You’re a stylist/designer who just bagged their first celebrity client for a major red carpet event. You can’t contain your excitement. And so you get to work ASAP to gussy them for the event.
When the D-day comes, your client is all glammed up at the venue with camera flashes from paparazzi around them. It’s your work. You’re frigging excited. Your dreams have come true.
You go online to see what other people think about your celebrity client’s outfit and the first comment you get gives you the shivers:
“I don’t like this celeb’s look. The color doesn’t suit her skin tone. A dark blue tie would have worked for him instead of sky blue” This…that…and every other snide remark you could ever think of.
The worst is the comments aren’t even from industry experts or your colleagues. They’re from random individuals who have no style or fashion acumen.
Well, that’s just how it is when you or anyone else you know bashes an outfit that took lots of brainwork to pull off.
Whether it’s a Fashion Police segment on a fashion magazine, blog, radio, or TV show, I don’t believe in the idea of bashing outfits unless your criticism is constructive.
I know right. I’m entitled to my opinion and so are you. But perhaps, you’ll see reasons with me if you spare a few minutes of your time to read this post while relegating your bias to the background.
Before something else grabs your attention, let’s dive in.
But first, I apologize in advance in case I come off as angry (cause yeah I’ve been pushed to the wall).
So…You Think You’re a Fashion Critic?
Permit me to use a slang common amongst a group of people in West Africa:
“Who goes you?”
You think you’re a fashion critic? That’s nice. But holup a second. Let’s see how Morgan Rush, a Californian Fashion Journalist, defines the term:
“Fashion critics are paid to review current designs and fashion trends after attending shows, meeting with designers, or attending events with high-profile celebrities. Traditionally, fashion critics wrote for magazines and newspapers. Today’s fashion critics might work for TV stations or publish online critiques.”
Key takeaways from that definition: fashion critics are paid to review designs and trends after attending events with industry stakeholders.
They may work with top media houses or run their publications. They don’t just criticize. Like literary critics, they share their artistic reviews of looks and trends in the industry.
Unfortunately, many of the people playing the role of fashion critics today have little or no understanding of the job or how it works.
Pardon my French but some don’t even have basic styling knowledge like how to match colors, perfect colors for skin tone types, and all of that. They’ve almost never written zilch about fashion yet when events come, they take to their social media pages —particularly WhatsApp status— to dish out opinions that don’t count.
If they knew better why aren’t they attending the event or styling the celebs in the first place?
Alright. I’ll take a chill pill so you don’t think I’m ranting. But since we’ve established you aren’t a fashion critic and this post isn’t about them, let’s move to the second option…
Maybe You’re a Fashion Police Instead
I’ll be frank. When I first started Svelte Magazine, I had a content category tagged ‘Fashion Police.’
But I took it down. Two reasons: I never had any content to fill it up and I just wouldn’t write any content piece to fill it up.
Why? Because I see fashion as an art. Each look or outfit was an expression.
We’ll come to that in a bit. For now, let’s see what being a fashion police means according to the English dictionary:
“A way of referring to newspapers, television programs, etc. that discuss and criticize the clothes that famous people wear; a way of referring to people in general who criticize the clothes that people wear.”
Back in the day when I used to read hard copies of fashion magazines, I remember the Fashion Police column was often done on a very light note and Denrele almost always received their bashing. The columnists never wrote their words using the phrase “should have been”. Instead, they made jokes out of the outfits in one or two lines.
For the TV counterpart, I’ll be specific here. I remember watching a Fashion Police segment on Spice TV. What caught my attention were the words of the hosts and guests along the lines of:
“Her outfit is a no for me. It should have been…”
And yeah, I almost tuned out. But I decided to listen to see if they had valid points. Unfortunately, the four women on the show didn’t agree on what should have been and what shouldn’t have been.
Instead, they kept holding on to their different judgment all because…
There’s No Right or Wrong in Fashion
Again, pardon my French. But opinions are freaking subjective. What’s right for you may be wrong for the other person and what should have been for you may be unnecessary to your neighbor.
That’s what today’s so-called fashion police don’t understand. And whenever they use that phrase “should have been”, I get pissed.
Because they make it sound like their opinions are one-size-fits-all. But that’s never the case.
Remember, there was a time wearing trousers was wrong. Now women wear trousers even better than men. It’s the same way pairing sneakers with suits or native wear was considered a terrible blunder. Now, we see men rock Agbada and sneakers. And although some people think it’s absurd, that combo remains one of the most innovative outfits to me.
There’s no right or wrong in fashion. Every day, style enthusiasts keep breaking fashion rules that hitherto limited our display of creativity.
That alone is one reason you should stop criticizing outfits. Let’s see others.
Reasons Why I’ll Never be a Fan of Fashion Police
1. You’re Bashing People’s Brainwork
That’s what I shared in the introductory story of this piece. A lot of brainwork goes into creating a piece let alone combining accessories to style it.
And when you open your mouth or run your fingers to say sh*t about such outfits, you undermine the stylist’s effort. In most cases, you undermine the designer’s effort too.
It’s like writing a book only to go online and see people speak evil about your book.
Whether your self-esteem is as strong as the pillar that holds my life (which of course is our Lord Jesus Christ) or not, you’ll feel bad.
Now, why serve someone the same bone you can’t munch?
If this reason doesn’t convince you to change your ways, let’s try others.
2. Fashion is Art
It’s about time you saw fashion as what it really is — art!
If a designer decides to put a flap from the torso to the hem of a dress, it’s their masterpiece. They know why they did so.
If a stylist decides to dress up their client in an all-blue attire like Ebuka donned to the eighth edition of AMVCA, appreciate them. It’s their style intuition at work backed up by the client’s personal style.
Appreciate their efforts. Appreciate fashion as an art. See every outfit as what it is — a work of art.
You’re welcome to give your artistic criticism of looks. And that’s welcome if you’re a fashion critic who understands the true meaning of art criticism and evaluation.
Any other thing is pure noise and content void of the basic understanding of fashion.
3. Fashion is an Expression
Fashion isn’t just a means to cover your nakedness. It’s an expression of who you are—your personal style.
It may seem crazy to you to see that girl in totally ripped jeans strutting the road with her sunglasses as though she’s on the runway. It may seem crazy but then, she’s expressing herself. And the last time I checked, we all, as bonafide citizens of our different countries, are entitled to the freedom of expression.
So, when someone decides to wear burnt orange with lilac. It may be too sharp or too dark for you. But that shouldn’t be your problem.
It’s their outfit, their body, their clothes, their carriage, and their style. Besides, they feel confident and comfortable in it so why’s that a problem (Inserts IDK emoji)?
That brings us to the last reason…
5. We all Have Different Styles
Another thing outfit judges fail to understand before criticizing is that we all have different personal styles.
What works for you may be a turn-off for your neighbor. So, why judge them by your standards?
It’s like someone somewhere saying Burna Boy’s style of dressing is terrible.
Wow! Burna has a terrible dress sense or it’s you who have refused to understand that people have different styles and Odogwu’s style is eccentric. It’s not terrible. It’s an eccentric fashion style that doesn’t sit well with you because you probably conform to the norm while he doesn’t.
We all have different fashion styles. While mine is statement chic, yours may be avant-garde, minimalist, eccentric, or even bohemian. And if I judge your outfit by my perception alone, that’ll be unfair to the essence of fashion itself.
The Prerequisite for Judging Outfits
I know I’m not in the right place to tell you what to do. Who am I to even think I can do that?
But as a Fashion Designer and Blogger myself, here’s me giving you the go-ahead to judge as many outfits as you like. But before you do so, here’s a prerequisite for that:
If you wanna judge outfits, judge based on the theme of the event.
Yes. Judging based on the theme gives you adequate background to lay your criticism. And in this case, it’ll no longer be a subjective opinion. So long as you understand the theme and everything it entails, you’ll determine if a particular designer or stylist hit or missed your favorite celebrity’s look.
It’s like marking exam scripts with a marking guide. You grab?
Vogue did that for the recent MET Gala.
They gave readers a chance to vote for outfits that hit or miss the year’s theme.
I know you may not agree with me. And yeah, that’s why we all have differing opinions in the first place. But before I shut down my PC, I’ll leave you with these words I shared a year ago on social media before I wrote this article:
“I find it difficult to criticize what anyone wears. Even if they wore it to a red carpet and stirred controversy, I hardly judge.
And this is for two reasons:
1. Because I understand that different people have their own style unique to them.
2. Because I know fashion is more or less a cycle and ‘right’ sometimes could be relative. What is right today may be wrong tomorrow, you know.
Remember there was a time we never paired sneakers with suits. There was also a time when you couldn’t wear two prints at once.
Can we still say that today? Of course not.
So, when next someone — particularly a celebrity— wears orange shoes with a blue attire,
Or wears something else when they could have worn something better to you,
Calm down. Don’t criticize just yet.
Their stylist worked according to their personal style. If they have no stylist, then they themselves wore what suits their taste.
You don’t have to infuse your opinion into it.
Your criticism may be sensible to whoever cares to listen but the truth remains that you are probably spilling it so you can sound fashion-savvy.
I know my opinion may be wrong to you.
Of course, we should always call a spare a spade. If person wear nonsense, make we drag am. No need to coat words.
But if they can own the nonsense they are wearing and they own it well,
You shouldn’t have a problem with it.
Just see it as another angle of creativity.
After all, fashion is art.
Maybe they should have worn flat shoes instead of boot.
But does it really matter, Mr and Mrs fashion police?
That aside, this doesn’t mean you should wear rubbish with the excuse that you’re entitled to your personal style.
In fact, wear your rubbish. Just own it with some top-level self-confidence. And defend it at any level.
That’s the difference between you and those style influencers who wear stuff you deem weird with so much pride.
Thank you. ✌️”Victoria on Twitter