Tribune senior correspondent
December 30, 2009
We've all had that sinking feeling, the "What was I thinking?" moment when we look at an old photo and can't believe we appeared in public looking that way.
As we start a new decade, let's take a look at some recent fashion and style trends — those worth keeping and the ones whose searing images cry out for a bonfire.
The single worst idea in many decades was the notion that grown women should show off their naked stomachs.
Low-slung jeans gave even the skinniest women an unsightly muffin top spillover.
Pairing these with a crop top that stops above the belly button has fashion disaster written all over it.
The proliferation of jean options in the last decade is a huge and welcome development for women of all ages. But at what cost? Besides the bare belly problem, can any pair of dungarees be worth $400? Nope.
Pee-wee Herman suits
It wasn't just women who went bad. The shrunken men's suit popularized by designer Thom Brown was hard to take seriously. But Jay-Z and other celebrities known for their immaculate menswear are signaling a turn to more formal dressing for men. And that's a good thing. Jeremy Gutsche, founder of trendhunter.com, predicts we'll see men's "half formal dressing," sprucing up traditional business casual with blazers, bow ties and the like. But khaki pants with blue shirts are here to stay. Alas, forever.
The Olsen twins could get away with the "bohemian" (bag lady) look — appearing as though they are being devoured by their droopy clothes and massive purses. "They can look bummy because they're not bums. When you're billionaires, you can look any way you want," says Kathryn Finney of budget fashionista.com. For the rest of us: Forget it. More streamlined fashion with artisan touches such as embroidery, beading and fringe is a better choice in 2010.
Laugh-out-loud platform shoes
You can't walk in them, these stepladders for your feet. "They're for beauty queens and drag queens," says Susan Swimmer, fashion features editor for More magazine. True: They make your legs look longer. False: They're pretty or even remotely practical. More appealing footwear trends to continue in the new decade are flat riding boots and ballet flats, plain or embellished, in leather, suede, metallics and animal prints.
Aggressive shoulders might seem right for these tough times, but save them for Rihanna or dress-up on Halloween. "It's really about evolution, not revolution!" says Gregg Andrews, a Nordstrom fashion director who sees feminine (not girly or sexy) styles predominating in the coming months. Dresses, of a less superhero variety, create winning silhouettes that will continue into spring and beyond. They're recession friendly, an instant outfit and a no-brainer.
An excuse for oversize clothes that flatter no one (not even the boyfriend). Baggy cardigans, giant button-down shirts, huge blazers, rolled-up blue jeans, unisex lace-up shoes. "It's very tricky to wear without looking theatrical," says Swimmer. Stick to the women's department, where power suiting has undergone a much needed makeover with lots of jacket, skirt and trouser options that have nothing to do with dressing like a man.
Fashion faves worth keeping
Hats on men and women, especially fedoras
Vintage and vintage-inspired classics
Cardigans Michelle Obama has the right idea.
Wide belts They work magic for those with a waist — or who wish they had one.
Designer-for-less For example, Vera Wang at Kohl's, Norma Kamali for Walmart and Jimmy Choo at H&M.
Plus sizes with style
Way beyond tents and muumuus.
More bad ideas to kick to the curb
"It" logo and wait-list purses that cost a month's rent (and more) "Cloying and cliched," says Christene Barberich, editorial director of the style and shopping blog refinery29.com.
Clunky footwear Crocs and Uggs. Crocs are cute on toddlers and good for gardening. Period. Cozy Uggs work for apres ski or surfing, but they're no match for rain and slush.
Neon Nobody looks good in putrid '80s retread colors.
Skintight anything, especially skinny jeans.
Tattoos Listen to your mother.