Thread Count: To critique, or not to critique?

“Oh my God, is she really wearing that?” I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes let this comment pass my lips. Tactless, yes. But after being an avid fashion follower since the sixth grade, the style slip-ups of others have become more of a pet peeve than anything. But this particular brand of criticism – however well deserved it may be – deserves a second look. When is it okay? And for that matter, when is it not okay? (Yes, both situations exist.)

Sometimes it seems like a good idea to emulate what you just saw on the pages of Vogue. It isn’t until later that we realize what might work on the red carpet for Lady Gaga won’t exactly work in the hallway at school. We’ve all had those days where our clothes make us feel like an elephant in the room (albeit a well-dressed one). However, does it reserve the right to be criticized? The answer is no. He or she who experiments with a trendy look should be applauded! In our collegiate world of jeans and hoodies, we are in dire need of diversity. Your young adult years are the perfect time to be fearless with fashion! So go ahead and take a page from the book of Gaga.

Even if you have to endure the snickers of others, just remind yourself that they aren’t nearly as stylish as you are. I mean, they probably can’t even pronounce “Versace.”

As one Gretchen Wieners once said, “You wouldn’t buy a skirt without asking your friends first if it looks good on you.” Gretchen Wieners had a point. Friends are good for many things, shopping being one of them. Recently, I had a friend tell me I was a perfect shopping partner because I was always honest with her. And so we should be! We have to let go of the idea that fashion criticism is a personal attack. It’s not. If my best friend walks out of the fitting room at H&M wearing an unflattering pair of pants, you bet that I’ll tell her! And I would expect her to do the same for me. In this case, criticism gets the green light. It’s caring, not catty – and you’ll be helping your bestie avoid a major fashion fallout.

Finally, there is the passive-aggressive critic. The one hiding behind their iPhone, sending out snarky tweets about every style misstep they see. If you’re guilty of posting quips like “LOL @ the girl in pink jeans! #uglyclothes,” then you probably need to re-evaluate your life. What’s my advice for you? Cease and desist. It’s unprofessional, uncouth, and accomplishes nothing. Remember, it’s a small school. Sooner or later, the girl in the pink jeans will probably find your Twitter feed. And when she does, she won’t be thinking too highly of you. Plus, she’ll probably wonder why you didn’t just tell her in person.

The fact is that we are a social species, and in the age of social media, everyone’s a critic. We all have the right to criticize. But like most things in life, there is a time and a place. Here’s what we need to ask ourselves: are we passing judgement just because we don’t like it? Or, does our criticism serve a purpose?

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