Monday, May 18, 2015

Confessions of Ugly Clothing

RHYS: I've been doing a lot of weeding out of my closet recently. Too many clothes I no longer wear. And among them I have found some things that make me exclaim "I wore that? What was I thinking?"  A pair of summer cotton pants with large tropical flowers all over them? Shudder. Truth be told, I don't think I ever wore them.

Then the other day I was out hiking in the DC area. It was a warm day and most people were in jeans and T shirts, except for one man who was in plaid Bermuda shorts. And I thought--they must be the ugliest item of clothing ever invented. So I've been thinking of my worst fashion choices. The hot pants and long white boots in the sixties (actually I looked good in them!) The long, flowing and flowery in the Seventies. The shoulder pants that looked as if I'd left the coat hanger inside in the Eighties. So I'm curious, dear Reds: what do you think is the ugliest item of clothing ever invented, AND the worst item of clothing you've ever owned. Pictures if you can....

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh I so need to do more weeding. For example, I have a whole wardrobe of tennis skirts that I should let go. I don't play any longer, they're out of style, and they probably don't fit. (Actually, I'm almost certain.) But they remind me of the days when I first met my John, so I have a nostalgic attachment.

As for ugliest fashion, I have a feeling Hank won't agree with me, but...women's shoulder pads should be in the running. And I wore lots of them. With little men's bow ties to go along with the power suit look. (This was well before I was a writer and could lounge around in pajamas for most of the day.) Although I'm adding a photo of a pair of pants that might be a candidate too. The thing is, I had the idea that if I only cut them off and hemmed them, they'd be cute. But maybe not...Rhys?

RHYS: No, please don't. There is no way to turn these pants into anything other than a pillow in an Appalachian cottage.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I know someone is going to jump on the comments and vociferously disagree with me, but I think the ugliest women's clothing item are gaucho pants. Culottes run a close second, but I have seen some flowy culottes that look enough like skirts to...not be entirely horrid. But gaucho pants? Yes, if you look like Bianca Jagger circa 1973, you might be able to carry them off. Note - carry them off. Even if you are Bianca Jagger, anything else would be an improvement. For those of us NOT 6 feet tall, model slim and dressed by Halston, gauchos are not only unattractive, they convey a confused and clouded mind. What's the message? "I can't decide between a skirt or knickerbockers?" "I identify with Agentine cowboys?" "I heard bell bottoms make the leg look longer, so I'm going to have bell bottoms at my knees?" No.

If you're really tempted, watch Rudy Valentino in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Then ask yourself: am I Rudy Valentino? Is this 1921? If the answer to either question is no, eschew gauchos. The world will thank you.

HALLIE EPHRON: I have formidable shoulders so I generally took the shoulder pads out of everything I bought that had them. And gaucho pants? Maybe Audrey Hepburn could wear them. You have to admit they're very comfy.

What astonishes me now is how short I once wore my skirts. I hope I didn't bend over. Also shoes with chunky heels and thick soles.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Like Hallie, I have square shoulders that would do a linebacker proud, so always took shoulder pads out. But, heavens, they were awful. I am divided between gaucho pants and Bermuda shorts  as ugliest thing every invented, but think I would have to come down on the side of Bermudas. No one, not even insect tall and thin models, looks good in Bermuda shorts. Just not possible. Thank goodness I don't think I ever owned a pair. I've certainly had my share of uglies, though, including a few years of elastic waisted "comfort pants" for around the house. So glad someone invented yoga pants!!!! (Danskin makes great ones and they even come in petite so I don't have to hem them.)

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Nope, nope, nope, I'm sure you've all had ugly items of clothing, and you think they're the ugliest, and I must say I have never owned gaucho pants (YUCK) and I have one pair of shorts, which are men's, because I agree there is no such thing as good-looking Bermudas. And shoulder pads? I must say, yes, Lucy, I am a fan. Of smallish ones. Even with my own shoulders, which, I am happy to say, are big. Yay.

However!  I must say, this time, I have the ugliest item of clothing that ever existed on the planet. THE WORST. Don't even try to get uglier than this jacket. It can't happen.

Here it is, in all of it's unbelievable glory. You will note that although I have had it for maybe--six years? The price tag is is still on it.

Please note: the pattern. AHHHH!!  The ruffles on the sleeves. The ruffles on the BACK! I mean--I ask you.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Okay, I had a fleeting moment of: Over a white dress, on Nantucket. With white pants, on the Vineyard.

But really? How about: in the trash can? But  I knew it would be perfect for something.

RHYS:I I can't believe you ever thought you'd wear this, oh woman who wears nothing but black! In fact if I ever saw you in it, I'd believe it was the evil twin sister you'd never told me about. I used to wear flowers long ago and mother insisted on sending me flowery items until she died. She would have loved that for me!

So gentle readers, we need your confessions too. And I have to share a picture of the occasional perfect item. I found this in a chic boutique in Santa Monica when I was touring with Cara Black. It was white leather, French and cost $2500. Luckily a little too small.


  1. Ugly clothing? Agreeing with the gaucho pants and the shoulder pads and the Bermuda shorts . . . adding leggings and Capri pants [didn't we used to call the pedal pushers?] to the list.

  2. I was falling asleep when I decided to check in with the Reds. I'm not sleepy anymore! I can't stop laughing!

    Hank! Please let me send that flowery blouse? to my stepmother in the Philippines.The Pacific Fleet will be at peace, and Daddy will be at rest.

    Rhys, I like Bermudas! Where would I have been as a kid at the Pleon without my Nantucket red Bermudas? Junior Race Week would have been an awful loss!

    Lucy! You are a closet preppy! Those madras patchworks are classic! Come on. Get out the deck shoes and let's go sailing!

    I love you, Reds. Thank you for more fun. xoxoxxx

  3. Ho, ho, we're glad you woke up Reine! We're going to pack the whole mess up and send it off to you!

  4. Joan, leggings and Capri pants? Really?? There goes half my wardrobe...

  5. Capri pants? Ugh. really. The idea that it''s a good thing to cut one's lower leg in half? I don't think so.

    But leggings, now, they can look terrific. As long as the wearer does a 360 and makes sure the back view is not..tragic. Long tops, I say. LONG.

    And I agree, I love Lucy's pants.

    Reine, it's a jacket! And it fits long as you don't look at it. ;-)

  6. I guess I am terminally tacky, but I love Bermuda shorts, crop pants, ruffles where least expected. But then I am old and wear purple, too.

    I don't own a skirt or a dress or a pair of shoes with heels, and I have a Liz Claiborne tee shirt I bought in OKC in 1995, still looks great.

    A couple of years ago I lost a ton of weight, got rid of all my fat lady clothes, and I wear my size 10-12 shorts wrong side out so the size label shows.


  7. First of all, please let me say from this Appalachian cabin - No, to the pillow that might be made from the pants. Even those of us living in Appalachia have a modicum of taste. BUT - oh how I remember those pants, Lucy, and all the cool kids wore them! They are classic.

    Ugliest item of clothing? I'm with Julia - gaucho pants and culottes.

    Capris - no. And yes, I remember when they were called pedal pushers and also clam diggers. Why???

    Leggings? Love love love my leggings, but only with very long tops. And, I also love them worn under a skirt or dress. I'm thinking some may "think" leggings replace jeans and can be worn with a blouse tucked in. No. just. no. I don't care if you weight 98 pounds. no.

  8. You all are so funny! Capri pants - I just don't think they work very well for most people. Hallie being the exception, of course.

    And leggings without a long enough top, especially on certain bodies, absolutely. I always say to myself, "She forgot to put her skirt on!"

  9. Did anyone mention stirrup pants? And skorts? Horrors.

    Formidable shoulders--ha! I think I have a pair of those. I also wear leggings and tights as basics of my "appearance wardrobe" (meaning, when I leave the house) that leans to skirts. Otherwise, I'd be in a pair of black pants all the time. I gave up wearing jeans a few years ago. Too uncomfortable when you are short but a little long waisted. There's no a pair of jeans out there that ever fit me.

    Capris are bad. I know this. And yet I wear them, though mostly to run errands and my daily trip to the grocery store. Am I allowed to keep Capris for those specific times? Please?

  10. Yoga pants that are butt-sprung, like the ones I saw the other day. Aiyiyiyi!! Please, that look is not for public "airing". TMI, thank you very much.

    Since I no longer expose my upper thighs to the world for any reason, capri-length pants are my go-to gardening clothes. I'm sorry if that offends anyone, but just don't come over when I have my butt up whilst weeding and we'll stay friends. :-)

    Long ago, when I was a 4-H clothing construction judge, this poor girl made a cute outfit whose pattern called for the use of shoulder pads. She herself had incredibly square shoulders, so the pads were perched atop them like some sort of growth. I was supposed to judge on what they showed me, but I told her I could give her a much higher score if she would remove the pads, and I told her why. Don't know whether she believed me or not, but the outfit was otherwise lovely, and I hope she took the advice to heart.

  11. Shoulder pads.
    Ah yes. A friend commented (way back when) that if she wasn't paying attention and wore a blouse with pads and then put on a jacket with pads, it was like wearing earmuffs! She couldn't hear a thing because her ears were covered!

    As to skirt lengths--When I was in college in the late 60's I convinced my mother to keep shortening my shirts. My logic was it made my legs look longer. Bless her, she didn't argue.

  12. Stirrup pants! I lived in those. Of course, it was 1985. In fact, if I look at most of the pictures from the 80s/early 90s, the clothing is, well, tragic. And I thought I looked so cool. Jelly shoes. Who remembers those? My mother refused to let me wear them because I'd "ruin my feet." Shoulder pads in everything. I never wore capris or gaucho/culottes though. I wasn't tall enough.

    Hank, I cannot see you in that jacket. I mentioned to my daughter that I'd seen you last Thursday. She immediately wanted to know what shoes you were wearing. "She has the best shoes," she said, after I told her (the red suede heels you were wearing Thursday).

    We bought my daughter a pistachio green leather jacket that looks kind of like Rhys's white one (but it was not $2,500). It looks very stylish on her. Me, I'm sure I couldn't carry it off.

  13. Skorts! Oh my...

    I had pink stretch stirrup pants in high school that I wore with my white go-go boots, a white mock-turtleneck (yeah, there's another one), and a pink windbreaker. I thought I looked smashing. But then I was fourteen and had just outgrown my baby fat and not yet acquired the adult layer. So I probably did!

  14. I feel I must defend skorts. They give all the comfort and practicality of shorts while looking like a skirt from the front. Of course, I do unladlylike things while wearing them so people who only see me from the front may think they're getting a show when they're not. I also love my leggings and capris though I would never tuck a shirt into leggings.

    Prints are riskier than solids. I thought the recent 70's resurgence of hippy-dippy prints was hideous but that trend seems to be moving on.

    Hank's floral jacket is certainly like nothing I've seen her wear but I bet she would rock it if she decided to wear it. I've seen Heidi Klum wear stuff I think is ugly and yet she looks fabulous in it.

  15. I'm so glad to start out Monday with many giggles!

    Roberta--I LOVE that you wore little bow ties. I bet they were adorable.

    Double-ugh on the dreaded gaucho pants. But have to defend Capri pants (and leggings w/ loooooong tops) as long as they don't have those weird little ties at the bottom that make one look like a pastel peg-leg pirate. I tried on a pair just yesterday. Arghhhhhh.

    This week I'm starting that bestselling cluttering purge, and will start with the clothes. Y'all have given me the courage to admit that the 1997 Bill Blass evening suit--mushroom-color/puckered all over/2-sizes too small/and SHINY--is actually hideous. I'm not even sure the vintage shop will want it.

  16. Wow, Hank, that jacket... I agree with Rhys, I would have thought it belonged your long-lost twin, who had been brought up as a debutante in Mississippi. It's not...objectively awful. It's just as far from your style as humanly possible.

    The most non-me items of clothing I've ever picked up have been Chanel-style jackets. You all know the style: blocky, jewel neck, hits mid-hip. I've always loved them, possibly because they looked so effortlessly elegant on my (slim, fine-boned) mother.

    I however, am neither slim nor fine-boned. In my younger days, I had a true hourglass figure, all bust and hips, and those jackets were the worst thing possible for my shape. Yet I insisted on buying them whenever I ran across one in a vintage shop. I suppose if my (slim, fine-boned) Youngest ever grows her shoulders as broad as mine, she can have them.

    Yes, I haven't gotten rid of them. They're up in the attic, in clothing bags. Too unflattering to wear, too fabulous to give away...

  17. you guys are hysterical! Edith that outfit sounds priceless. And reminds me of dickeys. Remember dickeys? the faux turtlenecks that went under a sweater? ugh...

    Laura, Yes, time to send that suit off, anywhere:).

    Kaye, I was thinking too that Appalachia would not appreciate a pillow made out of my pants. In spite of how much I admire Rhys's opinion.

    Go Ann! with her shirts on inside out...

    And Karen S, you are right, Hank can wear anything:)

    And Karen in Ohio, how kind to tell the girl about her shoulder pads. I bet she still remembers...

  18. I'll wear the jacket to CrimeBAke. Can all of you who are in charge of it maybe make the party require it, somehow?

    And aw,Karen, thank you. (And I know what you mean about Heidi. But then..well, she;s Heidi.)

    Thank you, MAry! Smooches to your dear daughter.

    Do it. Laura! GONE! (Unless you might need to save it as a costume..??)

  19. Please do not leave out MIDI skirts, leg warmers and the entire "Annie Hall" line. I am not a hater of those plaid pants Roberta but would never wear them haha.

  20. Lucy, You could probably get away with those plaid pants as shorts as you live where tourists freely roam. I think that "baby doll" dresses with empire waists and puffy sleeves were pretty bad and how about the mono kini (never had one of those).

  21. Oh, Hank, yes, it was your evil twin who BOUGHT that jacket? I think I would faint if I saw you in it...

    Rhys, with your long, elegant legs, I'll bet you did look fabulous in hot pants and long white boots. A look, alas, at 5' 2", I could never carry off.

    Karen, "butt sprung" yoga pants???? Howling!!!! I think I've seen a few of those walking around at Walmart...

    Ann, you go, girl! Love in the inside out shorts!

    Sharon Fisher, I'm trying to visualize the mono kini. Ack!

  22. Plaid shorts, gaucho pants, and shoulder pads are all horrible. Hank, I think the ruffles are the death knell to that jacket, although I agree that if anyone could look good in it, it would be you. Hallie, the short skirts take me back to the day when I was wearing those mini lengths and swore that I'd never wear anything below my knee. Famous last words. Hahaha! Now, I have to have mid-lenth dresses or skirts when I rarely wear them.

    OK, I am gobsmacked with all the capri hate. If you can't wear shorts and long pants are too hot in the summer, what do you wear but capris. I'm talking about pants, as I know that some like skirts, which I'm not comfortable with either. There are some of us who don't have nice legs or have problems such as spider veins (even though mine are somewhat better after treatment some years ago). I love my capris because they give me the chance to be summery without the embarrassment of exposing my legs, or much of them. I consider pedal pushers different than capris, as the style of pedal pushers brings up memories of what was worn in the 50s or 60s, which is not the style of capris today. Sorry, I rambled on so much about capris, but for me, summer can be an uncomfortable time of skin revelation I'd rather not deal with.

    Oh, and I envy those, like my skinny daughter, who can wear yoga pants, but I avoid anything that accentuates my extra padding.

  23. In many cases, I think our "ugly" choices are probably influenced by the items of clothing that like or don't like and by the outfits we would never choose to wear ourselves.
    I don't ever wear shorts or Capri pants [or crop pants or whatever they call them these days], ditto leggings [although I do agree with Hank that they can be okay IF one wears a LONG top].
    But these are my personal preferences and I'm sorry if my comments seemed critical of other' choices. That certainly was never my intent . . . .

  24. Joan, please don't worry, we're all making a little fun of ourselves today:)

  25. Reds and friends of Reds, I love you more and more with each blog and comments! And, thanks to you, I am making official, as of now—right now—my complete conversion to the Steve Jobs’ (RIP) wardrobe scheme of black top and Levi’s 501s. Thank you for pushing me over the edge into my reality.

    Lucy… that’s very kind if you, but I couldn’t possibly. No, no. You must keep it. Or present it to a truly deserving soul. Give it to Santa’s Distributive Sleigh: The Regifting Program for the Repurposing-Impaired.

    Hank! It’s a jacket? Oh, Hank… I had no idea. I’m glad you’re back to yourself, now.

    Edith, no. You’re serious? So hard to picture your organic healthful self in pink stretch stirrup pants with white go-go boots. You know this means we cannot go back in time and be friends, right? The plan is off.

    Debs, I have to ask you… privately, please, because I trust you. So shhh… this is embarrassing… I must be the only person in the world doesn’t know. Shhh… what are yoga pants? This is not a joke.

  26. Oh, Joan, yes, indeed--we are making fun of ourselves! And fashion, a bit. Love you madly...

  27. Gaucho pants, never owned them and Shoulder pads got cut out of anything I bought that had them in them

    I have a friend who still wears the BIG shoulder pads and heavy liquid face makeup......I don't get either, but especially the makeup thing

    I confess since becoming disabled, I live in leggings and T-shirts most of the time since I'm home most of the time

    I love the clothes from the 60's and 70's and also the 40's

    Pedal pushers, the perfect biking pants when it was a little cool

    Cut off jeans shorts in the 70s's and would wear around house in 80's then metabolism went biserk and I couldn't fit one leg in both legs. I do still have 2 pair of cutoffs in a box in attic, dreaming of weighing 125 pounds again and if I ever get there, I will wear them, even if I'm 80 !!

    was never fond of culottes - they did not look good on this short body

    loved halter tops at 115 to 125 pounds

    Hallie, Leggings and capris will always be major part of my wardrobe, comfort when you have chronic pain is necessary in my eyes - even with no pain, they are flat out comfy - sweats, yoga pants also and sneakers

    worst cloths - when MIL was alive she would buy me tops for BD and Cmas and always bought the ones that had the banding around bottom - not a good look on someone who has extra weight, actually I wouldnt wear them if I weighed 90 pnds

    Happy "wardrobing"

  28. I have been gone all day and just got back on here. Oh, dear, sweet Joan, I hope you didn't think I was upset with you or anyone in particular about the capris. I see now that I was far too serious about my remarks, and for that I am sorry. I'm usually not so serious, and I do make plenty of fun about myself. And, if I don't, my daughter will remind me of my goofy choices of t-shirts and earrings. I like to have fun with my clothes way too often for good taste. I think I'm just going through a rather sensitive phase of not fitting in last summer's clothes, getting ready to go to Hawaii in July, and thinking I'll have to rely on a t-shirt I just ordered that says, "You can't buy happiness, but you can go to Hawaii, and that's pretty much the same thing."

    And, I really did enjoy the ugly clothes stories. The Reds blog is where I come to feel good, and I never leave it without that being the case.

  29. I was told that I should try culottes because they'd be easy to wear while riding a bike and still look like a skirt.

    Not true: they were a pain to cycle in (they chafed), and they looked horrible. All that extra fabric made my hips look huge!

    I think others must have come to the same conclusion, because I haven't seen them in years.