I love fall. The beginning of crisp weather, Halloween, and—finally—the end of wedding season. But my favorite thing about fall is the return of cool-weather attire. Scarves, coats, and boots—call me conservative (or insecure!), but I’ll take them over bikinis and sundresses any day.
This year, we’ve got plenty of good stuff on the racks to choose from. Unfortunately, we’ve also got plenty to laugh at. Some worrying styles have slipped through the cracks and into the stores (and been adopted by impressionable celebs!) despite their utter ridiculousness.
Excelle has identified ten of this season’s most heinous fashion crimes.
1. Acid Washed Jeans
These were bad enough the first time around. This faded wash comes from stripping the fabric of its dye to expose the white underneath. It can be done all over or in bits and splotches. Either way, it’s hideous.
Here is the rule for fashion comebacks: If you were old enough to wear them the first time around, you’re too old to wear them in their resurgence. In the case of acid washed jeans, age is irrelevant. No one looks good in these.
This trend started back in ’08 and continues to force its way onto the scene. From dresses to shoes to leggings, fabric is being cut right out of our favorite items like it’s going out of style (and we hope it is). Is the recession to blame? Are designers saving money by skimping on fabric? Who knows?! What I do know is that this style always looks like a manufacturing flaw to me.
There are, of course, some exceptions. Mad Men’s January Jones wore a very elegant Versace gown at the Emmys that could technically be considered a “cutout” gown, yet it managed to be stunning in its art-deco glory. But a little black dress that looks like a paper snowflake? No, thank you.
3. Oversized Shoulder Pads
Joan Crawford first popularized shoulder pads her 1932 film Letty Lynton, and the style has made several comebacks ever since. But none has been more memorable than the shoulder pad craze of the 1980s, when the look became the single most defining feature in a decade known for full-blown power dressing. So it’s no surprise that in 2009 (as all things 80s resurface), shoulder pads are back on the scene.
And hey, we admit it—we’re liking the return of power dressing. We’re even coming around to the idea of shoulder pads, in the spirit of creating a more structured silhouette. But the “ear-brushing” look being sported by Victoria Beckham and Rihanna? These things look like something out of Star Trek. Or worse, Monday Night Football.
3. Half Shaved Hair
Back in the early 90s, some of the more “alternative” girls at school used to shave their heads just at the nape of the neck—a type of risk-free, suburbanite rebellion. All you had to do was take down your ponytail after school and no one at the dinner table would be the wiser!
The new hairstyle being sported by Rihanna (it’s her second offense!) and others is reminiscent of that era—but gutsier. And not in a good way. I can’t imagine any of us mere mortals would actually sport this look in real life, but enough celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon to make it worth pointing out (read: mocking).
5. Harem Pants
Otherwise known as parachute pants. Or—to a certain generation—Hammer pants. A ballooning, pleated top followed by an exceptionally unflattering tapered ankle? Classy!
These pants don’t look good on anyone. Not celebrities, not models and certainly not you or me. Why? If skinny jeans are unforgiving to anyone without a perfect silhouette, harem pants manage to be even worse by adding pounds to the most slender of physiques. Not to mention the fact that they just look stupid. So, unless you want your behind to look four times its size (and saggy), steer clear of this trend.
6. Stirrup Leggings
On a personal note, I’ve always hated stirrup pants—back in elementary school my mom actually forced me to wear them (along with a number of other “fashionable” atrocities). I hated them even more than the “it’s-cute-when-little-girls-dress-slutty” daisy dukes/crop top ensemble she laid out on my bed one unforgettable summer morning. These pants irritated the bottoms of my feet and crept down my waist.
What’s the point of the straps anyway? Surely leggings stay put just fine without them.
This look actually started making its way back into the mainstream as far back as ‘06 but seems to have peaked in ’09. But now that they’re selling them at Walmart, they must be on their way out. Here’s hoping!
7. Peep-Toe Boots
I love boots. They look great with skirts, dresses, and jeans. They’re also entirely practical in the colder months, keeping your feet warm and protecting them from the elements. So cutting out the tips to expose your toes is a two-fold assault—on style and on function. It looks ridiculous, and it’s about as logical as wearing footless socks or a backless coat.
The worst part is that some of these boots would actually be appealing if the front weren’t cut out of them. What a waste! It’s hard enough already to find the perfect pair of winter boots, and thanks to 2009’s cut-out obsession it’s about to get a whole lot harder.
8. Ripped Tights and Leggings
Remember the ripped tights teenage girls everywhere sported in the far-off days of grunge? The return of that look would almost be tolerable. But the ripped tights (and leggings!) we’re seeing today are a lot more roughed-up hooker than they are vintage Courtney Love (on second thought, is there a difference?).
Designer Alexander Wang brought this look back to the runway at the end of 2008, and it has since been adopted by young stars like Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, and Mischa Barton. Which, in and of itself, is good enough reason not to wear it.
9. Stud Overkill
It’s one thing to have a string of studs on your handbag, wallet, or shoes. But an oversized bag covered in studs? A pair of ankle boots drowning in pointy metal dots? It’s a little OTT. And it looks cheap.
This fashion disaster speaks to a much larger issue. This year, we’re seeing a lot of what’s being called “biker chick chic.” We’ve seen everything from studs to exposed zippers to leather vests. It looks pretty cool on the models. It looks pretty cool on actual biker chicks too (or, at the very least, authentic). The problem is, it looks absolutely ridiculous on the average woman.
So unless you’re a runway model or actually ride a Harley to work, keep your biker chick details to a minimum.
10. Furry Vests
The fur vest is being touted as the statement piece for Fall/Winter 2009. It comes in real or faux, long or short, in black, white, brown, and everything in between. Fashion icon Kate Moss has been sporting this look for some time now—and pulling it off the way only she can do (we admit it, we’re jealous). Recently, fur vests have made their way onto the frail bodies of young Hollywood, so it probably won’t be long before department stores jump on the bandwagon.
I like vests. I even like fur (faux, of course!). But something about this combo reminds me too much of a medieval hair shirt, and I’m just not in the mood for punishment.
We realize fashion is somewhat subjective, so we don’t expect you to agree with our scathing assessment of this season’s trends. But whether you cringe at the sight of laddered tights or can’t wait to get your hands on a pair, I think we can all agree on one thing: none of these looks are appropriate for the office.