Tuesday, September 23, 2008

me want pantsuit! me design pantsuit!

Something must have been in the water booze last week. I said some nutty things about being hopeful that DC might be experiencing a sea change in its fashion sense or some other such nonsense. It seemed I might have even been a tad -- wait for it -- optimistic. I know, I know...my circuitry and wires must have short-circuited or something. Thankfully for the sake of this blog's theme, however, another DC blogger gave me the electric shock I needed to get back to my normal, robotic, pessimistic realistic e-self. What jolted me back?

This NPR story, sent to me by A Spiced Life. The story outlines the "designs" of "lobbyist-turned-designer" Rochelle Behrens, whose stodgy, ill-fitting suits are apparently "livening up the office." Her claim to fame is designing a button-down that doesn't gape near the breastical region (that's totally the scientific name, by the way). Wow. Groundbreaking. And here I thought wearing a button-down that shows full-on nip (yeah, I just said that) would liven up the office! What the hell am I thinking?! More importantly, where the hell do I work? Clearly, I'm not on the same wavelength as NPR and Behrens:

The button-down filled a void, and the Rochelle Behrens Collection was born -- a cooler alternative to the likes of Sen. Hillary Clinton's pantsuits and a cheaper option than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Armani.

"I thought about the consummate Washington woman, running from her appointments in the morning, with her Starbucks in hand and her briefcase and her BlackBerry, juggling a whole bunch of things, and then easily, swiftly throwing off her jacket, transitioning to her evening activities and looking flawless all day. I've done that. Life in DC like that is not idealized -- that is legitimately how it works," Behrens says.

Funny how she describes a horrid scene and then calls it "idealized." Yes, I dream about running around town in a Clinton-esque pantsuit, juggling an overpriced coffee and a BlackBerry! I dream of becoming that ideal douche! She's done it! Why can't I?! Well, for one, I'm not a massive tool; I'm just a medium tool. My idea of an ideal life doesn't involve running into a Starbucks every morning so I can get the necessary caffeine jolt to stay awake during a job that, thanks to my BlackBerry, has me doing at all hours of the day. That sounds f*cking horrible. Wait. I have a BlackBerry. And it is f*cking horrible! Actually, I take that back. I like the Google Maps function. But I toolishly digress...because I like my job, which, apparently, has me contemplating baring boobage. (Just kidding, that'd be weird...)

But getting back to bizness, fashion, unlike career choices, is something I can't give into DC on. Washington, DC, truly is where all things stylish go to die. And style here doesn't die slowly. It dies in a fiery, hot mess of explosive button-down gnarliness. Honestly, what passes for "fashion" in mainstream DC wouldn't pass for fashion in the Kathie Lee Gifford section of Wal-Mart, the back of a dirty Maryland truck stop or, hell, let's throw it out there -- Janet Reno's closet.

Janet Reno? Yeah, I just said that. Janet Motherf*cking Reno wouldn't even wear the "collection" designed by 25-year-old Behrens. Observe:

Seriously, if you had to choose -- for reals now -- which suit would you rather wear if, say, "none of the above" was not an option? Tough one, yeah? Behrens is supposedly about 100 years younger than Reno, yet there's the ex-attorney general, bearing fire no less, looking roughly 10 years younger than our lobbyist-designer, meaning they both look to be in their mid-70s or 80s.

Clearly it's not the face or the body aging Behrens, although, good gods, that's an unfortunate camera angle. At 25, Behrens has the advantage over Reno in those categories scientifically (sorry, Janet), which means it's the clothes. Behrens' design looks pretty much exactly like a Clinton pantsuit, except instead of being "cooler," it's just uglier. The fit is not right. Is the top button supposed to fold over like that? Are the pants supposed to give you a camel toe? Is the look supposed to evoke drunken stewardess?

Reno, on the other hand, is kind of working it out a little. And by "working it out a little," I strictly mean that at least we can't see the outline of her goodies. So, I suppose, if I had to choose one of the above options, I'd go for Reno's, especially if the torch came with it. Then I could just set myself on fire and end it. Yes, I'm that serious.

But honestly, I don't know why 95 percent of Washington doesn't understand that you don't have to dress like an aging douche to look professional. In fact, this very subject was the focus of last week's Project Runway, during which Joe, who designed none other than a stodgy suit, got auf'd over the overtly ugly design of Suede. (Seriously, I don't know what Suede thought Suede was thinking.) And the judges made some good points. Guest judge Cynthia Rowley said to Joe, "It's just interesting that you feel...to be a professional it has to be a suit. I just think there are so many other options." She later described Joe's design as "out-of-touch."

Michael Kors, whose aesthetic also generally makes me want to self-immolate, explained it even better: "It's like a 60-year-old person's idea of, like, 'She's gotta look professional, so I'm gonna put her in pinstripes with a shirt and a pocket square'...Talk about a time capsule!"

But perhaps queen bitch Nina Garcia said it best: "The biggest problem that I have with this is that it's the total cliche of what a work outfit should be."

Garcia is right. It really is a cliche, especially compared to the winner, a lovely and professional skirt, blouse and cardigan ensemble designed by Jerell, who is quickly turning into my absolute favorite.

It's no coincidence that the girl in Joe's design on the left looks like she's holding in vomit.

And yes, despite making me want to puke a little, I'd choose Joe's losing outfit over one of Behrens' lobby-friendly, Cookie-Monster colored ensembles, which make me want to puke a lot, any day. That is, if self-immolation wasn't an option. Hot damn, I'm a cruel asshole fierce critic!


I-66 said...

I didn't even notice the camel toe, and now I can't stop looking at it. Damn you.

Arjewtino said...

Wait a minute. Are wife-beaters fashionable or not? I need to know.

Boomhauer said...

I don't know how she did it, but Behrens has successfully managed to design a Janus-like suit made of labias.

N said...

I wager you could find crocs in that unnatural shade of blue to match the pantsuit.

Mary said...

What's up w/the Elizabeth I collar? Seriously. The Metrobus blue is bad enough.

Righteous (re)Style said...

Since the model is rather thin, I can only assume that the clothing is badly designed. And the material seems weird - it looks like polyester pants from the 70s that had the elastic band. I do like the one shoulder dress with pockets - but, again, if you look near the hem, it looks kind of, I don't know, bulky. Maybe if it was in a different material?

Marissa said...


Yeah, right.


Basics never go out of style, as long as you style it properly.


I don't even know what you're talking about, yet it describes the suit almost perfectly.


Behrens just hired you as head stylist.


It's FASHION! (If "fashion" means stupid.)


Yeah...I'm agreeing with you. The model is definitely not the problem. The clothes just look very homemade...in a bad way. And the styling is, um, well...every collar is popped...And the fat belt loops are gratuitous. I could go on...

maryjanejeff said...

Rochelle would be very cute in better clothes. And no $5 flip flops with dress wear! I've stopped trying to figure out why people in DC do that and have just accepted their cluelessness.

John Foster said...

You make me smile.

That is all.

Marissa said...


Yeah, like I said, I don't think it's her face and body that's aging her...

And on the shoe issue: Are you just assuming that her feat are in flip-flops from the clothes? Cause if so, I'd say that's a fairly safe assumption. And it is a shame.


Ahh...one of the few! :)

maryjanejeff said...

Yeah, I assumed that. Not that I know a ton about fashion, when shopping for work clothes I find whatever fits, looks decent, and won't cause me to blow half a paycheck and go buy it. Then again I don't need to wear suits, and only ties when I have meetings. But even I know a shitty suit when I see one.