mercredi, avril 26, 2006

Is fashion so over?

You could not call my son Colin a fashionista. He flatly refuses to wear anything with long sleeves unless he's got to attend a funeral, go to church on Sunday morning, or make a de rigeur appearance in Philadelphia high society once or twice a year. When he does wear long sleeves, they are casually draped over a t-shirt with some exotic Japanese comic book characters inscribed on the front. He is, however, starting to notice girls, so all of this may change. When interrogated last week by his elder sister, Colin 'fessed up as to how he liked a girl in his second grade class named Julia. "She's got pretty hair and pretty eyes but....let's not go into the details" he said with all of the life skills of someone who has a sibling. At eight years old, let's hope there aren't too many more details. Still, any tender feelings he's got for Julia have not affected his obviousness to certain standards of dress. Tonight, as we cruised through some blogs, checking out the ones written in English, Colin and I came upon one entitled "The Sartorialist." Viewing the pictures of men, women and children posed in stylish rainment on the streets of that ultimate stampeding ground of high fashion, New York City, Colin hooted with laughter. "This is all about...clothes?" he said with amused incredulity. We might as well have been viewing a site devoted to teaching Venusians how to grow turnips. For children his age clothes are purely functional. Even my daughter, who will be eleven next week, constructs an outfit as an exercise in creativity and flair rather than as an imitation of something she has seen on television or on the body of some other girl. The fact that she has to wear a uniform during the week helps curb her access to fashion, but not by much. When I was younger, I would slavishly read the New York Times articles on fashion. It wasn't that I thought I could afford to buy the Ralph Lauren jacket or would someday have the body for that Gucci dress. But as a middle class New Yorker I had the sense that to be educated I needed to know what I was missing. In other words, knowing what was hot among the socialite set, who was wearing what, and who would be wearing what, meant something valuable. Yet among my middle and upper middle class friends today, I see almost no interest in trends. It's not that they go out of the house looking trashy-far from it. But my women friends, by and large, have found a sense of style that expresses who they are inside, and not whom anyone else thinks they should be. Men are another story (aren't they always?) I've known some would-be metrosexuals, who combine the preppy look with fashionable cars and designer dogs, but I cannot think of one male friend who admits to following the trends in suits or shirts or even socks. As for me, I love buying clothes. I find it hard to resist good quality velvet jackets, or slinky silk skirts. The only fashion dictum I follow is whether it looks good on me or not. Somewhere along the way I simply shed the need to be on top of what was trendy. Colin, who cannot believe that anyone would spend precious time perusing photos of pretty people in lovely clothes under any circumstances, resents the fact that I have taken over his closet with my colorful summer frocks, lacy blouses and off-price designer skirts. But if he wants part of the space back, he's got to become a more adventurous shopper. Somehow, I think I'm safe, at least for the moment. Does anybody care to voice an opinion on whether fashion, as we knew it when we were kids, only matters now to the ultra rich and those hired to cover them? Does anybody out there keep up with the latest trends? If so, did you notice anything that we can all afford to buy (though if we can all buy it, why would we want it)? Can a fellow explain what goes on in a guy's brain when he steps into the men's department of a JC Penneys or the higher plane of Nieman Marcus? Does he have a plan of attack? Does he break out into a cold sweat? Does he look at what other men are buying? Start with those, gentlemen, and we'll try you out on some other, harder questions later, like: why don't men bring a good book with them when their wives go shopping instead of sitting amidst racks of cheesy nightgowns looking like they are frogs slowly being cooked in a pot of hot water?

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