. Not to mention body glitter.
Alas, there are some items which I feel should never ever darken our wardrobe doorways again. Garments which are so inherently ugly or stupid or even dangerous that they deserve to be lost forever to the annals of history.
Here is my shortlist of 10:
1. Shoulder Pads (on women, mostly)
If your goal is to make your head look tiny and alone, atop rugger bugger shoulders, then these are the accessory for you!
To be fair now, a light shoulder pad does play a structural role in suits of certain fabrics, but in any other situation they just look horrible.
Victoria Beckham seems to think that novelty shoulder shapes are a good idea. She is wrong, just as she was wrong about music.
2. The Scrunchie
This is possibly the only subject on which I agree with Sex and the City’s stance. Scrunchies are bad and ugly and don’t look good on anyone over the age of 6 or possibly 6 and a half. American Apparel are trying very hard to bring this little waste of fabric back into fashion. I don’t know why. Perhaps they hate beauty.
3. Acid Wash
Need I say more?
4. Ugg Boots
As a sort of uber-slipper I think these are great. They’re really toasty and comfy and nice on the toes. As a boot though, I think they are bad for the world. Firstly, they suit almost no-one. If your thigh is wider than the boot (which most thighs are) you’re basically turning your leg into a definition-less woolly tree trunk.
As well as being hideously unflattering, during the ‘Vogue of Ugg’ a few years back, the poor fashion victims who couldn’t afford the massive price tag on the genuine ‘Ugg’ were lumbered with cheap imitations whose heel supports collapsed in minutes, leaving the wearer plodding along on the instep of the boot while the sole worked its way up their outer leg. Have a little look online and you’ll find endless podiatrists despairing over the Ugg-ly legacy of this boot.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone wearing these, and I hope that’s because we’ve learned our lesson. They shouldn’t take too long to biodegrade.
5. Low-Cut Tops on Men
I’ve recently noticed this new phenomenon and I’m quite terrified by it. In the above photo it looks like the chap in the middle has stretched a nice plum-coloured woman’s blouse over his gym tits. I can’t believe this isn’t a joke. I don’t even want to acknowledge the chap on the left, although I’m glad to see that he’s hanging his head in shame.
Let’s move on quickly to something less upsetting but more pointless and stupid:
6. Toe-less Boots
I just don’t understand the point of these. When would you wear them? In winter your toes will get cold, in summer the rest of your foot will get hot and you’ll have some really weird tan lines, and what if it rains?!!
Not to mention the fact that most adult toes are gross, and unless there are toe-free socks available, I’m guessing you have to go without? Foot commando? At least the resulting sweat can drip out of the toe hole I suppose.
In the 1550s, Catherine de’ Medici, wife of King Henry II of France enforced a ban on thick waists at court attendance, thus heralding many years of waist squishing in fashion. Now, I actually think corsets can look quite cool, but they are in this list because they can be downright silly when taken too far.
I’m against any item, fashion based or otherwise that incapacitates women in any way. Many Doctors deplored corsets in their time. This is a snippet from a copy of The Lancet, published in 1869: “(when wearing a corset) …the lungs would be quite unprovided with air, and she would speedily die but for the action of the diaphragm. By this she is saved, but her safety is purchased at a ruinous expense.” Many women argued back to The Lancet that their corsets were in fact beneficial to their health and that they genuinely enjoyed wearing them. But then as these women were educated enough to write in to a medical journal, I’m guessing they weren’t the type of women who were doing much manual labour, and when they did get off their arses for a bit of a dance, the Victorians had to designate ‘Fainting Rooms’ for all the ladies whose corset-restricted lung capacity caused them to conk out at parties.
Continuing with the extreme theme:
8. Foot Binding
Admittedly foot binding is more of a custom than a fashion, as it stubbornly went on for around a thousand years. I’m also pretty sure that foot binding won’t be back in Vogue any time soon. However, it’s something I’ve been sort of morbidly fascinated with for years and this was an excuse to look at some truly awful phtotographs and descriptions.
For those who have no idea what the bonkers images above are, I shall explain. Foot binding began in China during the 10th century and was only outlawed in the Republic of China as recently as 1911. The process involved breaking the toes and the arch of the foot and then binding tightly to achieve ideally a 3 inch foot from toe to heel. I just measured my foot and it’s just over 8 inches from toe to heel. I simply can’t imagine trying to hobble a long on a couple of bound and broken 3 inchers (although, this hobble, known as the ‘Lotus gait’ was supposedly incredibly sexy to men). Obviously foot binding was horribly painful, damaging and dangerous for the women affected, whose feet were first bound between the tender ages of 3 and 14. Infections would often occur, toenails were often ripped out and as the circulation in the foot was so fucked, infections could often spread into the bones and cause death! So let’s be grateful for progress and feminism and all that and let’s really appreciate our Birkenstocks.
And now for something much less harrowing:
9. Sportswear as Everyday Wear
When I see people wearing head-to-toe sportswear in the streets, I am always tempted to ask: Excuse me, are you an athlete? No? No, I didn’t think so, fatty. So why exactly are you dressed in what looks like branded pajamas? Oh, right, you couldn’t be arsed putting proper clothes on this morning. Well at least that BBQ sauce stain next to the Adidas logo on your chest really brings out the deadness in your eyes.
Unduly harsh as that last paragraph was, I do often feel a bit miffed after having taken the trouble to put on presentable clothing in the morning, to be faced with the distasteful image of a plethora of arse cracks peeking over saggy elastic waistbands.
And why, I ask myself is this such a common sight?
Because it’s comfortable! Oh, well if it’s comfort you want, surely a moomoo would suit you better, no?
Because it’s practical! Oh yes, you needn’t bother changing before bed, as a tracksuit is basically pajamas, and if you get too hot, they’re highly flammable, so they’ll just burn straight off your body!
In case you were wondering, I also think that svelte ladies in Juicy Couture sports-pajamas look like douchebags. I’m not just attacking the cheap and chubby.
10. Sexy Adult Clothing on Pre-Teens
I’ve never been any good at walking in heels or wearing short skirts with any sort of gracefulness. It seems my mistake was to waste my childhood on scab-picking, worm racing, kiss-chase and football stickers when I should have been getting in some heel-walking practice and dressing like a tiny hooker.
What on earth could they possibly be carrying in those handbags? The tattered remains of their youth?
Please join in and tell me your most hated fashion items. I could have run to twenty but I feel I may have offended enough people already.
Thanks for reading.