“Schlabberlook” is a German word for a fashion style where baggy clothes are worn in a way which look a bit sloppy. It ranges from sweatpants to baggy jeans to wide-cut button-down shirts. It is often used for clothes people would not dare to wear outside of the house and only wear them to relax at home. “Schlabbern” is used mainly in Germany when animals (but also sometimes humans) slurp liquids making loud sounds. If I had to find one term for current fashion trends, it would most likely be “Schlabberlook Deluxe” – sloppy looking outfits at high price points.
Last weekend, I was in Vienna’s first district. The streets are still bustling with tourists and the historic part of Vienna always attracts a lot of “influenzas” and people who want to be seen. It is obvious how much effort some of them put into their looks. But most of them looked the same: baggy-cut jeans in a washed-out blue tone which are ripped and/or cropped off, a white tank top, a sloppy looking button-down shirt loosely hanging down from one shoulder paired with white bulky sneakers which are dirty. (There is this one fashion brand which became popular because they sold sneakers which looked already dirty when you bought them at a ridiculous price point. And no, I am not talking about Balenciaga, this is a whole other topic…) I personally do not want to look sloppy when I leave the house. I am very obsessed with cleanliness and I do think that clothes should be at least ironed properly and shoes have to be clean.
On that day, I wore a colourful pleated skirt with a matching shirt and blue belt and flats. I actually almost ran late because I noticed that my shirt needed some last-minute ironing. In one of the shops, the shop assistant came over and complimented me on the look: “You look so nice, I love the colours, this outfit makes me really happy.” After that, I noticed that I got some looks on the street – I was one of the very few people that day wearing a skirt and something colourful and not completing my outfit with white sneakers.
I did not make that outfit choice on purpose, because I wanted to look different that day. I just really like the colours and I enjoy feeling good in well-cut clothes which are flattering to my body shape. For years I have been complaining about the shapes promoted by designers. When I see fashion editorials or pictures online, the only thought I have is “Who decided that this looks good?”. I still have not found an answer to that. Even the models look bad in the super high-waisted trousers or baggy styles. I am often left with the feeling that, currently, women are meant to look ugly and sloppy.
Fashion has always reflected movements of our society. And, naturally, it has also been used to express certain points of view or rebel against the establishment. When women fought against the corset at the beginning of the 20th century, it was about freedom and independence. The big and voluminous robes and corsets held women back in going after their daily lives. Later on, women expressed their fight for equal rights by wearing trousers and even suits which were very similar to men’s tailored suits. The mini skirt coinciding with the introduction of the contraceptive pill was not only invented to be sexy but it also symbolised that women can decide about what they want to wear and how they want to live their lives.
Along these lines, one could argue that the current trend of wearing baggy trousers, yoga pants, sloppy-looking shirts and sneakers is an antithesis to the overly sexualised style promoted by Kim Kardashian and the likes. In my opinion, this argument is quite weak. When I look around in the streets, I actually do not see any statement made by the clothes. It seems that women feel comfortable and this is why they wear this type of clothes. Which is fair, to everyone their style and I understand that we all have very busy lives and our outfit choices are usually the last priority after juggling work, children and our personal lives. But is it really aspiring to intentionally look like a mess? The fun fact is that ALL of the women wearing these outfits put a lot of work in their looks that day – perfect makeup and hair and clearly, they thought about what they wanted to wear. Hence, time constraints cannot be the real reason. (I thought about which “statement” these women may aspire to communicate with their looks, but, judging from their overly sexualised posing for Instagram in their outfits, I doubt that there is much behind it, unfortunately.)
I want women to look great. This does not mean that we have to spend hours in front of the mirror – my morning bathroom routine is 20 minutes max. And there are outfits which are casual but flatter us and make us feel great. I wonder when the fashion industry is going to pick up on these values again. I am curious about the trends from this year’s fashion month and I have not given up hope that there are some designers who also want to make women look great again.
Have a great week ahead!