Things I Said I’d Never Wear, But Love So Much

Recently I came across a quote attributed to me that said something to the effect of “blech,” in the context of Crocs. I felt a little uncomfortable if not certain that I had, at some point, said it, even if at the moment I could not recall whether that was factually true. Because tons of people wear and love Crocs, and who am I to rain on their parade of footwear choices?

I spent the greater portion of the mid 2000’s wearing wedge sneakers with pillow tongues, after all. I used to layer chain upon chain of rhinestone “statement” necklace when I felt that a busy print T-shirt and counter-print skirt just wasn’t enough to say “boom shaka laka,” and the majority of the people in my life entertained such questionable choices. Even those not physically in my life endorsed them. So for me to up and denounce another person’s trend of choice just seems, I don’t know, smug.

And lest I remind you the fashion gaze is such that one man’s trash often becomes that same man’s treasure. I’d have been hard-pressed to predict Birkenstocks as an up-and-coming trend in advance of the first time they appeared on a runway, for example, but you know how this one ends. Every trend has a time and a place; you can’t knock it until you’ve tried it. What you can do, however, is call a spade a spade, or yourself (fine, myself) a hypocrite, and announce loud and clear that for as many times as you have said you would never wear something, you’re ready to admit defeat. I’m ready to admit defeat! Starting with:

1. Thong flip-flops

Following the great Havaianas boom of the early 2000’s, I was confident that we cleansed this one from our systems that henceforth and onward it would be closed-back, leather-sole sandals that add beauty and grace and Miss United States to any old summer look but here I am, three years following their first re-entry to fashion (for Louis Vuitton’s resort 2016 collection), confessing resignation. I want — nay, need — a pair. I can’t even imagine wearing non-stretch, high-waist, light-wash skinny jeans without them.

2. Shoes that make you look like you have incurred a foot injury

I believe they call these “boots” in the medical community, but in the fashion community, boots mean something very different from a sandal with two straps across the front and another that wraps around the heel of your foot, bolstered by a flat but dramatically chunky sole. I blame the great Chanel tevas of Summer 2018 on this trend, but Phoebe Philo is the perpetrator who turned me into a victim. Adjacent shoe categories include Tevas, Dr. Scholls and Birkenstocks.

3. Midi and maxi skirts (dresses notwithstanding)

When I graduated from my modern orthodox Jewish day school, I wrote a eulogy for the funeral of every skirt I owned that fell below my knee immediately after I burned them all. Never ever ever again would I opt to cover my knees or the area below them, I surmised, fantasizing about the mini skirts and pants, mostly jeans, that would replace them. Fast forward to 2009, when maxi skirts that looked a lot like the ones I wore through my youth — just straight and black and to the floor — started to gain steam, first with off-duty models and then within the greater industry. After this foray, various iterations of long voluminous a-line skirts, flimsy slip dresses and most recently caftan style, larger-than-life bottoms started to sprout. These are the ones that remind me each time I visit my closet that I am a charlatan.

4. Fitted tank tops

Leandra Medine Cohen styles her own version of jeans and a t-shirt.

If you can recall the heyday of the three-pack ribbed tank care of Hanes, I invite you to do it. We called them “wife-beaters” back then; I don’t know what we were thinking, but in my mind, they very much died with the dated and misogynist phrase. Cut to last summer and the correlated couture street style look that went viral and here I am! Ready as I’ll ever be to tuck a fitted tank into a good old pair of reliable-ass pants. Addendum: I really like a spaghetti strap, too, possibly even more.


5. Black

Yes, I have said at various junctures that I don’t wear black, to the point where, last summer, I challenged myself to do it for a week and recorded the outcome and ultimately decided I kind of liked it then shimmied into fall/winter wearing tons of it and endorsing the assembly of Harling’s posit: is black the new millennial pink? Here, I got you a black tank to hit two birds with one stone.

6. Pearls

I got a strand for my bat mitzvah, then wore them to a bar mitzvah with a bad light blue dress that I had custom-made on like, a highway in Great Neck, New York and thought they’d be ruined forever. I even tried to sell them once in 2013 but thankfully no one bit because that very strand may as well be the glue that keeps my décolletage intact. I am nonpartisan, though, because I do not mind the occasional pearl stud in my ear, either.

You can probably file cardigans under this bullet point; the logic is the same.


7. Pants that cover my ankles

I went through a phase of cutting every single pair of pants to hit the area about an inch above my ankle bones and could not have, even though I should have, anticipated that five years later I would want all of that excess fabric back at the bottom of my pants. Now I am left with a deluge of poor hem-cropping jobs and a couple of pants I have to convince myself I am happy to have purchased, even though I already had them, they’re just shorter now.

8. A big bag!

If I had a dime for every time I opened up a story extolling the virtues of “free-balling” it by way of a minaudiere (or hard shell clutch), of the certainty connoted on the part of a woman who commits to carrying a miniature bag in lieu of a big one, which infers a lack of decisiveness and direction, of schleppiness and sweat, I’d have just enough saved to buy myself this.

Next up: things I haven’t worn yet, but anticipate I will want, starring Uggs and sky-high heels.

Following that: Things I’m sure I’ll never want to wear again right now, but will have to put my foot in my mouth for several years from now, starring puff sleeves, culottes, block heels, and especially earrings that dangle off my lobes.

Photos by Christian Vierig via Getty Images and via Leandra Medine. 

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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