Fashion victims

Image of women's winter boots "If I take off my clothes, my carefully contrived image goes. I'm so afraid to show the real me."

Carole Pope, snarling front-woman of Canadian rock band Rough Trade, expressed the view that "we're all victims of fashion" in the band's 1980 hit: Fashion Victim. One might infer, from Pope's provocative and often controversial lyrics, that the primary purpose of fashion is to project an illusory image of something that is not. To this end Pope, and others who might share a similar view on women's fashion, seem to have it exactly backwards.

Women's fashion, I would argue, is not a mystical conduit through which protuberant beauty is somehow magically summoned. If the quality is not present to begin with, it cannot be created. Hence, the old adage, "You can put a pretty dress on a pig, but it's still a pig in a pretty dress."

The single most important quality of fashion is whether or not it attains its goal. Consequently, there are only two outcomes: it either works, or it doesn't. When it works, "Man, does it work." A woman's beauty, her appeal, her intellect, her exhuberance, her youth or, my personal favourite, her pragmatism are exemplified. But if your use of fashion isn't successful, then sorry gals... any qualities you sought to enhance are not merely diminished; they're surgically ablated.

Let me put this another way: you'll never achieve beauty, appeal. exhuberance, intellect or pragmatism when you look like a dork and your fashion-sense is screaming Forest Gump's less-gifted sibling.

Word of advice? Unless there's actually snow on the ground, keep those new winter boots in the closet. You might think they look good in October or November but trust me.... they don't. They're about as subtle as a porcupine in a nudist colony and about as pragmatic as a screen door on a submarine. And if you actually have the odascity to wear your jackboot atrocities in the middle of September then you deserve to be publically ridiculed. The only reason you're alive is that poor fashion sense is not a crime. If it were, and were we living in a much less civilized society, you'd be taken out and publically flogged.

If, as Carole Pope suggests, there are victims of fashion then I fear the true victims are those of us who have remained silent on just how stupid you look in your new boots. Do us a favour and go ice fishing in those puppies. One day on the ice at twenty below should be enough to teach you everything you'll ever need to know about fashion. Even if the frostbite you acquire doesn't necessitate the amputation of both your legs just above the knee, I promise you this.... "You'll put a lot more thought into what you put on your feet based on the season and a lot less thought on how cool you think you look."

Submitted by Barry Umenema, 16 November 2011