Fashion VictimWhat’s a “fashion victim?”

It’s a term said to have been coined by Oscar de la Renta to describe a person incapable of recognizing the common boundaries of style. Bigger, bolder, louder, brighter – you name it, a fashion victim will use it to call attention to herself.

I know, because I used to be one.

It started in high school, when I started modeling. I’d been wearing parochial school uniforms for years, so the first time I started getting a little attention for my clothes, it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to full-on teenage fashion victim. The colors. The accessories. The hair. All totally out of control. I thought everyone was looking at me in envy. It never occurred to me that they were looking in amusement.

Until my mother refused to sit next to me in church, that is.

Fuchsia and brown comboI was wearing a fuchsia pink top and fuchsia pink tights with a short brown skirt and brown pumps. I thought the combination was creative; my mother thought it was awful. I had gotten dressed and was in the car before her, so she didn’t have a chance to see what I was wearing until we were walking into mass together. She took one look at the combination and told me to go in a different door and sit on the other side of the church, because several of her clients went to our parish (she was an interior designer), and she didn’t want them to see us together.

I was totally offended.

Until I got up and went through the communion line and realized all eyes were on me. But not in a good way. People were staring and snickering. It was quite a blow to my then-20 year old ego, and I couldn’t get out of the church and into the car fast enough. From then on out, I learned restraint.

Most fashion victims don’t.

Then tend to congregate together, feeding off of each other, and you’ll find them in abundance on reality TV. The worst of the bunch? Jerseylicious. When fashion victims get paid to teach others to be fashion victims, you know a fashion apocalypse isn’t far behind.

So what’s the fashion victim formula?

Big + Bold + Shiny + Trendy + Designer = Fashion Victim

1. Big

Big hair, big accessories, big embellishments. Big, big, big, big. So everyone can see it.

2. Bold

Bold colors, bold shapes, bold combinations. If you can’t go big, go bold. If you can do both? Do it!

3. Shiny

Sequins, metallics, satins, and other shiny stuff. If it sparkles, wear it! That’s what princesses do.

4. Trendy

Wear EVERY new trend that comes along, or better yet, wear several at once. That means you’re fashionable.

Pizza earrings on Jerseylicious
Tracy DiMarco sporting “pizza” earrings – and other unfortunate
jewelry choices 
– on MyStyle’s Jerseylicious.

5. Designer

Logos and trademarks and brands, oh my! Wear them head-to-toe, so everyone thinks you’re rich.

The goal of the fashion victim is to call attention to herself. And it works, like gangbusters.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s very ego-gratifying to have people look at you and your clothes, particularly if you went through puberty as a pudgy, pimple-faced adolescent, like I did. But there’s ego-gratifying and then there’s egomaniac – which is what I became, to the point where I was calling myself a teenage fashion “expert.” It wasn’t until after that fuchsia-madness incident that I took a good look at what people were doing AFTER they stared, which, more often than not, was to laugh.

Some “expert!”

There’s a difference between people looking at you because you’re a source of grace and charm, and looking because you’re a source of amusement. Never mistake the former for the latter, like I did.

Instead, toss out the shiny fashion victim formula and try this style formula instead:

Elegant styling1. Body shape

Your body shape determines which clothes look best on you, so that’s where you have to start. Find the clothes that flatter your figure and wear them. Add trends if they suit your style.

2. Proportion

Big things look good on big people, little things look good on little people. Match the size of the hair, accessories, patterns, or embellishments to the size of the person, and it looks good; don’t, and it looks bad. Enough said.

3. Appropriateness

Business wear, casual wear, beach wear, evening wear – each type of clothing is appropriate for a specific time and place. Wear flip flops on the beach and you look cute; wear them in the snow and you look like a fool (yes, I have seen this). Learn what to wear when.

4. Aesthetics

We’re all drawn to beautiful things, which is why we like pretty people, beautiful sunsets, and breathtaking views. Get the visual balance right on your ensembles, and people remember you. Get it wrong, and they remember the errant piece. Study magazines and fashion ads to see what works and what doesn’t.

5. Subtlety

Let the quality of your clothes tell the tale, not some logo. Did you know that you won’t find logos on most clothes over $500? It’s because people who can afford high-end designer clothes don’t wear logos. They may have them on their handbags or luggage, but not their clothes. Only those who can afford the designer’s low-end, logo-covered lines wear them.

See the difference?

Fashion victims are over-the-top and prefer big, loud, and shiny.

Women of style are right on point and prefer quality, subtlety, and mystique.

Strive to be a woman of style. Fashion victims may get a lot of attention, but women of style tend to get more respect.

Aim for respect. It pays better.

Wardrobe MagicReady to whip your wardrobe into shape and get the attention and respect you deserve?  Wardrobe Magic can help.

    13 replies to "Fashion Victim Formula"

    • Anonymous

      I’ve never understood why people would want to wear bold logos on their clothes. Unless a designer is paying me, I don’t want to be a walking advertisement for them. It looks gaudy.

      • Diana

        I agree!

    • Hallyu Lady

      What a great article. Yes, we should choose to be a woman of style, love it!

      • Diana

        Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Imee Martin

      Nice article. Very useful!!

    • Carole

      Never have understood the “flip flop” obsession. Not only ugly, but dangerous unless worn at pool side. However, if feet hurt in regular shoes because designers and manufacturers continue to produce painful shoes instead of stylish comfortable shoes than I can understand the desire for comfort. Fortunately there are cute sandals that can help with that issue for a lot of people (except those with very narrow fee–like me :-()

      • Diana

        Hi Carole,

        I get the flip flops for summer because they’re quick and easy. But wearing them year ’round? Not so much. I’ve seen college students in the dead of winter here picking their way through the snow in flip flops. Crazy! But I agree that there are TONS of cute, comfortable sandals around. You just have to look around.

        Some places you might look for narrow shoes include:

        Take care!


    • Anonymous

      I am learning a great deal about me and my body type and fashion. Thank you. Lorna

      • Diana

        Hi Lorna,

        You’re welcome! I’m so glad you’re enjoying all the info!


    • Ruthie

      This is helpful fashion information. Now i know who a fashion Victim is! Been one on several occasions WITHOUT KNOWING!!! Thank you for enlightening me.

      • Diana

        Hi Ruthie,

        To quote Oprah, “When you know better, you do better.” Glad I could help! 🙂

    • Marilyn

      Your observations are sooooo “On-Target” and I love you for sharing with us . . I want to be noticed as being a woman but I don’t want the spotligh . . .You have helped me tremendously . .

      Marilyn in Dallas

      • Diana

        Thanks! Glad I could help!

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