Monday, July 20, 2009

High-Low Fashion/Multiwear Garments

In my August 2009 edition of Fashion magazine, there’s this naughty photo in one of the spreads of a blond-bobbed siren in her underwear, this pretty concoction of wisps of lace, standing over a man sitting in a chair. According to the corner of the page, the sexy, little bra is $170(CAD), from Agent P (that’s Agent Provocateur, of course) and the lacy, black tanga is a $10 H&M original.

My first reaction was – Genius! They look like they could be part of a set, and this is a classic example of mixing high with low. Wearing high-low fashion is so Kate Moss, right? She famously wears Hanes tees and tanks with couture blazers and trendy jeans.

However, when I really thought about it, I wondered about the practicality of the whole concept. If I could afford Agent P lingerie, would I really buy cheapie H&M undies that everyone’s sifted over? Would you? It applies from the other end of the spectrum as well. Being a poor student and used to of living in glamorous poverty as I am, I rarely spend $10 on a single pair of underwear; I’m a fan of the 5 for $25 deals at La Senza and AE. If I were to be really frugal and save up money for something, would I spend it on clothes? Flimsy lingerie doesn’t last very long unless you take super meticulous care of it, and pieces of high-end “outer clothes” cost way more than a high-end bra does.

Besides all that, I'd rather buy a ton of cheap but cute lingerie pieces instead of a single pretty item that costs a lot because then there'd be more of a surprise every time. It's not like guys can tell the difference when you're nearly naked, anyway. They like just about anything; they're on our side, I promise. If I had $170 to spare that I was going to splurge on something, I’d more likely spend it on shoes, which last longer, books, which last even longer, electronics or some other kind of accessory.

So really, wearing high-low fashion is a nice idea, but it doesn’t hold up well as a principle to be executed

Another nice fashion idea that doesn’t work all that well in real life is multiwear garments. You know, the Le Sac Dress and Cotton Spandex Jersey Bandeau Dress from American Apparel, the 4-in-1 dresses and skirts from Tristan & America, the Infinite Dress from the 90s... I found out the hard way when I bought one of those “Magic Wrap Skirts” from an outdoor festival last weekend.

First of all, the material is really low-quality (I saw several varieties and I can assure you that none of them would last past a few washes) and the handiwork is shoddy at best, so it’s really not worth the price you pay. Secondly, it’s really annoying to have to think about how to wear it after you buy it, even if it seems fun at the time of purchase; I don’t think anyone should ever pay for a garment that they don’t know for sure will make them look drop-dead-gorgeous. Lastly, they typically only look nice in maybe one or two styles. The other styles look nice in the brochure, but they often look odd from the back or the side, and I think an effective outfit should look stunning from every perspective.

It’s really attractive to think that you’re sort of getting multiple pieces for the price of one because you can wear it several ways, but don’t bother! Save your money for pieces that are already cut and designed to be hot on you as it is.

1 comment:

Sabrina said...

I think price is sometimes arbitrary in terms of quality.

Hanes has pretty much perfected the plain white cotton tank and I don't think you can pay more and really get a better product. (not in cotton anyway)

Another example I'm thinking of is a few years ago when really thin cotton t-shirts were in style (faux-vintage) and you could easily find one that was $40 (not necessarily "designer" but definitely overpriced) and they were the shittiest quality shirts - you could definitely get a better quality one at Wal-Mart for $10... But it might also be less fashionable, since the shitty quality appeared to be what made it stylish (growing up going to fabric stores, this was not a style I could get behind).
(Note: in general, however, Wal-Mart clothes = ill-fit and poor seaming)

One last thing - real vintage would also have been cheaper, and the quality is sometimes equal to new because it's barely been worn, but it comes down to a person's comfort with wearing second-hand clothes. Some fashionistas don't bat an eye at it, but it skeeves some people out.