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Outfit's OK, but Why the Royal Secret?

April 16, 1999|JEANINE STEIN

Dear Fashion Police: In July, I will be attending the wedding of a member of one of England's most aristocratic families. The ceremony will take place during the early afternoon at an abbey in Kent, followed by a reception at a 17th century manor house. I am leaning toward wearing a pastel linen dress and coat with a hat and gloves. Do you think this attire would be appropriate?


Dear Bound: Your proposed outfit sounded lovely to us, but just to be absolutely sure we called the British Consulate in Los Angeles--we'd certainly have heck to pay if you showed up wearing something terribly wrong.

Sharon Brook, press and public affairs assistant, assured us that your dress and coat ensemble is appropriate for this type of afternoon wedding. Gloves are not required, but it's OK to wear them, as is a hat.

"A wedding is a great excuse to wear a hat," she said, sounding like a true chapeau lover.

We noticed you're being pretty coy about whose wedding this is.

"One of England's most aristocratic families" doesn't cut it for us, frankly. Next time, please drop some names. We hate having to guess.


Dear Fashion Police: Please, for the love of God, prevent the crime of drawstring pants from blighting the sidewalks of our fair city and countless others around the world. Use all the weapons at your command to put an end to the conflagration looming over the coming tourist season. I shudder to think of Americans strolling along the cobbled avenues of Europe looking like enormous children or newly released patients. Sweatpants at least have an exercise-related function; drawstring pants are designed to appeal to serial overeaters by an evil genius bent on reestablishing us as Ugly Americans in the eyes of people all around the world.

Time is of the essence. Old Navy has been blasting the airwaves relentlessly of late in a savage, unprovoked attack.


Dear Wake: Are you serious? Americans abroad have been establishing a reputation for less-than-stunning wardrobe selections for many years, waaaaaay before drawstring pants were a twinkle in anyone's eye. Let us refresh your memory with some classics: shorts with dark socks and sandals, loud polyester shirts, rhinestone and applique-decorated sweats, and "I'm With Stupid" T-shirts.

We doubt that the sight of Americans in drawstring pants will send Europeans streaming out of EuroDisney in protest, or stop them from listening to rock 'n' roll or drinking Coca-Cola. Besides, drawstring pants were the rage at European designer shows last year, so obviously they don't think they're that hideous.

Make no mistake--we're no fan of the drawstring style. But we'll take them over short shorts or ill-fitting polyester knit slacks any day.

Besides, Americans aren't the only travelers on the planet to push the edge of the "ugly" envelope. We see plenty of foreign tourists here doing the shorts-socks-sandals thing, adding a big, bulky camera around their neck. Like that's not a clue they're from out of town.

Which brings us to this point: If you are traveling and don't want to look like the Tourist From Hell, do some research. Write us a letter, call the consulate, talk to a travel agent or someone who travels frequently, and find out how the locals dress. Of course, if you like being stared at, go for the old-fashioned double-knit bulletproof polyester. Works every time.


Write to Fashion Police, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, fax to (213) 237-4888 or send e-mail to

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