Tarnished: What Not to Wear

Written by  //  December 2, 2008  //  Society, The Dormitory  //  6 Comments

We take a break from our regularly scheduled scoundrelings in order to bring you the following article. We’ll be back soon with the conclusion to Dr. Helm’s foray into the world of painfully-white academia with Tarnished Pt. 5: Skull and Boners.


You know who you are. I saw you at Foot Locker, you fuck, standing there slack-jawed at the sneaker wall. I know what you were thinking. I read your mind. Purple dunks with neon green swooshes? Hell, I can pull it off…

That’s exactly what you were thinking. I heard you think it. I heard you think it with my mind ears.

A damn good thing too, because I was just in time to stop you from seeing if they had them in a 10 1/2. Don’t worry, you won’t make that same mistake again. I’ll help you, I’ll guide you. Mine is a heart that feels, child, that feels.

Listen, its fine, we’re all fairly new at this. I mean think about it – a few years ago we were in high school and didn’t know any better. A few years before that our mothers were still dressing us out of the L.L. Bean catalogue (unless you’re poor, in which case, fuck you). I can understand giving things a shot, testing the waters with certain fashions and seeing if they float, but we mustn’t forget the fact that some things are better forsaken and conveniently forgotten. But its cool, I can understand the deal. Culture shifts rapidly, fashion even more so. It can be difficult to know when something has come to the end of the line, so to speak. This is where I come in.

Now I don’t consider myself a fashionista in any sense, but my lame-dar is highly developed. Don’t take this personally, dear reader, but lets try something. Get a friend with a clear, bell-like voice and have them read this article to you aloud as you take a good, hard look at that gaping maw of despair you call a closet. If you are guilty of just one of the following crimes, take the time to quietly arrange a “burn pile”. Safely away from prying eyes, you can dispose of the offending garments without anyone ever actually knowing that you are, in fact, enough of an asshole to have ever owned any of these items. If you are guilty of more than one of these heinous crimes against good taste, well, you might as well resign yourself to the fact that there are invariably photos of you somewhere looking like that and therefore are eternally damned by incontrovertible proof that you have no fucking clue how to dress yourself. Let us begin.

colorzzz.jpgI’m not entirely sure who to blame this one on. On one hand, this could very well be the fault of black people. Not so much that they themselves have done anything wrong, certainly not, but rather that this is one of the trends that white people have misappropriated for their own vile uses and thoroughly fucked up beyond recognition. On the other hand, this could also very well be a spill over from 2005-2007′s obsession with 24 hour party people. Again, we can attribute this to the overall inability of the white race to coherently dress itself. Whomever the fashion police have to go after on this one, we should all be able to agree that the responsible party should be collectively or individually put to death, whatever the case may be.

Fortunately for us, this whirlwind of shit can be spotted from a mile away. Like a beacon on the horizon, this manner of dress sticks out like a sore thumb coming out of a sore ass. Purples, oranges, pinks and metallic silver or gold are the accepted plumage for this disaster. An assault on the eyes (courtesy of a limited run by Nike), this could stand as an international symbol of poor taste. What baffles me though is the process that goes on behind this, especially in the case of men. Do they really think this is acceptable? Do they really think there is any level of class here? Do they really think that anyone is going to look at them and say “what a strapping young lad! I think I’ll give him a respectable job!”

I suppose at the heart of it all we have the modern castration of the early rap scene to thank. What was once an expression of social solidarity has come full circle as an overpriced urban parody and we are all suffering for it. It is ironic, really, now that I think about it. When we first saw this type of gaud and flash, it was a cry for more. The impoverished and the young found a possible escape in the music business and dressed large and in charge almost as a dream to be realized through their craft – the big chains and flashy colors being of course bought with meager advances which would, with enough hard work, be followed through on and surpassed. But at the heart of it all was a hope and an optimism and for that it was actually quite admirable. Now, in reverse, we have the charmed little white boy aping the entire aesthetic for the sake of irony, damnable irony. While the exterior suggests the icon of urban struggle and independence, it serves as little more than a purely offensive shell that hides a liberal arts education and a daddy-bought Jetta underneath. Just don’t forget, Tyler Partytime; when you’re sippin’ on your Pabst and wondering whether that Sheila E single LP is a better follow up to Salt-N-Pepa than Tone Loc, there aren’t enough purple hoodies in the world to keep you from ending up a depressed waste product in your late twenties working full time at an AT&T call center, masturbating furiously every night and wondering why your open relationship with your fat girlfriend is failing to benefit you in any real way.

hoods-up-1.jpg Closely related to the former but significant enough in its own right to warrant special attention, the day that hooded sweatshirts got patterned and got loud must’ve been the day that God forget to regulate the globe’s dick-levels. See, I remember a time when the hooded sweatshirt was the quiet specialist of the wardrobe. It was versatile, understated even when worn as a main top, practical in every way and irritating in none. In my day, hooded sweatshirts held you like a girlfriend does after you’ve hit the year and a half mark – secure, affectionate, knowing. Now what do they do?Well, I can’t quite describe exactly how I imagine one of these actually being worn on the body (seeing as how I’ve never insulted myself enough to do so) feels, but if the old standby feels like the comfortable partner, the DIAMONDZ ON MY DAMN CHAYN feels like being on the receiving end of a “Vice Guide to Ejaculating Glitter” model’s worst hatefuck.

White people, once again, are the culprit. In their secret meetings, held covertly throughout Connecticut’s state colleges, the white-yipster ruling class brainstormed the shit out of a few tuesdays in a row and realized that the only thing holding them back from completely dominating the world as a species was their inability to make their fabulous wealth non-threatening. Then, Randolph had the answer. “Let’s make it ironic”, he said, not quite grasping the demoniacal brilliance of what he spake into existence. They drew up plans, brushed up on their tailoring skills and crafted into being a hooded sweatshirt of such cunningly intended misuse that it hallowed the soul to be in its presence. It was an epiphany wrapped in an orgasm to behold – alpine white base, dayglo diamond inlays, blocks of text reading “$$$PAID IN FULL$$$” sprinkled with glitter, all without any seam in the garment whatsoever (LIKE CHRIST HOW IRONIC). They looked over their creation, those proud white men, seeing that it was good and would bring much evil into the world and much offense to the eye. Then they made Kanye West wear it.

We’ve been suffering ever since.

flats.jpgFor some reason I have yet to fathom, hipster ladies and hipster gents pack on the pounds in genetically fascinating ways. Not quite content to evenly distribute their girth ’round the body the way any red-blooded American should, the elite’s obese prefer a more ovoid route. How best to describe this? Well, let us first picture an egg. Let us then take four toothpicks and poke them through the shell, one on either side and two on the bottom. Reminded of anyone you know? Don’t be surprised – years of class-specific inbreeding seem to have made the pear shape the shape to have this fall.

Of course this is nothing too new. Fatties have always been with us (a silent yet hungry majority), but for the greater portion of that time a certain sense of taste and decorum has been practiced. In recent years however, the huskier shade of the fairer sex seems to have taken upon itself the singular task of exaggerating for all to see exactly where they keep their cookies hidden.

The look is easy to pull off. Just pick the part of your body where you carry the most weight and go out of your way to emphasize that area as much as possible. Cardigans seem to be a popular choice, but only if buttoned at the very top with the rest left to cascade over a heaving gut. Next, find the least forgiving pencil jeans you can, making sure to purchase at least two sizes below what you would normally wear (extra points if in the process of wearing these pants your love handles sit like a shelf on the waistband). Top it all off with a tiny, quiet pair of black flats and you’re ready to set the motherfucking scene, girl.
If all goes according to plan your silhouette should look sort of like a ‘less than’ symbol next to a ‘greater than’ symbol. Like this <>. This is assuming, of course, that you want all attention directed towards your abdominal area. No, you don’t want to be noticed for your eyes or your brains or anything like that, fuck that shit. You’ve got a nicely padded womb, damnit, and it is completely necessary for everyone in the vicinity to be drawn solely to that part of your anatomy.

unfortunate-portrait.jpgNothing says independence like becoming a walking in-joke. Unfortunately for those sporting this look, the reality of the situation doesn’t mesh well with the desired effect. Sorry guy, but all those hours you’ve spent scouring thrift stores in search of that perfect Christmas sweater haven’t done you a damned lick of good. No matter how hard you try you still look like a first episode vote-off from “The Pick Up Artist” and are about as clever as Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim will be five seasons from now. I got pop references for days, motherfuckers!





blind-cowboy1.jpgDenim is far more difficult of a material to work with than I think most people realize. Your basic blue jean is obviously a ubiquitous fashion staple, but trying to work denim into any other type of garment is far trickier than you would think. Thankfully most people are aware of denim do’s and don’ts such as not wearing a denim jacket with jeans unless they are of the exact same wash and that a denim jacket only gets better as it gets more personalized (embroidery is a wonderful thing.) For the average hipster, however, it seems that solving the dilemma of how to tastefully sport denim is like being asked to solve the ‘Hellraiser’ puzzle cube.

Now I’m not sure if this is really a new trend or just something native to the northeast, but it seems I can’t go out nowadays without seeing at least one motherfucker dressed up like a rough riding Othello game-piece. This has got to stop. I mean, the urban cowboy look isn’t a bad one by any means, but unless your name is Robbie and you play in The Scourge of the Sea (or you happen to be me) your chances of fucking it up royally are pretty high. This is especially true when you figure in the reality that most folks that are likely to attempt this look will mismatch their shit for days. A white denim coat with black jeans? Are you even serious? Was there really any part of you when you checked yourself out in the mirror before a-steppin’ out that said “this is a great idea”?

Just bear this in mind the next time you decide to slip into some of America’s favorite material; if people don’t look at you and think either “UP TH’PUNX” or “is that one of the Gallagher brothers?”, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

About the Author

Dr. Lazarus Helm

Dr. Lazarus is a smuggler by day, snuggler by night. Born and bred in rural Kentucky, Helm discovered upon his 18th birthday that he was descended from eastern European nobility.

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6 Comments on "Tarnished: What Not to Wear"

  1. Sid Pink December 2, 2008 at 10:10 am · Reply

    “…a few years ago we were in high school…”

    I love you.

    While I’m not going to burn my pink clothes, I do agree that we can blame black people – and the 80s [which some of us (ahem) suffered through at high school age] for the arrays of obnoxio-hues that I think you are referencing . It’s a colorful nod to a time when day-glo was brand new, zany colors indicated an indomitable spirit (like say, that wacky Fresh Prince), or a full-on warp-speed plunge into the kooky future (Purple Rain house band attire/DEVO/parachute anything). Its time passed, and now, its post-post-post ironic resurgence is well passed, too.

    Q: is the teenaged holiday portrait actually a precocious [and thin] Tim Heidecker, or did you drop the reference after being subconsciously influenced by this Doppleganger?

  2. Ivyy December 2, 2008 at 11:50 am · Reply

    Am I the only one who’s heard the jean jackets with jeans look referred to as a “Canadian Tuxedo”? If I’m the only one, then I hereby gift this phrase unto you, use it as you like.

  3. Elmer Honeydew December 2, 2008 at 12:35 pm · Reply

    My favorite post in a while on Donnybrook.

    @Ivyy: I can vouch for the currency of “Canadian Tuxedo.”

    Can we find a way to blame all of this on Kanye?

  4. The Boulevardier December 3, 2008 at 3:34 am · Reply

    thanks for reading my column on the aprés ski look! (http://boulevardier4eva.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/apres-ski/) Though, I do think you missed the point of my sweater post completely, I am glad that you are critically engaged in the discourse of men’s fashion…

    the boulevardier

  5. Rockstar Aaron December 5, 2008 at 5:23 am · Reply

    IVYY is hot

  6. Dr. Lazarus Helm December 5, 2008 at 10:41 am · Reply

    Sid; Yes, that is in fact Tim Heidecker. Problem is, I still know too many actual people in real Connecticut life that actually look like this and I fear having my pussy options diminished due to their potential wrath.

    Ivyy; I am aware of the Canadian Tuxedo, but had actually forgotten about the specific phrase until now. Danke! Although the look can be pulled off properly if the coat and pants are of the exact same cut and wash, it should realistically only be attempted by the British and members of These United States.

    Elmer; Actually, if you think about it, most of what is wrong with the world today is directly attributable to Kanye West. I hereby request that the next piece of Donnybrook merchandise be “BLAME KANYE” t-shirts.

    Boulevardier; Sorry friend, but I am not from Denver and know very few people in or around Denver and therefore have actually never heard of either you or your “web-log” until now. HOWEVER; I am glad to see we’re on the same page with this shit. Now where did that sweater-monster get those lovely boots?

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