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Purifying the dialect of the fashion tribe, part deux: ((Part une.)) my Guardian colleague Sarah Crown tweeted the other day about “the need to stop saying ‘teamed’?! ‘A jean, teamed with a shoe…’ Infuriating.”

I agree! Literally seconds of research on my part turned up the following examples:

The 27-year-old fellow Russian suffered a fashion own goal as she stepped out in a ghastly hot pink Juicy Couture tracksuit and white quilted vest yesterday. And taking colour co-ordination to the extreme, she teamed the outfit with a hot pink Nike handbag and hot pink trimmed Nike sneakers. [Daily Mail.]

They wear the latest fashions, teamed with the most up-to-date accessories. Yet these are not girls in their teens or twenties but women in their sixties and seventies. [Daily Mail.]

[Jonathon] Ross teamed the cape with knee-high biker boots. [Daily Mail?]

Has this fashion use of teamed been influenced by our age’s immanent corporate-cultural propaganda according to which a team is the best possible arrangement of people imaginable for any conceivable circumstance? ((The correct response to “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team'” is: “There’s no ‘we’ in ‘team’ either, fuckface.” Part of the point of brainwashing employees into thinking of themselves as teams, eg in the kind of corporate team-building exercises discussed in an earlier thread, is presumably to distract them from the realization of their essential servility: a trick perhaps learned from military organization.)) Or is it rather that thinking of my leather jacket as being teamed with my socks makes me feel just a little less alone in an implacable, uncaring universe, as though I am not a mere puny individual but — thanks to the semantically complex fashion products fastidiously draped around my person — a team?

Such disturbing connotations noted, I still feel this could go either way. If we censure this use of teamed, then fashion hacks, whose job is already arduous enough, will be condemned to falling back on more boring constructions such as combined with. As a contrarian experiment, it might be worthwhile to extend the usage into new areas. This evening, for instance, I aim to team lashings of beer with a delicious curry. Hmmm. I must say I find it hard to detect anything the least undesirable in that sentence.

What are you planning to team with what today, readers?

  1. 1  ukliberty  March 19, 2010, 10:19 am 

    I’m going to team some whiskey with beers and – inevitably – team my feet with some music.

  2. 2  sw  March 19, 2010, 1:28 pm 

    I can’t disagree with your analysis, in which you have yet again teamed a cool dissection of language with witty blog banter, but can I just say?
    I mean, yes, “teamed” is the infusion of the corporate into our everyday language, it’s lazy argot, and so on. But when we look at the usage in the examples you give, aren’t we rewarded with the richness of the word? In the first, it specifically echoes the delightful notion of a fashion “own goal” from the previous sentence. An “own goal” is a public embarassment you bring upon yourself, often involving some dire collapse in skill (the fashion equivalent of which is taste); but it is not only against yourself, it is also against your team. This tense, ambiguous relationship between the individual and the group is very much the stuff of fashion: clothes individuate and yet they indicate where you belong; you stand out by looking different, and yet the difference is often a variation on a common theme; you dress yourself, but others have to look at you; and so on. The movement, then, from an “own goal” to “teamed” is, here, quite a wry one.

    In the second, after the appearance of “team”, we are told that we should not be thinking of groups (teams) of young women, but of groups (teams) of old women. The word “teams” is very much part of the misdirecting package: just as we are expected to associate “latest fashion” and “up-to-date accessories” with youth, so the word “team” conjures up images of youth – gangs; cliques; four brash women drinking lattes and having orgasms; hockey-playing, knee-sock wearing girls – whereas the elderly are supposed to be isolated, lonely, off in their own world (even when in the presence of others). The word conjures up an entire social arrangement that binds the otehrwise infinitely bland signifiers “latest fashion” & “up-to-date accessories” and sets us up for the heaving irony: old people have lives!
    And in the third, the effect is surely specifically comic: not just using a word that implies a cohesion to describe the obvious incongruity of wearing a cape with anything, much less knee-high biker boots, but the incongruity of “celebrity” with “us”, where they are team whose uniform is the garish, grotesque, desperate, and oblivious. No?

  3. 3  Levi Montgomery  March 19, 2010, 6:03 pm 

    The best response to “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team'” is “There is an ‘I’ in ‘win,’ though!”

  4. 4  Steven  March 19, 2010, 6:11 pm 

    Or perhaps: “But there is a ‘u’ in ‘fucktard’.”

  5. 5  Steven  March 19, 2010, 6:23 pm 

    sw@2: maybe?

  6. 6  redpesto  March 19, 2010, 6:44 pm 

    Well, it is easier the spell than ‘accessorised’ (though that might only apply to items such as jewellery, handbags and gloves), and it’s less prosaic than ‘matched’, though for comic-book fans it also has the echo of ‘Superhero Team’

  7. 7  democracy_grenade  March 19, 2010, 7:35 pm 


    and – inevitably – team my feet with some music.

    This rather insidiously smuggles in certain assumptions about the quality of your movez, don’t you think? Your shape-pulling may indeed exhibit a remarkable degree of co-ordination, coherence and agility — but this needs to be argued separately and explicitly, rather than… etc..

    sw’s analysis @2 is magisterial, but he omits one important factor. In the second quoted example, “teamed” is clearly playing upon the homophonous “teemed”, with the wry intent of suggesting just how ubiquitous have become the described “up-to-date accessories”.

  8. 8  Fiddy peso  March 19, 2010, 11:40 pm 

    Team your coat up with your hat
    bench your troubles on the doorstep.
    and team your feet with the sunny side of the street.

  9. 9  sarah ditum  March 20, 2010, 1:55 am 

    My outfits are all teamed. When I go out, I feel like a sexually continent England captain with my outfit constituents forming a perfect formation around me.

  10. 10  Wrestling Dick  March 20, 2010, 3:48 am 

    Amusing: cheap.
    Bold: G.W.; e.g., b. back-sweeping fullness.
    Brief: very short in length: e.g., b. bolero, b. panties.
    Bulge, Unseemly: stomach fat.
    Classic: English garment (shoes, hat, suit) barely susceptible to fashion changes.
    Crisp: G.W.; e.g., a c. silhouette, c. touches of white.
    Demure: (of hats and hair styles) those which symmetrically frame the face.
    Dignified: (i) of women: old; (ii) of clothes: for old women.
    Dramatic: virtually unwearable, but photographs well.
    -Est: Intensive used instead of “very” ; e.g., palest gray, softest and finest worsteds.
    Everywhere: in a very few places; e.g., sable stoles are e.
    Flattery: G.W.; e.g., the f. of mink, diamonds, orchids against your skin.
    Frankly: would be ugly if we didn’t tell you it wasn’t; e.g., a f. jagged hemline.
    Fuzz, Unsightly: superfluous hair on the legs.
    Generous: (i) the designer is making nothing out of the dress length; e.g., g. cuffs; (ii) fat.
    Hairs, Obstinate or Recalcitrant: the unwanted mustache; e.g., tweak out those o. (or r.) h.
    Important: G.W.
    Jaunty: G.W.
    Limited-Income: cheap.
    Midriff: stomach
    Nostalgic: G.W.
    Older: (of women) old.
    Team: to wear one thing with another; e.g., t. your palest gray dress with the subtle flattery of a brief scarlet bolero.
    That, Those: adjectives of distaste and elimination; e.g., eliminate t. unsightly bugle, or, as above, tweak out t. recalitrant hairs.

    [the above has apparently been copy-pasted without explanation from this link — SP]

  11. 11  ukliberty  March 20, 2010, 4:03 pm 


    and – inevitably – team my feet with some music.

    This rather insidiously smuggles in certain assumptions about the quality of your movez, don’t you think?

    Oh, I didn’t intend that; I intended irony. Is there a ‘wry smile’ emoticon?

  12. 12  dakka  March 21, 2010, 8:21 am 

    There’s ‘I’ in team but there’s a ‘me’.

  13. 13  Sam F  March 22, 2010, 1:40 am 

    @9: Magnificent.

  14. 14  richard  March 22, 2010, 9:49 pm 

    @10: How sad that I didn’t run across G. W. (Glamour Word; of no real meaning whatsoever) 9 years ago.

    I had to read the entry for “generous” half a dozen times before I understood it. I kept thinking g. cuffs were something akin to a g-string.

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