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HE SAID, SHE SAID / PATRICK MOTT and ANN CONWAY

Out With the Old, the Awful, the Unworn; In With Stylish Freedom

January 14, 1994|PATRICK MOTT and ANN CONWAY

I t was another year of fashion crimes and misdemeanors, as well as a success or two here and there, and--before anyone can stop us--we're going to rehash a handful of them. And hazard a look at the newest stuff for 1994.

Hanging in the balance of this debate is no less a question than whether civilization is going straight down the pipes or whether it's on the way to new highs of greatness and glory. At least that's what we decided after a few post-New Year's glasses of cordon rouge.

Anyhow, over the edge we go . . .

HE: Please, God, let 1994 be the year that Dr. Martens took the first of several fatal body shots. Without doubt the most grotesque footwear ever conceived, the boots make decade-old rental bowling shoes look chic, nevermind that they've become inextricably associated with such cuddly social groups as skinheads and neo-Nazis.

Let's assume, just for a moment, that most modern humans attempt to dress in order to appear attractive. Let's also assume that a statistically significant number of them own Dr. Martens and think they look very smart and sexy in them. These people are lobotomized.

SHE: I'm happy to say bye-bye to the beret. I've seen it at veggie counters, in movie houses, at the office, on the freeway and at the beach. Enough already. Cute as it is, few people know how to wear it, what to wear it with or where to wear it. (Answers: at an angle; anything long and skinny; out to lunch). A suggestion for misguided fad lovers: Clip a picture of a magazine model wearing a faddie item you like. Copy the look.

HE: Also on the headwear front, I'm having more and more trouble lately resisting the urge to smack any kid wearing a baseball cap backward. An entire generation has grown up thinking that the bill goes in the back. So, children, let's get it straight: The bill is there to shield your eyes, not to send a message to your parents that you're a sloppy, shuffling, truculent, whiny, rebellious, mean-spirited, hypersensitive little goofball.

Worse: The cap manufacturers, knuckling to corporate bottom-line pressure, are stitching the logos on the back of the caps so they can be seen from the front when the cap is worn backward.

SHE: I love the way women with long hair used the baseball cap as a hair accessory. They pulled their locks through the hole in the back and made them tornado-proof.

In my book, the best thing about 1993 was the fashion freedom. If you dressed to the hilt, it was OK (providing you left your mega-diamonds and furs at home), and if you dressed down--so much the better. Bill and Hillary set the tone: Have style, but don't become its victim. Wear your clothes; don't let them wear you. Bottom line: It's what's in your head that counts--not what's on it.

HE: The First Family, I think, is going to set a certain tone in fashion this year. Mrs. Clinton, particularly, seems to be doing it right. She occasionally agrees to do fashion shoots with outfits like Vogue but wipes away the curse by laughing it off and declaring that she's no authority on what to wear. She's said that the speculation about her clothes amuses her and that it's sometimes actually fun. And that's the way she treats it, with not a bit more weight than that. We should all be so well-adjusted about our appearance.

SHE: I took a swing through a couple of department stores last week and noticed that most of the women shoppers were in the sportswear department, combing through the sweats. The designer departments were deader than last year's hemline. In 1993, sweats were stronger than ever. In 1994, I hope designers elevate them a bit--endow them with upbeat colors and more style. Are you listening, Calvin and Donna?

HE: I've been seeing that happen in what has traditionally been a stronghold of gonzo fashion: golf duds. In talking to a couple of friends who are teaching pros, I've heard that the golf clothing lines are not only on a far more understated and stylish course, they figure to stay that way through the year.

Now that many manufacturers have disabused themselves of bizarre plaids and the Pants From Hell, now they can concentrate on subtly bringing back bolder color--brighter greens, for instance, instead of, say, heather. In 1993, a lot of the stuff in the pro shops was muted and fairly conservative. This year, using that palette as a kind of jumping-off place, the designers can start getting a bit more daring. But stylishly so, without the shocking pink Sansabelts.

SHE: One trend I hope continues: people reaching deep into their closets and giving away the clothing they no longer wear. Fashion gurus say if you haven't worn an item for a year, chances are you'll never wear it again. So why not give it to someone in need?

I know a woman who has three closets full of clothes--each one for a different size. Truth is, she's never going to wear those 8s and 10s again and she knows it. So, this year, she plans to give them away. "I've been kidding myself about some of those clothes," she said recently. "Guess I've been holding onto a dream."

I can say the same thing about some of the oldies-but-goodies in my closet. In 1994, they're going out the door.

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