A dressing-down

Fashion is reaching new heights of ridiculousness locally, in what is already a crowded field of...
Fashion is reaching new heights of ridiculousness locally, in what is already a crowded field of idiocy internationally; as this image from a recent Tokyo fashion week attests. Photo: Reuters
A friend offered me tickets to the iD-whatever-it-was the other week. Why would she do that? She has seen me dressing, writes Kate Oktay.

Kate Oktay
Kate Oktay

I favour a look that is best described as nondescript, mostly because then I think I can wear the same clothes for several days in a row and no-one will notice that I have not changed. I keep clothes until they pull into holes. Then I darn the holes and wait for the darns to hole. Then I keep them in a cupboard for three years because I don't like throwing anything out.

I realise I am the fashion equivalent of people who mistakenly wander into an art exhibition and comment loudly that they "Don't know about art, but know what they like". (Let's be clear; these people are philistines and should only be allowed to look at pictures drawn specifically as instructions for cleaning products and flat-pack furniture). I do realise there is more to fashion than people like me will ever understand and that I am unsophisticated, style-illiterate, and definitely not chic. But, dear reader, who among us saw the winner of iD Dunedin Fashion Week's emerging designer competition and thought to themselves: "Have they just stapled together things they found in their neighbour's recycling bin and entered soley for the jokes?".

If he or she did, hats off, you are my newest hero. If not, and that was genuine, then (from my admittedly incredibly ignorant perspective) fashion is reaching new heights of ridiculousness locally, in what is an already crowded field of idiocy internationally. I find myself reading about new clothing fads and increasingly thinking that we deserve to die out as a species.

This year alone has produced a stand-out example: asymmetric jeans. For the uninitiated these are jeans with one skinny leg and one flare. In one pair of pants. Instagram burst with images of what surely has to be a contender for World's Stupidist Garment. Although jeans are apparently a place where terrible things can happen all the time. The invisable jean: that is basically only the seams left. The one-legged jean: jeans with one long leg and one short leg. It is as if people have actively tried to create the most awful thing possible.

Tiny bags are another indication that we are in capitalism's end days. These are purses too small to carry a credit card, a lipstick, or really, anything at all. The fashionistas have been photographed walking down the street, like glamorous mentally deficient giraffes holding their empty bags in their pinchy fingers. Perhaps all of the restrictive calorie dieting has forced their brains to partially shut down in a effort to conserve energy and as a result a $750 bag too small to carry anything seemed like an excellent idea.

Because I am a lady (in the sense that I have that sort of equipment, rather than any sort of behaviour that is described by the word) I have many friends who love fashion. They always look polished and put-together. I walk alongside them invariably in something either extraordinarily cheap or in cast-offs someone gave me out of pity. I usually feel slightly inferior, a little shabby and regreting my decision to try to get another day out of pants with curry sauce dripped down the front. I do feel bad, but just not bad enough to change my behaviour and actually buy something new.

My primary reason for shopping avoidance is because it makes me aware of the mountainous difference between the way I think I look (on a very good day when I was 23) and the way I actually look (any day since then). I stand in the dressing room anxious and disappointed, looking like a sausage in too-tight casing before walking out without purchasing anything to the nearest shop where I buy three deep-fried sausages to eat one after the other, and a bottle of wine.

Surely though, one of the best bits about living in Dunedin is that as long as you are not in gumboots no-one notices that you should really be putting more effort into personal presentation. In big cities people look shiny and chic with botoxed foreheads, fillered lips and bodies that don't scream "I like eating pies". My big city friends from overseas only dress in things that are in season, are permanently on a diet and wear shoes that hurt. Here, mostly, people are happy just to have bought something warm to chuck on in case of inclement weather and feel that jandals almost count as evening wear. On reflection, perhaps this is why I noticed the iD fashion winner. High fashion seems to be a long way from here. Dunedin, I am disappointed. I expected much less of you.



Radical chic.
Distressed jeans are still walking down George Street, in that 'New Edinburgh' way. Textile people work their rses off distressing jeans, so others can wear clothing that look like they've been working their rses off.

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