askally

The “P-Ugg Fugly” Edition

In Advice, Beauty, Fashion, Funny, People, Social Commentary on October 24, 2007 at 1:08 pm

Trish from London, ON writes:

Dear Ally,

Truth: no matter how good you look, Ugg boots will always add an "I'm buying a pack of smokes in my pyjamas" aura that all fashion virtuosos praise.

Would you please be able to explain to me the phenomenon that is undergrads wearing short skirts, leggings, and a tank top with “Ugg” boots? I first noticed it a few weeks ago when it was a sticky and a disgusting 27 degrees (feeling like 35) Celcius. Now that we are encountering more cool fall weather this clothing persists….and the boots – they haunt me! I am confuzzled by this behaviour which I am forced to see daily on my walk to class. I don’t understand!
Most devotedly,
Trish.

*   *   *   *   *

Dear Trish,

Your devotion is both understandable and appreciated. And your question is, I think, one which plagues the female undergraduate population the world over… or at least the Western world over!**
Even across the pond, where I was sure that centuries of sophistication and the connection to fashion capitals around Europe would have rid these lands of the scourge that is Ugg boots alone, I was confronted by this pestilence on my first shopping trip.

However confusing this trend may be, it is in fact quite an easy one to dissect when one turns the finely tuned analytical eye of an English major towards the living text that is the female undergraduate’s body.
In reading this popularly selected outfit, consider what kind of statement is made by the tank top alone: it says, “I want to show some skin.” Each different kind of tank top offers a variation on this statement – for example, a tank top with a deep neckline says “I want to show some skin… and my cleavage,” and a tank top of the ‘wifebeater’ style says “I want to show some skin in a mockery of an oppressive patriarchal tradition.”

Is this the woman you really want to emulate? Really?

Compare this, then, with the similar statement of the short skirt – it too expresses loudly the wish to bare skin, particularly the skin of the legs, which have been central party to the objectification and fetishized sexualization of the female body.

When this sexualized desire for the “baring” of the skin is contrasted with the statement made by leggings, the very psyche of the undergrad female is revealed. The leggings involve both the covering and the revelation of the sexualized leg: it belies the insecurity of the wearer, especially when paired with the short skirt and the tank top. Consider the following as the mentality of the undergraduate female’s fashion choice in this outfit:

Wow – I sure am glad to have finally escaped my doldrum high-school life! I am now mature and sophisticated, and living on my own in a protected microcosm of life provided for me by my parent’s money and the Residence Services people.

In my maturity, I am now brazen enough to bare my skin!
Hmm – I sure do want to look mature and sophisticated in this outfit. But oh no, there’s a lot of skin showing. I don’t want to have crossed the line from mature into skanky, especially not the kind of skanky that I was in high-school! I had best pair this outfit with some leggings – this will have the added benefit of not revealing my thong… and/or lady parts… whenever I bend over!

The undergrad female desires to show off her body, but is unsure as to how this will be responded to by the rest of the world (well, those members of her isolated, protected, University world).
The insecurity in the clothing choice is clearly paralleled by the insecurity in the undergraduate’s mind: out on her own, she is both thrilled and terrified at this new found freedom. We see this reflected in the clothing.

But what about the omnipresent “Ugg” boot? The name of the boot itself embraces its hideous design. It is self-depricating, like a teenager with no self-confidence who hopes to deter the stinging blade of insults by insulting themselves. It is not difficult to imagine the designers of the Ugg boots rolling about in their money-piles with an “I-can’t-believe-I’m-getting-paid-for-this” smirk similar to that of Johnny Depp throughout all three of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

The only time I've ever seen Ugg boots look appropriate.

Somehow – and don’t ask me for an explanation because it is beyond even my sterling intellect to divine the methods of the fashion industry – the Ugg boot took on the appearance of popularity.
After filtering through the systems of the celebrity, through to the merely insanely rich, and then to the “fashion conscious” upper class, Ugg boots now seem to be pooling in the closets of the middle-class undergraduate females like toxins pooling in a no longer functioning liver.

Like a cherry on top of the rancid Banana Split that is the female undergraduate’s wardrobe, the Ugg boot adds that extra panache – that je ne sais quois. That – what is the word? Oh yes, that all important air of complete and total desperation.
By throwing on that pair of bargain bin Ugg boots, the outfit’s complete meaning can be read thusly:

Now that I am finally ‘out on my own,’ I am going to show everyone that I am an independent, intellectual, unique, independent, uniquely independent and totally not-like-everyone-else female! I really hope that everyone thinks I look fashionable and sophisticated – can’t they see I’m wearing UGG boots – like Gwenyth Paltrow did five years ago?! Do you like me now? DO YOU?

Now – honestly – tell me that doesn’t sound like a reasonably accurate representation of the wearer of such an outfit.

** Please note that when I use the term “undergraduate female” as a catch-all phrase, I do not necessarily mean all undergraduate females in Western society.
Chances are if you can recognize the symptoms of the plague on others, you have nothing to worry about for yourself. If you have never found yourself noticing the trend, it might be because the hypothermia you contracted by wearing a tank top in colder temperatures has hindered your thought process. A word to the not-so-wise: Ugg boots do NOT constitute proper winter-weather attire.

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