I love fashion. I've had fashion clients for years. And yet every so often I find myself banging my head on my desk over some bizarre bit of language wielded by an overreaching fashion copywriter. Last week it was the "Barren" skirt from Diane von Furstenberg. This week: two headdesk moments from the new J. Crew catalog. Naturally, the website is in the accursed Flash* so I can't show you photos here. You'll have to use the links, or your imagination.
Exhibit A: The Curator pant, "a work of genius [sic!] in matte jersey with an incredibly flattering [sic!] (and so chic [sic!] right now) slouchy fit that deftly [sic!] tapers to a skinny fit at the ankle." Let me be plain: That crotch is drifting dangerously southward, suggesting that the eponymous curator is wearing jumbo Depends. Even J. Crew Aficionada, usually an unabashed partisan, wrings her hands:
Call them "curator pants" all you want, but those are harem pants. No one can rock these. No one. And to call them a "work of genius" makes me really question you sometimes J.Crew. Seriously, you can do better.
Now, we know that curate is a trendy word right now. We are all curators in the fabulous galleries of our lives, are we not? But this particular appropriation is just inartful.
(I know someone is going to point out that it should be pants, not pant. Well, obviously Someone isn't fluent in Retailese. What we have here is the Fashion Singular, a grammatical number familiar to readers of Vogue and watchers of What Not to Wear. Sample sentences: "We love a platform shoe!" "Yes, you can wear the new romper!" "The sequined short: Hot or not?")
Exhibit B: The Suckered Gingham Shirt. Now, you may assume that the name was taken from the customer's suspicion that she's being duped into paying $69.50 for an item of clothing that looks like it's spent the last month balled up in the back of a drawer. But what J. Crew has in mind is an oh-so-chic (and oh-so-wrong) verbification-truncation of seersucker, which is a noun borrowed from Hindi sīrsakar (which in turn was borrowed from Persian shīroshakar). The word literally means "milk and sugar," and it refers to the bumpy texture of the cloth. There is no process called suckering. I could have tolerated "puckered"—which is, in fact, the descriptor used in the copy. But I will not be suckered into suckered.
* That link goes to a post about the use of the accursed Flash by restaurants, but it holds for fashion sites as well—indeed, for almost all websites.