"Advice. And stuff."
the pith helmet

     I'm relatively intelligent. And I know some pretty smart people too. So I figure that it's about time that I share that intelligence with the rest of the world. Do you have a question? Sure you do! So ask it here!

I may, or may not, know what I'm talking about. I'm not a therapist. I'm not even really a writer. In real life, face to face, some of what I've written here might have been accompanied by a smirk or wild hand gestures. Keep it in mind.

New! Comment on this article

Mail me your question

See the old questions

Return to pith.org


Published on 02/23/2002

Apparent Fashion Victim asks:
A mature age student with a degree in fashion design just transferred into my Law course at the University of Queensland. Suddenly my trackpants and ugh boots are no longer acceptable library attire. She tells me to wear high heels with my jeans. Should I believe her? Would boys like me if I heeded her advice?

I think that it is very important for the context of my answer to note that the University of Queensland is in Australia (and I note this for the hoardes of uneducated Americans that read this site who probably thought that Queensland was somewhere between Queens and Brooklyn).

I was going to begin by berating you for even considering wearing trackpants with ugh boots, until I begin my obligatory research that I do when responding to any of my letters and found that the first two links returned to me from google were in fact from Australia and New Zealand (which, of course, aren't the same country but are, in fact, closer to each other than they are to anything else on this planet), which leads me to believe that people might wear trackpants as formal wear out there in which case my initial reaction might have only been related to cultural differences and not so much to a horrible fashion faux pas.

Until I realized that you said "trackpants and ugh boots." You do realize that when you wear Ugh1 boots you are wearing the equivalent of one entire sheep's worth of wool on each of your feet, right? It would seem to me that these boots should be worn only if the situation exists that you might lose your feet to frostbite, and then, only if you are dressed in a big puffy snowsuit. I don't care how comfortable they might be.

That said, I don't think you should ever take the opinion of someone who tells you to wear high heels with your jeans very seriously. While the juxtaposition of two disparate styles can be pulled of successfully in certain situations (for example the often seen punk stylings of fishnets and cuffs and studs on an otherwise conservative suit-type outfit), heels with jeans just look stupid.

One other interesting thing that I have learned in my discussions with lawyers2 is that law school is pretty much the last time that you can wear whatever you want whenever you want. The law field, unlike the freelance web columnist field, still maintains some modicum of dignity3, which means that you'll probably end up having to wear something either "corporate casual4" or "business formal" in your daily life. However, being a lawyer will also mean that you're going to have the money to start spending on all the nice, fun clothing that you never could afford when you were a poor law student, which means that you're going to have all of this clothing that you'll only be able to wear on the weekends. A conundrum, to be sure.

But the truth of the matter is that if you dress well, you will feel better about yourself, you will exude an air of confidence and the boys will come running. If you are slouching around in the library in your trackpants and ugh boots, you can bet that the boys are going to be running towards the girls in the tight t-shirts and the Fuck Me boots. Not because they're called Fuck Me boots mind you, but because she would dare to wear something called Fuck Me boots.

I mean, come on, "Fuck Me" or "Ugh?" I thought so.

Sheepskin boots
Everything2 Entry: fuck me boots

1. A bit of research in this area also shows that the term "Ugh boot" actually is derived from the "Ugg" brand of boots which became so popular that they entered the common vernacular as the term for the generic, much as "Kleenex" and "Xerox" have. According to New Zealand Sheepskin, "many people are also now searching for Ugh boots and we don't know where this has come from, except that it must be a spelling situation."

2. I am currently dating a lawyer. A rather well-traveled lawyer with a lot of clothing. I'm sure that she'll have something to say about all of this, and I'll just let her respond in the comments below because, well, it's my damn column.

3. I am not wearing any pants. I am only wearing boxers. True, they are Banana Republic boxers, but they are boxers never the less. Never briefs. Just so you know.

4. I recently started hearing the term "corporate appropriate" replacing the term "corporate casual" presumably to renew that sense of professionalism into the corporate world while keeping the office drones happy in their flexibility to not have to wear suits to work every single day.

i love your massive freudian slip (see the word in the body of the text footnoted as (2). curiously, as i write this your sister is writing a paper on the good doctor.
Posted by dadoo on 02-24-2002 23:16

Note: the word as refered to by the previous comment had spelled "lawyer" as "layer." Ah well. Leave it to my father to point out my mistakes.
Posted by jcn on 02-24-2002 23:37

Re: freudian slip - surely jcn refers to the depth or level of said lawyer's intellect (multi-layered) and not some other use of the word (like, say, "an artificial oyster bed"). as for AFV's dilemma, i think jcn's got it right. AFV should not abandon her own personal style but should not hesitate to break out the tight t-shirts should she desire the boys to "come running" (i will refrain from comment on Fuck Me boots). the truth is, AFV should take advantage of her student days to dress non-corporate. now that i am a lawyer, when i say goth, people invariably hear "golf."
Posted by kaz on 02-26-2002 07:34

Yes, it's me.

I've been waiting heart in throat for over a month to hear your reply. And in that time I've slouched lower on the Law School pecking order. Don't you understand that you have a responsibility to the public to answer questions promptly? I NEEDED YOU DAMMIT! How can you represent yourself as a giver of advice and then withhold that advice for so fucking long??!!!!

I am going to kill you.


Posted by Apparent Fashion Victim on 03-01-2002 04:04

In any event,

cheers for the advice. I am currently removing the trackies and Ugh's to do a nudie dash through the library.

Posted by Apparent Fashion Victim on 03-01-2002 04:06

Just goes to show, a degree in fashion design doesn't make one fashionable. I think the high heels and jeans combo went out with "Diff'rent Strokes."
Posted by Dan Rosen on 03-07-2002 22:57

You know, the jeans and heels thing is pretty common these days as far as I can tell. Now, keep in mind that I'm in Boston, but I keep seeing women in trendy shoestores buying exactly this. Now, we're not talking Easy Spirit pumps with high-waisted jeans and a polo shirt; this is strappy stiletto sandals or those rectangular-heeled boots, and hip-level, boot-cut jeans. Preferrably with a sweater (with the boots for cold weather) or with a tank top (with the sandals for warm). And thanks to global warming, you can now wear both in the course of one week in February.
Posted by Channing on 03-14-2002 18:58

And a postscript:
The March issue of Vogue contains four pictures of women wearing both jeans and shoes (it's all summer fashion, so it's mostly skirts) and they are:

- a pair of open-sided tan stilettoes from Gap;
- a pair of mules with a slender chunk heel from Tod's;
- a pair of pointy-toed leather ankle boots in an article about designers.

Posted by Channing on 03-14-2002 19:57

i think it's important to point out the differences inherent in the shoe types mentioned in the comments. While it is entirely fashionable to wear cute little boots or strappy sandals with jeans (and the sandals are really only appropriate when going out to a club, or when posing for a fashion magazine), it is so very 80's, and uncool (unless you're really into the whole "retro" thing) to wear high heeled pumps with jeans. while i'm not sure what exactly the fashion major suggested, i have to advise
"yay!" on cute, high-heeled boots and "boo!" on high heeled pumps.

i personally am planning on starting law school in the fall. i'd like to say that i'll stay my fashion-plate self during those three years, i'm far more likely to grab reasonably clean jeans, an old t-shirt, and grubby sneakers while leaving my Cosmo Girl clothing for the weekend (when i have time for the boys who come a-running).
Posted by heidi on 03-16-2002 03:55

heels (shoes, not boots) + jeans = ugh.

I really don't get some of that fashion bullshit. It's about being yourself and wearing clothes that you like and want to wear. "ugh, fuck me" sounds like a bad pick up line.

your advice was good.
Posted by Khai on 04-29-2002 07:23

gosh, i didn't think of where Queensland was. amounts to the same thing though. If anywhere I first subconciously imagined the eastern coast of Canada. i'm from the left coast, whatever that means, sounds good though. And am worried about my lack of touch with the world outside America.
Posted by stryder on 05-25-2002 02:20

would the boys like you? boys are dumb. boys dont care what you wear. to prove this, wear nothing and see how many boys like you.
Posted by jyee on 06-01-2002 02:03

I've gotta agree with jvee here - if that's really what you're after, and you don't mind the possibility of being arrested, it should work like a charm.

ugh boots and trackpants though - i'm no fashion guru, but yeah, my rule of thumb is that if YOU think you'll look completely ridiculous, just imagine what they'll think.

you can beat on me for that one, jcn
Posted by jarrett on 08-31-2002 18:32

I've spent the last 3 months in Australia, and as far as I can tell, track pants are not considered fashionable weekend wear anywhere I've been. Though admittedly, I have seen other backpackers trying to pull off worse combinations.

And by the way, jcn, has England affected you enough that you've started having conundrums about the word "pants"? I've started referring to those long, 2-legged articles of clothing as "trousers", since British people use "pants" to mean underwear, or knickers. It's gotten me enough funny looks to change my own speech patterns.
Posted by Jon on 09-01-2002 02:50

were the trackpants the kind that have buttons down the side and so can be torn off in one quick motion? (cf. lucas)

if that is the case, then i think this question needs to be reexamined.
Posted by forkboy on 09-07-2002 15:42

Scoop this, NY Post.


January 26, 2003 -- I confess. I am a total fashion victim.

I forked out $140 on a pair of Ugg boots last week which I put on my feet and thought looked absolutely disgusting. There was not a single thing about them I liked and they were even a bit too small for me.

Why did I do this?

Because my cool roommate Alice told me they were cool.

Posted by jcn on 01-26-2003 16:26

Posted by gjoni on 01-29-2003 10:15

"(and I note this for the hoardes of uneducated Americans that read this site who probably thought that Queensland was somewhere between Queens and Brooklyn). "

Uneducated Americans spell it "hordes", not "hoardes".
Posted by Beth on 05-23-2003 16:37

No Beth. Uneducated americans spell it "hoardes" (which is wrong). Educated americans spell it "hordes" (which is right).
Posted by Ross on 12-03-2003 19:16

Although one has resigned oneself over the years to academia filled with lank-haired pouting youth, the thought of encouraging the young to wear denim is simply unacceptable.

It would seem that, while gentlemen have been busy perfecting our cigarette lighting techniques and conducting amusing experiments with hair lacquer, the ladies have been engaged in what they rather quaintly call a 'sexual revolution'. Now I believe that I am an open minded chap who has accepted that some ladies may benefit from an education although as example of unbridled panache and élan they are will always be lacking to the male student.

Some lady students may never know of the joy of the briar, the sparkle of a vodka martini or the pleasure of relieving Mr Ladbroke of 60 guineas after the 3.15 at Doncaster.

I have, obviously, never been to the land of barbaric, tatterdemalionic, Australia as I am reliably informed that it is full of the criminal classes whom one does not wish to associate. Her Majesties declining influence in the world is directly proportional to the fall in sartorial standards.
There is, of course, only one university in Britain, and that is Oxford. Many other cities and towns claim that they also have similar establishments, but a true chap or indeed chapet would blush from spending three of their formative years in some concrete monstrosity of the Midlands, or the dark satanic mills of the North. In Oxford I sported nothing more casual than a three-piece and a trilby.

One can understand that upon fleeing the security of the family home or the public school, and being surrounded by like-minded ingrates who may have the audacity to assume that seventeen pints of “snakebite” in a sticky floored “nightclub” is the essence of existence may unduly influence a lady. But jeans? Words fail me.
Posted by Sir Gary Brewer on 06-23-2004 08:08

All the spam aside, I hadn't realised that the previous comments were from 2002. Fashion being as sensitive and fluid as it is, especially in NYC where JCN lives, it's hard to say what is in and what isn't. What has become classic, in some ways are jeans being dressed up with cute flats or heels (open-toed, pumps, you name it) and dressed down with flip-flops, sandals or loafers.

The comments regarding law school as the perfect time to dress as you wish before goth is confused with golf are spot on, really. That goes for just about anyone entering the corporate world, especially law and finance.

I do own hooker/fuck-me boots with heels well over 3" and yes, men do respond in kind. I actually think that if you wear the right sweater/jean combo men will come running, the boots.. optional.
Posted by Lex on 07-06-2006 16:42

Comment on this article