Let me begin this post with the admission that I am not a Fashion Diva in any sense of the word.  I admire expensive clothes and shoes from afar — but I can’t afford to actually buy them, so instead my wardrobe mostly consists of items picked off the racks at Old Navy, Target, New York and Company and an occasional sale rack at Macy’s or Dillards.  Shoes come from Rack Room or DSW or some other discount retailer.  That’s just how I roll.

(Note to self:  Find new phrase to use instead of “That’s how I roll” immediately.  You sound like someone trying WAAAY too hard to be hip and, baby, you ain’t.)


I do like looking good.  Even at Our-Market-Is-The-Entire-World-And-Then-Some Target you can find some cute things (thank you, Isaac Mizrahi – you AND your big hair) and if you keep it simple (did you hear that, people? SIMPLE) and buy things that fit properly (did you hear that, people?  FIT PROPERLY) you can look every bit as fashionable as Carrie-Charlotte-Samantha-Miranda strolling through the streets of Manhattan with their Bergdorf shopping bags in all their chi-chi-trendy glory.  

Well, actually, that is a total lie – but do you really want to look like them anyway?  Let’s be honest, I love them, too, but some of the outfits in that franchise have been SuperScary with a capital $.  Money can’t buy taste, you know. 

Shamelessly stolen photo

And continuing in that whole Admitting-I’m-Not-Hip vein, anything more than $75 for a pair of shoes just seems absurd to me.  Why, when there are so much better things to spend your money on?  Besides, if I’m going to give the Big Bean a hard time for spending $200 on a bike fitting (I mean, really, can’t you just get ON the bike and tell if it fits you or not? You need a machine to tell you your legs are too short?  Come on, Stumpy, get real) , then I can hardly justify spending the same amount or more on a pair of shoes, right?

Oh, and Sharon Stone wore a Gap t-shirt to the Oscars one year and looked stunning, and that old bitch Joan Rivers was just SO SHOCKED and SO IMPRESSED that she wasn’t wearing some big-name designer – so it IS possible to look acceptably Fab-u without spending a Hollywood fortune.  

Of course, that was like ten years ago and let’s face it, she pulled it off because she was Sharon Freakin’ Stone  – she probably could have worn a camouflage shower curtain with pleather pants and and still had Joan “At this point my face is 95 percent synthetic” Rivers drooling all over her plastic lips to tell her how Faaaabulous she was – but still, I hold onto that moment like a security blanket that’s as worn and ratty as my favorite six-year-old torn, used-to-be-blue Old Navy tee. (I’m too cheap for the Gap.)

So the point is (you knew I’d get there eventually), it IS possible to look good without spending a lot of money, if you just THINK about what you’re putting on your body (did you hear that, people? THINK) and try to be reasonable and don’t convince yourself you’re a size 4 when you’re really a 14 and don’t shop in the little girls’ department if you’re actually over the age of 12.

This all seems like common sense to me, but I work in a place where Common Sense apparently does not apply to Fashion, and actually the word Fashion itself really doesn’t apply to anything in the building.  I don’t know if it’s the dreary monotony of bureaucracy that finally did these ladies in, or if they were already fashionably challenged to begin with, but I live in a constant state of Oh-My-God-Did-She-Really-Go-Out-in-Public-Like-That and sometimes I would rather poke my eyes out with a sharp pointy stick than look directly at the horrors that walk before me.

Too-tight neon dresses, 1970s bell-bottomed power suits, 1980s shoulder pads and – I swear to God – DENIM JUMPSUITS fill the halls.  Just walking into the office this morning, I saw variations on this: 


NOTE: I had to change this from an earlier photo of Melanie Griffith because my mother complained.  She thought Melanie looked “nice” and should have been included in the fashion “do’s” list instead of fashion “don’ts.”  Nevermind that the photo was taken from the movie Working Girl, which was released in 1988, TWENTY YEARS AGO.)


And this:


And this:


Now, many of these women are extremely nice and smart and funny and talented and all kinds of wonderful things… which makes this all the more disturbing.  I can’t focus on how nice and smart and funny they are because all I can think is “You are wearing a Cowboy Jumper.”  I see the lips move and I hear the words come from the lips, but inside my head I’m just repeating “Cowboyjumpercowboyjumpercowboyjumper.”

I won’t even mention the overgrown eyebrows, dirty hair, scrunchies, orthopedic shoes that look like, well, orthopedic shoes, and shocking lack of makeup that I encounter on a regular basis.

I just don’t understand this phenomenon.  Don’t these women understand that, at least professionally speaking, they aren’t doing themselves any favors with the tie-dye t-shirt dresses, Disney character denim overalls, sandals with socks, or Cowboy Jumpers?

And yes, each of these items is a piece of Horrible Fashion History that I have witnessed, live and in person, in the halls of my office.  

And also yes, I AM fixated on the Cowboy Jumper.  I can’t help it.  It’s a fucking COWBOY JUMPER.  On a woman who is NOT a Cowboy.  Or five years old.  Or in the 1950s. 

Ladies, you are not stupid!  You are better than this!  Even if you don’t care what the rest of the world might think of you, this is a place of business.  Don’t you want the respect and admiration of your co-workers? Don’t you want to be taken seriously?  I know I WANT to respect you, but how can I when you’re wearing this?


There’s really nothing I can do about this except complain.  There is no way I could ever actually slap one of these women across the face while screaming, “What are you thinking?!?” like I really want to.  I do have my professional life to think about, after all.

So I suffer each day in silence, the lambs screaming in my head as I try to avert my eyes from the disasters that I must face.

And so it goes…

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19 Responses to “I’m Trapped in the Hell Where Bad Fashions Go to Die”

  1. “Taste” is really a subjective thing when it comes to haute coture…notice I didn’t say fashion, because seriously, if I did say fashion there is no way I could reconcile it with what SJP is wearing. Her “taste” with that outfit, is all in her mouth!

    WTF was she thinking? She looks like she walked into someone’s watercolour painting that wasn’t quite finished drying. Oiy!

  2. I think I’m in love with you. I’ll go read the rest of your blog and find out.

    Either way, well done.

    (Is it OK that I still dont wear makeup in my 30′s? Eldest Son says it makes me look ‘funny’.)

  3. Holy Crap this was a funny post! Now I’m going to be thinking about Cowboy Jumpers all day. HAHAHA!!

  4. depending on where you work, you could stay late/come in early and post an anonymous “dress code suggestions” outlining some tips for dressing for the office. At least then there might be a feeling of taking action, even if it’s ignored.

    And cowboy jumpers?! On grown women?!?! I’m so glad I work with men.

  5. So, so, sadly so true. I work in an elementary school and I would say that only I, the principal and maybe 2-3 other teachers are the only ones who dress presentably. Way too many worn-out and too low cut jeans, t-shirts, sweat shirts, horrible, ugly sandals, too tight clothes, no makeup, dirty or generally unkempt hair that needs to be cut. After 20 years, I really think a lot of it is a reflection of our society which has become so casual that jeans are accepted virtually everywhere. Cute, well-fitting jeans with a cute top are one thing; what I see every day is quite another.

  6. I’m not sure whether to agree or scream. Growing up, I was always a bit of a tomboy who fiercely resisted the idea of Shopping For Clothes. Until midway through uni, I could count on one hand the items of clothing I’d bought, for myself, of my own free will, without a parent/family friend/necessity looming in the background to ensure I was Well Groomed and no longer wearing the same hippy pants I’d had since year 6; and the first time I came to Melbourne and went looking for jeans, I nearly had a breakdown. Clothing stores do this to me. I hate them with a fiery vengeance, because I walk in and feel judged. ‘Hey, you, girl! In your geeky T-shirt and second-hand jeans! Stop pawing our overpriced synthetic blend tops!’

    However, this view has been mitigated since my discovery of second hand clothing stores. I can cycle up looking daggy as I want without a posse of gal pals, rummage around in a huge box listening to Frank Sinatra, and come away with a leather jacket, boots, three tops and a designer skirt for under thirty bucks. It’s my kind of scene, and it’s totally rocked my perception of clothes. In recent times, female friends have actually commented on the number of cool skirts I have and my apparent taste, which is so way a novelty because, hey, I was the Chick With A Mullet at school (growing out a haircut) who played DND. I’m in new territory. And I’ve discovered that I like looking good – by my standards of good.

    But makeup? I resent the shit out of makeup. The one time I tried to apply mascara, I poked myself in the eye. When I got married, I drew the line at clear lipstick, ‘coz hey – I’ve got nice skin, and the last thing I need is to wreck it with a daily dose of foundation. Plus, eyeshadow? Who can even be bothered? Jesus. I was with you in spirit, right up until the ‘why don’t women wear makeup’ part. Geek I may be, and I have a healthy un-love for corporate dress (which is why I avoid it by being my own brand of classy), but I still like to see people take an interest in how they look, in a way that suits them, because it betokens creativity, personal hygiene and shows a glimmer of personality. But makeup? Scourge of womankind!

    I’ve got a friend who’s been wearing foundation and full makeup every day since she was sixteen. She’s now in her early thirties, and her skin is destroyed. I mean, she actually can’t *not* wear makeup now – at least by her own standards – because her skin is ruined. Lipstick, maybe. I can countenance lipstick – it looks after your lips, is easy to apply, is a bit fun, and doesn’t waste time. But anything else, in the immortal words of Kaz Cooke, is just showing orf.

  7. thebenevolentdictator
    July 2nd, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Number One, that last pic is practically regulation in Utah.

    Secondly, back in my working days, I was in general pretty fussy about what people on my team wore in the workplace. Fussy, if you think that it may just be inappropriate to wear a tight “CHOOSE JUICY” t-shirt over one’s very large, enhanced ta-tas.

    When I brought it up to the offending party, she said to me “but, its Juicy Couture.” Despite the fact that she was obviously better than the rest of us as she was obviously willing to shell out $75 for a t-shirt I had to explain that it would work out best for all of us if she could invite others to “choose juicy” some other place.

    Soooo glad I got that Master’s Degree!

  8. I thought I commented on here earlier but it’s not showing up. So hopefully this won’t post twice.

    Anyways, this is a riot! That last pic – Oh my – I have seen that so much. I shiver when I see someone wearing that! WHHYYY!!!??????

    Personally, I say go for the slap.

  9. My solution is just wear black.. black…black.. you know, it really never goes out of seaon… hey, if it worked for Audrey, then it can for the rest of us…plus we think we look 10 lbs thinner when we do.

  10. That was funny. Great post!
    Where in the world do you work that people actually dress like that?
    I agree with you. All you need is good taste and clothes that fit right to look good.

    Here by way of POW .

  11. Auds – The scary thing is, there were SEVERAL outfits to choose from of Sex and the City fashion disasters. At a certain point I think the costume designers were on a dare to come up with the worst outfits they could pass for fashion.

    camsavwin – Aww, I lurrrvv you too. I really hope you didn’t think the rest of my blog sucked.

    bluesuit12 – Cowboy Jumpers SUCK. They scare me and distract me from everything else for the rest of the day.

    1120kat – Noted. But really, I’d rather just complain.

    Mrs. Who – Now, that’s just not right. Those poor, impressionable kids aren’t even going to have a fighting chance with examples like that. I WEEP for the future.

    fozmeadows – Don’t despair. One of my very best friends in the world wears no makeup, ever ever ever. She still looks fantastic, and even if she doesn’t she doesn’t give a fuck, which is Fucking Awesome in itself.

    thebenevolentdictator – I’m going back for a Masters degree, just because you said that.

    carolina girl – I will be calling you as a witness on my behalf when I get sued for slapping the women that I work with.

    writetools – Note to self: Buy more black.

    formercitygirl – I am a cog in the machine of bureauratic hell. Where the men are men and the women are EXTREMELY unfashionable.

  12. That jumper is a scary memory. It’s scary that I wore them but WAAAY scarier that people are still under the influence of 1988 and are still wearing them. I loved the commercial awhile back with the girl in the 80s suit walking into a building and the guy asked if her Delorean was parked out front. ;)

  13. I can not believe SJP let wardrobe do that to her! I have not followed SITC, we don’t have HBO. If that’s haute couture, they can have it!

    I can’t justify spending a lot of money on my clothes when Lil’bug outgrows her closet every six months and Scout outgrows his every year. I can’t keep up with the latest style all the time, but I try to fill my closet with clothes that are classics and a couple of updated pieces to keep from getting bored. I draw the line at trashy or slouchy for work. Comfortable, yes. I also need to set an example for my kids. What does it say if I insist they’re presentable and look like a troll myself? Like it or not, you’re treated in society as a reflection of how you present yourself.

    To those in the workplace who want to lower themselves by wearing crap…have at it. One less competitor when I’m looking to promote.

  14. thebenevolentdictator
    July 7th, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    I guess I should be clearer!

    I spent $20, 000 on a Master’s Degree and then got to put it to good use by dealing with Ms. Juicy Couture. I should have just stayed home. Sigh.

  15. At the end of the day, “that’s how I roll” is the new “it is what it is.” How’s that for the cliche-est sentence on earth?

  16. Great idea this – happens all the time.

  17. I don’t comment much. However, I happened to be surfing the net and just had to say great post! Enjoyed reading it. Great site. Informative and will stopped back again. Thanks for the insight!


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