A close friend recently informed me that my fashion sense could best be described as “boughetto,” also known as a complex hybrid of bourgeoisie and ghetto-ass style. Note: allow me to take a moment to clarify that “ghetto” does not in any way refer to any particular racial group. We all know trash is colorblind, and so am I. Let’s move on. When I first moved to Long Beach, CA my style was pretty classic with a few hipster trends thrown in the mix. I favored clean, tailored lines and a high hemline. But after five years in the hood, I’m definitely starting to pick up a few tips from the other side. My love of anything sequined, skintight, sluttish, and cheap as hell/from Forever 21 as well as an unhealthy obsession with MTV Jams has only fueled my desire for longer nails, faker hair, higher heels, and a bigger booty. Here are a few tips for creating the perfect blend of boughetto.
1. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap. Buy most of your clothes in a payday-induced frenzy at Forever 21, the Divided section at H&M, or any discount fashion warehouse. These places are usually found along prominent boulevards in bad areas of your city, and are designated by names like “Fashion 4 U,” “Fashion 4 Less,” or “Ropa Para Toda La Familia.”
2. Girl, Your Nails Look Real Cute. Always have your nails done. I have to stay away from acrylic talons because I have a hard enough time texting on my iPhone as it is, but I’ve always been jealous of the cashier at Big Lots who somehow manages to man her register with two inch pieces of PVC pipe glued to her fingertips (usually painted in zebra stripes or the iconic Big Lots black n’ orange). Take a leaf out of her book and have your nails painted to match whatever it is you’re doing. Khloe Kardashian gets it – just check out her mani before a Laker game.
3. Mix it Up. To avoid crossing the ghetto threshold altogether, you have to make sure to wear your faux leather leggings with something classy and appropriate. Since the Kardashians are pretty much boughetto pros, I’ll continue to use them as an example. I’ve noticed that Khloe’s $650,000 wedding ring usually offsets whatever animal-print monstrosity she’s sporting that day. Nothing says “true class” like a giant piece of bling. Of course, we lowly non-famous plebeians usually have to find our bling at the bottom of the 50% Off Accessories bin at Charlotte Russe, so instead of combining a variety of cheap flashy shit (see 3rd floor of the Long Beach Courthouse for an example), I would recommend dressing normally (let’s start with some nice jeans and a cardigan) and adding some “flair” for effect – appropriate additions include but are not limited to: six inch Lucite heels, hoop earrings you can put your fist through, and/or temporary (or not) paw print tattoos over each breast a la Eve (the stripper-turned-rapper, not the alleged first woman on Earth). You can further improve the balance by shopping at farmer’s markets, wearing shawls, going to college, or having some hidden talent like knowing sign language or being a classical pianist.
4. Watch Your Language. Pepper your otherwise-impeccable speech with slang phrases straight from the trap houses of Atlanta, GA. Throwing in a “shawty” and the occasional grammatical error (i.e. “I just barely got here!” or “Who that be?”) never hurt anyone, and adds a little street spice to your normal speaking style. You can also type LiKe DiS in some text messages for ironic effect, but make sure you’re texting with someone who knows you’re being ironic, and not just an idiot.
5. Shake That Ass (But Watch Yourself). A true master of boughetto style has a healthy and varied taste in music. You named your iPod “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” because among underground indie EPs and rare jazz B-sides you scoured the Internet to find are a heaping handful of hip-hop and pop atrocities. Yes, we like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, but we LOVE Gucci Mane, Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, and Beyonce. Oh, is your ringtone a Justin Beiber Mexicali techno mastermix? Dat’s real cute! Better make your ringback song an obnoxiously sexual 90s R&B slowjam.
6. Drugs. The – let’s say, chemically adventurous - boughetto princess keeps a special box under her bed for all occasions. Weed, just to get through the day. Adderall so she can keep the cushy job she’s unqualified for but got through her parents connections. Other assorted pharmaceuticals obtained through friends and the medicine cabinets of their parents. Ecstasy for going dancing at hip overpriced lounges with names like “Sip,” “Ultra Suede,” or “Cobras and Matadors.” General brokeassness prevents her from doing coke unless it’s free. When she’s at 4100 Bar in Silverlake (that’s Los Angeles to those not in the know/from California) she drinks vodka and seltzer or Pabst Blue Ribbon in a paper sack if she’s feeling grunge/wearing a leather jacket. When she’s at Heat Ultra Lounge in Anaheim, CA, she drinks Hennessey, Bud Light Lime, and Adios Motherfuckers, and ends the night puking out of the passenger car window while simultaneously smoking a cigarette.
I encourage everyone cultivating their own boughetto look to experiment as much as possible and not be afraid to fail. So feather boas and hiking boots won’t be catching on any time soon- confidence is half the battle! Just remember the mantra, “A little bit classy, a little bit sassy” and you should be fine.