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The lowdown on fashion

April 9, 2010

Fashion's worth, like reality shows' and congressional lobbyists', has always eluded me.

For example: This year, shirts with cranberry bodies and canary yellow collars are "in." So you buy one. And now, by proxy, you're "in."

Then, a year or so later, when the fashion changes and no one would be caught dead in that shmatta, it either gets dumped in the nearest thrift shop or hangs forever in the back of your closet.

And right after you've consigned that shirt to closet purgatory, you run out and buy another one that's now "in" - some microfiber grotesquerie with pleats down the side - which you wear for another year, till it becomes passe, at which point it goes in your closet, and the cycle continues, ad absurdum.

Perhaps it was best summed up by Coco Chanel, who said, "Fashion is made to become unfashionable." Of course this makes perfect sense - if you're a designer.

The men's fashion trend I remember best was the style of the late '60s and into the mid-70s. It was that horrid mongrel look that burst into the limelight when the Establishment tried to co-opt hippie style.

First, it was the Nehru shirts. Then, it was wide, wildly-colored and patterned ties. After that, a neo-retro-Edwardian nightmare hit the mainstream, which then segued into floral and freaky - some sort of living nightmare that, had it been a sci-fi movie, would've been titled "The Rotary Club Tripped Out!" Old fat guys wore purple and yellow-striped hip-huggers and electric-orange shirts, topped off by a hot-pink blazer with lapels that went past the shoulders and thought nothing of it.

After that, things chilled out a bit, but still had a hint of flash. That's when double-knit took the fashion scene by storm, and otherwise-sane men wore baby-blue leisure suits, nylon shirts with scenes of Gatsby and Daisy stepping out of their Duisenberg, white belts and shoes, and dangling on their bare chests a gold medallion not quite as big as a Frisbee.

Boomers, trying to impress each other with their hipster creds, are always crooning about how they can't remember the '60s, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. In my case, I remember the '60s perfectly, but can't remember the '80s at all - thank God. And lost in that wash is 80's fashion, though given the overall tastelessness of those times, I'm not sure there was any.


No ands, ifs and butts?

No matter. The '80s passed, then the '90s, and now I find myself in the 21st century, something that still sounds like science fiction to me. As for '90's fashion? Oddly, I'm aware of only one trend, and the only reason I am is because it's so obvious. It's "sagging."

Lest you not know, "sagging" is the wearing of jeans, with the waist tucked snugly under one's gluteus maximus, defying social convention, and more amazingly, gravity.

It has created quite a stir. Schools all over the country have banned it, adults everywhere have decried and condemned it, and towns and cities either have enacted or are in the process of enacting statutes to make it illegal.

On the surface it seems a simple issue. Ask anyone who doesn't sag what they think of it and you'll get the same response if you asked them what they thought of pedophilia, terrorism and dog fighting. "It looks terrible," they'll tell you, "and it should be illegal." "It's disgusting." It's disgraceful." And on and on and on.

They may quickly run out of words to describe U.S. foreign policy, if in fact they have an opinion on it in the first place. But when it comes to sagging, they'll stop only when warned to by either their spouse or cardiologist.

So it's a national disgrace and should be illegal, right?


First, when it comes to national disgraces, we've got a whole lot bigger, badder ones, starting with our politicians, then working our way to sports stars, CEO ripoff artists, moronic performersthe list may not be truly endless; it just seems so.

Second, I always thought the purpose of law was to protect us citizens. But if you bust some poor zhlub for sagging, who's being protected? Or a better question is who's getting hurt in the first place? The way I see it, the only harm that could be done would be to the sagger himself by his belt cutting off circulation to his nether regions.

Third, let's get real. What we're talking about is fashion, pure and simple. Not your fashion, perhaps, but since when did your fashion - or anyone's, for that matter - become a basis for law?

Finally, all the anti-sagging outrage and hysteria, aside from being a huge waste of time and energy, is also sexism at its worst. The biggest complaint about sagging is the guys' skivs are in plain sight, and that somehow violates some universal standard of public decency. And for this the long arm of the law should come to bear full-force on any miscreants who dare make public displays of themselves.

Oh yeah? And has anyone suggested the same standard be applied to women wearing micro skirts, jogging bras, or even more risque, see-through blouses and no bras? Wouldn't that be consistent with the "reasoning" behind wanting to outlaw sagging? Of course it would, but guess what? It ain't gonna happen for the simple reason we encourage scantily, if not provocatively-dressed, women but we don't do the same with men (at least not in this case). It's a simple case of hypocrisy - nothing more or less.

Of course there's the issue of whether sagging's in good taste or not.

To which I'll only say this much: The day they make bad taste illegal, I'm gonna find myself on the bus to Dannemora - along with all the regular readers of this column.



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