for a culture so obsessed with fashion, we’re a hot mess

Sitting in the Charlotte airport last Friday, waiting for my colleague, watching humanity stream by.

It was, granted, the beginning of the weekend for many, and Charlotte is a hub to many destinations, particularly points south /Caribbean and leisure.  However, it was still a business day, and I was on a business trip and yet, just about the only suit I saw was on one  guy sitting in a rocking chair across from me. 

What a parade it was.   I was even momentarily blinded by the sun – from the floor to ceiling windows facing the runway  — hitting the sequined tunic that was too short to be a dress on a middle-aged woman as she passed me.

I am going to just go out on a limb, and  estimate that 2% of the people going by actually gave one minute of thought to what they would wear to travel that morning.  Not only were many women dressed completely inappropriately in ill-fitting, ill-advised footwear and clothing but a lot of them look like they pulled that t-shirt and those sweat pants right out of the laundry basket.  The dirty laundry.

I’m a bit hyper-aware of fashion these days – well, not necessarily of fashion, but style, and appropriate, stylish dressing – since becoming hooked on YouLookFab.  In fact, I was reading Angie’s blog after this airport incident and  came across something she posted in 2009 :

Clinton Kelly, celebrity co-host of TV’s “What Not To Wear”, was recently interviewed on I found the answer to this question particularly interesting: “What is the most common fashion faux pas you see women make?”.

His answer:

Being underdressed. I spend half of my life in airports these days, and what some people will wear in public is absolutely revolting. I mean, I understand that we live in a casual society, but far too many people use that as an excuse to look like out-and-out slobs.

Thank you, Clinton.  “Revolting” is exactly the adjective I was looking for.

So,  America  flips from being obsessed with “America’s Next Top Model”, idolizing Carrie Bradshaw who had $500 shoes but no rent money half the time, and magazine racks with twice as many fashion magazines as news magazines, to going out in public like slobs.  I’m not even going to quote the statistics on plastic surgery in this country.

I’ve been reading some articles and blogs about the age-old criticism that Americans aren’t stylish, that we don’t know how to dress.  I’m not even talking about high-fashion and cutting edge style. I’m talking about choosing clothes that actually fit and are situation-appropriate when one steps out the door. 

What does this say about our sense of self-worth in this nation, or our respect for ourselves and for others that we leave the house to travel to another city or country, looking like we just got out of bed?  

What do the homes of these people look like, I wonder?

My colleague showed up looking like a million bucks – dark trousers, pastel-colored, collared shirt without a tie and a jacket.  Very appropriate for a Friday meeting.   I think  Clinton would have approved.

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