All She Wrote: Fashion faux pas

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by Nicole Crews

Mother: What are you wearing to the barn wedding?

Me: That silk skirt and your fox wrap.

Mother: Plaid and roadkill. That should do the trick.

The politics of prêt-a-porter are a wild and wooly danger zone as treacherous as a thigh-high slit circa 1975 — or as I often refer to it, the pre-Bush bush-era. Scandal has followed fashion as far back as the fig leaf and resonates as recently as Rihanna’s latest get-up, but the current culture of exclusionary fashion regulation has taken the offense on being offended. Fashion has always borrowed from eras, cultures and the aesthetics of tribes ’round the world. But today, amidst accusations of racial stereotyping and reckless irreverence, it seems some guidance is in order. It may take a village to make fashion happen, but it takes Fashion Police of the brownshirt variety to get dressed in the morning. So I offer you a humble guide to clothing yourself in 2015.

Native American headdresses

Huge controversy surrounds the wearing of war bonnets by whites and, in particular, hipsters at music festivals. Even musicians of Native American descent like Pharrell Williams and Cher have taken flak for adorning themselves with our fine feathered friends. So if you must “put a bird on it” — take a cue from Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen of “Portlandia” fame and go for the silk-screen variety.

Goddess gowns

The draped, often one-shouldered paean to the toga seen on red carpets over the last few years has angered the gods to the point of global repercussions. The Greek government debt crisis and the al Qaeda splinter group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may be attributed to this fashion offense as well as Scarlett Johansson’s recent career.

Cowboy boots

The wrath of cowpokes across North America for the appropriation of this footwear has been traced to the Menendez brothers’ use of these boots with white jeans in the 1980s. For some reason, Ralph Lauren and actors with ranch cred like Sam Shepard have been let off the hook. So proceed with caution if you choose to wear these pointedly pointed kicks. And if you wear them with a suit outside of Texas, make sure it has rhinestones and your name is Porter Wagoner.

Turbans

Traditionally the territory of Sikhs and other faith communities for religious observance, this wraparound headgear may incite a riot unless you are a silent-movie star, a gay man in Key West or between weaves.

Scottish kilts

Traditional male dress of the Scottish Highlands and Catholic school girls, the kilt made a pop-cultural resurgence during the punk-rock era as a symbol of defiance. Today it serves as a go-to get-up at strip clubs thanks to Britney Spears. Wear with caution and never with see-through platform stilettos.

Jesus sandals

The messiah may have been a mensch, but there is widespread evidence that he is not down with the popularity of his signature footwear. Foot washing aside, “Bitch stoleth my look” is a saying for a reason. Where do you think the late Joan Rivers got it from? (It sounds better in Aramaic.)

Slave bracelets

These clackety ring-chain-to-bracelet manacles have nothing to do with slavery outside of the realm of being a slave to fashion. The moniker is merely in relation to the chain that connects them. However, that said, I’d be careful giving them as a present.

Polo shirts

Unless you are unbelievably wealthy or a handsome Argentinean playboy wearing tight pants and sleek boots I would avoid wearing these unless you want to really piss off rich people. I don’t care how casual your Friday is, call it a “golf shirt” or face the consequences of the 1 percenters.

Skinny Jeans

Skinny people across the globe are in an uproar over the advent of plus-sized versions of these stovepipes. I mean what’s the point of being skinny if anybody can wear them.

Mermaid dresses

There are only two species that can pull off this fish-tailed ensemble: actual mermaids and Sofia Vergara. Rumor has it they have formed a union and make the Teamsters look like Girl Scouts.

Capri pants

Are you Italian? Is your name Sophia Loren or Gina Lollobrigida? No? Then don’t wear these pants. Just because brands like Lily Pulitzer have embroidered seashells and lobsters on them does not make them acceptable for the flat-hindquartered, square-hipped nor thick-ankled WASP set.

Military gear

The ubiquity of the hipster pea coat has brought about a veritable tribunal regarding the wearing of Army/Navy surplus that veers all the way from controversy over aviator glasses to camouflage to dress blues. The general rule of thumb is that if you think you can kick the veteran’s ass who calls you out on it, go for it.

White wedding dresses

Virgins from near and far are really ticked off about this one. It goes without saying that gay marriage has added a whole new layer of tulle to the mix. I mean, what is a virgin anyway? And if you are a virgin after Labor Day can you still wear white?