At Retail:  When More Is Too Much

In my line of work, I get to go shopping a lot. But, that doesn’t mean I buy a lot.  In fact, I could have the smallest wardrobe of anyone I know. Really. (Maybe writing about the great stuff I find makes me feel like I already own the item, and I’m over it. Sad, but better for my wallet.)

But, it does mean I really know what’s out there right now. And what’s out there are  lots and lots of  bells and whistles:  sequins, beads, ruffles, embroidery, lame, lace, studs, jewels, pleats, drapes, twists and gathers — the whole teen/twenty-something pop star get-up gone mass market. Lindsey, Britney, Mary Kate and Ashley and a host of others started this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink/all-in-one-outfit idea, and retailers love it with its “more is more”, trash is cash, bling-y message. Seems you can’t pile on too much right now….

But, really, you can — do you want to look like the tree you put up for the jolly man in the red suit — complete with a flashing red lights that spell out “victim” ? Then, beware the glittery glut of extras that awaits you on every rack from high end department stores to discount chains. Every store, every line, is trying to be so hip it hurts.

Now, I’m all for being unconventional, and I  like juxtaposing surprising textures and ideas, but a few of these twists go a long way.  You could end up walking out of the store with the very bad idea you can’t go wrong with more, more, MORE…

So, ladies, please understand that too many “individual touches” look forced – like a third rate stylist got a hold of a first rate stylist’s original flash of sartorial brilliance and multiplied it. Doesn’t work like that.

A sequinned skirt can look great with a chunky turtleneck and boots for day, but would be questionable with a fake fur vest, lace blouse and leather leggings, no matter what time it was. A great beaded top can look amazing with jeans and a simple blazer, but add a draped lame skirt, faux Mongolian coat,and ripped “air conditioned” tights and you’ll look like nothing but “trying too hard”.

When basics weren’t selling any more. it seems retailers decided consumers only responded to the unusual, or individual-looking, piece.  So, everyone got on board — and I mean EVERYONE, thinking a sequined tank could fix the economy.

Well, it hasn’t yet — and until I see Barack and his economic advisors decked out in them at his next speech — spare my stylish eyeballs and wear only one piece of “specialness” at a time!  P-U-H-Leeeeeeze!


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