Molly Garner Knows a Few Things About Fashion: FIERCE ANTICIPATION [BEST OF FaN]

Originally published 03/18/11

In addition to being a sometimes actress and sometimes writer, I am an almost-all-the-time shopping tour guide.  Giving shopping tours is my day job.  “What’s a shopping tour?” you may ask.  Well, I work for a company called Shop Gotham that gives shopping tours of New York neighborhoods.  Tourists buy the tours online, show up at the designated meeting place, and I take them shopping for three hours.  “That sounds like the best day job ever,” you may be thinking.  Yes, it is.

Being exposed to so much fashion has transformed my  sartorial tastes from thrift-store loving, label-disdaining jeans and a T-shirt sort of gal to a vintage-loving, trend-following aesthete.   Simply put, I love fashion.  I love interpreting trends, I love choosing to ignore them.  I retain my distaste for big labels like Tommy Hilfiger, but get excited when I discover a new, creative designer or see a “piece” I absolutely adore.  I love fashion shows, Fashion Police, Project Runway, all of it.  In my opinion I have excellent taste.  Of course.

However, fashion gets limited coverage on Fierce and Nerdy because, while undeniably fierce, fashion is rarely nerdy.  Until now.  We’ve seen the rise of nerdy chic in hipster comedies, independent bookstores and the kind of bars that host trivia nights.  But this season these five compelling trends will allow us all to embrace our lovable inner dork…

1.  Elastic Waistbands.

“Why?” my husband asked, blinking, as I explained the proliferation of elastic waistbands I’d seen in stores recently.

“I’m not sure,” I responded.  “I think because of the popularity of leggings, which have become jean/leggings, or jeggings, and suddenly everybody remembered how comfortable elastic waistbands really are, especially when you’re gorging yourself on craft brews and artisanal cheeses.  So now I’m seeing  them on designer jeans and shorts.”

Yes, elastic waistbands have bounced back, and I endorse them wholeheartedly.  We’ve been conditioned over the last 15 years to associate elastic waistbands with fat and sloppy people.   I frequently feel fat and sloppy.  So it’s good to know that instead of staying in with a packet of Ho-Hos, I can go out sporting my elastic waistband and still be fashionable!

However, you might want to spend a little money when indulging this trend.  Cheap elastics will either pinch or stretch.  No one wants their love handles squeezed by anyone other than a significant other, nor do we want our pants around our ankles when we didn’t plan for it.  So avoid elastic waistbands from Old Navy, Charlotte Russe, Forever 21 and so on.  Look for boutique labels in department stores or buy biggie brands on sale.

2.   The Fanny Pack.

Nooooooooo!  Although I can endorse an elastic waistband, the emergence of the fanny pack makes me want to run screaming into the hills.  I cannot argue the practicality of the fanny pack.  I’m all about hands-free.  But with so many gorgeous handbags, why sport something so hideous?  Something that adds bulk to the hips and waist?

Fortunately, at this point fanny packs appear to be the ironic whimsy of top-dollar designers.  Diane Von Furstenberg and Hermes showcased them in their Spring 2011 collections.  Their designs are (relatively) sleek and elegant and cost upwards of $300.  That’s right, $300.  For a fanny pack.  If that’s out of your budget, I suggest you check your good old Banana Republic, H&M and Zara for knockoffs of runway designs.  But just because you can afford a fanny pack DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULD BUY ONE!!

3.  Levi’s

Growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, the only acceptable brand of jeans was Levi’s.  Kids prided themselves on their would-be designer jeans as if they were wearing Paige, Seven or True Religion– labels that were unavailable to us in the sticks.  So I was absolutely floored when Opening Ceremony, the New York icon of elite hipsterdom, began advertising a line of chambray jeans… from Levi’s?

Almost as surprising was New York Magazine’s glowing review of Levi’s, which beat out a slew of high-end designer jeans for comfort and wearability.   And when a women’s contemporary buyer from Saks showed up on one of my shopping tours in tapered Levi’s and a matching jacket, it was confirmed:  Ashtabula has become a hotbed of designer trends.   What’s next?  Reeboks?  Tigger sweatshirts?

It seems New Yorkers have gone from lumberjack chic to redneck chic.  Yet in our green locavore culture, it does make sense that a brand as durable and homespun as Levi’s might emerge as a leader in value, and hence, become a trendsetter.  Either that or Levi’s has a new publicity team.  I feel a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz:  I’ve come so far, but I could’ve found what I’m looking for in the single corridor of the Ashtabula Mall.

4.  Oxfords

If you’re a woman whose weakness is shoes (can I get an Amen?), you’re probably already craving these this season.  Or these.

Yes, heels are sky-high this spring and, much to the chagrin of tall girls like me, they’re stacked with two or three inch platforms a la Lady Gaga.  But for anyone whose height, taste or coordination prevents them from wearing skyscraper heels, you’ll be happy to know these laceless, wingtip oxfords are just as fashionable, if not more so, than teetery-tottery hooker heels.  And while women’s shoes are trending towards the masculine, men’s shoes are becoming more feminine, as evidence by these kick-ass saddle shoes by Cole Haan (pictured) that only the gutsiest guys can pull off.  And more power to them!

5.  Drop-Crotch Harem Pants

Maybe you did see this trend coming.  Last year the harem pant officially exploded across mainstream America, so the cutting-edge fashionistas trotted out the drop-crotch variation, known to some as the Hammer Pant.  Now, I fully support the harem pant and own a pair myself.  They are sexy, they make everyone’s ass look great, and they are oh-so-comfortable.  Those harem girls really knew what they were doing, lounging around in them all day.

The drop-crotch harem pant, on the other hand, combine the discomfort of wearing a skirt (read: sticky thighs) with the visual aesthetic of a crappy diaper.  Seriously, everyone who wears these looks like they’ve taken an inopportune dump.  I can’t imagine an uglier pant.

However, the stores have decided to force this hideousness on us, regardless of the fact that the only celebrity who’s really embraced it has been Miley Cyrus.  (‘Nuff said.)  You will even see them at tasteful places like  All Saints and Anthropologie.  I urge you to resist.  They are neither fierce nor nerdy and will only embarrass you in photographs in years to come.

Happy shopping!