Situation #9 – The ambiguous costume.

28 05 2008


The situation: Is your friend on her way to an 80s party after work, or does she just have a thing for neon pink leggings? Is your coworker being ironic, or is wearing a picture of her cats on a t-shirt a way of expressing genuine love? Did someone forget to notify you about Mullet Appreciation Day? Does that guy actually work for Steve’s Hardware or is this another Value Village “find”? The question of costume or bad taste is a socially awkward minefield; even the perpetually poised fall victim.

The solution: NEVER, let us repeat, NEVER greet an ambiguous costume wearer with “Great costume!” Even we can’t get you out of that mess, so consider yourself warned.

If you somehow fail to heed this advice, then you can expect the same degree of scorn usually reserved for those clumsy enough to ask an ambiguously pregnant woman when she’s expecting. It’s one of those things you just don’t do. Seriously. We hope know a thing or two about computers, because Bill Gates may be your only hope for friendship now.

To be ever more cautious, it’s best not to comment on other people’s clothing in general, unless explicitly asked. If you are not about to present them with a “FIVE THOUSAND DOLLAR Bank of America card with YOUR NAME on it!!!” then keep your criticisms to yourself and don’t take social cues from people who perform “fashion interventions” for a living and think that shoes and pants are singular.

But we digress. Your other option is to cultivate a monotonous pattern of speech so that no one will ever know if you are being sarcastic or genuine.

You (flatly): “Nice hat.”

Co-worker: “Are you being sarcastic?”

Now, pay close attention: If your co-worker sounds offended, then she is wearing the hat in earnest; If she sounds hopeful, it’s probably ironic. Mock away! Still, proceed with caution. If you guess wrong, you’re on your own.

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2 responses

29 05 2008
Ruthann

Hey Journal of Social Awkwardness!

A friend of mine has a fun game (related to ambiguous costumes) that can be played on virtually any university campus. The game is called “Hobo or Prof?” (which is exactly what it sounds like). Try it sometime.

30 05 2008
journal of social awkwardness

I can’t wait to try it! I can imagine it being challenging.

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