24 July 2007

Foodie Fashion: Lessons from Top Chef

Remember last season of "Top Chef," where Padma Lakshmi's stunning good looks were often overshadowed by her blindingly tacky and inappropriate outfits? From Victoria's Secret clearance-bin satin camisoles to booty shorts and undershirts, Padma had it (un)covered. Christ, it was bad. I wondered if being a fashion model had rendered her incapable of choosing clothes when left to her own devices, or if she was the victim of a particularly vengeful Bravo wardrobe mistress.

Padma's only foolproof outfit?

Whatever the answer, the problem has been very nicely remedied this season (thank god--I couldn't enjoy the cooking and drama as much when Padma's ensemble was making me shield my eyes and whimper). Either Padma or the wardrobe lady has stopped drinking to excess, and has instead come out this season with some flattering, fashionable and even subtle (!) getups for ole P-Lak. Nore more shiny ruffled cleaveage-baring rags! No more workoutwear! Instead, neat little tailored tops and pencil skirts...lovely dresses...and even a hip little pair of skinny taupe jeans with buttons at the ankle, worn with a loose white tank and navy men's vest. This may be my favorite (it's also bascially what I wear every other day, though surely plus a few hundred dollars retail value). Huzzah! My "Top Chef" viewing companions can now watch in peace, instead of listening to my shrieking about clothing the whole time.

Well...I still shriek a little. Have you SEEN what those contestants wear under their chef's whites?!? Casey (the Jennifer Aniston lookalike) generally looks like an American Eagle Outfitters ad, which, compared to her colleagues, practically makes her Kate Moss. Last episode Lia, I believe, was called in because of her poor-quality dish--and no one mentioned the unspeakable quality of the sarong/pants/tie-dyed monstrosity she was passing off as pants below her white jacket. The appetite this show generates in me was GONE as soon as I saw those...things. EW. And let's not forget the questionable tee shirts worn by many a male chef on past and present seasons. The worst offender may have been Sam, who had that horrible shirt that he wore like evvvvvery day that said something really lame on it...okay, I don't remember, but it was really bad and he thought it was badass. I could go on and on, but the point is that chefs do not seem to get enough hours outside of the kitchen to see what real people actually wear. Hint: NOT SARONG PANTS.

So we now have as this a given: The only chef types who can dress genuinely stylishly that I know of are Padma (now) and the lovely .:tt:., who causes much envy on my part with her flawless collection of Blahnik, Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, et. al. Based on that data, our deep and meaninful conclusion for today is: Chefs can't dress, unless they started their careers as international fashion models. Can't, uh, bake your cake and wear it too.

> r r <

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