Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The search for perfection in an age of online shopping and mass-produced everything

After the Zara dress didn't work out, I was left thinking maybe the clothes-shopping bug would be met some other way. There's always the list of items I want and - increasingly, the longer I live in the woods and refuse to drive to the mall - need. According to that Buzzfeed "privilege" quiz, if you buy new clothes more than once a month, you have, I don't know, shopping privilege.* I think I'm in the clear; the stains and holes of various tank tops confirm. So, the contenders:

-COS has arrived in 'merica, online-only at this point. What is COS? Higher-end H&M - the Banana Republic to H&M's Old Navy. Minimalist, vaguely Scandinavian clothes whose main appeal, I'm starting to think, was that you could only get them abroad. Scarcity and all that. I was so excited! But now that there's all this COS before me, I'm starting to remember why I never bought any of those dresses when in COS in person. Everything looks distinctly intended for a very tall woman. Like the shoulders would be too broad, and, in the case of dresses and skirts, like they'd make me look Orthodox. (There's already a friend pointing out on Facebook that I look Orthodox in my graduation robe. It's unavoidable.) The site's underwear, at least, has potential, but there are just some items (shoes, bras) you need to try on in person.

-I have a longstanding love-hate relationship with this Everlane t-shirt. The doubt isn't exactly over whether it would fit (their v-neck fits fine), so much as whether a navy pocket tee is normcore-fabulous or a terrible look chosen by the boys at my high school who most ostentatiously rejected style. So bad it's good or just... bad? Normally, if I'm thinking about a relatively inexpensive item long enough, this is the sign to buy. But in this case, it seems possible that the item in question would actually make my wardrobe worse.

-I have a love-love relationship, meanwhile, with these sneakers. Nike, fine, how original. But they're what I was looking for, style-wise, and have this bizarre quality of fitting perfectly. These were the winners, and have yet to disintegrate after extensive walking in Philadelphia and New York. That's about all you can ask of a pair of shoes.

*What does this mean, even, in this age of H&M and Forever 21? A black coffee (if pour-over) may well cost more than a new shirt.

10 comments:

Miss Self-Important said...

Most of the COS models look like they've just been discharged from the hospital and haven't yet had a chance to change. These clothes appear not to have been designed with women's bodies in mind, but as if they were intended to decorate six foot stacks of boxes.

Phoebe said...

Now that you mention it...

But I still think I like the clothes - like a more minimalist Zara! - and just couldn't wear them because of my build. As for the build that would work in them, definitely someone tall, but maybe sort of tall and, as you say, rectangular? They'd be (and in the photos, are) far too wide (even assuming they've all been pinned in the back) for models.

Whatever the case, I'll always sort of resent that any clothing described as geometric or avant-garde will look neither of these things when draped over my not-atypical female proportions.

Miss Self-Important said...

Yeah the sheath dresses are ok on tall, stick-like women, but what human shape could this outfit ever flatter?

Why not geometric designs on more fitted garments, like the DVF Mondrian dress and its many knock-offs?

Miss Self-Important said...

Oh, link fail. Meant this: http://www.cosstores.com/us/Shop/Women/New/Textured_knit_top/365246-15144107.1#c-15133319

Phoebe said...

That shirt you've linked to makes me even more convinced that this isn't yet another case of clothes that would look good only on models. A shirt like that would have to be for a woman who's tall as well as big all-around. A kind of Nordic version of Eileen Fisher. That, or someone more our size would wear it as a tunic dress, with a belt, over leggings. But I think it's the former - note that only the "large" has sold out.

Re: the DVF Mondrian dress, maybe? I find that I end up looking frumpy in dresses with that shape (not that I don't wear them anyway), and end up looking better in something with a waist. This was my most recent dress purchase, and the closest I can find to the Zara dress, which was solid coral-pink, is this.

Anyway, what I meant was more that when a dress itself - not the print - is described as geometric or architectural or whatever, there's generally the assumption that the body's own curves won't distract from the artistic vision. These dresses never seem to incorporate/allow for the usual-if-not-universal female features into their designs.

Miss Self-Important said...

Yes, I agree, fitted waists always better for me too. But of this variant of clothing-for-human-boxes that can never really work for me, the sheath dress is the least offensive and geometric print the closest to geometric anything that will look decent on me. On the whole, I agree, none of it works on short women. Asymmetrical sweaters like diagonal zips (or buttons or whatever) are ok on the height-impaired but most of this long shirt/harem pant stuff is horrible.

I never thought of Eileen Fisher as for large and tall women, but I guess I never thought anything of it ever. I guess that makes sense that it never even caught my attention.

Phoebe said...

Agreed re: that sort of dress being the only geometric option. And it's a cool dress, but just one dress. Thus why, despite my fitting-into-clothes-at-regular-stores privilege, I end up enjoying Pinterest or fashion blogs more than putting myself into any such outfits. Well, that and the Cheapness Studies reasons. But the gap between 'thin enough to shop wherever' and 'tall and thin enough to look remotely how the model did in the outfit' is... significant.

Re: Eileen Fisher, I meant that this looked like a version of it meant for the tall-and-broad. I don't think Eileen Fisher itself is meant for any particular build.

kei said...

FWIW, I have the same boxcut Everlane tshirt you're looking at--navy! The reason why I chose it over the other tshirts is because of the structured cut; the other tshirts look too baggy and on me, somehow, it just comes off or just feels too sloppy. And I guess if I'm going to choose between looking sloppy, like dorm-style or something, and looking potentially normcore-fab but also like an awkward teenage boy, I choose the latter set of possibilities. I guess it just depends on what else you wear, to where, and so on. But I think the fact that it's Everlane makes me feel like it's okay to dress "down" with it, so I don't worry too much about the potentially bad outcome.

Now that you've mentioned normcore fab potential for this tshirt, I know what I'm wearing to the next farmer's market! With which I have a love-hate relationship! haha!

Phoebe said...

Kei, you've relaunched the wanty. I see what you mean about structured vs: sloppy. Thus far I've been content just putting a similarly-shaped (but no-pocket) t-shirt from many-years-ago American Apparel into the rotation, but when it's time for a new one...

Phoebe said...

Ooh, just discovered that I have free shipping with no minimum, and thus that I didn't need to add another non-wanty tee to the order. That decided it. Kei, I too will be engaging in love-hate with farmers markets in one of these shirts, in however many business days it was they said it will take.