Last weekend, I went to a club to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The music wasn’t particularly moving me (my friend, Catherine, kept scowling over a house remix of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”), so I started to people-watch.
The key to people-watching is subtlety – you don’t want to be too obvious about it, and you don’t want to leer, stare or ogle. But even the most seasoned people-watcher can falter in the face of a hot mess.
A woman of a certain age, in a white, fitted lace top. Wearing no bra. How could I not stare with those nipples staring back at me?
Thus began an ongoing conversation at our table about the need for some type of fashion police, issuing citations and hauling people in for felonies. (Nipple woman would have gotten 25 years in fashion jail.) Yes, I understand that clothing is a personal choice. And yes, that it is the inside of a person that matters, blah blah blah.
But before you judge me as shallow, hear me out.
I don’t care where what you wear or where you buy your clothes. I don’t care if your dress is designer-made or off-the-rack. And I don’t care if you’re a plain Jane or a drag-queen marvelous. I just believe that there are rules that must be obeyed, regardless of your personal style. A little extra effort will save you from open-mouthed stares, eye-rolls and smirks. And the occasional nipple flash.
The Ten Commandments of Fashion
1. Thou shall wear a layer of undergarments under clothing that is translucent, or made of thin material, to cover up your naughty bits. Ever see a grown man’s penis wobble underneath his linen pants when he walks? Not as sexy as you (or he) might think.
2. Thou shall hide your underwear. They call it underwear because you wear it under your clothes. If you are wearing a top or dress with a low back, it kind of defeats the purpose (and is a blatant “F**k you” to the designer) if you have a big old bra strap running across the middle of your back. And no one wants to see your thong peek out from the back of your jeans, thankyouverymuch.
3. Thou shall not wear socks with sandals. I once saw a man cycling in the winter slush wearing wool socks and Birkenstocks. Hey, Granola – skip the weed for one week and splurge on a pair of boots. You’ll catch a cold.
4. Thou shall wear pants that fit you (also known as the Muffin Top Rule). If your midsection is hanging over the waistband of your pants, like some sort of fleshy mushroom, YOUR PANTS ARE TOO SMALL.
5. Thou shall not don track pants outside the home or the gym. I will make the exception for yoga pants (which will provoke renewed debate with some of my friends, no doubt), with the following caveats:
- You are a personal trainer or supermodel.
- You have adequately coverage on the upper half of your body. (No midriff-baring t-shirts, unless you’re Britney Spears, circa 1999.)
- You are participating in a sport-like or casual activity, like running, or grabbing coffee from your corner Starbucks on a Sunday morning because you’re too lazy/tired/hungover to make it yourself.
6. Thou shall make sure the length of your skirt isn’t shorter than the bottom of the control-top part of your nylons.
7. Thou shall not wear leggings as pants. Camel toes should only be seen on actual camels.
8. Crocs are the devil’s footwear. If you wear them outside of your home, you’re pretty much saying to the world, “I’ve stopped caring.”
9. Thou shall not mix seasonal clothing. While spring weather in Toronto can be uncertain, there is no excuse for wearing your parka and flip-flops at the same time.
10. Thou shall wear shoes you can actually walk in. If you walk like a drunk giraffe in stiletto heels, you do not look sexy — you look like a drunk giraffe.
What are your fashion commandments?