The receipt of an email from Saks Fifth Avenue exhorting me to "shop fall trends!" reminded me of something I've been meaning to rant about for a while. I know that occasionally there really are apparel fads that become apparent to anyone who tends to notice such things: low-riders, ponchos, trucker caps, belt chains -- hell, for that matter, poodle skirts and penny loafers. But in order to drum up business, the apparel industry has to at least try to convince consumers that there are seasonal trends (mini-fads, as it were) that require you to purchase new clothes or languish in the shadows cast by those more fashion-forward. Just what are these "fall trends" and "new looks for summer" and "fresh spring fashion must-haves!"? I contend that they are anything the hell you want them to be, because everyone is just making this shit up. They often happen to be the clothes you buy in a fit of retail insanity. You wear them once to work, catch sight of a co-worker staring (and not in a good way), double-take when you catch sight of yourself in a window reflection, spend the entire day hiding in your office praying you can get home before the damage to your image becomes permanent, and then you never ever wear them again. Years later, your children may use them for Hallowe'en costumes -- "My mom said this is how people used to dress back then! No, really!" Let's proceed to the evidence, shall we?
According to Saks Fifth Avenue, "people are talking about" long sweaters, leggings (apparently made of vinyl, jesus), and booties.
According to Vogue, you lose at life without a fur vest ("the must-have topper of the season!") and "classics make a comeback" [Because after all, classics have made a comeback every year since the Dior look was created. It's not lazy, it's just true!], so get out there and, um, buy another trenchcoat because the one you have just isn't classic enough? The official fall trend report on style.com lists the following "top" trends for fall: peplum waists, "country life" plaids and tweeds [Holy fuck, people, McCain is not going to win this election, all right?], long skirts and coats, minimalism ["Stark, architectural tailoring" . . . the better to make those peplum-wearing dumbasses look like fashion clowns!], superhero-inspired clothing [No. I think not.], and "the winter garden," which consists of prints and . . . feathers.
Harper's Bazaar confirms the forecast for plaids [Crap!], but throws into the mix "sleek, jet-black" cocktail dresses, lace, "form-fitting garments," and velvet.
Are we beginning to get the picture here? Everything is a fall trend. Every fucking thing. If you wanted to announce that chinchilla underwear worn on the outside of your mother-of-pearl catsuit is the ONLY way to spend the fall of 2008 unless of course you LIKE being ugly, you could, and your peers in the fashion industry wouldn't laugh you out of the business -- assuming there was a manufacturer of chinchilla underwear desperate to underwrite your claims.
Also good for a laugh: the competing "faces of Fall" forecasts. It's the smoky eye (again)! No, it's the nude lip! No, no, it's green mascara! It's the natural look! It's the saturated-with-color look! Meanwhile, take a look at some of the more high-profile fashion mavens out there -- Anna Wintour, Suzy Menkes, the late Diana Vreeland. Has any one of these women changed their signature look in decades? No, they have not, because they aren't stupid people -- they just assume their readers are stupid people.
What am I wearing today? A little black dress (bought it last year at . . . um . . . can't remember), black Mary Jane shoes with a kitten heel (they're at least a year old, and they were cheap -- I think they're from DSW), and my grandmother's bright-red Chinese cinnabar beads around my neck. Everyone keeps saying I look good today. I think I've found a fall trend -- you're welcome to borrow it if you like.