Something I cannot fathom, but I presume is indicative of an imminent apocalypse, is the sudden craving for all things ratchet. Take Miley Cyrus. Twerking has existed long before she started doing it, but it’s never been a classy dance. Frequently sticking one’s tongue out as far as possible goes beyond looking “provocative” to “demented”. So I’m baffled by the desire to behave without dignity, in the name of “youth” or “frivolity”. That’s ratchet.
A Google search has alerted me to the fact that there is a brand called Ratchet Clothing, whose tagline is “Being ratchet never looked so good!!” I am unconvinced, especially when they sell pieces such as this onesie:
Trying to be deliberately ratchet is confounding. But there’s plenty of fashion that achieves this state of lack of grace quite naturally. Working in a university, being exposed to students’ fledgling use of fashion as self-expression is a continued delight. For example, just this week a young white male walked past me wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “I LOVE IT WHEN YOU CALL ME BIG POPPA”. That’s ratchet.
It would appear that ratchetness is rooted in urban culture and streetwear, but there’s something a little disconcerting about people (famous and non-famous alike) taking deplorable behaviour such as dancing en masse in a cemetery –
– and licking one’s partner at a party
; behaviours that would previously have been described as “ghetto”, and trying to wear it as “fun”.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. I am reading the new issue of GQ Style, and Pharrell is on the cover. He’s not ratchet.
I prefer to stick with Pharrell as my example of how to avoid ratchetness, because unlike Kanye West and Jay-Z, who have refined their look with their fame to become very sleek and formal (lots of suits, long coats and furs), he still keeps it casual and nonchalant.
I think that one of the main challenges of fashion is general is striking that fine balance of putting in the right amount of effort to an outfit – avoiding having looked like you really couldn’t care less, and yet having looked like you’ve tried too hard. Personally, I feel that I occasionally veer towards the latter, but I hope that as I get older, I’m getting things just right more often. “Original ratchet” arose from genuine crassness and tackiness; “New ratchet” is a bizarre double-sin of trying really hard to look really cheap – striking both undesirable extremes at once and purposely avoiding a positive fashion outcome. It’s provocative but ultimately, once it’s been done, we should move on. After all, good is better than bad. Repeating oneself ad nauseam is ratchet.