I Dressed as Ariana Grande for a Week

Fashion


All hail Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman, Non-Crier of Tears, Sexy Pinkie Finger, BDE Magnet. This year, she has been able to do no wrong. Song of the summer? Check. Drive-thru engagement to a devoted Slim Jim? Done and dusted. New album? Coming soon. If you care at all about celebrities, Ariana’s likely been in your feed, lovingly holding Pete Davidson’s hand and lampshading.

Lampshading? Qué? If you have never heard of it and were still confused after googling because you are an Old (no? just me?), it’s a real Thing. According to ELLE.com’s resident hypebeast Chloe Hall, the term refers to a look made up of one blousy all-enveloping top element (like a sweatshirt that’s three sizes too big or a jacket that is also three sizes too big) and skintight thigh-high boots. The top is the shade, and your li’l legs are the lampstand. Voilà!

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It’s not a new concept, as ELLE’s deputy editor Katie Connor reminds me: “Back in my day we just called it Donald Ducking—shirt, no pants.” In the same vein, before Ariana, there was Winnie the Pooh. But Ariana is 2018’s billowy fashion bellwether, so that’s what we’re going to call it.

She’s basically the patron saint of lampshading. Every day she’s on the street in thigh-high boots and a giant hoodie. But why is she so fond of the look? Isn’t she hot? Like so freaking hot? Is there some secret benefit to dressing like ornamental lighting? Could I, too, love lamp(shading)? I tried it for a week to see.

1. Lampshading is hot—like, sexual hot.

You know when you were a kid and saw thigh-high boots for the first time, and some older kid casually called them “fuck-me boots”? And you were like, “Blessings, now I finally understand sex”? Well, that 15-year-old was right. If your boot ends below the knee, you’ve got family-friendly footwear, friend—take those babies to the United Nations! But if your boot creeps o’er that cairn of cartilage? What might seem like minimal leather acreage is basically a neon sign that reads, “Yes, I am aware of and more-than-averagely interested in boning!”

How do I know? On my first day of lampshading—in crazy-buttery Le Silla grey suede boots and a snuggly yellow Cloney hoodie—my esteemed colleagues immediately let me know how NSFW I suddenly look. Our market editor Justine Carreon starts laughing (and filming). “Sure, just pretend this is appropriate for the office,” she says. “That’s fine.” But that’s the whole idea, isn’t it? Ariana often opts for a huge BAPE tee or flannel shirt that could have been plucked off Pete Davidson’s floor before a Starbucks run. There’s something “Ride dick bicycle” about that for sure.

It probably doesn’t help that the Le Silla boots have a 5-inch stiletto heel (which is actually surprisingly comfortable). Hearst Digital Media’s Brooke Siegel says, “At first I thought, Oh, that’s a choice…” [trails off alarmingly, possibly for eternity] “…but then I realized what it was for, and I was so excited!” But probably the worst moment is when Marie Claire’s Digital Director Sally Holmes whispers, eyes wide as a fawn’s, “Are you wearing anything underneath? Has anyone seen your butt yet?”

Filled with fear that I will flash at least 11 unfortunate passers-by, I tiptoe out on to the street. However, the only time I am catcalled, a guy shouts, “My friend is single,” which is actually…surprisingly respectful? IDK.

2. Lampshading also feels hot, like global warming.

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In the Victorian era, a case of the vapors meant any unexplained hysteria. In contemporary New York summertime, it refers to a constant humid breath of dirty air that makes you want to die. Unfortunately for my hydration levels, the week I’ve chosen to Ariana up my life boasts 85-degree-plus daily temps. This means that my second-day lampshading outfit, a black Cloney hoodie and Stuart Weitzman Lowland boots, feel like nothing so much as a greenhouse creating a climate of permasweat.

Everyone around me is sweating, but I am really juiced up. I start to get Instagram ads about hyperhidrosis. My acupuncturist has to wipe me down before treatment. Oh, also: Lampshading also makes for great attire if you want to look hot for a rendezvous. Like, I’m melting hot. Even the 6-minute walk from the subway stop to meet a dude after work prompts perspiration to dribble down my face. Ariana style is not recommended for dates, unless you have decent-to-excellent interpersonal skills.

3. Lampshading is probably only for very, very short people.

I’m 5’1”. Ariana Grande is 5’0”. Who would have thought that one inch would make such a difference? But OH BOY does it. Any style of OTK boot pretty much comes in just one shaft height, meaning that the taller you are, the less coverage you’ll get above the knee. But as discussed earlier, leg real estate is inherently sensual: Every additional sliver feels like another step towards an HR violation.

Similarly, any tiny inadequacy in shirt length translates to skimpiness of an epic magnitude, like when I throw on an Urban Outfitters shirt honoring the iconic Sade. It’s a size medium—for proper coverage, I should really have picked a larger size. Sally’s words are haunting me. I like my butt, but I do not want anyone to see it. It might be cheating, but I wear bike shorts all day, which is fine because athleisure.

4. Lampshading takes a lot of guesswork out of getting dressed.

Every decision is an opportunity to make a mistake. Thus, an aesthetic comprising only two elements—shirt, boots—minimizes the likelihood of errors. But I have an itch to accessorize; that’s what Ariana would do! I kind of want to get a tie-dye mask from Ariana’s website but it won’t be available until her album comes out on August 17. So I just order one from Amazon with a bear face on it. Aw! Claire’s very kindly send me some cat ear headbands—can’t be Ariana without ‘em.

And, of course, I must acquire a Blow Pop so I can recreate probably the most widely disseminated image of a woman who hears Rihanna’s “Sex With Me” in her head every time she gazes at her mans: that photo of Ari eyeballing Pete Davidson, lollipop in hand/mouth. Sweetener, BABY.

Splash NewsKathryn Wirsing

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But the pièce de résistance? You can’t try to be Ariana Grande without a lavish high ponytail. Senior beauty editor Kristina Rodulfo hooks me up with Hidden Crown, who send me two sets of their longest clip-in hair extensions: 22 inches. That’s almost two Subway footlongs worth of human hair! Life is beautiful.

This ponytail is no joke. Kristina expertly clips and ties up my new tresses, which are, frankly, much nicer than my actual hair. First, mousse, to give my hair some grip, then she flips my head upside down so the extensions blend in with my real hair. Gotta admit, I’ve often squinted at Ari’s perfect fountain of keratin and wondered how she lives her life, but it’s truly not that bad. I don’t get a headache or anything, and I feel exquisite, like a $5000 jacket in Bergdorf’s that nobody is allowed to touch.

As Ariana says, “Take this pleasure, and take it with the pain.” I now truly know what she means: Being able to throw on two items of clothing and have it be “a look” is both a boon and a bummer. Yes, it’s grab and go. But if you’re not careful, you can also blunder abominably. Today, I’ve picked out a long Reebok jacket. It’s extremely Ariana and I love it, but in size XL it’s a little too long for lampshading purposes; my legs are totally covered. You’d think that was a good thing, after all this uncomfortable leg-baring, but no—it makes my ‘fit look messy.

Reebok Classics Vector Tracktop, $75; Le Silla Eva Stretch Boot, $1,116; lesilla.com, Wheels Up Visor, $18; wheelsup.com

Splash NewsKathryn Wirsing

I’m relieved because it’s not as heavy and hot as the sweatshirts, but honestly I look like I’m about to direct you into overflow parking. You live, you learn: That inch of leg is non-negotiable. Later I have to attend an event populated only by fashion people. Hanya Yanagihara is there, and I look like a discarded umbrella. “Usually you look great,” says my friend Alex doubtfully, “but this….well, if it’s for a thing, then that’s…fine.” Very reassuring! Plus, I’m sweating again, and this shit is not absorbent. Is this hell? Maybe.

6. If you are famous, you can wear whatever the f**k you want.

Inappropriateness for my daily profession aside, I’m starting to find lampshading fairly amazing. Thigh-high boots are the sartorial equivalent of power posing; I feel immediately dope as soon as I put them on every morning.

The one question I really have is that, with these soaring temps, how is my clothing twin Ariana managing to stay in her ‘shade? The answer isn’t complicated: She is a rich and famous celebrity who goes from air-conditioned hotel to air-conditioned car to the Whole Foods sometimes. And while I am blessedly ensconced in a temperature-controlled office all day, it eventually spits me out into the wet air cloak of NYC summer and then into the What Did I Do To Deserve This inferno of the subway.

The proper way to do this would be to be a gajillionaire and have people carry you around all day, like my girl Ari.

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7. To ‘shade or not to ‘shade?

It might seem simple, but lampshading is not a beginner look. To live the lampshade life, one must be ready to weather constant ridicule, accidentally show people one’s ass, sweat like a picnic salami, and think about how rich you aren’t. But is there any other way of dressing oneself that so simply says

    as perfectly as lampshading? Not that I know of. Ari was right: The light lampshade is coming, to give back everything the darkness stole.



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