Jewish Journal


August 31, 2011

Labels: I Don’t Promote Them – And I Don’t Believe Them


Every primitive tribe has its status symbols.  Who owns the most goats?  Who wears the most beads?  Who has the largest lip plate? In the supposedly advanced culture we inhabit, people strut around proudly displaying their labels.  Maybe we’re not as advanced as we think we are: beads make more sense to me.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wanting stuff that’s well designed and of good quality.  I just don’t understood people who buy clothing that broadcasts the maker.  Why wear a bag with a pattern that screams, “FendiFendiFendiFendi” – unless Fendi is paying you for the free commercial? 

Flaunting the brand has no esthetic value; it doesn’t make the item prettier or more flattering - it just shows you can afford to buy something expensive.  Well, if that’s your goal, why not wear that Marc Jacobs jacket inside out so people can see who made it?  Or, better yet, just enlarge the price tag, laminate it, and pin it to the collar. 

Anyway, there are so many counterfeits around that the gal with the Vuitton tote (LVLVLVLVLV) probably got it for a pittance from a street vendor - so you better carry around some documentation proving that yours is real. 

My friend Flash is a performance artist who, like me, loves Sportsac bags.  They weigh nothing, they have a million compartments, and they’re washable.  The only problem is that the LeSportsac name is prominently featured in more than one spot on the exterior. Flash – also like me - is label-allergic, so she took some strips of velvet ribbon and sewed them over the offending display.  I admire her creativity but I confess I’m not enough of a purist to make that much effort.  If I have to choose between principles and laziness, laziness will usually win out. 

For years, one of my favorite outfits was a ‘40s vintage rayon skirt with a sort-of-matching wraparound top.  They had two different floral patterns, but the colors were similar enough to relate.  Some heavily-labeled fashionista (CoachCoachCoach) came up to me at a dinner party and said, “Lovely ensemble.  Missoni?”  “Uh, no, thrift shop.”  The conversation stopped there.

There’s another kind of clothing label that annoys me: those worthless care labels inside every garment.  “Dry Clean Only” is a big fat lie.  What did people do before they had chemical dry cleaners?  They washed everything.  And that’s what I do: silk, rayon, linen, etc.  I just throw it in the machine, do a cold water wash, and hang it up to dry.  (I occasionally break down and take a wool sweater to the cleaners – mostly because I hate the smell of wet wool.)

Of course, I’ve had my disasters.  I mistakenly put a DKNY velour turtleneck into a hot water wash, and ended up with a top that would fit a Barbie Doll.  I did something similar with my husband’s favorite Brooks Brothers linen shirt - but keep in mind that anything I ruin probably cost a dollar at a yard sale, so I can afford the occasional mess-up. 

Another instruction label I totally disregard is “Hand Wash Only”  My philosophy is “Hand Wash Never.”  I just put flimsy delicates in the gentle cycle – and my manicure will last a few days longer.

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