Thursday, July 24, 2008

What Not to Wear

I have been watching What Not to Wear lately, but not as a fan. I watch it in complete fascination at the people who let themselves be transformed by two people who claim to know all the right things about how to dress, and apparently there is only one right way.

If you've not seen the show, let me tell you—Stacy London and Clinton Kelly work with a person whose family or friends have handed them over as needing fashion help. They throw out everything in that poor woman's closet, mocking her and her clothes in the process even if she cries, and then teach that person how to dress. Granted, the subject of each episode gets $5000 to spend on new clothes and shoes, and she gets a new haircut and some makeup tips, but she also has to listen while these two people tell her how frumpy she looks or how it doesn't matter if she is comfortable in her clothes or thinks her clothes represent her personality. "What, your personality is a circus tent?" What's important is what others think when they see her—do they see that the bottom balances out the top and is there the essential jacket to finish the outfit and can they see an elongated leg caused by high heels and pointy toed shoes.

High heeled shoes shift the balance of weight toward the ball of your foot. They cause the pelvis to shift and do damage not only to the feet—bunions, callouses, corns, painful and misshapen toes—but they also damage the lower back and sometimes are the cause of shoulder and neck pain. Yet women wear them, and people like Stacy London, who has been lectured by her own podiatrist, continue to push something akin to corsets and foot binding for the sake of an "elongated leg" and a shapely calf.

I'm all for feeling attractive, but what I'd like to see is a show that redefines beauty as something that truly is "in the eye of the beholder" so that when you look in the mirror, you approve of your image regardless of what a "fashion specialist" might say. I'd like to see a show called What Not to Think About Yourself or How Not to Define Yourself by Your Wardrobe.

If all the hosts of What Not to Wear were to offer advice to people who say they hate their clothes and would like some shopping guidance, and if they would try to find clothing that fits the individual personality, I might not find it so grating to my sensibilities. I might not wince and feel uneasy in my chair. But they seem to think there is only one way to dress, and if you want not just to feel good about yourself but to also wear the right thing, just listen to what they tell you.

I suspect Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would throw out my entire closet and replace my clothes with jackets and the perfect mix of patterns and solids and those high heels to elongate my legs. Stacy London and Clinton Kelly can kiss my fat, baggy pants.


dive said...

Hoorah for you, Robyn.
They can kiss your mommy-pants.
Please forgive a piece of advice from a telly-hating Englishman, but try exercising your right not to watch such brain-curdling crap.
Put some Dennis Brain on the stereo or listen to NPR or watch a movie or get your mommy-pants off the sofa and live it up!
There is simply no excuse for anyone to do something as mind-curdlingly stupid as watching television. Least of all someone with a brain as full of wonderful things as yours.
Turn it off.
Live life.

MmeBenaut said...

Oh dear Dive, that was a bit harsh. We girls need to watch a bit of TV to keep up with the world. Well, maybe not this show but at least Robyn watched, dismissed the message and stated her own preferences in an entertaining and creative way. Didn't you Scout?
This is so funny because I went out tonight and wore a low heel for the first time since my spinal fusion and foot surgery. It went quite well which surprised me. I mostly wear low or no heel these days for obvious reasons but I sometimes long for a stiletto. I get back, neck and should pain from sitting at the computer!! My mother, in her mid-70's refuses to wear anything but a stiletto or a high-heeled wedge but that's mostly because she is only 4'10". I guess it takes all sorts. I took a photo of an incredible pair of boots on the waitress - will post them further along the track. They are precisely the shape that will condemn her back and feet in later years, I am sure.

Alifan said...

Hee hee Robyn Dive says the same to me when I watch Gok Wan.. he is a lovely gay fellow who makes sense when it comes to what to wear, he says you should wear what suits your figure no matter what shape, good job in my case, cos it has all sort of gone south!!!!!!!!!I love high heels mmebenaut, but have to wear low ones when I go walking with Dive!!!!!

Gina said...

I'm not sure they would like me, even though I don't do the baggy pant thing.

I do agree with the high heel thing, though. They are much too into high heels.

Rich said...

These shows tend to be lame - like "queer eye for the straight guy", like gay guys are the only people who know what to wear? They're fun at first but get old fast.

Robyn, I'm sending you a J.Jill gift card ASAP!!!

Shan said...

Well, this made me laugh the other day and I had to swing back by for comments.
My mom (not a shallow person) watches this show faithfully and it cracks me up that she takes it to heart so much.
I have always liked to look somewhat fashionable although I tend to lean to the youthful side, which can be a little much at my age. I also think it's good to know how to flatter your figure with certain shapes. But I've also been a huge rebel to those people who totally snob out on clothing choices. Why can't I wear capris or short shorts if I wanna? No, I will NOT throw out my clompy shoes just because skinny heals are "in" this year. THEY JUST WANT OUR MONEY!!!!
I do think there is a certain attire that is more respected in the work force but I don't care to be judged when I don't have a special dress code required.
I love project runway but I could NEVER take fashion scrutiny to such a level that I could slam someone for wearing a Journey T-shirt if they wanted to. WHO CARES?!!! STOP JUDGING ME!!!
I like living in this town where clothes are not on the forefront. It is a huge money sucker to keep up with the Jones's and it tires me to be so scrutinized when I go to the "city" where I'm from. Uggggh.
Having said all that, We DO still expect you to model your new green mail order clothes when they come in. We'll be MUCH nicer then Stacy and Clinton if you don't wear a proper heal with them. ;)