Gone viral is the news story of a woman, who, clad in skinny jeans helped a friend move, and who in bending and squatting for several hours wound up hospitalized due to injuries suffered from circulatory and nerve damage, brought on by the trifecta of vices that comprise the legs, waist and crotch construction of a garment that was and is
1) Constructed to be snug to begin with
2) Made of elasticized fabric that clings/hugs/squeezes
3) Was very possibly worn one or more sizes smaller than realistically ideal
We'll never know for sure just how tight or too tight the actual garment fit was for this fashionista's ill-gotten fame, for that question is not politically correct enough to ask and make an issue of -- or is it? Personal taste is the private business of the wearer, including if one opts to wrangle self into a too small garment for, say, purposes of boasting of being a smaller size or in false hope of appearing slimmed down by way of wearing one's clothes tighter than a wetsuit. But garment construction and fit being what they are in the world of so-called skinny garments, the notion of achieving a good snug fit is completely in the realm of possibility, as is doing it with a decent measure of practical comfort and tasteful non-delineation of that which should remain non-delineated. TMI, Too Much Information, is IMO also the resulting visual mishap when any garment is worn too tight, when too many body parts are exposed and too little is left to the imagination -- and launched into the realm of bad taste. And, btw, leggings are not pants. Let me repeat: leggings are not pants.
When one's garments land one in the hospital for the better part of a week, I think it is also time to ask the obvious as regards the obvious. Why in the name of fashion and style do we perpetrate injustices to ourselves?
Disablement in the name of style has existed from the beginning of recorded fashion history: from foot-long finger nails to the baked-on talons of today, from breath-stealing, rib-crunching corsets to the oft questionable shapewear industry of today (Why get fit n slim when one can pack it in?), from waxed and powered wigs and coiffures of long ago or the lavender-tinted mini permed up-dos our grannies sported to the high dollar, high maintenance chem-laden blowouts, weaves and extensions of today, which overtake life on many levels and leave proverbial kitchen cupboards bare in the name of tress financing, to high heeled and platform shoes that leave one cramped, hobbling and broke, we did it centuries ago and boy oh boy, we do it now. In the name of standing out, in this day and age when we could or should know better, we fail and fall on even more levels than ever before.
The skinny pant crisis story points to what I have long called the Brat Effect. This look is achieved when too-tight garments, most especially pants or leggings, have been squeezed into so that appendages appear to nearly burst from the garment, like meat forced into its casing. A bratwurst, FYI, is a sausage, generously sized and spiced, a German classic. Try one with some curry ketchup.
The Brat Effect is part n parcel of what I also call TTH: Trying Too Hard. Trying Too Hard is over exposure of self in the name of attention garnering. This is generally accomplished with mixed results. In the case of too-tight pants, it is the corporeal landscape of lines, creases and bulges created when the stretch fabric of a tight garment digs into its dressed body parts. TTH in haute couture is best represented in the beaded, transparent gowns sported by performers and "reality" celebs seeking viralized notoriety. Dubbed "naked dresses" and recently lamented by designer Carolina Herrera (Thank you), naked dresses are prime examples of the "LOOK AT ME" trend in high fashion. TTH remains, no matter how high the cost or how choice red carpet event, low on the ladder of fashion aesthetics, for it garners attention by force of knee-jerk distractibility. Even if one concludes the look is unattractive and tantamount to TMI, the moment in which jaws drop and eyes pop is easily accomplished time and again. Seen so often now as to be rather old hat, it is a look Cher, thanks to Bob Mackie, nailed many years ago. Somehow simply different and tricky to pinpoint as to just why (I suspect it has to do both with the wearer and the gown itself and just how often we have now seen this), the shimmering, sleek seductiveness of Cher's earlier ensembles is a distant precursor to the bedazzled TMI of today.
The fascinating irony is the choir preaching in this fashion lament, for the perpetrators of Brat Effect and TTH are, of course, also the last ones to see it that way. One fashionista's TMI is another's triumph. If surveyed and analyzed, and even if construed from a sociological or even biological point of view, I think many would be surprised and many others quite amused by what looks are best appreciated by whom. Not only should we consider aesthetic success a result of smart fit and a savvy suitability, we should consider it a form of applied intelligence - fashion wisdom. With the ills of fashion foolishness having been recently documented anew, with nerve endings, veins and arteries medically substantiating what the eyes have been noticing all along, I think it is time to once again look into the mirror and challenge our convoluted notions of on-trend style.
If we are going to continue to make things more difficult in the name of fashion, can we at least quit injuring ourselves? And if we must continue to expose ourselves, can we hold back just a smidge in the name of allure?
As photographer Richard Avedon once mused on Jackie Kennedy Onassis
She knows when to hold herself back while everyone else you know gives too much of themselves at one time. So when she comes out, it's a great tour-de-force.