With Hollywood starlets wearing next to nothing on the red carpet and the Internet and cell phones redefining what it means to flirt, girls are faced with a slew of confusing questions: When is a skirt too short? Are tattoos trashy or terrific? Should I spread that rumor about my rival online? In “Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady,” author Derek Blasberg gives hilarious, blunt direction about how young women can be ladies and not tramps. In this excerpt, Blasberg dishes out fashion advice.
LADY VS. TRAMP: IN FASHION
Is your mini too short? Your shirt too low-cut? And other important questions answered
Let’s get one thing straight right now: An exposed thong is not sexy. Neither is an exposed nipple. Or exposed pubic hair. Hell, barring a few exceptions (we’ll give it to you, Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker), even an exposed bra strap can take a girl from sexy territory into slutty-land. (For the record, a lady never shows her bra strap. Madonna may be fierce, but she is not a lady.)
Keep in mind that overexposed body parts aren’t the only thing that differentiate sexy and slutty: Makeup, body language, and general attitude can also give off the wrong idea. Super red lips and loads of eye makeup are more lady of the night than ladylike; lifting up your skirt for pictures, or constantly making an orgasm face when gentlemen make eye contact, is plain unnecessary.
Not that anyone can be blamed for the error — in modern times, the distinction between sexy and slutty is often tricky territory. After all, the desire to be sensual is no doubt the reason that preteen girls are showing up to recess in miniskirts and tube tops.
Wanting to feel sexy? Okay, I get that. Dressing up and acting like a teenage truck stop prostitute, however, is a different issue. Sure, a young girl may confuse classy and trashy, but certain things so clearly fall on the skanky side of the line.
For example, when teen starlets began going out wearing short skirts without underwear and climbing out of their Mercedes convertibles like a bunch of basketball players at halftime, driving the blogs into a frenzy with their uncensored photos, surely they did it to feel sexy. But it backfired: Instead of applauding their adolescent sensuality, the entire world thought they were sluts with poor hygiene. (Except in your case, Britney Spears; you were going through a real rough patch. But you’ve gotten over it, now. Bless. Love you.)
Same thing with skirt length. While the fashion industry may dictate different lengths for different seasons — sometimes above the knee, sometimes down to the ankle—there will never be a time when a woman’s reproductive organ should be exposed to the elements. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here when I say that Vogue will never have a story claiming that this season’s hottest accessory is an exposed crotch. “Your Baby Maker: Spring’s Big Reveal” just won’t sell copies.
How to look sexy, not sluttyIt might seem old and archaic. It might seem like something your mother might tell you or something that you’d read in a '50s prom brochure, but there’s nothing wrong with generating some mystery and keeping covered. Flashing skin and showing bum aren’t the only things you can do to draw attention to yourself: Wear bright colors, or wear a bra with enough support to create cleavage. (But if you’re wearing a revealing top, make sure your bottom half is covered.) There’s a fine line between looking sexy and slutty, and you want to err on the side that doesn’t also include dominatrices and strippers.
You might be thinking: Why? Why, in these modern times, would I need to be at all prim or ladylike? (Chances are, however, if you’re reading this book right now — as opposed to, say, having an entire fraternity suck tequila out of your belly button — you already know the answer to this.) But let’s attend to the query: Sluts hardly ever win. Sure, occasionally the girl who constantly flaunts her goodies parlays such exposure into success (Hi, Paris Hilton!), but overall it’s not a good idea. I have met models and actresses who have lost endorsement deals because they insist on showing up at clubs with their butt cracks out, or because they catch the eye of the wrong type of man while rocking an outfit that screams: “My daddy didn’t love me, so I’ll make up for that now by showing every man in the room my nipple piercing.”
If the hottest girl in the world loses a million-dollar cosmetics contract because she wears a crop top to a nightclub, don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, you could lose the affection of Johnny Quarterback if he knows you’re willing to show the entire team your footballs?
A smoky eye, tousled hair, tight tops, short skirts with tights — there are a million ways to look sexy without looking like you’ve been rode hard and put away wet. Perhaps you have a great pair of legs — wear a slightly more conservative top and go ahead and bare those gams. Maybe you have a beautiful, slender neck, or perfect pale arms, or a beautiful collarbone. I’ve always thought the back is one of the sexiest parts of a woman’s body. In fact, to this day, when a Cate Blanchett (at her first Golden Globes) or a Gwyneth Paltrow (see: the pink Ralph Lauren dress she wore when she won the Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love”) works an open-backed dress, she finds herself in both best-dressed lists and men’s fantasies. The point is, the sexy parts of the body aren’t necessarily the parts of the body that are used during the act of having sex.
Remember: Cultivating some mystery is still one of the greatest weapons of mass seduction there is. The other one is confidence. I don’t want to get too Oprah on you here, but it’s true that how you carry yourself is often more important than what you wear. You might have the sexiest outfit on, but if you hold yourself like a timid granny at a rock concert, you won’t look nearly as hot as the confident girl in the turtleneck.
Excerpted with permission from “Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady” by Derek Blasberg (Razorbill, 2010).