the nineties are back

Some People in This Town Are Trying Really Hard to Look Like Elaine Benes

A certain sect of the city’s most fashion-conscious women, those who try the hardest to look the trendiest with either spectacular success or laughable failure, look like Elaine from Seinfeld, according to the Times. You know the girls, who wear floral prairie dresses with Peter Pan collars under denim vests with white ankle socks and lace-up shoes. Or maybe they do blazers with pillowy shoulders and flowing, below-the-knee skirts. Essentially, these are the chicks who try to copy Chloë Sevigny. Anne Slowey from Elle explains:

“You see someone like Chloë Sevigny wearing it, and you’re like, ‘Oh wait, I want to do that, too.’ The Chloë Sevigny version is shorter and cuter. It’s a flirtier, cleaned-up version, but it is derivative. Who would ever think Elaine from ‘Seinfeld’ would be a style icon?”

The Times believes that this trend thrives in environments like the Jane Hotel, a sanctuary of impossibly trendy covered bosoms in a sea of flesh puckering out of faux Hervé Léger, and some of the world’s scariest sandals that have horizontal straps laddered all the way up to the knee (why?). Sevigny remains disconnected from the comparison, perhaps in an effort to preserve her originality.

Ms. Sevigny does not own a television and is not overly familiar with the show. “I remember her hair with the poof at the front,” she said, “but I don’t think too many girls are doing that.” But she has noticed the return of the floral skirt. “The girls are doing it on the street,” she said, “but it’s not ankle length. It’s more midcalf.”

The great thing about this revival, as ridiculous as it sounds (and looks, in person), is that it represents the shift away from the era of slutdom that has plagued young women for too, too many years.

Most of the Jane habitués are too young to realize whom they are referencing. One theory was offered by the fashion stylist Mel Ottenberg. “The look doesn’t come from outer space,” he said. “Girls who were obsessed with micro-minis are now so anti-that, and they’re embarrassed at what they were wearing two years ago. This is a more covered-up look and looking like you have a brain. Elaine had a job. She worked at J. Peterman. She was a go-getter.”

Meanwhile, Julia Louis-Dreyfus seems a little embarrassed at what she wore on the show twenty years ago, some pieces of which were her own. “I’m glad I don’t dress like that anymore,” she told the Times. But the ironic thing about this trend coming back is that Elaine wasn’t overly concerned with fashion. “It wasn’t about trying to look sexy. It was about looking like a girl who pushes people around,” Louis-Dreyfus explains. Meanwhile, the current proprietors of the trend are so concerned with being original and “with it” that they’re wearing Peter Pan collars with fringed denim and prairie skirts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it defeats the purpose of the Elaine look, which said that a woman’s brain power should be spent on work and being a conniving human being. Not desperately trying to looking like an 1800s prairie girl who traveled to 2010 on a motorcycle-cum-time machine.

The New Adventures of Old Elaine [NYT]

Some People in This Town Are Trying Really Hard to Look Like Elaine Benes