Tag: Fashion

High-Waisted Drop-Downs Bamboozle Me

(they confuse the pants off me)

You know those high-waisted trousers you can buy, that are typically worn by women? The ones you tuck into a top to make it fashionable, but if you’re a 13-year-old guy who does it with his school uniform you’re a loser? Yeah, those ones.

The important thing to notice about these trousers is that they’re not just longer than normal trousers, but are differently-proportioned to normal trousers. While standard trousers have legs of a length x, and a crotch-holding bit between legs and waistband of y, the high-waisted species has legs of a length 0.75x, and a preposterously tall top bit of, like, 3y! I’d draw a diagram, but I thought needlessly mathematised nonsense would be more intelligible than my attempts to pick up a pencil and face the ordeal of scanning something into a computer.

And this makes sense if the high-waisted look is what you’re going for; simply pulling up a pair of standards trousers to the height of a high-waisted pair would result in the wearer being flicked between the legs by their own bottoms, which would annoy women and agonise men. As a result, the high-waisted pair of trousers is a very specialised form of leg-coverings, much like the evening gown, or that one, perpetually-tied towel you only ever wear to showers.

But I saw a pair of these most particular pantaloons being used for a new purpose the other day; as drop-downs. Much like the high-waisted trouser is a mainstay in most feminine wardrobes, the dropped-down trousers are commonplace in the filthy piles of decayed cloth rags that men wallow around in in an attempt to clothe themselves in the mornings. This isn’t to say that the male variant is any less sophisticated than the female one – you’ve not suffered for your fashion until you’ve spent hours fawning over such minute variables such as angle of elasticated waist, waistband depth, and the terrible decision of putting those waist-tightening strings inside or outside the trousers – but is simply a variant; if a woman aims for a high-waisted look, she wears high-wasted trousers, and if man shoots for drop-downs, he wears trackies.

One man has chosen to break this norm. One, heroic, man; he was wearing trousers in the style of drop-downs, but they were clearly high-waisted pants, considering the point where the legs meet the crotch was dangling close to his knees. He looked like an individual perplexingly in possession of two calves, yet a single thigh, wobbling and hobbling down the pavement, his fabulous style flying in the face of both human anatomical needs, and the practicalities of walking as a biped. I don’t understand you, nor will I imitate you, but sir, I salute you.

Mr. Ruin Your Birthday

(so in answer to your immediate question, no I’ve not had a good day)

I’m not a follower of fashion; nor am I one of those people that insists on there being definite ‘good’ and ‘bad’ looks – fashion is an art, and so is to be judged subjectively. At least most of the time.

There is one exception to this rule, one combination of clothes making up one’s outward appearance that is not just objectively unpleasant, but actively harmful against the laws of morality and culture. One set of clothes that has never looked anything other than diabolically painful on anyone, that has transcended from an outfit actual people wear to a catch-all term epitomising wardrobe malfunctions, a singular fashion faux pas to end all fashion faux pas.

And today I saw someone wearing this most heinous of outfits; a fool waiting for a train at Finsbury Park station, whose choice of attire had managed to ruin my otherwise fantastic birthday. He was wearing socks with sandals.

Not just any socks and sandals either! A pair of sleek, Nike sandals that probably cost 65 quid and have been featured in a TV advert alongside Lionel Messi for no discernible reason; a set of pristine white socks, that bore a striking resemblance to the white trim on the sandals, giving the awful impression that this attirical combination had not come about through some freak accident, but was planned. It was coordinated. It was intended. It was probably ordained by a god to ruin my day. And it did.

The wearer of this hideous ensemble even got on my train! He was following me, his path predetermined by some natural inclination to annoy me, to pester me, to remind me of his existence and that of his unfashionable footwear. He wasn’t even in the same carriage as me, but I remembered him throughout the journey, as he subjected me to some kind of horrific psychological trauma by staying far enough away that I wasn’t overcome with an urge to punch him in the face and remove the world of this problem, but close enough in my mind to prevent me forgetting about him and moving on with my life.

And he’s stayed with me. It’s four hours later and I’m still raving about him, unable to let go of his tragic artistic misstep. And I’ll probably never forget; I’ll be unable to look at a pair of sandals or even my own beloved white socks without triggering PTSD flashbacks of those few minutes at the platform, where my sanity was rocked to its very core, and my view of the world cracked into a thousand cascading pieces, warped, incomprehensible, and tumbling into the oblivion between the train and the platform.

Happy birthday indeed.

On The Absence Of Trousers

(and their relative unimportance in the company of oneself)

I like trousers, as a rule. A combination of desiring to be practically attired and bowing to gender norms that I’m much less comfortable crossing than I think I am has left me wearing warm, loose tracksuits for the entirety of the year. And, for the most part, they work perfectly (ahem) but I’m realising a drawback to these most wonderful of clothing items: in Summer, they’re bloody hot.

I’ve not discovered this before, living in a house with large openable windows instead of my single room with one suicide-proof window that only opens far enough to allow a gnat’s fart to fit through, but now that I have it’s pissing me off. And it’s not just tracksuits! I’ve tried on my pair of designated ‘adult’ trousers, and they’re too warm too, which makes me think that any item of clothing that reaches my ankles will be too hot for this frakking room.

Shorts, you say, may be the answer to keep myself cool and protect that most fragile of things, my masculinity, but I’m not really a fan of shorts. They’re useful when playing sports, sure, but using them exclusively for sports has created a link in my mind that whenever I’m waring my shorts, I ought to be running or playing handball, instead of looking for an even more lazily comfortable position to be lying in bed playing Football Manager in.

And, as hinted at by that Buzzfeed article, I (along with pretty much every other cis man on the planet) am still afraid of femininity, subconsciously linking it with weakness and an obsession with material trinketry, to suck it up and buy a skirt. Also, that would require shaving my legs, because I’m not a fan of leg hair, and that would do nothing to protect that already-cracked façade of masculinity.

Therefore, I have stumbled across a solution that manages to keep my masculinity intact, at the mere expense of looking like an overgrown man-baby with no comprehension of the importance of clothes: I sit around in my underwear. This way, my legs are free and cool, and I don’t need to buy any additional clothing. The unshaved-legs problem still exists, and sometimes I will peer under my desk to behold a pair of patchily-haired appendages that I-wouldn’t-want-to-sleep-with-in-a-million-years-so-why-should-someone-else-be-subjected-to-that-kind-of-torture, but this is a compromise that works, at least for the time being.

And if you’re still not convinced that I’m not talking out of may arse, at least I’ve moved on from writing these things naked.

I Like My Haircut

(but not quite enough to call it a ‘hairstyle’)

Not long ago, haircuts were a functional, disciplinary thing. I had to have a short haircut for school, because it’s obviously inconceivable that a male person with hair beyond their collar could be capable of intelligent readings of King Lear. As a result, I have spent the first eighteen years of my life with a buzzcut out of sheer practicality, knowing that putting up with barbers’ small talk for fifteen minutes every few months was worth not getting a bollocking from teachers.

But now, there are no such rules in place. I’ve not (yet) grown my hair out, still preferring a shorter style, but I’m now aware that I have this style because I have judged it to look nice, rather than this style conforming to a set of rules imposed by another. My hair is subjectively preferable, not objectively acceptable.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s still very much a schoolkid’s haircut, short on the sides and with enough of a floppy spike on top to be indicative of some semblance of individuality without deviating too far from the model of smart-dressed bullshittery we had to put up with as part of our uniforms. But the motivation behind said style is very different: today I decided to get my hair cut so it looked better. I decided that. Purely aesthetically.

And I went and did it! I spent money that could have gone to rent for next year, an aid project in Africa, or my obscene Doritos addiction, on a thing I didn’t need, but thought would be superficially pleasing. And, strangely enough, I don’t care. Not only do I not care, I actually like how my hair looks; this isn’t a source of termly obligation or narcissistic guilt, but of personal pleasure.

I feel faint.

Of course, I’ve been dressing myself for years, so this isn’t a complete watershed moment when it comes to me realising that if I have a physical body I might as well make a bit of an effort to make it not resemble troll dung. But this may be the watershed moment of my hair, the point at which I cared about my appearance in terms of the weird growths on my scalp as well as the sloganed bits of cloth I drape over my patchily-haired, podgy body.

Look out for a similar post this time next year when I discover the wonders of painting my nails, and I get really 2006-My-Chemical-Romance-fangirl on you.

I’ll Never Compliment Your Looks, So Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

(me versus fashion, round three?)

Okay. This isn’t personal. That title is just a fact. If you’re fishing for compliments on your new top by telling me you like how my hoodie matches my trainers, piss off and lurk around Primark, waiting to be told by employees that the jeans you just picked out look so good on you, then revel in your apparent validity as a fashionista like their kind word wasn’t a contractual obligation.

But there’s a more serious point here, a discussion about to what extent fashion is a thing. Bear with me on this.

Take a particularly detailed blog post of mine; it’s not unreasonable to assume that I have put a lot of work into it, and would like people to read it and tell me what’s good and what’s not. It’s not narcissism, nor fishing for compliments, it’s just a pretty average response for a creator who has just created something. But it’s harder to impose that model onto fashion. While not everyone writes blog posts, and so those that do and would like to discuss them are obvious, everyone has to engage with fashion on some level. Even I must pick out one black t-shirt with things written on it instead of another black t-shirt with things written on it. But I don’t engage with fashion as much as I engage with posts I write, so I’ll always be more comfortable talking about things I’ve written, not things I’m wearing; it’s just a personal preference.

And because we all have to engage with fashion, it’s hard to see where a lot of people fall on this divide that separates people who care about it and want to be engaged in a discussion on it, from people who are wearing a shirt because otherwise they’d get chilly nipples and an ASBO.

Because all of us have things we’d like to talk about, and not like to talk about; and I don’t want to assume that a person wants to talk about their outfit, even in an entirely positive manner, just because they happen to not be naked. I’m uncomfortable complimenting people on things that they might not themselves have paid attention to.

As far as I can tell, assuming in this way opens all kinds of cans of worms in your relationship with that person: in discussing a thing they might not care about, but that you assume they have, has emphasised your role in your relationship, and that what you want to discuss is the thing that will be discussed. There’s also the ever-annoying existence of gender here, where our idiotic and generalised to the point of obsoletion idea that women care more about their appearance than men has led to awkward situations: I’ve seen women be innocently complimented on their looks, only to be told that actually they didn’t care what they wore that morning, and men who did make an effort totally ignored, the world unappreciative of their matching jean hems and shoelaces.

I like talking to people about things they like; normally this criteria is filled, but if it’s not, then by extension I’m abjectly ignoring one of their interests in favour of my assumption of those interests. As far as I can tell, talking to a person about their hair means not talking to them about their favourite TV show, or their stance in the Mass Effect 2 vs Last Of Us debate, or whether they remember any of the songs from Charlie McDonnell’s album This Is Me. Making this mistake is already a bad thing, but when it comes to clothes, and bringing with them all their connotations of superficiality and, especially, gender roles, I worry that every time I say ‘your outfit is nice’ I’m judging them as a human mannequin and not as the collection of ideas and mannerisms they are.

Equally, I’m not part of the ‘shut up and take a compliment’ hoard of folks over on Men’s Rights sites; I don’t want an oppressive, simple solution to my own insecurities, confusion and awkwardness in conversation, I want those problems to be thought about, and discussed.

The best part of coming to uni has been that I’m interacting with people I genuinely care about on a near-daily basis, so I’m less arrogant than I was back in the ‘I’ll say what I like and if you get offended it’s your fault’ days of a few years ago. I like my friends because they’re smart, and have interesting ideas and the ability to discuss them, and a few of them even get the references on my t-shirts; I don’t want to discredit that personal connection we have by introducing superficial pleasantries to our discussions, that are boring and generic at best, and presumptuous and offensive at worst.

So I won’t tell you that you look nice today, even if you do and you put loads of effort into your outfit and such a compliment would literally make your day. It’s hard to tell whether someone cares and wants to talk about their looks, but we can’t deny that we all want to talk about the thoughts we have, and the words we say; so I’ll play it safe and talk to you about those things.

Why Fashion Doesn’t Suck!

(not that I’m gonna start brushing my hair of matching my shoes to my shirts any time soon)

Having pussied out of writing a post yesterday, I thought I should change things up a bit on this fine Redux Week by taking an old post and updating it, not by furthering the argument presented, but flipping it entirely, arguing the opposite in some sort of weirdly one-sided time-frakkery, having a discussion that Past James can’t hope to defend himself against. Because he is dead. So without delay, here’s the updated, and inverted, version of my old post Why Fashion Sucks.

I still stand by my old criticisms – that it’s expensive, a passive form of self-expression, and ‘beauty’ is fast becoming an objective trait rather than a subjective judgement – but I feel I didn’t give the valid counter-arguments, that I now appreciate to a greater extent, their due weight. For instance, it is, ultimately, a form of self-expression; I honestly didn’t realise this until the last few weeks, when I watched an old Vlogbrothers video in which Hank made the point that we can express ourselves through our clothes – I’d always seen it as an exercise in conformity, to fit into the world around us as part of the increasingly objective definition of beauty. But if I choose to wear a Bad Religion shirt over a Stephenvlog shirt on any particular day, that’s a decision affecting my looks and nothing else, so I can’t really sit here and claim to be totally disinterested in fashion, as a means of reflecting ideas and beliefs through the medium of t-shirts.

Indeed, I create characters – anyone from literary figures to Sims – and spend as much time clothing their bodies as I do crafting their personalities; the point here is that if fictional characters exist as representations of ideas (which I think they do), their appearances and their mindsets are equally useful to the writer in determining those – by extension, if a real-life person is a realisation of ideas and concepts (which I reckon we are), my clothes are as much an indicator of those concepts as the ideas I silently and individually nurture in my head.

I’d argued last time that clothes are also superficial, and by extension temporary, but I then blasted tattoos for being unremovable, and too permanent: now that I possess a number of shirts with confrontational messages on them – the Bad Religion Crossbuster isn’t something I’d wear around the UCL Christian Union, and the Anti-Flag F*ck Police Brutality shirt would probably be a bit much unless I was at a punk gig – I’m realising that I don’t want to be a pushy liberal twat all the time; there are days where I want a nice, ‘OMG I get that reference’ response to my YuGiOh Abridged shirt.

I still don’t care too much about fashion, or my appearance; some days I think it’d be nice to have pink hair, or those cool fishnet gloves alternative singers wear, or a Courage My Love tanktop, but most days I don’t, and such things would impede my ability to play football or run for a bus at the drop of a hat, which is still the most important factor to me in choosing an outfit. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only factor; sure, I wear t-shirts and tracksuits all the time, but there is a decision-making process behind the grey trackies with black stripes, or the grey trackies with bright green stripes, that I now realise doesn’t mean I’m a total rejecter of fashion. As long as it’s cheap, and practical enough to play a sport in, I’ll wear it, and happily engage in a discussion about which Nike running top goes with which pair of leggings. And this probably means I’m caught between sucking it up and actually appreciating fashion, and wearing a straight-up burlap sack with arm-holes, but I don’t care; fashion is annoying, but it certainly doesn’t outright suck.

Kim Jong-un Has A New Haircut

(this is why I don’t care for politics, or fashion)

This is another one of those anti-posts, where the majority of the post consists of me telling you how I’m not writing a post today; sorry, I’ve had a frakked-up sleep schedule all week since buying The Sims 4 and playing it for eight hours solid in one night, and my Chester save on Football Manager is really going well, so I’m splitting my, largely nocturnal, waking hours between those two games and crying as I glance at my unread copy of The Mill on the Floss on the corner of my desk, looming menacingly as a literal and metaphorical representation of how I’ll graduate with an English degree, and more skills in analysing the defensive weaknesses of the wide 4-2-3-1 formation than iambic pentameter.

But I don’t want to leave you with absolutely bugger-all, so here’s an amusing Vox article on Kim Jong-un’s haircut, which is pretty much exactly the kind of thing I’d have written about it myself if they hadn’t beaten me to the punch.