What is the fashion equivalent of the skinless, boneless chicken breast? Last week, I posed this very question to my friend Chicken Soong. In her past life as a freelance writer, she covered fashion and food themes, though now she writes about more intense topics, like taxes. She thought through my question and then came back with this excellent response:
Chic v. chicken
By Chicken Soong
So what IS the fashion equivalent of a chicken breast? Admittedly, the question left me stumped for a while, for two reasons:
a) you can make a case for lots of different pieces of clothing
b) I’m not exactly the fashionista I used to be, so anything I’d say would have to be taken with a Birkin-size grain of salt.
Once upon a time, I was working alongside one of the best fashion editors in the business, and I got to traipse around New York during Fashion Week, brushing past random celebrities, from Salman Rushdie to Kanye West to Sofia Coppola and yes, Ms. Wintour herself. (One season, I was even photographed sitting a few rows behind Rashida Jones, who was getting snapped for New York Magazine just before a 3.1 Phillip Lim show. That was my 15 seconds of fashion fame right there.)
There’s a lot of pressure to look cool when you’re at events like that, but you’re only at see-and-be-seen events for maybe 5 to 10 percent of the time, even less if you’re more of a behind-the-scenes kind of editor, as I was.
When you’re getting ready to work a shoot and you’re buried up to your ears in garment bags, or running around trying to locate a steamer and a clothing rack, or getting up at the ass-crack of dawn to catch a flight to the shoot location, the last thing you’re thinking is, “Do I look chic enough for Bill Cunningham to shoot?”
Usually, when I was on the job and wasn’t trying to impress anyone, I would wear some variation of skinny jeans, ballet flats, a long t-shirt and a cardigan or blazer. It was a pretty basic, fairly comfortable uniform that I felt cute in, but I wasn’t straight-up slumming it.
So what do I wear when I really want to slum it? Sure, I had those days, and still do. I would have to say my “chicken breast” outfit would be jeans, a t-shirt, my old beat-up Converse sneakers and a hoodie. That’s for days I feel super tired and I just don’t give a flying fart. At home, I swap out the jeans for stretchy yoga pants and the Cons for house slippers, but I NEVER wear yoga pants in public, unless I’m actually in a yoga class, which, like, hardly ever happens.
Speaking of yoga pants, here’s a list of other things to file under “things I’d never wear in public:”
leggings as pants (NEVER)
pajamas (honestly, are you THAT lazy?)
Crocs (I know they’re comfortable, but that doesn’t make them not ugly)
Overall sloppy clothing. That means ripped-beyond-belief jeans and that ugly baggy t-shirt that you got from that team-building exercise you did for your old work several years ago.
Now that I’ve retired from the fashion world and have settled into the exciting world of daily news reporting, I don’t have much reason to shoot for the sartorial equivalent of Kobe filet mignon, so I usually aim for somewhere in between a New York strip and a hanger steak. But some days, you just feel like serving up chicken breast, and that’s cool. No one’s gonna judge. Unless, of course, you break out the potted meat, then everything will go to hell.
ok, I’ll stop with the meat analogy.
But seriously. No leggings as pants. I mean it.