Hanging By a Thread: A Tight Predicamentby Emma Marshall and Michael Traber on Dec, 10 2010
Michael: I’d like to start off by apologizing that this week’s fashion advice column borders dangerously on a rant. But hey, it’s the middle of dead week and I’m jetlagged, cut a guy a break, and I promise if you read to the end, I’ll toss in some useful advice.
This last weekend was pretty eventful, from more than just a fashion perspective, but we aren’t here to discuss my cross-country escapades so let’s just stick to the trends… or lack thereof.
It all started on the plane, Virgin America Flight 744 to Boston. It’s 3:30 in the morning. I can’t sleep. I never sleep on planes. My mind starts racing: I really want a pillow… Turn out that light, you aren’t even reading… Stop grabbing my seat… I wish I could afford first class… and what is with this girl wearing just leggings and a t-shirt? You aren’t Gisele Bundchen; you don’t get to wear anything you want, it’s not even cute, what are you doing?! Ouch! I’m tired. I’m cranky. My karma is plummeting. I should stop.
Three hours and a few episodes of Arrested Development later, we’re on the ground. Twenty minutes later I’ve found my way to the T and am winding about underneath downtown Boston. It sounds strange, but I really can’t wait to get to my luxurious inflate-a-bed on the floor of a Boston University dorm room. I arrive at BU and meet my friend Kolby, she lets me into her room, and heads off to class. After a rest, I’m refreshed and feeling a little more sympathetic. Kolby comes back, and we decide to go to Newbury Street, the hub of the Boston fashion scene, where I’m hoping I’ll find some inspiration for this column I need to write on my way home.
It’s a brisk day in Beantown, maybe 35 degrees, so my friend Kolby and I are bundled up in North Face jackets, gloves, scarves, and such. After walking a ways, we stumble across a woman seated on a bench and something immediately strikes me as off. Is she wearing tights… it’s freezing? I continue looking in her direction, perhaps hoping for some divine guidance to pull me out of my stupor. “Did you want to go in there?” Kolby chimes in, catching me off guard. I pretend I was staring at the All Saints store and reply “Sure”, still mulling over the woman’s interesting choice of attire. In a less hypercritical fashion, my mind goes again: Why wasn’t she wearing pants? I wonder if she was cold? That can’t be comfortable. I’ve never seen an All Saints store before, so I leave my queries outside and succumb to temptation.
The next day it’s a college student in a BU sweatshirt and black leggings on Commonwealth Avenue. Later, an older woman in brown tights and a cheetah print shirt in Cambridge. I’m beginning to think this is a punishment, and the more it happens to me, the harder it is to deal with. I decide it must just be a Boston thing, and console myself in knowing that Berkleyans know better.
Small incidents aside, I finish out my long weekend, enjoying good company and a great city, and return to San Francisco. Still columnless, I get off the plane, grab my bags, and catch the last BART to Berkeley. As I’m sitting there, trying to stay awake, I see it… leggings worn as pants, in all their tragic glory. Haunting images of people on red-eye flights and Boston streets flood my memory, and I begin to doubt that us Berkleyans are so fashion-forward. Finally, I conclude that we simply need a stern reminder of what remains tasteful, in a place where virtually anything goes.
So here is that reminder: leggings, tights, stockings, and anything in that category are not pants; and should not be worn as so.
I know they are comfortable, I get that they are easy, but you aren’t honestly trying to say they are any more convenient than a pair of worn-in jeans. Try a pair of skinny jeans instead with the same outfit, or even a pair of jean-leggings if you’re feeling daring. However, I digress: tights and leggings when worn correctly, with a dress, cape, overcoat, or long shirt are completely acceptable, and in fact, quite nice. I really like them in most colors and opacities, as long as your other articles fall around mid-thigh. Try tights with leg warmers, heels, and a cape for a truly put-together look. Look for pairs with interesting designs, many of which often speak for themselves. Or if you really are going for quick comfort, try leggings with a long chunky-knit cardigan and boots.
So fellow Berkleyans, let this serve as a gentle reminder of the thin line between heinous and haute couture. It’s really not hard, you can do it, I know you can… Let’s show those Bostonians who’s boss.