At any given point in time, there are roughly a dozen or so annoying fashion phenomena that everyone gets to complain about together. It is an extremely fun way to pass the time. The purpose is not to insult anyone’s personal tastes, but rather to poke holes in the fashion trend industrial complex, which deserves our constant, unbridled fury.
In the recent past these trends have included off-the-shoulder tops, chokers, and horrific jean mutilation. But this summer, the internet has chosen to direct its ire on “elevated shirting,” or as people who do not work in fashion call them, “Y’know, those shirts that make you look like a slutty pirate?”
I admit, in the beginning, I, too, hated The Shirts. I hated that they were weirdly asymmetrical; I hated that they looked like Brooks Brothers button-downs that a dog had clawed to death and still cost $700; I hated that they had to be called “shirting,” because like, what the fuck does “shirting” even mean; and most of all I hated that they were inescapable both in stores (even the cheap ones!) and, obviously, on Instagram.
But then, reader, I bought one. I bought a gingham-print wrap shirt with enormous sleeves from the British fast fashion brand Boohoo, because the clothing on Boohoo costs approximately zero dollars. Then I bought a pinstripe-print wrap shirt with poofy sleeves from Bershka, which is Zara’s even cheaper, shittier brand that Americans can only buy on ASOS. Then I went back to Boohoo and bought an off-the-shoulder pinstripe button-down. Then I bought a ridiculously ruffly bell-sleeve tie-front top from Topshop. And then another one.
And now I realize: Fancy shirts are good. And while this was a very exciting, albeit private, come-to-Jesus moment for me, the rest of the world has not yet finished complaining about the Shirts. Last week, Erin Gloria Ryan at the Daily Beast called bell sleeves “the worst trend of my life.” And this week, when Vogue suggested that perhaps the “fancy top” should replace the de facto cool-girl T-shirt, Jezebel replied that No One Wants to Wear a Going-Out Top Ever Again.
I think I do want to wear a going-out top ever again. And hop off my fun sleeves! They may be inevitably ruined by being dragged through that puddle of milky coffee that will never, ever be gone from my desk, but it’s my puddle and they are still fun.
The plain white T-shirt may be the uniform for the sort of person whose inherent pizazz and/or hotness can easily shine through the most boring of silhouettes, but I am not one of those people. I need a fun shirt to display the fact that I am fun, and that is okay.