The language of fashion

This post is my contribution to Feminist Fashion Bloggers.
Whenever I read fashion journalism, I think to myself that we need a moratorium on certain phrases and words. These include:

  • obsession. For example: “My obsessions for spring are Peter Pan collars, leatherette skirts and grey over-the-knee socks!” If you’re obsessed with such things, you need 1) a dictionary and 2) more perspective. See also: lust.
  • nude. For example: “Wow, these nude shoes make my legs look like they go on forever!” Nude is just a fancy fashun word for beige. That’s fine – after all, why say nicotine yellow when you can call it sunshine? My problem is that nude implies skin-coloured, and therefore the default skin colour is white. Obviously, it isn’t, and the word ‘nude’ in a fashion context is racially insensitive.
  • ethnic. For example: “These wooden beads and feather earrings make me look really ethnic!” I’m just going to leave this link to Sociological Images here. See also: native.
  • rock chick. For example: “For the Maroon 5 gig, I wore my best rock chick outfit!” I dislike fast fashion’s ability to reduce eras and subcultures to transient trends, especially ones that don’t require any emotional/intellectual investment. You can just go into Topshop/H&M/New Look and choose what you want to be. Once upon a time, wearing an MC5 t-shirt was a signal to other people that you were an MC5 fan, and if they were also an MC5 fan they might talk to you about Kick Out The Jams and then you’d become friends. It was a way to find kindred spirits in this miserable and unimaginative world. See also: 70s boho.
  • boyish. For example: “Heading to the beach? Boyish figures should wear ruffled bikinis to add shape!” When magazines coyly talk about boyish figures, I feel like they’re telling me ‘hey! You’re skinny and flat-chested! Your body fails to conform to our ideals of femininity and womanhood! You might want to try covering it up with ruffles and stuff! Thanks! Have a nice day!!’ See also: curvy.

A few months ago, I made a fanzine parodying some of this language. It was cut and pasted together – literally, not ctrl+C and ctrl+V’ed – as a gift for my previous housemates. If you want, you can see the full Ooooooh fanzine on my Flickr. You can find links to my fellow Feminist Fashion Bloggers over here.

Are there any other fashun words or phrases you dislike? Please share, so I can make another fanzine.