Sunday, September 28, 2008

Go Fug Yourself in Bulgaria

While in Spain, I had a discussion with Miss Meghan regarding laws of fashion. She suggested that it is impossible for any to exist, for style is relevant. What is fashionable for one is not for another. With this, I agree. Moreover, I realize that fashion is a constantly revolving art that is full of reuse and the recycling old trends. Therefore, how can one determine what someone wears is “out of fashion”, when it could really be fashion forward to others or in distant regions of the world. I have come to conclude that fashion is circular. And so Meghan is right, being “in style” is relevant based up where you are on this circle and where those observing and critiquing find themselves to be standing. Of course for argument’s sake, there could be a big dot on this circle that connects the beginning and the end, meaning it is not entirely fluid. In other words, the place/institution/movement/ that is respected enough to command the start and stop of fashion trends whenever they determine fit. A trend-setting fashion god of sorts if you will. Now who or where this dot exists is the true question. Perhaps there are lots of dots, so the circle turns more into a hexadecagon and movement through its lines becomes more complicated. I think I subscribe to this theory. But I am going to assume the role of the dot for a moment (or really, forever) and say that there are 3 rules to fashion:

1) Underwear is NOT outerwear
2) Crocs should never be worn outside gardening, cleaning the house, boating or being used as water shoes. EVER.
3) Pants should NEVER look like you took a dump in them.

I have a lot more personal preferences for fashion, but those are opinion. I get that. And admittedly, I have given in to some very less-than-holy trends and made great fashion errors throughout my days. Eyes for style and art change with age and time. Regardless, the three aforementioned rules withstand everything thrown at them. I will elaborate #1 and #2 briefly, but my main focus here is on #3.

#1 Underwear is not outwear:

Pretty simple. Underwear is meant to go under clothing. I am all for a cute bra that can be used to enhance the greatness of a dress or shirt. Or even some peek-a-boo colored straps with a tank top. Personally I do not dabble in a whole lot of bedazzle or strap flashing, mainly because I have a size disadvantage – meaning, my momma gave me a whole lotta junk up front. But I support those who can pull such a thing off. However, this does not apply to underroos. I should not see your knickers…ever. Seamless, people. And nude when necessary. But whereas underwear can sometimes help accessorize, it should never be the main star of the show. Under no circumstances is a bra with a backless top considered acceptable. This also applies to “clear”, plastic backs and straps. Trying to fool everyone into thinking that straps are not there when they are is a much worse offence. Summertime always brings out the worst committers of these crimes and Bulgaria is overflowing with them. One walk down the center of town and I lose count of how many tops look okay from the front but with one quick glance to the back the acceptability is scarred by a bright pink, rhinestoned bra strap. Or with the older Bulgarian ladies who like to wear white see-thru tops with a mismatched shade of white pants accompanied by ill-fitting bras and panties, which unfortunately, blare right through. Thank God it is winter now…

#2 Crocs should never be worn outside gardening, cleaning the house, boating or being used as water shoes. EVER:

Personally, I would never wear Crocs for even the above-listed activities. They are that bad. But I get that they are a study, breathable and comfortable shoe, which is why I allow them to be worn for domestic or water sport activities. I would also go as far to say that they are acceptable for toddlers, because they are easy to get on and will probably endure the many trips and tumbles of little children. But people, they are ugly. Not just ugly-but-oh-so-comfortable. Dreadfully ugly. Cursed be whoever created such an atrocity to the foot. And someone please tell me how the Bulgarian diado (grandpa) who sits at the diado bench in the center all day smoking cigs and playing chess with his diado buddies got a hold of a bright red pair?

Leave ‘em in the swamp where they came from people.

#3 Pants should NEVER look like you took a dump in them:

It is possible that pants can look like you took a dump in them in many different ways. Pretty much anything large enough to be hiding something in addition to what pants should already be hiding. Namely Kevin’s jeans. Boy thinks that Unionbay jeans from the Mervyn’s bought twelve years ago during the post-JNCO fallout years are still acceptable. Honey, you are not sixteen anymore! I should not be able to fit my body in a leg of your jeans. Luckily with a trip to the mall in Sofia last week we fixed this long lasting problem (and do not worry people, the saleslady would not allow me to buy him skinny jeans). Unionbay burning ceremony plans are in the works. Anyhow, Kevin’s pants are hardly the worst offenders of “dumpy pants” as we so affectionately call them. I present Exhibit A:

Dropped crotch capri-length pants started appearing in Bulgarian stores and on Bulgarian children quickly after I first arrived here. I was unsure what to make of it at first. They looked like a strange variation of Hammer pants, which are a take on harem pants made popular by, or just seen on, M.C. Hammer circa 1992.

I did not know they actually made their way out of the costume box or music video and into mainstream fashion. So seeing them puzzled me. Even if Bulgaria was sixteen years behind on the fashion timetable, how did these get here? Besides looking like you took a poo in them, they look tricky to walk in. I just accepted them as something awful that Bulgaria has, like many, many other fashion trends seen in this country, which would hopefully fizzle out when the styles from 1993 finally rolled in. However, during my summer excursions to Western Europe, I saw dumpy pants everywhere I went! And not just the normal dumpy, I saw dumpy shorts, dumpy pants, dumpy jumpers etc. etc. There they were more genie-like and made from flowy, flowery and very Spanish and Portuguese fabrics. They looked more Bohemian and artsy, as were the people wearing them so I accepted them as slightly, very slightly less offending. I would still never, ever partake in them. Moreover, while traveling, I met some Finnish girls on the bus who were wearing a cotton-lyrcra blend of dumpy capris that were more toned down and yoga looking. Still don’t like them, but deemed them appropriate for bus-riding or exercising.

Unfortunately, outside of fashion forward places like Spain, Portugal and even Finland, the dumpy pant world collapsed back into horrificness. In Macedonia, I ran into a store that had this in the window:
I know that it is difficult to focus considering she is wearing massive headgear with a white vest over a red drapey shirt over a white t-shirt with a red lamee bikini top over everything to top it all off. And that is just the upper half, which I will hold my tongue back about. The bottom consists of two different types of dumpy pants over each other. Not just one, TWO! This is considered style people. Just make sure you wear it with one heel on and the other thrown somewhere nearby on the ground.

I figured all this dumpiness was just low-brow or short-lived street fashion but then a few things happened:

1) They showed up at NY fashion week by Andreas Melbostad among others.

2) They showed up at TopShop.

3) They showed up as hipster men’s fashion.

4) Most atrociously, they showed up in the Zara in DENIM FORM when I was shopping in Plovdiv last weekend.

All of the above are fashion gods if you will – the dots I spoke of before. Why dumpiness? I decided I needed to try them on to see for myself how “flattering” they could be. I give you the results (forgive the fuzziness and bad shots. I was pressed for space as I was alone):

Janel commented quite greatly on the facebook picture of these and summed it up by saying:

“in our modern world, a working woman just doesn't have the time to stop for a bathroom break. Now with dumpy pants we don’t have to! Keep them guessing what's underneath it all in these fashionable and flattering fabrics, made in a variety of washes so you never have to!”

Anyway, I rest my case. Please be law-abiding citizens.

More fashion woes surely to come, as they cannot be escaped in this grand country. Aside from mourning dumpy pants, I have been teaching. Mostly, classes are going much more smoothly than last year and I am able to handle problems much better. The exception is my 8th graders, which could possibly be worse than last year. If that soul-destroying madness continues, I am not sure I will last here… Also as mentioned, a ton of us traveled to Plovdiv to celebrate Josh and Jeff’s birthdays and it was ridiculousness that was wildly documented with my camera through the hands of everyone but me. You can see that craziness here and here. After which, with the quick change in weather, I got a gnarly cold that I have been battling for the last five days. It seems to have been healed with a number of Audrey Hepburn movies and episodes of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Yes… Canada. I am a SYTYCD groupie. Overall, doing okay. Kind of at the point where it seems I have been here forever and I am ready for something new, but I guess I should look at it as having only nine months to go.

So until next time, identify and condemn dumpiness around the world! Stay classy.

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