I swore to myself I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t become one of those middle-aged people who starts making suck-in-breath-I’m-shocked comments about what the young ones wear. I came of age in the 80s and was partial to the punk look, so who am I to judge? Safety pins in the skin, ripped leather pants, ripped everything, really. And so I drolly viewed the bare midriff shirts, the strapless tops, bra straps where no straps should be, Ugg boots with everything. I even was able to overlook the trend of pairing a regular-length top with leggings that were see-through, giving more an impression of hosiery rather than pants. Really, what’s the difference between ripping your pants to strategically reveal parts of your body and thinly veiling the lot with hosiery, er, I mean leggings? So there I was, smugly walking about with my superior acceptance, when I got blind-sided by the men’s slim-fit fashion suit. At first there were too few to register. But then I went to social media conference, they were out in full force. It might as well have been a men’s slim fit fashion suit conference. Complete with the big, black, thick-rimmed glasses and hair lightly gelled to spikey perfection, they were earnestly standing in small groups tapping on their phones and iPads and tweeting and posting. When I returned home, the slim suits, like a new word I’d just learned, were everywhere. Which is pretty astonishing when you consider only a small number of men can actually wear them and look good. All it took was one to send me teetering into middle-aged frumpiness.
I told my friends about this horrible fashion turn, these suits. The ones who knew about them helped explain to the ones who didn’t, and everyone looked at me blankly when I got to the suck-in-my-breath part. Dang. So it wasn’t a mid-life thing. Or, rather it was something far more insidious—a mid-life thing masquerading as a high school thing. The suits were the cool crowd, and I was, once again being left out. Even worse, this was cool fashion with a geeky twist. Being a smart girl in my high school was the kiss of death, but useful as an adult. As I fumbled with my Twitter account among these slick slims, I was even robbed of the smart label. But there was something else. I’d become immune to women’s fashion because it changes all the time. But men’s fashion, especially office attire, rarely does. With all the new technology and constant information to keep track of, I’d come to depend on the fact that other than the ties getting wider or slimmer and the jackets styles varying slightly, men’s fashions were something I didn’t have to think about. But suddenly here was an entire new look that brought me right back to that high school awkwardness. So there I was settling into a good dose of frump, when “Modern Family” had their geeky, earnest dad character Phil, buy a new slim suit to look nice for his wife who was under a lot of stress. He spent most of the episode not being able to move or bend and she didn’t even notice except that his suit was too small. In the end, of course he splits the seams and bursts out of the thing. It was quite vindicating. I had noticed something that a top-rated, pop-culture commenting TV show had noticed. I can’t be all that frumpy. Now if they would just do a show on the see-through leggings.