one step closer to the end of civilization as some of us know it

I usually wear black jeans. I once noticed a woman walking up Madison Avenue in the spring, when the flowers and the stores are open, and she was wearing straight black jeans, a pale blue oxford shirt, and a navy blazer. Big sunglasses, medium brown boots, natural leather shoulder bag. I immediately aspired to that look, and while I haven't yet achieved her casual elegance, I have the black jeans and the oxford shirt, and some candidates for the navy blazer visit from time to time. Formal tryouts will be held again at the end of March.

Meanwhile, I've also been considering a variation on that look - black leather jacket, black crewneck tee, and faded medium blue jeans with a hardworking and dependable outlook on life, close-fitting, world-weary, but still in one piece. In a properly ordered world, this would not require a treasure hunt.

Several hundred try-ons later, I decided to get help with the project. In the course of seeking help, I learned a new and frightening non-word: DESTRUCTED.

It appears that DESTRUCTED is meant to be to jeans what DISTRESSED is to furniture. In the case of furniture, the poor tables and chairs are hit with hammers and beaten with chains in the factory, so that when they reach the showroom floor they look like they have a past, possibly even a more elegant and adventurous past than they will have in their future in your dining ell - and you pay for this.
In the case of jeans... "DESTROYED" denim has been around for a while. This is denim that is so distressed as to be on the verge of a meltdown. It has slash marks, threadbare spots, and at least one tear over the knee, and its color is uneven. This is not a great look for me. I have to wait for the Great Fashionista in the Sky to discover that jeans hug the thighs more becomingly when they are not falling apart, the jeans, that is.

While waiting, my thighs and I came across this new expression: DESTRUCTED. The past tense indicates that the writer thinks there is a verb - TO DESTRUCT. There is not. There is a noun, DESTRUCTION, and its corresponding verb is DESTROY. As noted, "destroyed" denim is nothing new.

There's also a noun CONSTRUCTION. Clever little noun, it has two meanings: the building or setting up of something, like a bomb shelter or a theory, in which case if you wanted to use an "action word" (a/k/a verb), you would use "CONSTRUCT." The other meaning of construction is "an interpretation," and if you wanted to use a related verb in your discussion of the construction of a literary passage, you would use "CONSTRUE." Unless, of course you were discussing the STRUCTURE of the literary passage in which case we'd be back at CONSTRUCT.

And to give the discussion a final fillip, we have a late starter, DECONSTRUCT (verb) and its noun form, DECONSTRUCTION. In literary criticism, deconstruction is what happens when an intellectual analyzes a writing or an event or a theory by picking it apart and separating it into individual parts and then discussing them, to no good end.

I've also had cooks tell me that what's been put before me is a deconstructed version of, say, onion tart, in which case I would see a little tangled heap of caramelized onions, a few tiny cheese puffs, and something crunchy and garlicky. Actually this makes a nice little appetizer, you can eat it in parts or make different combinations of the components (would this count as UN-DECONSTRUCTION?). What this means, in real life, is that someone in the kitchen is actually thinking about flavors and ingredients, which I think is a good thing.

RECONSTRUCTION means to rebuild, and can be a controversial subject of discussion  in many parts of the country.

So, anyway, if I said that I made a deconstructed version of Macaroni & Cheese for dinner last night, if you'd been to my house you would have been served with some nice cheese, say, St André, Camembert and Taleggio, and a sourdough baguette. Cheese and something made with flour.

What is NOT A VERB, or indeed is not even a WORD OF ANY KIND is DESTRUCT. It is at best pretentious illiterate usage, and I hope when we've finished the bread and cheese we can reflect upon how to stamp it out and prevent its recurrence.

Oh, and we don't need "wiseness" either.


  1. Next year it might be called ducted jeans so enjoy destructed while it lasts! Though I call that look what happens to my jeans after a fraction too much friction in the thigh area.

    1. Actually I thought I was the only ine who called it that...

  2. I don't even know where to start. No one above thirty should be wearing these...we called them shredded...jeans. I've already forgotten the new word. My husband would laugh if I brought something like this home. Give me dark and bootleg please.

    1. The first time I saw the new non-word, I thought that someone must have lost a fight with auto-correct.

      I think if someone looks great in very worn jeans, or a really salty leather jacket, or anything g worn and on the edge of, ahem, destruction - she looks great because of the way the things make her feel - something may be old but the fit is great, or you can't find the color any more... Not because of the rips and stains but because of the history and relationship. Which is why I find commercially paint-spattered jeans an abomination.

  3. I guess I have too quickly skimmed over the descriptions of all of the varieties of "worn" jeans. It is one thing that marketing strategies have convinced a woman my age that skinnies are the way to go, but entirely a different matter to suggest ripped jeans. They might as well be described as only for the young, thin and hip and thereby eliminate the necessity of inventing new words to convince everyone else to embrace this as the latest and greatest.

    1. If I had torn a hole in a pair of jeans while doing something adventurous and once-in-a-lifetime fun, I'd probably hand on to the jeans. But these silly slashes and openings - well, at least the suffering sweatshop workers have something to puzzle over. Imagine having to meet a daily quota of jean rips.

  4. I'll have the Taleggio, please.

    Perhaps they are through wreaking havoc on the French language and are moving on to English? And I'll wager it's tough to get a job there.

    I refused to buy any destroyed/annihilated/bombed jeans for the girls as teens. These had to come out of their earned income.

    1. I couldn't even blame this one on the Copywriter from Space. I blinked and the non-word was everywhere.

  5. Hi WFF,
    I adored this post. I had a teenage crush on Nero Wolfe, and still shudder when I see or hear contact used as a verb. As in, "contact us".I feel strongly that we should write a J Crew/ Madewell Thesaurus.
    Destructed- adj. shredded, tattered, worthless, un-washable, unwearable, unflattering.
    Antonym- made well.
    I am more concerned about an audience that is presumably equally unconcerned about the absurdity of both the description and the price. $308 dollars is a car payment, an airline ticket, a bracelet, a tablet, or a gracious donation.
    And, it seems like such a truly terrible waste of labor for the craftspeople employed to make these ridiculous garments. Torn and threadbare do not speak of longevity.
    Apropos to your first point about memorable outfits. I had the greatest pleasure of meeting a wonderful group of women for tea the other morning. The sophisticated simplicity of a blazer garbed over a PARIS tee, made me long for that tee. Why did It never occur to me to wear a similar tee under a blazer? The outfit inspired me to examine my own collection of unworn blazers. Inspiration is everywhere : )

    1. Hi, KnitYarns, merci!

      If it hadn't already been made clear to me by Life, I knew the economy was in trouble when a few years ago I watched a program called "Househunters" in which a young couple - she was a cashier and he worked in "Transit" - were trying to keep their hunt at a budget of $435,000 including granite countertops. My reaction was that if they actually spent that, they shouldn't worry about kitchen countertops because they wouldn't be able to afford to eat.

      And I share your reactions to the manufacture and sale of artfully pre-ruined clothing. It's an insult to one's intelligence.

    2. And, an insult to the majority of the world's population who toil and labor in sub standard conditions so that they may aspire to owning a new piece of apparel, rather than a re-sold "donation'.
      On a lighter note, I believe I have compiled, from my closet, a group of contenders for the heretofore untried graphic tee/ blazer combination . If it would stop snowing long enough, I would debut the winner.

    3. I hope you'll post pics of the winner!

  6. I thought of you today Fred as I saw joe Fresh has a tshirt with A Bientot on it! (forgive my lack of accents!)

    I felt kind of destructed myself this a.m.!!!

    1. Hi, Wendy, I'm looking forward to a fuller report when you've put yourself back together.

  7. I can get worn-out jeans for $7 at Goodwill. But I get nice jeans for $7 at Goodwill.


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