Wednesday, September 10, 2014

So MANY things I don't understand...

I'm having a "tired day" today, so I'm going to share with you all sorts of stray questions that wander through my head from day to day.  Maybe you see something that I'm missing in some of these situations....

First thing - have you noticed a huge trend of tee shirts with random French phrases on them?  I really wish I could have found an image of one of my favorites, which had a misspelling, and which thus made absolutely no sense...  

So does one wear this in order to appear French? Or conversely, to appear vehemently non-French?  Or is it just another random trend of things to put on tee shirts to that people continue to buy them? 

And why do grown adults wear tee shirts with writing on them?

What might be more depressing is that I'm beginning to think that the next big thing is tee shirts with pictures of Marilyn Monroe.  

From the very first, I've called these mullet skirts.  They're everywhere, and to me they look like "knee frames".  If your knees are gorgeous, I guess they're not a problem, but for most of us, it seems like a great way to emphasize one of the least attractive areas of the human body.  Do you like them?  Wear them?  Believe that they're going to vanish from the trend world in about 15 minutes?


We live very near the lake, and thus walk past the boarding areas for the tour boats almost every day.  One of the very dressiest evening cruises attracts women who, almost without exception, wear shoes like these.  These young ladies can't even get to the boat without clinging to each other, or to some poor bemused man.  How ARE they going to handle being on a boat?  Let's not kid ourselves - Lake Michigan is not glassy smooth all the time...


A couple of times recently, I have been attracted to a garment, only to find that when I pulled it off of the rack, the back zipper was completely visible.  Once in a while, I think a zipper can be a cool graphic detail, but I have a suspicion that a LOT of the time, this is being done because it's dead simple to just lay the zipper down at the top of a seam and sew it in place.  My personal favorite is when the zipper color bears no resemblance to the rest of the garment.  Yesterday I saw a navy skirt with a black zipper up the back; it would have been such a cute skirt if the zipper had been invisible, or at least navy.

Is this a trend that you've adopted?  Or is it going to vanish the minute Zara gets their next shipment?


So many questions, so many more to come...

                        NORDSTROM.com


87 comments:

  1. You post made me smile- you should do more like this. Hate writing on tee shirts, unless it's for a good cause/charity. Also hate any kind of branding/logo; sometimes 'French' is used as a kind of branding.
    I have a sailing boat and nobody would be allowed on it in those shoes!
    Alice

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  2. I am sorry you are having a tired day, but this made me laugh, its quite simple really, we are no longer part of that "tribe", its the sometime subtle, and not so subtle trends that mark us older ones out of the game, how ridiculous would we look in most of those examples? More to the point would we want to? I remember at fifteen, staggering to a party in seven inch platforms, almost breaking my ankle in the process! Its all about identity, let the young look a bit ridiculous now, thats the fun of being young, it will give them something to cringe about later in life! :)

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  3. They wear them because they like them? And it isn't our business to judge?

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    1. I agree anonymous! Fashion is supposed to be fun sometimes, and you are correct, we should not judge! :)

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  4. I call those shoes "Minnie Mouse" shoes! And no I do not like them nor the zippers or hi-lo hems.

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  5. Yeah, the "exposed zipper" style detail is a real "thing" right now...I've seen it in the sewing blogs I frequent, as a way to modernize an item of clothing: a skirt with an exposed zipper on the side, or a top with the zip in the back as a design element. It doesn't appeal to me, but then again, most trends don't appeal to me, or the majority of us who read "The Vivienne Files" I would wager!

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  6. Ha Ha! Gave me a good laugh this morning. The tees don't bother me very much. As far as the hi-low dresses, I have a hi-low maxi dress that doesn't show my knees but hits just below them. I like it a lot. I've never been one to teeter around in those sky-high shoes and can't imagine walking from my car to a boat in them, let alone getting on a boat. I truly hate the exposed zipper trend, no matter the color. Like you I think they do it because it's cheaper. I hope it goes out of style soon!

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  7. Ah, I really dislike anything with those nonsense texts, especially the 'university ...' or 'since 19..'-variety. Shopping for my 4 year old son is quite impossible, since all boys clothing is a) blue, black or green and b) claim to be of a University from 1973. The kid was born in 2010. These shirts drive me crazy, cause when its not on the front it'll be on the back! Same goes for men's clothing btw.

    The 'Allons-y' shirt is part of the Dr.Who-fandom. It's a quite common part of the show, as would be 'Geronimo!'. Makes no sense for those who do not watch the show, but is probably not a part of just-put-something-French-on-it

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    1. I saw the Allons-y shirt and though Dr Who, as well. It's even Tardis Blue. :-D

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    2. Anything Dr. Who is okay with me - I love him (all the him's, actually). Has anybody seen an episode yet with the newest Doctor? I can't wait 'til they're available in the US.

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    3. First time commenter here... The new Doctor is fabulous. I was all set not to like him but having seen 2 episodes of the new series I've changed my mind. Very different to the last few...

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    4. The new Dr. Who has started! Two episodes in and really enjoying it!

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  8. At a specialty grocery in Bloomington IN, a tee shirt for sale said "Name your poisson." My friend and I burst out laughing when we realized it was not a typo, but an advertisement.

    There are zillions of teeshirts in France with misspelled English words also...a worldwide trend, i suppose.

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    1. Love the "Name your Poisson" shirt! I hear in Japan it's common to have all kinds of clothing/bags, etc. with often non-sensical, random English words and phrases.

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    2. We have seen a lot of these tee shirts from Asia here in Australia, over many years- gives the locals a good laugh!! My D-I-L is Singaporean and *she* finds it funny too, and often sends me photos of the weirdest!

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  9. I feel like you are reading my mind! I have thought the same things about all of the above. These 'trends' are, sadly, expensive and will be gone next season. Sometimes, I just want to comment on a blog, that just because it's free, doesn't mean it looks good. I wish younger women would understand that the investment pieces must be sought out, altered and worn for years with style. But then, did I know that in my 30's? No....it blessedly came to me when I realized that I really didn't need any new clothes. I could shop my closet and it was all there. (and good blogs help!) Good post.


    Warmly, Kathleen

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  10. This is a fun post =)

    ~I dislike any t-shirt with writing on it. I have not seen the French phrase trend, but I have seen the Marilyn Monroe trend. All I ask is "why?". (I also do not like when people wear concert t-shirts to concerts. I think it looks so tacky. Only my opinion.)


    ~In 1990, I wore a hi-lo hem lace wedding dress, but the front was up to just above my ankles and the back was a sweep train. When I see the "new" trend, it makes me think the dress is too short for the wearer. I do not wear this trend now.

    ~Those shoes! UGH!!! They make people (women) look like they have pony feet. Not for me.

    ~Exposed zippers: like you, I see this as sheer laziness. I don't think it looks attractive, trendy or edgy. It just looks unfinished to me.


    I hope you feel better soon!

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  11. High-low hems and exposed zippers, just no. Graphic tee shirts I can accept but only if they are both clever and visually appealing. Slapping random words on a plain shirt doesn't qualify. But I'm known for being fussy after not finding a single tee shirt in all of Disneyworld that met my standards.

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  12. T-shirts: here in Germany, they have English words on them. Or numbers. (What is it with '9'? it's not '6' - like in The Prisoner.........). Words in general? Sometimes it's an in-joke for a particular group or show; or sometimes a memento .... (Kirov Ballet or Mariinsky Theatre anyone? They can be nice for workouts etc, if the shirt is baggy ..... or maybe that's just me .......)

    Shoes: I don't get the platform thing. Nor the ones that always scream "bondage shoes" to me (too high, half boot half sandal, too many studs.....etc). I like a nice slender-heeled moderately high court shoe ("pump" in the US, I think - in the UK,"pumps" mean either the plimso;;s you had when you were 8 or 9, or maybe ballet flats......) - but I can walk in those.......

    Exposed zips: I have seen the very occasional one that looked cool, but I agree that many look as if they are done as a cheap option.

    Aging: Cenuries ago, I realised I had crossed that divide when I saw a young, attractive girl in town in a long flowing skirt, with a short knitted top over a long-sleeved blouse (not tucked in, so that 6 inches of blouse was showing blow the bottom of the knitted top, and .... Doc Martens....... and my reaction was "Why?!"

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  13. I like graphic -shirts, but wear them mostly at the gym, or for very casual days. I think they can be fun conversation starters, depending on the situation. But I buy them with a purpose, because I like the slogan or the cause.

    As frugalscholar mentioned, foreign-words-on-shirts is a worldwide trend. It's kind of funny sometimes-- like a shirt that says "SPORTS" on it, or some other generic word that you wouldn't see on a shirt in an English-speaking country.

    I don't mind the mullet skirts or exposed zippers, although they are not something I'd wear. I'm glad to say that I think the platform heels are on their way out. I've never seen anyone look graceful walking in them.

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  14. Exposed zippers are more expensive to produce in manufacturing; invisible or standard zippers go in very easily, there are more steps (and therefore more expense) to the exposed versions. I think they look good on the occasional piece, but usually just look like the designer is trying too hard to be 'edgy', starts out as a wannabe designer look, ends up like Hot Topic.

    Those shoes? I thought foot-binding went away...

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  15. I must say as a young mom, I like the mullet skirts. Not the overly exaggerated ones, but when you want to be able to bend over to pick up a young child multiple times a day and still wear a breezy skirt, they can be quite useful!

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    1. A friend with small children would agree. She loves them for exactly that reason!

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  16. I am convinced exposed zippers is the industry's way of doing something on the cheap and brainwashing the masses to believe it's "in." Have you noticed that most fabric now is ultra thin, to the point of being sheer? I was told that's "in" right now but that, too, is cheapness being foisted on us as "fashion." Same with boat-neck and sleeveless tops.

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  17. Thanks for giving me an entertaining break from work. Your post made me laugh... and nod in agreement. While I do try to not judge others by what they prefer to wear and consider their style, it is hard sometimes. Especially with the "French phrase trend". Wearing something because it is "in fashion" right now gives me the creeps. Why do people want to look like everybody else??? Or actually, why would they go lemming-wise and follow the dictate of the fashion industry? Urgh.

    Can I add to your list the top-knot hairstyle. Why oh why is it cool to look like you are balancing a piece of puff-pastry on your head?
    And sneakers. Women here in the Netherlands loooove to wear these brightly colored ankle-high sneakers. Why? They are not skateboarding, they are not engaging in any kind of sport at that moment, they are going to work. And do not give me that talk about sneakers being oh so comfy. My brogues and ballerina flats are comfy too.

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  18. I love you, Janice!! Thanks for saying what so many of us think!!

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  19. I don't understand the t-shirts but I see them often. Certainly older French women would never wear any writing across the chest. I think probably these "odd" styles have something to do with being young and being unaware. Impractical and uncomfortable clothing can never be elegant.

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  20. My 12-year-old has a hand-me-down t-shirt from a neighbor with a picture of Marilyn on it. She's only vaguely aware of who Marilyn was or when she lived.

    She also has a tee (same source) with the Rolling Stones' logo on it. Her father insisted that she could not wear it until she could name two members of the band. She wore it anyway.

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    1. The dad's rule is excellent. Will have to remember that for my kids.

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  21. I suspect that many of us, of a certain age and comportment, question some of today's trends. I know I do and would not wear them but each generation has its fashion moment. Literally. Building an age appropriate wardrobe is just more sensible. Teetering on those shows is just not an option! Writing anything on my chest is not the best idea either. The exposed zipper is just not attractive to me while I have seen some with jewels etc that do add interest to the garment depending on placement. I think the hi-low hems emphasize figure flaws because the weight of the fabric changes the drape of the piece. The 'high hip' measurement becomes a standout feature causing the fabric to jut out then pooch below the bottom. Just me. Thanks for such a timely and interesting thread.

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  22. It's funny, when we were in France in the spring, all of the tee shirts we could find either had American place names ("Brooklyn") or brand images.

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  23. I had a good smile at your post this morning. You said what I think. I wear shirts with advertising on them when I run. All other t-shirts are plain. I hate them when they have something written on them.
    Mullet skirts are not something I would wear though I am sure others do. I made one for a lady but it came to her ankles in the front and into a train in the back. It looked elegant.
    I would never wear shoes like that but that is me. Each to their own.
    Exposed zippers are okay if you only have one outfit and it is done is class. Otherwise it looks like someone got in a hurry and put in the zipper the wrong way.

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  24. Part of me wants to buck the tide and buy a tee with something written on it.
    I saw a cute Paul Smith tee with a Union Jack and a Mini Cooper on the front....thought it cheery enough to pair it with my Union Jack French straw tote bag....maybe wear it to the beach?
    There are days when I feel a bit of a rebel....the thought did cross my mind but I left that tee at the store.

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  25. My question is often why do we wear (and buy) shirts that advertise a company's name brand? We're paying to give them free advertising. Really?! Shouldn't they be paying us?

    Your questions have been mine, too. Hems, those heels, and designers finding a way to convince us that a zipper anyone could attach makes it worth more?

    You've actually made me feel better about my inability to understand how people can buy into these. I have to give credit, though, to those great minds who can successfully market these products.

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  26. I remember making a dress once where we both agonized over the zipper. It was completely invisible when I finished, but it was hell in the process! I guess having sewn for so many years I'm hypercritical of the workmanship in clothes today. I seem to always be "remaking" a shirt or skirt because they use chain stitching instead of real stitching.

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    1. That dress was beautiful....
      xoxo

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    2. Yes it was. Probably one of my best pieces of work ever. I do miss sewing, today's patterns are horrific and the styles are awful, even for the wee one.

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  27. Just back from holiday in France: I was amused by the amount of American flag Tees that young french women wear. And not just tees, also, beach bags, bikinis stars and stripes were seemingly everywhere. I just assumed we'd moved on from the ever present Union Jack of a few years ago...

    I can also confirm what anonymous said about Germany. Lots of people wear tees with some english on it, or some american looking logo, and then get surprised when I ask them if they know what they're wearing.fascinates me that people will wear things with spelling errors on them...

    I think it has to do with the Other/exotic being chic.

    About the exposed zippers, mullet skirts and stripper shoes (yes, I went there, although I have great respect for strippers' creativity, flexibility and fitness) you're seeing the last bits of some years-ago avant garde trend trickling down To the masses.
    Remember that scene in "The Devil Wearing Prada", where the intern/heroine wearing the blue pullover giggles out of place and gets a proper dressing down from the Meryl Streep/Anna Wintour character? It's the final trickle down... So don't worry, it'll soon be gone. Well, in 20 years it'll be retro. But we'll worry about that when we get there.

    Bookbutterfly

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  28. The "Allons-y!" t-shirt is a Doctor Who reference. David Tennant.

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    1. So who was your favorite Dr. Who? I'm still leaning toward David Tennant, but I'm just not sure.... Happily, I don't have to choose!

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    2. I agree David Tennant. But I still love my first Dr. Who, Tom Baker, and I'm intrigued by the very different direction the new Dr. is taking. He may work his way into my heart.

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    3. Nine was my favorite -- my son calls him The Thug Doctor. LOL. But I'm very fond of Eleven. He reminds me of Tigger.

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    4. Fantastic! Nine is my fave too...needed another year or two of him!
      Stephanie D.

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    5. David Tennant was my favorite although I've been a little bit in love with them all. The new Doctor is quite different, but I'm loving it! BBC America and Netflix keeps me in Dr. Who. I have my 8 year old grandson hooked, he's in love with Rose.

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    6. Hooray for doctor who fans! ;). I double-heart LOVE #10. Oh, Monsieur Tennant, you make my heart go pitter-patter! "Allons-y!"

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  29. Ahahahaha! As a French woman, the first point really made me laugh. And I totally agree with you on the zipper thing. I hate when zippers show. It makes clothes look cheap.

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  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  31. This was an amusing start to my day. Love opinion pieces, which is what this is, not a judgement piece. We are free to concur or not. I concur. My back hurts just looking at those shoes. But the young are undauntable.

    Loved David Tennant as Dr. Who.

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  32. I hope you're feeling better but I do enjoy these types of posts! On another note, I thought you would enjoy reading an article from the Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Holmes "The Closet To Envy Is Half Full". It looks like the world is finally starting to adopt the Vivienne Files philosophy!
    Teresa
    r

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  33. I also detest the exposed zipper trend. I keep waiting for it to go away... I find them ugly and sometimes uncomfortable.

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  34. I think there is a resurgence for love of all things French and thus the shirts. I even so an otherwise lovely, drapey top in Soft Surroundings that was slightly marred by the French writing on the chest piece. It wasn't too bad, but I would have preferred it without.

    And those shoes just scare me.

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    1. That was "saw" and that's what I get for not proofreading before hitting publish.

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  35. well, as the saying goes,

    "Each to their own," said the old woman as she kissed the cow.

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  36. Agree with anonymous at 9:45 -- the exposed-zipper trend debuted in couture several years ago and is now just trickling down to mass production. But look on the bright side -- if it's trickled down to mass production, it's on its way out" I'm with you on the mullet skirts (ha! -- great description), the hooker heels, and slogan t-shirts. There's hope that hooker-chic will die -- just check out Wes Gordon's show at NY Fashion week for an example of how sexy restraint can be.

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    1. I do have to say- even the catalogs this year have shown promise regarding the return of Ladylike Chic! Lands End was so refreshing.
      I was even more surprised yesterday when I actually got repeatedly complimented by younger women on kitten heels, a silk shell over a sheer long sleeved collared silk blouse with the bow knotted instead of tied and a below knee pencil skirt.

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  37. In high school in the mid 80s I had a t-shirt that had a snake printed on it and said "Et dieu crea la femme." I thought it was super cool.

    Those exposed zippers have been the Big Thing on Project Runway the last few seasons and sometimes it looks cool but most of the time it detracts from the rest of the outfit.

    Couldn't walk in platforms on a stable, level surface, can't even imagine doing it on a boat!

    Tried the hi-low hem on a maxi skirt, but it just didn't work for me. Also reminds me of the bridesmaid dress I wore to my brother's wedding in 1992.

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  38. I remember a famous designer who did his evening wear with bright Warhol Monroes plastered all over the dresses- big ballgowns. Sometimes I wonder if most designers do things for an artistic statement, and then some poor soul actually wears it because they are blind to style and care more about wearing something from a famous designer. What I really hope is that those are just runway statements that never actually get bought.

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  39. I don't know if it's been mentioned before but the start of the worded t-shirts came when the French Design house 'Céline' put out a simple White T-shirt with their Black Logo Name - then as a sort of parody to this a jeans company called 'Criminal Damage' put out a practically identical t-shirt in style and font except theirs read 'Cénile' (to be read as Senile) - the first time I saw it I double took and then chuckled to myself - which I think is exactly the point. That then started a craze for taking French words or Logos and replacing or switching one or two letters to come-up with something witty (like the Hermes logo being made into 'Homies') - unfortunately like any joke when you over do it it ceases to be funny anymore! I don't know why any woman as beautiful as she may, or may not be, would want a picture of an absolutely stunning and iconic sex symbol on her chest - you are always going to pale in comparison I would have thought! The zip thing is alright in very small doses - I've seen it done well when the sides of the zip has been in a velvet or satin but when it is literally the same fabric which would have ordinarily been hidden you have to wonder whether like you say this is more for convenience than for 'fashion'. I LOVE high heels, I've always worn them and I always will they make me feel incredibly sexy and confident HOWEVER I hate platforms of any kind - for me personally a stiletto tenses the calf a little and extends the leg but those things, well even with the nicest of legs you're still going to end up looking like a golf club. The dippy hem.....what is that about? Don't understand it, don't want to understand it, can't see any reason for it! I've noticed they've started doing it with tops too - like you said earlier I find myself taking out a nice silk blouse with a crossover style front from the rack to discover this big tail at the back....why? Just why?!

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  40. Love this post, too, though my favorite are your 4x4s. What a clever way to think of wardrobes, and I adore that you could put together two sets (four colors, or eight, or something in between) and have your Project 333 with one item to spare.

    That said:
    I do like some tees. I majored in French and have been there twice. I have a navy scoopneck tee that says "Oui Paris" on it. I wear it because it's a flattering cut, keeps my nicer tops in the closet for knock-about evening or weekend fun, and references France and Paris, which j'adore. With cuffed jeans, fun shoes, and a cardigan, I think the right top can work.

    I don't mind a slight high-low, if it isn't garish. I don't like the ones you've pictured at all. I have a midi dress that is mid-calf in front and lower-calf in back. I'm trying to decide if I want to keep it as is, have it hemmed to a single length (so it's less easily dated), or let it go. I welcome any votes from you or your readers.

    I have grown weary of the exposed zipper. It feels cheap and easily datable, too. I recently discovered Cuyana and very nearly ordered their black shift dress, until I realized it had an exposed zipper. If your goal is to make simple and timeless clothing, you shouldn't incorporate details that already feel dated in 2014.

    Love your blog. Cheers!

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  41. Heels that high have never made any sense to me and most of them are downright ugly. I've seen a few hi/low (aka Mullet) hems that are okay as long as they cover the knees. I'm okay with the t-shirts for the most part. I have a lovely Paris t-shirt with writing & graphics that I bought at Epcot at Disney a few years ago. I certainly wouldn't wear it to work! I'm not a fan of company-logo'ed items whether it's purses, shirts, totes, etc. I don't care for the exposed zippers either.

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  42. We were in Paris last month and saw none of these things (unless on tourists). I don't understand how writing on t-shirts and rear ends have become so popular. I guess the wearer feels clever depending on what's written? I don't like to advertise my opinions IN THAT WAY :)

    Some other fashion victim-isms (or just plain laziness) I find funny: Pajamas in public, bras/panties on display,
    overly-proud owners of tattoo showing as much of the tattoos as they possibly can manage (this goes for piercings as well), men wearing knit caps when it's 100 degrees out. Okay, done.

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  43. It makes me feel like I'm an old crank, but I have never seen the point of buying denim with knee holes in them. It doesn't say fashion to me, it says work clothes likely involving manure.

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    1. Must say I have some and wear them but they are "honest" holes from long wear. Why pay?

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  44. Regarding Tees w/stupid slogans ---------- don't get me started, je t'en prie. On the subject of wearable but clearly unwalkable shoes, last summer we were in Seattle for Wagner's "Ring Cycle" (fabulous, BTW), and during intermission, a young woman trying to negotiate heavily carpeted stairs in a pair of those monstrosities while holding a beaded clutch in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other took a header down the stairs and broke her leg. My guess is that both champagne and shoes were complicit in the mishap.

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  45. Well, Janice,
    I'm going to admit that I'm a little bit happy that you had a tired day today. This post gives me an opportunity to spotlight one of my "are you kidding me" trends.
    First let me say that I wouldn't wear the stripper shoes, the logo tees or language tees. I could possible
    wear an exposed zipper, maybe angled at the collarbone as an accent with the zipper being black leather. (Not that I have such a garment waiting for me to pop it on in a month or so.) It seems to me hi-low hems have already had their day. But I think the young girls should be allowed to have the fun that I had with
    fashion in my teens and twenties. Go for it girls!
    Here is what mystifies me. Why would women who are "of a certain age" and claim to aspire to a graciousness and chic intent ever wear jewelry that advertises crude language? Ironic? Really?
    Janice, I can't imagine you or most of your lovely followers being caught dead with a necklace that
    says "WTF" or an iteration of that language. I don't clutch my pearls to my heart when I see this but
    I can't help but wonder if the wearer knows that it's crude.
    Have a better day tomorrow, Janice. I love your blog.
    Thanks for letting me air my tired day laundry.
    ......and yes, I am always anonymous for a reason.

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  46. Hi, Janice. I agree with all of your points. I particularly dislike those platform shoes and don't understand how women can walk in them. But as other commenters note, if the wearer likes them and can wear them, fine. (In contrast to the platforms, I think stilettos look great, but I haven't been able to wear high heels since Coolidge was President.) The "mullet" skirts look strange and impractical to me. As for the French (or other languages') phrases on T-shirts, I agree with you. I see very few of those here in Boston, however; here the T-shirts generally bear the name of one of our pro sports teams and/or a player's name. Or they are college T-shirts, particularly for one school whose name starts with "H". Finally, I totally relate to Kristien's comment (10:41/10:43 this morning). I know the Soft Surroundings shirt she's referring to and I found it charming but couldn't bring myself to buy it, as I would feel silly wearing a shirt with all of the writing on it. Hope you feel better soon. --Susan S.

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  47. I work at an university (college) in Australia, where we're just emerging from winter. My bugbear is the fashion for wearing a blouse or sweater over tights (rather than leggings or skinny jeans). So many young women, some very slim, others not, seem to regard a pair of stockings - sometimes sheer ones - as all they need between their underwear and the world. Yes, I'm old and grumpy. But honestly, sometimes you don't want to have to look at other people's privates.

    Antonia

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    1. Oh, don't remind me, we will soon be getting this again here in Germany, too as fall approaches. I usually tend to feel the young girls should wear what they desire as I have done myself in my time. But this butt-exposing style really is going to far. And yes, I don't want to have to look at other people's privates either!

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  48. Thirty years ago when I was in my teens there was a trend of wearing Chinese characters on tees. People would make comments like you can't possibly know what that means or are you sure you really know what that says. I thought the characters were lovely graphically and wore one briefly that the tag claimed said something sweet like peace. There is something about cultural appropriation that is a positive statement about oneself understanding that we are global citizens recognizing other cultures.

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  49. remembered wearing platform shoes, hot pants, white laced leather boots, long chiffon dresses, long hair,... that was 1970....., now it would look ridiculous on me... the young have to have their own fun which will give them lots of laughs when they will look back to their photos...I am a french woman who just loves reading your blog... and yes young french women love anything with american slogans, logos etc...This too shall pass...

    Annie v.

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  50. Here in France, I see people (young, old, men, women) wearing shirts with English words on them, often nonsensical or misspelled (New Yrk). There's a whole line of mens' clothes printed with faux retro-industrial or retro-waspy sports stuff. Not logos, but as if they reprinted an entire old-time ad or label on the shirts. Go figure.
    As for the shoes, to me those are what hookers wore in the 1990s. Not sure how they became fashionable.

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  51. This post has generated so many comments and I have to add mine!
    Any sort of a heel on a boat is as wrong as it would be on a tennis court. On board a ship, dressing for dinner, is different.But never on a boat.
    I have experience of Chinese factories and the mismatched zip is just a cheap, careless option which should have been picked up by quality control.
    Can I add my own observation? The effect cheap manufacturing has had on all our clothes. Quite expensive jersey tops can be too thin and linings are getting rarer and rarer. (This means you really do need a slip to stop the skirt or dress clinging.)
    If you now look at couture -say Jackie Kennedy's more formal clothes-the structure is quite unlike anything we see now, other than on Anna Wintour or the Royal family. I would say to people that Coco Chanel used to spend longer on fitting arm holes than any otherpart of a garment, so make sure your sleeves fit well as then a garment will look much better.

    Kate

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    1. I'll agree to this- I've got a fuller bust, and the thicker arms that go with it. I've resorted to ordering tops from European brands because they actually take that into effect!

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  52. 1. All the vapid English phrases have been used up; North Americans think anything French is cool, and irony is appreciated by youth: perfect storm.
    2. Created for young women who(generally) have pretty knees and want to show them. It's a fad; we had ours (elephant bell bottoms, anyone?)- let them.
    3. So they increase opportunities to clutch the man, why else?
    4. Cheap, corner-cutting manufacturing, like the ubiquitous dolman and cap sleeve.

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  53. I find some tees with words amusing, especially when worn by women you'd not expect that from. My mother had a 75 year old friend, Lil, who wore a tee (to the pool) that said SURF NAKED. I loved it!

    I wear a J Crew linen tee that says "ça va?", which is the standard greeting here in Montreal, with jeans, running errands. It's like wearing the logo of your college.

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  54. The exposed zipper's been in for at least a decade actually. I had a black Calvin Klein dress that was amazing in everything else- but the zipper was exposed and grey on black. I think it's typically meant as an industrial fashion detail, but it took me a long time to stop taking my dress off and trying to put it on the "right way" with the zipper on the inside out of sheer custom of not seeing the zipper tape. Even now I'm debating a dress that has a highly visible back zipper, granted not to this extreme, but is nearly perfect in every other way.
    I don't necessarily get the "brand name" tees or the point of wearing a language that you don't even speak, but I do own a concert tee that I wear regularly, I own a grey tee with an embroidered butterfly in beiges and black on dark grey, and I also own one of thinkgeek's heroine baby doll tees celebrating Mary Shelley- all are technically graphic tees, but would look appropriate for my age and my location, and are not in a style that would be dated.
    The platforms you posted are a bit ridiculous, but a modest platform can be wonderful and comfortable.
    As for the Mullet skirt- yes, they look crazy, they do go in and out of style, but they are easily alterable once the trend is over to a normal skirt by chopping off the train. Not many trends are salvageable like that once their day has come and gone.

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  55. As several people have already commented, many trendy clothes are fine on the young but not for women of a certain age and they're not designed with us in mind anyway. Sometimes we can find clothes in shops like Zara or Topshop that we would wear - I have a jacket plus a striped t-shirt from Mango that I love wearing - but most of their stock isn't intended for the more "mature" woman!

    Funnily enough, I can still picture some of the trendy tops and mini-skirts that i wore in my teens and 20s but many of the clothes that i wore over the next couple of decades are long forgotten.

    Living in Spain, I've noticed that the trend is for t-shirts with English words on however they rarely make sense to us! I love the sound of Duchesse's Lil wearing her Surf Naked tee!!!

    This has proved a very thought-provoking post Janice. Keep up the good work!

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  56. I had to laugh when I read "mullet skirt" -- it's so appropriate on so many levels!! You've focused on a few of my bugaboos too -- and I think people wear this stuff because they are "told" to: it's prominently displayed in stores and elsewhere. Few people are as discerning in their clothing choices as you are, Janice, tant pis.

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  57. I love this today! Interesting thoughts from writer and commenters - we all have our preferences and quirks, don't we? Dressing vicariously through all of the well-heeled, well-travelled ladies.......

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  58. Love this post -- you managed to hit every "trend" I've also been shaking my head about. The designer world promised us that platform shoes were "over" and I was so happy -- but they're still going strong, Victoria Beckham even showed them for spring -- blecch!! And the hi/lo skirts are hideous on everybody -- my husband calls them "cabooses" as in train caboose -- "Look honey, another gal with a caboose!" Makes me laugh every time. They're awful and ridiculous and as a seamstress I don't like looking at an exposed hem behind people's legs -- it just looks tacky. Oh, and fashion is exactly about judgment - implicit (this is a better style than that in general or on me specifically, which is why I'm wearing this and not something else) or explicit, as in when we share our opinions about items that are good, bad, or indifferent. Janice always does a lovely and gracious job giving excellent and timely judgements or posing interesting queries, now and again, about clothes not people, which is one reason why I love her blog.

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  59. Love the post- I, too, have opinions on these things. If you go to Engrish.com, you will see that printing foreign phrases on tees is not an exclusively Western fad. Some of the English statements on Asian tees are absolutely hilarious. I don't think it has a point, other than fun fashion. As for the "knee-framer" skirts, I hate them. They always make me think of really bad tailoring and are distracting; I like flattering fashion. The super high clunky shoes don't work for me, but if someone can walk in them gracefully at an appropriate venue (not on a boat), more power to her. I've seen exposed zippers look good, but only on very high-end, designer clothing. Like the lop-sided hems, it's a feature that can easily appear "bad tailor-ish." Thanks for the fun post.

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  60. I just found this blog today and love it! I look forward to reading more on your fashion options!
    As regards to women wearing t shirts over tights,
    Rule of Thumb: Fashion Tights Please!


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  61. I try to ignore fads. Some of the silly stuff I wore as a younger me would gag me now, but it was a fun thing at the time. Let them wear the nonsense shirts and shoes. They'll get over it.

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  62. I mostly agree on these ( I sometimes like the t-shirts). But when I think how I was dressing in the '80s and '90, I realized I cannot really judge... When he sees pics of me from back then, he asks if I had realized I am a woman...

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  63. I saw a t-shirt earlier this year that said "Je suis une baleine".
    OK, so maybe you feel like a whale at times, but do you really want the world to know?!

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  64. Just for fun to finish up the tangent about Dr. Who. If you're addicted and want to know when and where to watch! http://www.doctorwho.tv/watch

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  65. "mullet' skirts were actually a big thing in the 50s. They were very much favored by Balanciaga, and to some extent by Yves St Laurent too (see the documentary about him that came out a couple years ago). What you're missing with this knee-framing bellyaching is that they're meant for movement. When the back is longer, the whole thing fills gracefully with air as you walk and imparts a movement which would otherwise take several large fans. It's the same when you look at static fringe, and not how it's meant to be worn - dancing. Or coffin clothes, where the front is interesting but the back deadly dull because there will be no back picture on the net. Am I laying it on too thick :-)? Watch some runway -videos- of mullet skirts in action and you'll get a completely different appreciation of them.
    And what's the point of "exposed zippers" if you use invisible ones or color so matching that you can't see them? Either you're wearing them exposed or you're not, but if you are you'd better make sure it's worth looking at.

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