Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I get you.

Before I begin, please don’t laugh at me.

I’ve harbored this weird obsession with fake glasses for the past year. I know they go against my anti-hipster bent, but what can I say? I want in on the cult.

It all began in London. While studying abroad, I spent nearly every Friday morning perusing Portobello Market — a huge outdoor cluster of street vendors in Notting Hill. At the market, there was a sunglass stand owned by this hilarious vendor who always wore giant plastic clown glasses. He’d help everyone figure out exactly which pair they should buy — throwing frames around the tent and giving customers a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

Once, I put on a pair of square fake glasses and peered into one of the stand’s tiny mirrors. I loved them, and I waved down the owner for a second opinion.

“No, no,” he said. “You look too serious in those. You look like my doctor.”

“Oh,” I said. Reluctantly, I put them down, bought a pair of huge tortoiseshell sunglasses and tried to forget about my craving for fake specs.

I had all but given up on my dream of looking like a bookish young coed until a few weeks ago, when I borrowed my friend Justin’s pair of plastic glasses for a day.

Immediately, I became re-infatuated and went out to buy a pair for myself. But thus far, they’ve been sitting on top of my dresser with the price tag still attached ($6 at Forever 21, if anyone’s interested). I’m chickening out — I’m too afraid of people making fun of me when I wear them.

Fashion, after all, is the most basic form of nonverbal communication — without a word, your dress can convey your personality. So what would fake glasses say about me? Either that I’m an extroverted attention craver or quiet and reclusive. You take your pick.

And it’s not just glasses. A few weeks ago, New York Magazine’s fashion blog, The Cut, posted an entry about the slowly evolving sweatpants trend.

But before any of you late sleepers get too excited, these aren’t the kind of sweatpants with “PITT” screen-printed down the leg. These are made of cashmere or high quality jersey and cut to look like much trendier pants.

The Cut’s article detailed how the trend started (with designers Alexander Wang and Isabel Marant) before explaining its paradox: To the untrained eye, they look sloppy and ridiculous, but to those in the fashion know, they look ahead of the curve. For all we know, everyone will be wearing harem sweatpants two years from now.

Despite my constant outcries against dressing like a slob, I actually kind of like the new iteration of sweatpants. But here’s the thing: Even if I did muster the courage to buy a pair, I’d be worried about how other people would perceive them — always fearing someone would cast me one glance and say, “Oh look, you’re a slob too.”

That’s the thing about fashion: For every person who praises your bravery to rock something different, there’s going to be someone who laughs hysterically at you the second you walk by. It’s up to you to decide who’s worth listening to.

As for me, I’m still trying to put on my brave face and wear my fake glasses in public. If and when I do muster enough confidence to head outdoors, please, I beg of you, be kind.

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