The Fashionista’s Guide To Dressing Hideously
About a year ago, I stole a dress from my mother’s wardrobe. Not just any old dress: a woolen, multicolored, horizontally striped garment that came down to my toes. Its shape gave no indication that it had been made with the female body in mind. It hung as straight as a curtain, a curtain that had been designed to cover a very large window. The long sleeves and high neckline were somewhat reminiscent of a nuns’ habit, but the wild colors made it more of a nun-on-spring-break kind of affair. ‘Disgusting,’ I murmured as it lay heavily in my hands.
But instead of questioning my mother’s sanity for buying such an eyesore, I did what any other sensible fashionista would do and wore it to college.
I couldn’t honestly say that it was a day I received a lot of compliments, but I did spot a few envious glances being shot in my direction. They know I’ve beaten them at the style stakes this time! I thought triumphantly. I’ve transcended the very limits of fashion! I look so bad that I look good! My English teacher interrupted my reverie to tell me that I reminded her of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I like to think it was the bacon sandwich I was consuming, and not the dress, that prompted her to make such a comparison.
I left college feeling fresh and slick, and completely unaware that disaster was just round the corner. Quite literally, as that was where my boyfriend lived. I can’t quite recall what he said about my outfit (I think I’ve repressed it), but it was cruel enough to cause me to sulk for the better part of an hour. As we sat watching Friends in a frosty silence I considered the effects of the dress. It seemed I had underestimated it. As a wise man once said, with great power comes great responsibility. Some people couldn’t handle the dress, in the same way that some people can’t handle excessive amounts of Tabasco sauce in their food. I may privately judge these people, but I must respect their pathetic taste buds, and not take it personally when they spit out my cooking.
Of course my boyfriend didn’t like my outfit- it made me look like something the 70s had thrown up after a particularly unpleasant acid binge. But I wasn’t dressing for him. I was dressing for those who sacrifice their dignity in the name of fashion. I was dressing for those who wanted to smash the paradigms of style that confine our wardrobes. I was dressing for the (wo)man in the mirror!
It’s is not easy to stay fashionable in a world that exists in a constant state of flux. Trends, like rainbows, have a tendency to disappear as soon as you soon as you approach them. It takes us a while to warm to what the catwalks offer us, and by the time we muster the strength to buy what we’ve been admiring for the past month, it’s two seasons out of date.
Thankfully there’s a solution to this problem. You’ve simply got to wear start wearing stuff before you decide that you like it. It doesn’t matter if your clothes aren’t in fashion; in fact, this only goes to show that you’re ahead of fashion. Your outfit is a time-traveling sensation! Don’t shy away from repulsing your peers. Sometimes you just have to wear other people’s repulsion as an accessory.
If you’re not willing to take my word for it, then study the frightening ensembles that Lady Gaga, Paloma Faith and Nicki Minaj wear on a day-to-day basis. When Lady Gaga walked the red carpet in her meat dress, do you think she was hoping to attract potential lovers? Do you think she cried the next day as she sat in her giant diamond encrusted eggshell (or wherever she dwells) reading the all the meat puns the tabloids had come up with overnight? Don’t be ridiculous. She outshone everyone that night, and smelling like rotten flesh was a small price to pay.
The infamous meat dress in all its glory–courtesy of Heatworld.com
Similarly, when Nicki Minaj donned a green wig and pink satin tracksuit pants, it wasn’t a grave error of judgement. No matter how many times we see those photos, she will still look insanely brilliant, because an outfit that was never in fashion can’t go out of fashion.
Photo by Masatoshi Okauchi / Rex Features
Personally, my fashion crush is Paloma Faith, mainly because everything she wears looks a bit like she borrowed it from pantomime dame. Time and time again she gets voted as one of the worst dressed celebrities, but still she has not broken. She remains ahead of the game, a beacon of hope for those who those who aren’t willing to submit to Topshop’s basics.
Photo by Richard Young / Rex Features
So take inspiration from the ugly and bizarre. When woolen multicolored stripes eventually make it onto the catwalks, I’ll be known as the ultimate trendsetter. And if they never do, then at least I spent one fabulous day breaking all the rules concerning what is socially acceptable to wear outside the house.
Do you wear things that might be considered ‘ugly’? Would you ever be brave enough to rock an outfit like this? Tell us all about it in the comments–pictures encouraged!
Written by Phoebe Eccles