Staying fashion forward without falling over the edge

Fashion often makes a lot of people uncomfortable by definition. The words “fashion” or “fashionista” might conjure thoughts of an intimidating and always impeccably dressed woman who can pull off any trend imaginable—like a character out of “The Devil Wears Prada.”

It isn’t all that scary, I promise, and for a lot of people, clothes are worn because they have to be, not because they are trying to be anything. Whether you wear the trending items or not, they are meant to convey a message.

These messages come from beyond the basic surface of on a T-shirt; in fact, the way items are worn and even  the materials that went into making a fashion piece speak volumes about what that piece intends to say.

Extremely edgy trends are meant to push against some sort of barrier or limit, and sometimes only a handful of people try them. Remember pop songstress Aaliyah of the late 90s and her famous look sporting Tommy Hilfiger everything, specifically the exposed boxers with sagging jeans?

Whether you like this look or not, it’s slowly making a comeback.

More specifically, you probably won’t see the average person wearing it the way that people wear trends like ombre hair, because it really isn’t for the shy fashionista. Exposed boxers, usually showcasing a major underwear designer brand name, with sagging jeans paired with a crop top is the main look for this trend, and it will most likely inspire weird looks if worn by the average person who isn’t walking the red carpet.

The trend is edgy enough on celebrities to get people talking.  Maybe it wasn’t the popstar’s intention to initiate a “gender bending” trend, but it is a not-so-subtle crack at gendered fashion looks.

This is just one example of how fashion is also pretty good at blurring the lines between masculine and feminine style, at least for women. Guys still get funny looks for wearing skirts (and probably even kilts) but it’s completely acceptable for girls to wear skirts, shorts or pants without breaking any unspoken “rule.”

Sometimes, though, fashion trends and the messages they send cross the line from gossip-worthy into obscenity. You can distinguish edgy fashion by examining if  it makes someone uncomfortable and whether it promotes progressive ideas. However, sometimes fashion goes over the edge—beyond edgy, in fact.

See, when fashion makes light of something tragic,—the way that the distasteful Urban Outfitters Kent State University sweater did, for example—it isn’t edgy so much as it is crass.

The sweatshirt that appeared as if blood had been spattered over it, exhibiting “Kent State” across the chest, was indicative of the shooting that occurred on May 4, 1970.

In this case, there isn’t really a message being conveyed or a theme being explored; the shirt is just exploiting a violent and tragic moment in our history.

Essentially, the point I want make about “edgy” fashion is this: there’s a fine but very real line between what constitutes provocative fashion and what never should have been designed in the first place.

If you consider Urban Outfitters’s track record with regard to scandalous fashion, then it’s clear that this probably won’t be their  last scandalous piece. However, the most part, I actually really like this store and this major mishap isn’t going to stop me, and thousands of others, from shopping there.

That said, I encourage any consumer of clothing to be more conscious of what you are purchasing for the sake of promoting or avoiding what you wish to portray.