What not to wear*

My friend Tempest is running into some trouble for dissing the wearing of ill-fitting corsets. People are rightly saying that they can wear whatever they bloody well please. And Tempest is rightly saying that she can rant about whatever she bloody well pleases.

While it’s incredibly rude to lecture people to their faces1 about the inappropriateness or ill-fittedness or ugliness or general appallingness of what they’re wearing, it is perfectly fine to hold forth about it on your blog, or with your friends, as long as you’re not naming anyone (unless they’re famous2), or posting photos (again doesn’t apply to the famous).

That’s freedom folks: you can do whatever you want so long as it doesn’t break laws, and people are free to bitch about you doing whatever you want. Cause, you know, what do we live for but to make sport of our neighbours?

I really enjoy dissing other people’s clothes and I really enjoy hearing other people do the same. I know that makes me a bad person, but there you have it.

I am not sartorially perfect. I have worn many things in the past that I wish I hadn’t.3 I’m sure that I will also wear embarrassing things in the future. Hopefully less than in the past, but who knows when my attraction to bright, shiny, glittery things will next overturn my judgement? Feel free to bitch about what I wear. Just don’t tell me about it.

I am currently bitching about the following clothes:

    Formal shorts—An abomination! On men or women—knees are not to be displayed on formal occasions. I don’t care how hot it is!

    Micro mini skirts—They don’t look good on anyone because to wear one is to be in constant terror of revealing your gyno bits to the universe

    Gypsy skirts—What can I say? I was traumatised by Stevie Nicks at an early age

    Too tight stove pipe pants—Is it so wrong of me not to want to see the outline of boys’ reproductive bits?

    Lowriders—Will they ever go away? Your date is not for sharing with the world. You don’t like it from plumbers, why do you think it’s okay for you?

    Espadrilles—In the last year I’ve seen them on four different continents and they never once looked good. Make them go away already!

What are your most hated items of clothing that the cruel cruel cruel world keeps subjecting you to? Bitch away!

*The original UK “What Not to Wear” is one of my favourite shows ever. Much bitching about fashion and taste plus nasty sublimated class warfare. What is not to love? I also adore that the two arbiters of taste sometimes wear truly appalling clothes. Bliss!

  1. Yes, even if you’re their parent. Especially if you’re their parent! []
  2. Which is why we have the joys of gofugyourself. []
  3. Exhibit A: A 1980s ill-fitting blue satin jacket. Ill-fitting because I made it myself. Should not have been worn because I made it myself. Would probably still have been hideous if someone competent had made it. []


  1. marrije on #

    Oooh tell us more about the nasty sublimated class war things in What Not To Wear!! I’m increasingly aware that I’m pretty blind to class warfare things (why? sheltered privileged upbringing, probably, me and my montessori secondary school), so I love being educated about that. Or love… More like I think i need to do better in noticing those things.

    I enjoy what not to wear for the shameless cringe-inducing boobgrabbing. and yes, they’re often hideously dressed themselves. huh. isn’t that weird? Or comforting, maybe.

  2. robin on #

    Those pointy pointy shoes that make one look like an elf. Also, shrugs, the sweaters too small for a cabbage patch kid, much less a human being. Revenge of the spandex pants.

    Of course, I’m the most cranky and least stylish person in town, so what do I know?

  3. Sherwood Smith on #


    Croip pants. They look ugly on everyone.

    Big, clodhopping shoes with giant soles. They make the most graceful woman trundle like an old camel.

    Tight pants on guys. What could possibly be attractive about their parts being squished out of proportion? Ditto saggers, leaving one with an uninspiring view of eight inches of boxer shorts. Blegh.

    Of course I say this aware that I wear pants as lowriders whether they were meant to be or not, as I cannot bear anything at all round my waist. But I wear super long, baggy tops to hide my aged tuckus, too.

  4. little willow on #

    i don’t believe in formal shorts. the phrase itself, people, come ON.

  5. shelly rae on #

    Ok dislikes then:

    Those little “sweaters” that cover only your arms and boobs and are worn over another shirt. I think of them as boobie sweaters–they’re just silly.

    ditto with the super pointy shoes, just looking at them makes me wince. kicking someone in those could be considered assault with a deadly weapon.

    Shorts or skirts so short and tight that butt cheek fat protrudes around the edges.

    Anything that reveals one’s thong and thongs (the butt thongs, not the foot ones)

    super baggy clothes, especially pants–when I lived in Chicago I used to delight in accidently pantsing young men on the bus & el when they walked by–often holding their pants up I’d ‘accidently’ step on their hem. It was rather satisfying, not only did the pants come down but the young men sometimes fell too. although the time when the gun hit the floor was a bit alarming….

    and heaven knows, I’ll never make a best dressed list….

  6. veejane on #

    All humans must eliminate too-tight jeans from their wardrobes forthwith, at double speed for the ultra-low rise too-tight jeans that bisect the flank muscle and create a giant bubble of excess directly above the waist seam. People! If you look prettier naked, you should not wear those clothes.

    Also, manpris are the pants of Satan.

    Also also? You may not wear a serrape unless you are (a) actually lost in the Mexican desert or (b) actually named Clint Eastwood. Those are your only two choices; if that means you have to go book a trip to Sonora forthwith, I am happy for you. Go now.

  7. Katerate on #

    As said by my good friend Arielle and fashion buff;

    1. Sequin bags. It’s like having a disco ball on your arm. If I can see your bag from a mile away, take it off. Or kill it.
    2. Ugg boots. They are called ‘ugg’ for a reason. Because they are ugly. They also give cankles.
    3. Arielle agrees with the muffin tops and miniskirts.
    4. Footless tights with a skirt. Pick one– skirt or pants. It’s all right with a long shirt, it’s kind of cool, kind of retro. But ehh.

    Yeeeaaahhh. I showed her this entry and she wanted to make a comment. And so there it is.

  8. cherie priest on #

    People (usually – but not always – on a man) who wear nice button-up shirts but accompany the nice button-up shirts with flipflops and jeans. It looks ridiculous on my husband, anyway.

    Any article of clothing (usually – but not always – on a woman) which prompts the muffin-top phenomenon. Get pants that fit, ladies. Honestly. If you’ve got a vacuum seal going on, try the next size up.

  9. cherie priest on #

    Also, the indie-girl thing (popular here in Seattle) of wearing jeans under a dress. Not under a long shirt, mind you, but a proper dress. Honestly. Pick one and be done with it.

  10. Ben Payne on #

    What’s an espadrille?

    When I on occasion venture to the gymnaseum, I must admit I do not recommend gentlemen wear muscle shirts or short shorts. In fact hot pants/bike pants are generally a no-no for everyone.

  11. Katie on #

    Well, I googled both formal shorts and espadrilles since I didn’t know either one. And I have to agree about the espadrilles, especially the ones with wedges.

    And most of the formal shorts I saw pictures of were rather awful, but one pic made it look instead like very nice micro-mini skirt, without any gyno bits showing, and I have to admit I rather liked the effect. This one only.

    I confess I’m old enough to have loved mini-skirts in the far dead past. Strange to think now how “liberating” they felt at the time!

    Along with those venues in which one could revel in looking prettier naked….

  12. Ken Kugler on #

    I have never been a fan of huge oversized everything. Baggy pants that look like they will fall off and shirts soooo huge that people practically get lost inside them. I think that they look funny but then I know that everyone who wears them think they are cool looking. Hey, I have pictures of myself from a few years back and I know that I thought I looked good. Oh my god, how goofy it looks now.

  13. Justine on #

    Hmm, I’m actually a fan of baggy clothing. I live in my pjs and they’re always at least a couple of sizes too big. So comfy! But I agree that it’s prolly not appropriate for formal wear. And, yeah, the whole knickers showing is more than a little naff.

  14. Rebecca on #

    score one more for the pointy shoes
    whale tales
    thongs (of the undies variety)
    arse-baring jeans…. er, i’d post a link for this one, as my friend wrote a pretty hilarious post, but it’s def not work safe. 😛
    leggings under skirts
    shirts that look like children’s dresses
    too-big baseball caps with flat brims

  15. Ben Payne on #

    I’m with you on the baggy clothes, J… I think they often look great…

  16. Chris S. on #

    “I really enjoy dissing other people’s clothes and I really enjoy hearing other people do the same”

    Same here. Every year I throw an Oscar party, because its vastly more fun to trash-talk the outfits in company.

    As for dislikes: midriff baring T-shirts, especially in winter. C’mon people: you’re supposed to *protect* your central core, not expose it to the elements.

  17. Sherwood Smith on #

    Yes in baggy clothes! They are so comfy! And one is not assaulting those behind with thong-butt, meta-bulge, or other fashion foo-foo.

  18. E. Lockhart on #

    okay, I was in danger of buying a shrug sweater at the Boden sale, but now I am safe!
    thank you ladies

  19. Ez on #

    A handful of years ago, kitten-heeled thongs were in fashion. A TERRIBLE idea. The whole idea of thongs is that they’re comfy – giving them heels was a monstrosity.

    Have a lovely day! 🙂

  20. lili on #

    ez: i remember that! that was awful! luckily even the bogan fashion zombies didn’t think it was a good idea, and i’m pretty sure they’re all landfill now.

    it may have been the most horrible fashion disaster ever… except that period in the early to mid nineties where everyone was in lurid citrus colours: lime green everywhere, ugh.

  21. Justine on #

    E. Lockhart: Phew! Shrugs are an abomination!

    Ez: I’m so glad I missed that. I hate kitten heels even when they look elegant, they’re impossible to walk in. Worse than actual stilettos.

  22. Diana on #

    Oh, kitten heel thongs are very much still in. blech.

    i like espadrilles, but then again, i’m from florida.

    with everyone on the death to formal shorts. and leggings, actually, all fashion trends that look like they came out of the eigthies.

    i hate shrugs, except in formal wear, and mostly, i hate the trend where the teens where the brightly colored shrug buttoned over a white t shirt. Even on the model-actresses on the wb, they look pregnant. white makes you look bigger than colors, so the white stands out farther.

  23. Anonymous on #

    I am rather a prude, but I might be willing to tolerate ladies wearing mini-(though not micro-mini)skirts, go-go boots, ”and”, sir-reverence, pantihose(but not fishnet stockings). I feel that female lower limbs should never be publicly exposed. I also wish that hats and gloves were still popular.

  24. Anonymous on #

    Fishnet stockings and tights look so trashy (for lack of a better and invulgar word). In addition, if a lady is tall, she should never wear stiletto heels.

  25. gina on #

    what age group wears the fish net stockings and for what occasion (work, evening attire) ?

    Although I have seen them in fashion pages of magazines I have yet to see them being worn in the daytime in central california.

    Perhaps it’s more of a trend regionally.

  26. Anonymous on #

    Personally, I have rarely seen them in public. I was merely mentioning how they look upon someone. I apologise for any confusion.

  27. Lily on #

    I saw a woman the other day wearing beautiful, elegant knee-high black leather boots. The sort of boots that you can’t help but covet on sight.

    Unfortunately, she was wearing them with loose cotton shorts. The sort of shorts that you wear to jog, or to jump hurdles. The sort of shorts that look unflattering even on the sports field.

    The dissonance gave me vertigo. I’ve never understood quite how literally something could be painful to look at before.

  28. Justine on #

    Lily: Oh dear! Maybe she was just breaking the boots in—preparing for a big night by walking around the block in them . . .

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