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FASHION : Fiendish Fads : Some outfits can be hazardous to your self-image.


It's the new fashion sensation, just perfect for Ventura County.

Neon jogging shorts, worn with nylon knee-highs and spiked heels, give a look that's both athletic and elegant. A knit turtleneck sweater, paired with a clashing print jacket, steers you away from the conventional into the realm of pure bold. Top it off with a striped tie, beret and briefcase, and your fashion look means pure business!

Wait a minute.

Jogging shorts and high heels? A striped tie with a print jacket? Knee-highs that show? This is supposed to be the hot new look?

OK, so I lied. This "sensation" doesn't really exist, except when I borrowed some articles of clothing from my colleagues and threw them together in the photo studio for a nightmarish patchwork quilt.

But if you believe that some poor fool might actually think this outfit was stylish, you're not alone. It certainly wouldn't be the first time someone has fallen prey to the fantasies of some fashion designer or creative copywriter.

I know this for a fact. In the past year, I, too, have been a fashion victim.

Oh, that khaki shirt-dress didn't look so bad on the high-paid model, but it sure left a lot to be desired on me. Every time I took a step, it would ride up toward my waist.

I loved the tight knit pants last year, but they looked a lot sleeker on someone who hasn't had two kids.

And then there was the time I convinced myself that neon sweat shirts were an interesting fashion statement--until my husband innocently asked me if I bought one to start bike riding at night.

It is heartening to know that I am not alone. Plenty of others in Ventura County have mistakenly thought that a new style might work for them. When it comes to casualties of style, 1990 clearly was a big year.

"I don't mind the leggings that came out, but on heavy people, it really just looks bad," said Diane Johnson, a Moorpark homemaker. "Then they wear those shirts with those shoulder pads that show through, and it makes them look like football players. That's one thing I'd like not to see in 1991."

Diane Boyce, a sales clerk in a children's clothing store in Thousand Oaks, thinks that there is a bright side to that particular fashion statement.

"It might look bad, but it sure would be nice to be that comfortable with your body," she said. "Obviously, they must feel pretty OK about themselves to be seen in public dressed like that."

Boyce has also seen what she thinks is a parade of other fashion victims.

"It's unbelievable what people will wear," she said. "One woman walked by wearing a mint-green Lycra V-neck dress. In anything else, she probably wouldn't have looked fat. There also were those body-hugging stretchy pants that came out in that ugly mustard color, and the big polka dots in the '60s styles. No one should have to subject themselves to that stuff."

Several men said they were unable to think of any styles they would rather not see in 1991. Boyce, however, was quick to come up with one look she wishes would stay in the closet. Many men, she said, have begun wearing print pants that are baggy at the hips and narrow at the ankles.

"They look like they were made from a bad handkerchief pattern," she said. "My husband got a pair from his mother for Christmas. Lucky for me, he said he wouldn't be caught dead in them."

That just goes to support what Maryann Markowitz, owner of a Thousand Oaks shoe store, said she always tells her customers.

"I tell them never, ever try to wear something just because they read about it in the newspaper or saw it in a magazine. People need to wear what makes them comfortable," she said. "They should stop being slaves to fashion."

I don't know what your list looks like, but that sure sounds like a good resolution to me.


Ventura County is teeming with the fashionable and not so fashionable. There are trend-makers and trend-breakers. There are those with style-personal and off the rack--and those making fashion statements better left unsaid. Twice a month, we'll be taking a look at fashion in Ventura County--trends, styles and ideas--and asking you what you think. If you have a fashion problem, sighting or suggestion, if you know a fashion success or a fashion victim, let us know. We want to hear from you.

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