Our question this week comes from Danny Ashton Earll:
What happened to the days where people tried to be presentable in public? Why are 30-year-old women walking around town in PJ pants and oversized hoodies? What has happened to the world of fashion?
Colleen: Whoa. That’s like, three questions.
Most scholars agree that the demise of fashion sense occurred roughly in the middle of 2005. We, as a nation, were eyebrow deep in the tabloid fodder of the Pitt/Aniston divorce, allegedly at the hands of slinky seductress Angelina Jolie. I, personally, had difficulty during those rumor fueled days finding the willpower to put on Real Pants for a long while. However, I found it within myself to be an adult and dress appropriately for all social obligations. It was rough, but I managed. Somehow.
But some of these girls are clearly still not ready to move on. I get it, we all handle national heartbreak in different ways, and it’s not my place to judge how others grieve. Perhaps they are embittered by the fact that you can be America’s Sweetheart and still lose your husband to a mysterious brunette with great curves. (As this column is written by a pair of mysterious brunettes with great curves, be aware, we could steal any of your husbands at any moment, were we not so enamored of our own.)
I think a good rule of thumb for people—not just women, because men can’t dress themselves, either—is to always shoot for overdressed, rather than underdressed. I would rather be the one in the crowd looking down from my fashion laurels than looking up in my jeans and flip flops at a party. Remember that people are going to formulate their first impression of you before you even open your mouth. Fashion is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to be an expression of your personality—and I guess if your personality is frumpy and wrinkled, then go ahead, girl, wear those PJs to the store.
Bottom line: If it looks like something you could get away with wearing “for a quick trip to Walmart” in the middle of the night—burn it. Don’t even give it to charity, they don’t want it. Put on something that fits, that makes you feel good, and rock the shit out of it.
Daniella: I was going to play devil’s advocate and talk about how leggings are salvation from the tyranny of pants, how fashion is freedom of expression and everyone should wear whatever they feel good in. All of these are things I believe, but seriously? Leggings aren’t pants no matter how badly we want them to be, freedom of expression is great as long as you keep your lady garden covered and if you feel good in Tweety Bird PJs and a coffee stained hoodie, you need to check yourself.
Some good rules to follow: if it’s made out of anything stretchy (leggings, tights, etc.) you should have a skirt over it. The first rule of fashion is your cookie must be covered. It’s just polite. No one needs to see your secrets. The second rule of fashion is if you looked at yourself in the mirror and thought, even for a moment, that maybe what you’re wearing wasn’t appropriate — you should trust your gut and change your clothes.
Danny’s question wasn’t about my Puritanical views on skirt length though, so back to the questions at hand. “Why are 30-year-old women walking around down in their PJs and oversized hoodies?” Because sometimes when you’re sad (especially if you’re post break-up) something breaks in your brain. You wallow for a few days, wrapping yourself in frumpy sweaters, pajama pants and your well-worn Tori Amos video collection on VHS. I call this the depression nest. In these times you will occasionally find yourself without whiskey, ice cream, tissues or the makings for grilled cheese and this will necessitate a trip to the grocery store. In these moments you may decide to leave the house with bed head and those frumpy jammies. This is okay; you are signaling to the world that you have The Sad.
So, my dear Danny, I choose to live in a world where when I see someone dressed like this in public I assume they have just had their heart broken and need new depression nest rations. I remain optimistic that these women will recover; they will put their real clothes back on and go into the world ready to conquer it looking fresh to death. This pit stop in Frumpville is the result of sadness and not a permanent life choice.
The leggings-as-pants people I don’t have as much hope for. That is apparently an epidemic that can’t be stopped.
Bottom line: wear what you want to wear but leggings aren’t pants and if you choose to “express yourself” with filthy PJs in public know that you are being silently judged by everyone around you. We have hope for a swift recovery and recommend staying away from romantic comedies starring Hugh Grant until you’re ready to wear real clothes in public again.