Ask Belle: Dated Trends That Need to Expire
Mar 26, 2012
I wanted to ask your advice regarding tie-back dresses. I’ve provided an example I’ve found on Garnet Hill.
I’ve been told that for women in their 20s and 30s, these type of dresses are too infantile and not age appropriate. Would you agree with this? I have a wardrobe with some older tie-back dress pieces that have are in great condition and perfect for the upcoming spring and summer months, but I want to make sure they are fashion forward. Is there a way to tailor the dress to make it not tie-back anymore? Do you recommend just doing away with this sort of dress, or do you think it’s still worth it to keep them as-is for work and casual environments?
Thanks so much! I appreciate all of your help.
I have an answer for Kimberly’s question, but her letter got me thinking about a topic that I think is of great importance to middle class women everywhere: What former trends look so dated that it’s time for them to go the way of the dinosaurs.
After all, we’re starting a new season, and what better time to talk about the styles that are no longer stylish?
As you read this, please keep in mind, that at some point, I owned every one of these items. I saw the error of my ways, and I just want to spread the good news. It’s time to move on from these dated trends and into something more flattering and less frumpy.
Since you brought it up, let’s start with tie-back dresses and tie-back tops. Until last fall, I owned a handful of tie-back pieces. Then, one day, I caught my reflection in the mirror and thought: “Oh my God, I look like a 13-year-old girl living out on the prairie.” And that was the end of that.
Tie back pieces aren’t particularly flattering on anyone over the age of 16. What does the tie accomplishment? Nothing. In fact, on many women, I think it only draws attention to things that they would rather hide.
If you want to look summery and stylish, buy a nice cotton dress. Something with structure that emphasizes your waist and flatters your figure. Perhaps a nice poplin shirtdress like this number from Ivanka Trump.
Empire waists are the next on my list. Several years ago, someone sold American women a bill of goods. We were told that an empire top would just glide over our slightly paunchy or Rubenesque bellies, and so we started buying them in bulk. But why we thought that emulating the fashion choices of pregnant women was a good idea is anyone’s guess.
A few seasons ago, I emerged from the malaise and realized that adding volume from your bra band to your hips doesn’t conceal the flaws on your torso. Instead, it tells the world, “Hey, I’m trying to hide something.” Plus, it throws off your proportions, emphasizes petite figures, smaller busts and/or wider hips. Not the look most women are going for when they choose a shirt.
Instead, if you have a belly to conceal, buy the shirt one size up and have it tailored. I know everyone groans when I talk about tailoring, but clothes aren’t meant to come off the rack and fit perfectly. Your body is uniquely shaped, and you’re never going to look your best wearing cookie cutter sizes.
Plus, empire waist tops look incredibly dated. They look like the kind of thing that Soccer Moms in Lawrence, Kansas would wear to run errands on a random Tuesday. And God loves Soccer Moms, but that does not mean they’re stylish trendsetters.
Capri pants were trendy once. In 2000. When Justin was still N’SYNC and Lindsay Lohan was still famous for her acting. Gosh, those were the days. This trend should have faded soon after, but sometimes, pure buying power can keep a trend in stores long beyond its usefulness.
Now, before you rush to the comments section, let me be clear, there are three lengths of shortened pants: ankle, crop and capri. Ankle pants show no part of the calf, just the foot.
Crop pants show a small (smaller than 3″) portion of the calf. These don’t look good on everyone, but when cut correctly, they can be flattering.
Then, there are capris. Sometimes called high waders. Also known in my house as 21st Century Mom Jeans. Capri pants are not flattering. They shorten legs. They emphasize cankles. They widen hips and thicken thighs. It’s atrocious the criminality.
And if you’re still not convinced let me leave you with this tidbit. My Mom once asked a French woman how should could tell that someone was American just by looking at her. Her response, “You can always spot the American tourists because they’re the only people on Earth who wear capris.”