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Chic Sharks Get Out From Behind the Eight Ball as They Call the Shots and Rack Up Compliments in Pool Halls

March 05, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Once the standard dress code for wielding a cue stick was a pair of Levis and a T-shirt with a beer logo. Now, playing pool has become a fashionable sport and the look behind the eight ball has changed.

Just check out one of the upscale pool halls that have popped up recently in Orange County. Pool sharks have never looked trendier. While many still wear blue jeans, it's designer denim they're sporting along with lots of black Lycra and leather.

At Metropolis in Irvine on a busy Thursday night, different fashion looks mix it up over the camel-colored felt tables. For men, the preferred billiards uniform is jeans with a cool sport coat and chambray shirt (ideally by Ralph Lauren). More fashion-forward pool players don vests and shirts with wild prints or black leather bombers and pants.

College-age women favor black jeans with tight Lycra body suits, bustiers and midriff tops, while those in their 20s and 30s aim for more sophisticated club looks--the little black dresses, leggings and blazers, even cocktail suits. Those who want to put on a show while going after that tricky bank shot sport miniskirts and low-cut dresses.

Doug McConathy, a 20-something pool hall regular from Buena Park, stands pool side at Metropolis in a red and blue striped sport coat by Bill Robinson, jeans and rubber-toed tennis shoes.

"I looked at the jacket and said, 'That's loud enough to wear,' " McConathy says. "It's kind of like what Ray Liotta wore in 'Goodfellas.' "

Lorie Anderson, a 30-ish Mission Viejo resident and frequent visitor to Metropolis, says seeing what people wear to play pool is as entertaining as the game itself. She's opted for black Lycra leggings that flatter a body made taut by daily workouts, a white leather baseball jacket, black body suit and over-the-knee black boots.

"People come here to look at other people," Anderson says. "You see all different types, from the professional women who look like they walked right out of Saks or Neiman's in their trendy little DKNY outfits to the college studs in jeans.

"The typical Newport Beach guy wears a Ralph Lauren navy blazer and jeans. Women on the make are usually in something outrageous--an off-the-shoulder dress cut down to the waist and up to the thigh. Styles range from the preppy to the absurd."

Many men take their fashion cue from what they see in the media and on MTV.

"Movies and rock stars--that's what's driving men's fashions," says Heidi Kearns, manager of Bernini Sport for men in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa.

Among the looks they're picking up on: silk shirts in vivid colors and bold prints such as big flowers, polka dots, fish and clouds; black leather bomber jackets, vests and jeans, and sport coats in black and white or electric hues like cobalt blue.

Bernini Sport's offerings include black leather jeans by Istante adorned with diamond-shaped studs ($2,500), a lime green scarf-print shirt by Gianni Versace with a black and gold classical motif ($425); Versace's gold and black leopard-spotted vest ($575) and his black and white diamond weave sport coat ($695).

"Guys are constantly looking for a coat to take from the office to their social life," Kearns says. "A standard black double-breasted sport coat or a blanket plaid coat needs to be in any guy's wardrobe. They like them with denim shirts and jeans."

Baggy, retro-style jeans much like James Dean wore in the '50s are making the club scene, she says. Typical of the look: Moschino's basic five-pocket jean in indigo ($70) and a Hugo Boss denim shirt ($110).

For women the choice of stripes and solids refers not only to cue balls but clingy body suits and other form-fitting styles.

"Girls want something fun--the little short Lycra dress, the pretty lingerie piece and some leather," says Georgiana Ivan, owner of ModaSport, a women's clothing store in Fashion Island Newport Beach.

For those in search of pool table chic, ModaSport has body suits including a white or black fishnet style ($138); classic five-pocket jeans by Big Star ($120) in faded blue, black or white; suede jeans with fringe down the side ($210) in black, tan or cream and a slinky black lace column dress ($170).

"Black is the color for these clubs," Ivan says.

To top off the look they're adding small-scale silver jewelry, bold lipstick, heavy eyeliner, cowboy boots and long, straight hair, Ivan says.

Little sexy tops are a hot look for club-goers, according to Rose LeDonne, owner of Rose LeDonne women's sportswear in Dana Point and Laguna Niguel.

"Body suits are hot for this group because the women want to look casual but sexy too," LeDonne says. Two popular picks: a slinky scoop-neck body suit out of a shiny black rayon/Lycra blend ($65) or a lace body suit lined in front but exposing the back in white, black, red or blue ($54 to $65). Bra tops, halters and vests worn as tops are being paired with jeans.

One reason men and women now dress up to play pool: The glitzier clubs are seen as a great place to meet someone of the opposite sex without enduring a meat-market atmosphere. Says Anderson, who has a pool table at home but goes to Metropolis anyway: "If you stand around long enough, people will ask you to shoot."

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