"I am deeply superficial."
March 25, 2015 3:53 PM   Subscribe

 
As much as I enjoy her snark, I find it hard to see her as a style icon. She has worn virtually the same outfit for, like, decades. I am looking for nore variety, more fabulousness when I get dressed. That said, there's some good zingers in here.
posted by mai at 4:02 PM on March 25, 2015


"What about Hillary Clinton?
I think her lack of style comes naturally."

OH SNAP.
posted by GuyZero at 4:03 PM on March 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


My favourite line of the interview definitely has to be, "I wish houses cost less and clothes cost more."

And I agree wholeheartedly with her stance that real style is not about trends.
posted by orange swan at 4:05 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


A national treasure.
posted by escabeche at 4:10 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I agree with her about the inappropriateness of grown men wearing shorts.
posted by Nevin at 4:11 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I find her charming but totally wrong.
posted by josher71 at 4:18 PM on March 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


I agree with her about the inappropriateness of grown men wearing shorts.

I don't understand this in the slightest.
posted by josher71 at 4:19 PM on March 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I agree with her about the inappropriateness of grown men wearing shorts.

The entire nation of New Zealand would like a word.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 4:26 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think women should never wear hats and children should never wear plaid.
posted by josher71 at 4:27 PM on March 25, 2015


I am annoyed about her claiming she has the only wingtip cowboy boots in the world. Au contraire, I have two pairs and neither were custom made. Boulets and Argentinean Ariats, if you want to know.
posted by Dreidl at 4:28 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't care for her comment about cyclists not needing helmets.
posted by harrietthespy at 4:43 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I liked this: "Maybe it's superficial to exude a sense of confidence in one's clothes. But it's also integral."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:44 PM on March 25, 2015


2nding the bike helmet issue. I appreciate fashion and enjoy a good snark, but if one's sense of fashion cannot accommodate some type of bike helmet to be wore whilst biking, then perhaps one's sense of fashion could stand to be expanded somewhat.
posted by neutralmojo at 4:46 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I find her charming but totally wrong.

Ditto, regardless of the subject. Heck, even Fran Lebowitz doesn't agree with Fran Lebowitz in the same interview:

Because of the Internet everybody sees the same stuff. You can buy the clothes of New York, even if you're not living there. So I think that the accessibility, in this case, drives buying choices more than anything else.

More people should be dressing like we dress in New York anyway. Not everyone in New York looks great, but you have a higher chance.

[...]

On the one hand I think it's hilarious that so many people think they look fantastic, because they're wearing clothes that you should only wear if you look fantastic. If you walked around New York you would think there was a terrible mirror famine. There might be drought here, a wheat famine there, but in New York you have a mirror famine. Because everything people wear, you have to assume they bought it.

Where was the mirror? I sometimes feel like handing out citations.


Oh, Fran. Never change!
posted by Sys Rq at 4:46 PM on March 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Might be the most tedious interview I've ever read. Here's a million words about my shirt, which is the best shirt in the whole world, anytime you see someone wearing a shirt, you know, it's my shirt, but I don't mind because mine cost as much as a cruise ship, that's my style.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 4:50 PM on March 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Where was the mirror? I sometimes feel like handing out citations.

I have the same impulse every day, but I'm sure the other people are thinking the same thing about me, so it balances out. Mirror citations for everybody!
posted by Dip Flash at 4:52 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This interview makes her seem absolutely horrible. Who is she to tell me what to wear or not wear? To suggest that you should only wear something if it makes you look *fabulous*. Maybe I'm wearing clothes in order not to be naked, not to please someone who herself looks like a bag lady.

For the record I have calves and quads of steel and I look *amazing* in my shorts even though I agree they make me look like a man-child. But I'm still going to wear them because it's hot out. UGH.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 4:58 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what it says about me that I read that interview and immediately went and changed into yoga pants.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:10 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe I'm wearing clothes in order not to be naked, not to please someone who herself looks like a bag lady.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Bag lady? No. Fran Lebowitz has a style all her own. It's called items stolen from the dressing room of Billy Crystal circa 1991. One day she will get that elusive Mets cap. One day!
posted by Sys Rq at 5:17 PM on March 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


It's funny and snarky and come on, who gives a fiddler's about someone else's fashion advice?
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 5:25 PM on March 25, 2015


No, I'm sorry, shorts are not for wearing outside by men. I say this as someone who refuses to share my shapely calves to the world.
posted by The Whelk at 5:28 PM on March 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Martin Scorcese's documentary about Fran Lebowitz, Public Speaking, is worth viewing.

Early in the documentary, she says that "I'm always right, because I'm never fair." If you are expecting her to be earnest and compassionate about anything -- let alone fashion -- then you'll be angry and disappointed.
posted by ferdydurke at 5:46 PM on March 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


Perhaps this is better suited to the green, but how do you arrive at a style? How do you judge what you look good in? What is it about that pair of boots (or a given piece of clothing) that makes you adopt it as a uniform? How do you look at a piece in the mirror and say "YES, that's it!"?

I can't dress myself; I have no sense of what's flattering on me. At the same time, I have reinvented my working gear because each piece of it serves a purpose, and I can wear it all (Carhartt men's jacket, barn boots, ball cap, shooting glasses) comfortably because it *works,* in the sense that it functions and has resilience and is fitted to its task. But going out clothing, I mean even just to the grocery store? Can't pull it together, and envy those women (and men) who seem to organically inhabit their wardrobe -- or, to paraphrase Lebowitz, those who exude an integral sense of confidence in their self-presentation. She may not be an exciting dresser, but she knows the how and why of her choices, and I find that interesting. Thanks, orange swan!
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:46 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I hate it when I disagree with the Whelk.
posted by flaterik at 5:50 PM on March 25, 2015


You can disagree, and I can sit here being right.
posted by The Whelk at 5:52 PM on March 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm not sure what it says about me that I read that interview and immediately went and changed into yoga pants.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:10 PM on March 25


That you're arbitrary if not capricious?


It's funny and snarky and come on, who gives a fiddler's about someone else's fashion advice?

That's more or less the way I read this. It's one very independent person's take on style, and it's tailored to that one person's aesthetic sensibility as such views ought to be rather than being intended to be read as a blanket prescription. I was in fact wearing yoga pants while I read it and it never occurred to me to feel judged. I considered what I found interesting, laughed over what I found amusing, and left the rest.

And while bicycle helmets are very necessary, they do look terrible.
posted by orange swan at 5:53 PM on March 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


I love Fran Liebowitz. I love how she refuses to compromise on the intentionality of her style, all the while finding the whole thing hilarious. I love the view that one's presentation to the world takes place (or can take place) in the context of a long, ongoing, aesthetic commentary, borne out on our backs, trend by tailor, and that she frowns on those who won't play, or who won't take themselves seriously. In this ridiculous context.

The awesomeness just never stops.
posted by emmet at 6:03 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fran Lebowitz has a style all her own. It's called items stolen from the dressing room of Billy Crystal circa 1991
[looks at picture at top of article]
Excuse me, but...
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 6:11 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


And I can wear shorts and be comfortable when it's bloody hot out.
I mean, I have several colors of blue and purple hair and am currently wearing orange pants with teal accents that I love, so I obviously come from a world with a completely different aesthetic than her, but wow do I disagree with every single thing about her concept of style.
(I agree with the "have nice clothes and take care of them and it'd be nice if they were less disposable" part, so I can't say I disagree with EVERYTHING)
I also think that jacket looks awful on her.
The whole yoga pants digression makes me feel like there must be far more attractive people in Los Angeles than wherever in New York she frequents, because I see people looking amazing in them every day.
posted by flaterik at 6:11 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Four of the people in my office that I can currently see without standing up are wearing shorts right now, but people just live differently when they work a block from the beach and surf most days before starting work.
I'll stay here, I think.
posted by flaterik at 6:13 PM on March 25, 2015


In her next life may she have five small children, aging parents that depend on her for care, two minimum wage jobs, and live in a town with only Sears and a Walmart.
posted by jfwlucy at 6:21 PM on March 25, 2015 [20 favorites]


Bah. If it's 90°F and 99% humidity, I'm wearing shorts and Tevas. I don't care.
posted by octothorpe at 6:37 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


While I think that a lot of her choices are wack, I'm also someone who appreciates the personal uniform (Oxford-cloth button-downs when it's hot, flannel button-downs when it's cold, dark undershirt, khakis, leather belt, GTH socks, barefoot or Euro comfort shoes--she'd think that some of my choices are wack too), and, though I don't always agree, I can appreciate both her sentiments and her voice.

(Also, what's she been up to lately? I can't quite believe she's still eating off that 'Metropolitan Life' money.)
posted by box at 7:15 PM on March 25, 2015


Her schtick became tiresome a long time ago.
posted by Sassenach at 7:21 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wasn't she in The Incredibles? The interview reads well when imagined in that voice.
posted by childofTethys at 7:33 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


flaterik: "The whole yoga pants digression makes me feel like there must be far more attractive people in Los Angeles than wherever in New York she frequents, "

Isn't that the part-time job of everyone in Southern California? Staying in shape?
posted by notsnot at 7:47 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


She's the Andy Rooney of fashion.
posted by Fig at 7:54 PM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


My favourite line of the interview definitely has to be, "I wish houses cost less and clothes cost more."

I did a CNTRL-F for that line, and couldn't find it anywhere in the article. I wanted to find context for it, because it strikes me as a strange and kind of silly idea. Who the heck wants clothes to cost more? If you want everybody to look better, who does it benefit if clothes cost more?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:57 PM on March 25, 2015


"What people don't know is: Clothes don't really fit you unless they're made for you."

This reminds me of the time my wealthy mother-in-law* whispered to me, conspiratorially, 'I've discovered the secret to comfortable long haul air travel. It's... business class!'

Yeah, I don't think it's merely the lack of expert knowledge that prevents ordinary people from availing themselves of expensive luxuries.

* who i really like btw
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 8:00 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ursula, the line is "I wish that real estate were cheaper and clothes were more expensive." and it's under the question about what kind of jeans she wears. I'm not sure the context helps.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:04 PM on March 25, 2015


If you want everybody to look better, who does it benefit if clothes cost more?

People will be better dressed in a few well-chosen, good quality items than they will in dozens of poorly made items bought on impulse
posted by orange swan at 9:08 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I see. I like Lebowitz OK, but mixed in with the genuinely witty stuff she does say some kind of silly things.

I wish that real estate were cheaper and clothes were more expensive. But that's what young people want: $2 T shirts that fall apart in the wash.

Young (or poor) people want clothes they can actually afford. Nobody wants a t-shirt that falls apart in the wash, but a lot of folks think they're kind of stuck with that crap.

(I buy almost every shirt at Out of the Closet. It's $2, plus it's already proven it's tough enough to last. Sure, maybe somebody died in it, but that's what the HOT setting on the washing machine is for.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:46 PM on March 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


"shorts and Tevas"

Trolling works best when it's not quite so blatant. I mean ... really. No human being has worn Tevas in at least the last ten years. Maybe if you'd said "Tevas with white socks" I would have understood you were aiming for satire.
posted by komara at 9:50 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a 20-something graduate student working for me who I generally think of as on trend wrt to mainstream stuff. He has taken to wearing a bright red pair of Tevas.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:29 PM on March 25, 2015


Argh. Can we at least stop calling her a writer? By her own admission she hasn't written anything for about 30 years or so.
posted by queensissy at 10:37 PM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ecologists still wear Tevas!

I love men in shorts so much.

This interview is the best. Fashion opinions should be firmly held, entertaining, and completely dismissible.
posted by congen at 10:59 PM on March 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


She's totally right about Brooks Borthers tho.
posted by The Whelk at 11:01 PM on March 25, 2015


She makes (alot) of money on the college lecture circuit.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:03 AM on March 26, 2015


This interview makes her seem absolutely horrible. Who is she to tell me what to wear or not wear? To suggest that you should only wear something if it makes you look *fabulous*. Maybe I'm wearing clothes in order not to be naked, not to please someone who herself looks like a bag lady.

Surely this is your first encounter with Lebowitz, then. Because that interview was exactly what I expected to come out of her. I've loved her for decades. It may help that I'm familiar enough with how she talks that the entire interview played in my head in her voice like I'd already seen it on video. Not because I was familiar with the material, but because her verbatim written answers just turn into Lebowitz if you have ever heard her talk.

But the thing about loving Fran Lebowitz is not that you necessarily love WHAT she says, but you love HOW she says it and simply the fact that she is SAYING it. I have no idea how much the Fran that appears in public is a persona; I personally think it would be entirely tedious to be one of her close friends if that's simply how she is. But she'd be someone I would always be happy to see at a dinner party or social gathering, because she is IMO ALWAYS entertaining.

And yes, she looks nearly exactly the same as she did 30 years ago. I dunno, I find that somehow comforting.

Great post and a fun thread to read. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 12:37 AM on March 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


Perhaps this is better suited to the green, but how do you arrive at a style? How do you judge what you look good in? What is it about that pair of boots (or a given piece of clothing) that makes you adopt it as a uniform? How do you look at a piece in the mirror and say "YES, that's it!"?

Um... so, I was a total Chess King clothes horse my senior year in high school. Bought nice mall clothes (mid-80s, so knit ties and shades of purple combined with black were a big part of the times) and wore a tie and shirt and slacks every day to senior year in high school... went away to Germany as an exchange student for a year and had my views on clothing COMPLETELY changed by that experience and basically stopped caring whether anyone around me thought I was dressed cool or not... went through a few phases over the next while (Hawaiian shirts were a thing with me for a while, not proud of that one)... and then around age 25, I realized what I was comfortable in -- shrink-to-fit 501s (love you Fran!), concert t-shirts, big black work boots, a flannel over the t-shirt, and a hat. Always a hat when I leave my house. I'm peculiar that way.

Anyway, once I figured what I was comfortable wearing, I just sort of started moving my clothing collection in that direction. It's not very original, but I can still "dress to impress" even within that general narrow range. It works with my frame (thin but not scrawny) and my hair (short) and beard (long), and worked when I was a longhair with a short beard... um... I'm pretty peculiar about my hair stuff too...

Anyway, it turns into "a style" because you just do it long enough that you discard that and recognize the "oooo" factor in variations within the narrow scope, and it gets refined... I dunno.

Does your clothing fall into a category, or do you have a diverse fashion landscape at your demand?
posted by hippybear at 12:50 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


People will be better dressed in a few well-chosen, good quality items than they will in dozens of poorly made items bought on impulse
The issue there would be keeping the clothes clean. Societies with that mindset about clothes have typically had more relaxed views about cleanliness than the society in which I live. It isn't a huge deal if people smell a little bit. But I don't live in a society that is ok with a bit of body odor, and most of us don't have the kind of lifestyle that allows Lebowitz to keep her clothes non-stinky. If you return from work 11 hours after you left, which is not even a little bit unusual in the US, then you can't simply preserve your clothes by airing them out after your lunch appointment and before your evening plans. Most of us don't send our shirts out to be laundered and starched by someone else, because that's expensive. If I were going to wear shirts like Lebowitz's, I would need to learn to clean and iron them myself, and that would be a pretty major project which I'm sure I would only want to do once a week. (I mean, I wouldn't want to do it at all, because ironing shirts is very tedious, but I probably couldn't do it on a weeknight, not even now that I have a washer and dryer in my apartment for the first time in my adult life.) Having more clothes is a boon if you do your own laundry and don't have a ton of free time in which to do it.

I'm not bothered by Lebowitz's judgements, but I'm not charmed by her, either. She's a snob, and her schtick is boring and outdated. We get it: kids today suck, everything outside of Manhattan sucks, the modern world sucks, people with normal jobs suck, and everything was superior when she was young and actually producing things. It might have been charming 35 years ago, but now it just kind of sounds like telling people to get off your lawn.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:32 AM on March 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


One of the best things she ever said: "All God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are in fact barely presentable."

I disagree with her about men in shorts - well, mostly. But it's flip flops that are the true scourge of our time. Flip flops are only OK at an actual swimming pool or beach, or if you actually live in Hawaii.
posted by dnash at 7:55 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


OK, so I was reading this and I wasn't really familiar with who she is or what she's done and I was really just beginning to dislike her and not care about anything she ever said about anything ever. But for whatever reason I came across another interview with her where she says

"It is bad that rich people are in politics, it is bad for everybody but rich people, and rich people don't need any more help. Whenever people say, "Oh he earned his money himself," I always say the same thing: "No one earns a billion dollars. People earn $10 an hour, people steal a billion dollars."


and I want to read more by her. Maybe not talking about clothes so much though.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:57 AM on March 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


The issue there would be keeping the clothes clean. Societies with that mindset about clothes have typically had more relaxed views about cleanliness than the society in which I live.

I suspect that her definition of "a few" clothes might be a bit higher than yours, as well as including an assumption of easily available laundries that pick up and deliver.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:09 AM on March 26, 2015


Who hasn't seen an oddly dressed someone at the market and thought; "Really? You looked the mirror and thought..'yeah, I look good' "

Fran is hilarious and no one to take serious...
posted by judson at 10:14 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


"To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion." -- Susan Sontag, from Notes on 'Yoga Pants'
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:37 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: "To draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion." -- Susan Sontag
posted by hippybear at 11:01 AM on March 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't ever wear shorts at work (or jeans even) on principle, but don't mind if others do.
However, I firmly believe that your coworkers should never see your toes. Ever.
posted by rocket88 at 2:27 PM on April 1, 2015


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