Clothes Lines: Anything you can do, I can do better


Alissa Zhu/ The Daily Northwestern

Rohan Nadkarni and Chelsea Peng square off over skinny jeans, crop tops and pajamas in public.

Chelsea Peng and Rohan Nadkarni

Next to Chanel and Schiaparelli and Simons and Slimane in the annals of famous fashion face-offs, you can now add Peng and Nadkarni. For this week’s style column, the unapologetically dapper Rohan Nadkarni and I go tete-a-tete — three trends in three rounds. With no time-outs and no holds barred, may the most stylish woman (or man) win.


My girl Chelsea held it down for a while (I now show skin during the winter to burn calories and avoid a blocky shape), but when The Current asked me to do a style column, I knew my time had come. Although I admittedly needed to grow out of a basketball-shorts-and-Champs-Sports-polos phase that dominated my sophomore year of high school, I’ve since graduated to the layered-up, rugged man you see in sports column headshots today. Let’s do this.

Skinny jeans

Rohan Nadkarni: Guys wearing skinny jeans is an epidemic. After being a little niche thing for a few years, now nearly everyone thinks it’s cool to rock a pair. But this is something guys need to remove from their arsenal immediately. Leave a little to the imagination. I don’t want to see an outline of the goodies. In fact, I really don’t think anyone does. Unless you’re Enrique Iglesias – in which case, yeah, we’re all a little curious – throw on some normal jeans. And as a full-figured male model, I don’t want to hear skinny jeans are the only ones that fit. You should feel free to grab a second plate of Plex pasta now and then.

Chelsea Peng: You don’t have to be exceptionally slender to wear skinny jeans. And you don’t have to feel anxious about overexposure. The humble fitted cotton-twill trouser comes in so many iterations (foiled, wax-coated, brocade, floral, tuxedo-striped) you might not recognize it as denim anymore, but there’s still a discernible scale for tightness, ranging from sprayed-on to barely skimming the leg. So you decide to conceal or show off your shape, or even to sculpt an improved silhouette with strategic paneling.

For girls, skinny jeans are rightfully ubiquitous: Unlike a slouchy boyfriend or wide-legged cut, you don’t have to consider the shoe so much, and slim-fit jeans have become so accessible, it’s no longer Ksubi or nothing for flattering slim-fit pants. Cheap Monday, Uniqlo (which recently launched e-commerce) and even Forever 21 have totally serviceable and better-than-throwaway denim.

Crop tops

RN: Ladies and the crop tops, I’m not exactly sure what you’re going for here. I think we can agree the point of clothing is to cover everything up, instead of regressing to an Ancient Greece-style society where everyone walked around naked and you never had to ask “how’s it hanging?” because you could see for yourself. Maybe I’m on the conservative end of the spectrum here, but I’m not really a fan of girls showing skin like that.

Also, the crop top thing will eventually turn into some kind of symbolic equality movement, a ton of pregnant women will wear them in belief that anyone can pull off the style, and then we’ll all be stuck next to half-exposed pregnant women on the El.

CP: This is not what you see Miley Cyrus wearing with low-slung yoga pants in post-workout paparazzi shots (though it’s a wonder what a little peroxide and Pilates can do for a girl). Crop tops have exited the gym in another way, and from Marchesa to Marc Jacobs, designers have reimagined the bare midriff in sari-inspired evening ensembles, or as daringly abbreviated Mickey Mouse sweatshirts, among many variations.

Although crop tops, especially those on the catwalk, are certainly less user-friendly than other shirt options if you lack the toned upper abs or confidence to bare your torso, they can look positively ladylike when paired with a navel-covering, sliver of skin-showing, high-waisted skirt. Nothing’s wrong with keeping it taut and tasteful.

Pajamas in public

RN: Formal pajamas? Is that even a thing, or is it another joke Sherman Ave. played on an unsuspecting university? Honestly, who actually believed that wearing pajamas to actual, real-life events was okay? I didn’t even know people used pajamas anymore. Also, we all know that it’s only a matter of time before someone takes this formal pajama thing and makes it really slutty. Like, “Oh hey, look at me, I’m wearing my formal lingerie to this funeral.”

Unless you’re Kanye West and you just got off the private jet after your last party shut down Privet, you have no reason to walk outside your house looking like that. Maybe if you satisfy two of the Kanye requirements. Otherwise, suck it up like the rest of us and throw on jeans and a t-shirt.

CP: Care to pit Kanye against Ryan Gosling in Salvatore Ferragamo PJs? If that’s not enough to persuade you to try sleepwear (or co-ords in Brit speak) for daytime, see Caroline de Maigret in the latest Madewell campaign, all stringy-soft French-girl bangs, in foulard-print silk pajama bottoms, fur vest and velvet smoking slippers. Or think about it this way: There’s something supremely indulgent about spending 24 hours in the same outfit. Wake up, go out and at the end of the day, you’re already set for bed. Whether thoughts of Kanye or Ryan Gosling occupy your slumber, sleepwear as street wear is the comfiest and easiest way to stay dreaming when you’re awake.