Dress to Regress


If I could do this with my hair, I would.

Listen, I sort of dress like  child. Less so now, but it has taken a lot of studying, a lot of observing adult women in their natural habitat to figure out how to dress one’s, um, age, and I think I’ve only partially mastered it. I think there are a lot of reasons for this – I’m an artiste, man, so I get to let my inner child run wild and irresponsible forever! Jealous? Also, as a queer person deprived of cultural markers of aging plus trapped in a youth-frenzied subculture, things get confusing. What is age when most butch girls look like 14 years old, and trans guys look either 19 or 49? As a rebellious Aquarius I’m attracted to loud and bizarre clothing, neither which tend to have the dignity associated with aging well. Also, let me just keep being super identity politics about it and mention that being a broke person for a long time limits your choices as well – no one is handing me down any Hermes scarves (darn it!) and young-looking clothes are cheaper than classy grown-up clothes. Oh yeah  – as an alcoholic who started boozing it up at 15 and didn’t get sober til I was 33, that makes me emotionally 22 years old! So, you see what I’m up against in my efforts to look like an almost 40-year-old female person who has her shit together. It can be exhausting! So today we will regress, relax and hang out with my inner children.

This is Willow Smith. If you haven’t seen her I Whip My Hair Back and Forth video, go check it out and then say goodbye to your brain. I feel like I have a pretty strong immunity to stupid pop music but this shit got stuck so hard in my head I had to buy it on iTunes and play it on repeat. Only 15 hours in a car with Katy Perry got rid of it, but it will be back, trust me. Meanwhile, look at Willow (Will Smith’s daughter, for those even more clueless about pop culture than I am) in the best outfit ever. If you’re going to wear animal print, wear nothing but animal print, and keep your collar popped. Those heavy gold chains make her look rich, which she is, enormous boots are almost always perfect, her glasses are rad and her hair is avant-garde for a nine-year-old! Yes, she is nine. It is creepy to see such a fashionable child, isn’t it? Sort of like seeing a tiny body building child popping with muscles. It seems really wrong. Let’s keep looking.

I love a jumper, I love baggy pants, and I love a dirty look. She’s just a nine-year-old trying to hit the Dolce & Gabbana show at Milan Fashion Week, for pete’s sake! Leave her alone, paparazzi! Let a kid be a kid!

No fashion icon is without controversy – that stylish tumor growing out of Willow’s shoulder is a knock off of a piece by Mother of London, and the designer is bummed about it. This is like when Courtney Love wore fake Chanel to Paris Hilton’s birthday party and then had to pose naked, tarred and feathered in real Chanel jewelry in Bazaar magazine, while being shamed by Karl Lagerfeld. For real. Anyway, no one got mad at Willow, she’s just a kid, the stylist is to blame. Having a stylist means never having to say you’re sorry. Let’s take a look at the original:

Better color, better construction, better materials. It’s okay to buy a fake when you’re broke and need a $15 Louis Fauxtton on Canal Street, but Willow is rich! Stop skimping on her, stylists! She’s just a child!

Okay, admittedly there is a lot going on here, but that is sort of a hallmark of kid fashion, is it not? I like her boots-within-boots a lot, they’re like a variation of my favorite Alexander Wang boot-within-a-stiletto Freja shoe from a couple seasons ago. I’d keep all the laces black but that’s just me.

Holy crap how does one even put on such a garment? One has help. Paid help. Okay, these are sort of atrocious and sort of amazing. I like her giant sunglasses and her stripes and her cornrows and her stance. That’s the thing about Willow  – she’s got a stance. Se looks like she’s having fun and her insane outfits are not wearing her, which is a triumph considering how little she is and how wild they are.

I love her hairdo so much. And I can’t stop loving how big her sunglasses look on her little head! As for the rest – Balmain Kids? She looks awesome.

Okay, I could keep showing you Willow photos all day but I’ve got a life, people. Let’s move on to my next inner child, Lourdes Ciccone.

Firstly, how much do I wish my name was Lourdes? That’s amazing. Also, she looks like Madonna, because Madonna is her mother. So basically she can just have her hair sort of tangled and wear a striped shirt with a bad neckline forever because she’s just fucking gorgeous.

Kudos to Madonna for letting her little girl rock a unibrow. It looks totally great on her – it actually looks styled, does it not? Like Brooke Shields in the 80s but bigger and better. Also, her eyelashes are ridiculous. And I would bet money that shiny, puffy winter coat is Moncler, because I am sort of obsessed with Moncler jackets and how shiny and puffy they are. No winter coat shines and puffs like a Moncler. Once I had a brief affair with a Norwegian and he said everyone in Norway wore Monclers, which made it seem like a winter wonderland of rich people in expensive puffy coats, which it probably is.

Hobo chic! Annie Hall meets Urban Outfitters.

Cute cute cute cute cute.

This is my favorite Lourdes look. Firstly, I love her studded Louboutin loafers so much. It makes me so happy when someone takes something super tired, like spikes, and then makes them deliriously cool again. Also, we should all be wearing paper headbands with a big star on them. I mean, it looks like paper, right? I’m going to make one.

Okay, we’ll wrap this up with some images of fashionable four-year-old Shiloh Jolie-Pitt.

Stripes and white pants. A classic for every age.

In Ralph Lauren and unlaced combat boots.

The tiniest pea coat! If Shiloh keeps sticking to the Butch Basics, she’ll always look solid.

In closing, I believe the children are the future. Dress them well, and let them lead the way.



About Michelle Tea

I chanted "I am a fashion magnet" in the shower and subsequently found a Gianni Versace - era Versace skirt at Buffalo Exchange for $17. Once I got a beyond-my-means Fendi purse for free and sat staring at it, crying. Also cried at Olivier Theyskens' last show for Nina Ricci in Paris. Other things that make me cry: a good lip synch; my emotions. I have stolen two Jeremy Scott swag items from two Jeremy Scott events I was not quite invited to. Sometimes I want to age into Patti Smith, sometimes Baby Jane Hudson. I frequently dream I am in a magic thrift store where I can have whatever I want. I regret not buying the Alexander Wang purse when it was half price at Barney's. Like a delusional guy at a strip club, I feel special when the people who work at Barney's remember me. Having a Leo rising gives me big hair and a need for attention. My favorite designers right now are Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor Rolf, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Helmut Lang and Surface to Air. I was once shamed by an employee of a high-end department store for pronouncing 'Rodarte' incorrectly.


  1. michaelvonbraithwaite

    If it were possible for a blog post to also be a “hero,” this post would be my hero. Additionally, that Mother of London piece made me salivate.

  2. carrieleilamlove

    Willow Smith is SUCH a big deal. If there had been a Willow Smith when I was in grade school, I think I would have felt much better about myself. I love that even though she’s super duper stylized she is not sexualized… hooray for her and hooray for this post!!

  3. Michelle, I’m really glad you have an outlet for this.
    Where would all these genius thoughts and obsessions live if not for this blog?
    Keep rocking the baby photos, my friend!

  4. btw-
    what’s up with the baby wearing a pink triangle jacket in the video for Whip My Hair?
    That’s my kid!

  5. you may need a straw hat like Lourde’s as well…
    love the post and pics!

  6. Pingback: Let Icons be Bygones « Ironing Board Collective

  7. Zsa

    I just wish Shiloh looked like a girl and wasn’t lost in the Pitt shuffle.

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