British ‘Vogue’ Disseminates the Horrors, Drama of Care Labels

Our neck is itchy just looking at it! Photo: istockphoto

An article in this month's British Vogue addresses fashion's ultimate nuisance: care labels. (Honestly, we're surprised they beat The Wall Street Journal to this one.) Sarah Harris writes in the "Vogue Spy" section, "Labels, not just the ones on sheer clothes but those that always seem to poke out from T-shirt necks/waistbands/the ends of scarves (the list goes on), are one of fashion's great irritants." She's right — labels make life so hard. Take, for instance, when the joy experienced after the purchase of a new Jil Sander blouse is dashed when you notice a care label "the size of a Post-it" note showing through. Or when you buy a bra and hardly ever wear it because the damn label feels like "sandpaper" against your skin. And nothing cheapens a $2,000 Chloé jacket like the three polyester labels sewn in. But as the co-owner of a hip London boutique explains, clothes have to have labels, especially $2,000 ones. "[M]anufacturers need to cover their ass. If something goes wrong with a garment and it gets sent back to them, they lose money, so they over-emphasize washing instructions with a billboard-sized tags to absolve themselves of responsibility." Sneaky.

So since we're stuck with these awfully inconvenient things, what's the proper etiquette when you encounter someone whose label is — banish the thought — showing outside their clothes?! Harris sees tucking in another's label as a moral obligation. So she was shocked when, after introducing two friends to each other, and one tucked in the other's showing label without asking, the tuckee was angered by the tucker's intrusiveness. Oh, the scandal! But another friend validated Harris's pro-tuck stance:

She tells me her own label horror, involving bikini bottoms, a holiday in Marrakech and an afternoon spent tanning her back. "I returned to the hotel to discover a white rectangular patch the size of a large postage stamp where my label had poked out. It took days to fade," she recalls.


Pssst, British Vogue! Seinfeld called. It wants its "nothing" back.

Bad Show [British Vogue, not online]