Bad Taste Is the Best Thing to Happen to Fashion

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Justin Bieber strolls New York City with Hailey Baldwin while wearing hotel slippers.

Photo: Getty Images

I, like you, have lost hours of my life thinking about Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin. Not about their young love, but about their truly wild style. Bieber’s proposal outfit—an oversize striped tee, basketball shorts, and Adidas shower slides—received almost as much coverage as the proposal itself. “What happened to getting dressed up for important moments?” the Internet clamored. But Bieber is not alone in his endorsement of what he himself has referred to as a Joe Dirt aesthetic. Along with Pete Davidson, Jonah Hill, John Mayer, and Shia Leboeuf, a new wave of unkempt, unruly fashion dudes is on the rise.

What’s impressive about these guys is that they have won a certain level of fashion-world fame, or at least attention, for their decidedly un-chic outfits. I receive press releases about Davidson’s long sleeve tees, Bieber’s sweatpants, and the many, many, many fanny packs worn by Hollywood’s new class of style icons. Believe it or not, there are real-life celebrations of Jonah Hill’s style (one of which he recently attended). Justin O’Shea, a dapper dude by every count, told my colleague he found rapper Post Malone to be a harbinger of “where menswear is going [rather] than where it is now.”

A progenitor of dad style: Balenciaga’s Fall 2017 corporate cronies.

Photo: Indigital.tv

This is a case of trickle up fashion, where the totems of Dad Style—tube socks, medium-wash jeans, and thick-soled sneakers—have ascended from actual dads to Hollywood It Boys to the menswear runways, with brands like Off-White, Martine Rose, and Versace issuing their own takes on dadcore. It was 18 months ago that Demna Gvasalia pivoted his Balenciaga menswear away from reverent interpretations of Cristobal’s codes towards corporate-geek cool; one year ago he sent out actual dads on the runway. And the look doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

The trend isn’t as much about bad taste existing—as long as there have been gym shorts, there have been people looking ratty in them—inasmuch as it is about the hodgepodge style of looking like you don’t care at all coming into fashion. Perhaps it has something to do with all of us feeling uninspired by the status quo? In 1996, following a season of bad taste runway shows from Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, and Versace—looks that are polar opposites of what we would consider bad taste today—Cathy Horyn wrote in Vogue, “One way to affect boredom is to appear indifferent to bad taste.” Bored, we are, and that indifference has spread like a an “In My Feelings” meme throughout Hollywood and SoHo and Aspen and London and Paris and wherever aloof, malcontented but well-off twenty-somethings post selfies from.

*EXCLUSIVE* Kristen Stewart shows off her Calvin Klein underwear after leaving the spaKristen StewartKristen Stewart and Stella Maxwell show some leg grabbing lunch to-go in Los FelizActress Kristen Stewart, wearing a brown jumpsuit, and model Stella Maxwell head to lunch in Little Italy in New York City, New YorkKristen Stewart and Stella Maxwell leave their apartment in New York*EXCLUSIVE* Kristen Stewart visits a spa with a friend after Christmas celebrations

In July, Kristen Stewart stepped out in low-rise jeans and very high-rise Calvin Klein briefs.

Photo: Backgrid

What about women with IDGAF style, you ask? Let’s institute a Kristen Stewart Appreciation Day where we pull the waistband of our Calvins high above our jorts. I think women deserve this—especially now. Especially when we have Gwyneth Paltrow as the wellness-espousing oracle who cooks a perfect dinner in a white dress with no apron. As a woman, someone is always telling you to want something, to be better, to improve—and now the thing you’re supposed to aspire to is some better-off Sliding Doors version of yourself.

Bad taste is the line being drawn in the sand. Stewart’s tribe of messily-composed women seem to signal that you can be accepting of yourself as you actually are, imperfect, struggling, with greasy hair. You don’t, you won’t aspire to G.P.’s apron-free cooking in a white, shirred-neck dress because you know that is bogus. Aspiration is over. Aspiration is for suckers. Yes, Stewart can glam it up as good as, if not better, than the best of them, but she will forever be the woman that kicks off her stilettos at Cannes, and slinks up the red carpet barefoot with a delightful smirk on her face.

That’s the secret of bad taste: It gives us a freedom that any fashion trend with rules—Philophile nunnery, Slimane-era strictness, grungy, preppy, New Romantic, femme fatale, prairie folk, retro, whatever—can not. It’s not about being a victim of fashion diktats anymore. When you feel good, you look good—and isn’t that what our wellness-centric lifestyle has taught us? So feel good, look good, live it up! And pass the Crocs!

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