Paris Fashions Don’t Cater to Real People

(A Beach Reporter column from 5/12/90.)

The word is out. At the recent Paris fashion shows for the fall collections of the big designers, the buzz was hoods, velvet, and hardware. The hardware: chains interwoven into the fabric or on leather, or even chain mail. Are you as excited as I am? I know I’m going to rush right out and buy a chain mail vest for myself and a hooded velvet dinner jacket for my husband.

Let’s get real. Do the fashion giants honestly think the average guy is going to wear a velvet jacket with a hood? Sly Stallone, maybe, but he isn’t really average. For most men, the highlight of each seasonal fashion change is the arrival of the new L. L. Bean catalog. They order two new pairs of khaki twill pants and tan cargo walking shorts. The exact same ones every year. They will not be wearing, “A pair of slim pants that hug the leg as they get closer to the ankle.”

The only hoods in clothing belong on sweatshirts. To keep your head warm. Or maybe bald men will buy into this hood thing, for obvious reasons. Maybe all the men who wear this stuff hang out at the Polo Lounge, wearing $500 loafers without socks.
Even though most men probably won’t go for goofy fashion trends, most women will at least obsess over things for a while. Women are much more likely to follow fashion trends no matter how unflattering they are. I have the hot pants and platform shoes to prove it.

Take shoulder pads as an example. Aren’t our shoulders burdened with enough already without having to worry about one pad slipping forward while the other gives you a hunchback effect? I don’t know any woman who likes shoulder pads, yet we keep wearing them. Probably because a fashion industry spokesperson once said, “Shoulder pads make your waist look smaller. and put your hips more in proportion.” What woman could resist a line like that? Anything to look slimmer without dieting.

But honestly, though, where are most women going to wear a hooded velvet mini-dress with interwoven chains? To Pizza Hut? The car wash? The grocery store? We’d all look like frumpy cast members from A Handmaid’s Tale.

This year I am staying with the classic looks. No more minis or midis. No more Western look or snakeskin. And absolutely no more shoulder pads. In fact, last week I got tired of looking like I was trying out for the Rams, and snipped all the shoulder pads out of my clothing. Call me a fashion rebel. The only problem is that now it looks like my upper body is settling around my knees.

And I seem incapable of actually throwing all those shoulder pads away. They are now stacked up in my closet like miniature cords of firewood. I’m saving them because I’m sure that someone will think of a clever craft idea for them, and I’ll be that much ahead of everyone.
But you definitely won’t see me wearing a hood. Well, maybe if I’m having a bad hair day.

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