I’m not quite sure how “experts” get appointed, but there’s one who writes a fashion advice column in Oprah magazine who repeatedly ticks me off. Advertised as the man who “tells you what your best friends won’t,” he dispenses “advice” that mostly demeans the magazine’s intended audience (always a bad plan; one of the first rules of writing is “know your audience”). Once, he advised that no one over forty should wear shorts, but after an avalanche of letters replete with photographs proving him wrong, he recanted.
Well, his latest offense is in response to a 48-year-old divorced woman who is thinking of re-entering the dating scene and is at a loss about what is appropriate to wear. Her letter gives very little personal information, but it is well written and timid in tone. I’m picturing a woman who hasn’t gotten out in a while, who doesn’t want to try to look eighteen but is not yet resigned to a wardrobe identical to her mother’s, maybe a woman who has suffered some sadness and humiliation and wants some help rebuilding her self esteem.
His advice? “Don’t wear anything that makes you appear desperate. . . . Avoid anything that looks too easy to remove.” Don’t wear anything “ultrashort, sheer, tight, or plunging.” He warns her that “heavy makeup can be distracting, and killer stilettos and garish colors can scare.”
If humiliation wasn’t his goal, he came close without even trying. Maybe he needs to talk to an “expert” in career counseling.