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FASHION POLICE

State Puts the Squeeze on Purveyors of Python

March 10, 2000|JEANNINE STEIN

Dear Fashion Police: I know that python is one of the hot new trends, but why is it that items made of python (shoes and handbags) cannot be shipped to California when ordered from a catalog?

--NEEDS TO BE ENLIGHTENED

Dear Needs: We got the lowdown on the law from retired Capt. Phil Nelms of the California Department of Fish and Game in Sacramento.

In a nutshell, he said, many species of animals are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act and cannot be sold anywhere. However, each state, like California, can be more restrictive on what animals it decides to ban from being sold. Python is not protected under federal law, but it is one of several animals protected under California Penal Code 653o. (You can check the details by logging on to the official Web site for California legislative information, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov).

Nelms added that if you happen to see python (or any other illegal critters) being sold in the state, you should call the local police department, not the Department of Fish and Game.

We'd like to add that we think animal skins look best on the animal. The fake stuff is better, guys.

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Dear Fashion Police: After what seems like at least a decade of ugly footwear, there are finally some cute shoes back in the stores. However, it seems like 90% of them are slides (backless shoes). I'm a professional woman in my 40s and like to wear pants and soft skirts to the office, in addition to the occasional suit. But I can't imagine that you would wear nylons with these shoes, and it doesn't seem appropriate to go without stockings at the office. What are the rules?

--SHOE ME THE WAY

Dear Shoe: The rules are that unless you work in a very casual office, slides or mules are not recommended. They're not meant to be worn with stockings, so nix that whole look if it doesn't fit in with your professional wardrobe.

Here's why you're seeing so many mules now: Retail is a seasonal business. Before the first crocuses poke their pretty little heads through the snow, tank tops, bathing suits, linen blouses, and slides and sandals are already in the stores.

It's the nature of the beast. Stores have to keep turning over merchandise, getting rid of the old to bring in the new. The new comes in early--spring clothes were available in February--because stores want you to start getting excited about shopping and building your wardrobe for the upcoming season. (Also, if you happen to be going to a sunny, warm clime in January, you'll need clothes.)

Because the retail calendar doesn't match real seasons, it's often difficult to find clothes when you need them. In some areas it's still very chilly, even though spring is around the corner, and you may need a heavy wool sweater. Good luck trying to find one. The good news is that it may be on sale somewhere. The bad news is you won't have a huge selection of colors and styles.

Just the other day we went looking for a pair of basic mid-heel navy pumps (OK, we know--borrring--but we needed them). After combing two malls, we still didn't find what we were looking for--but we did see hundreds of pairs of lovely sandals and slides for spring.

All is not lost, however. We just received the Nordstrom spring catalog that offers closed-toe pumps. We're sure that other stores, Web sites and catalogs will undoubtedly have at least a few pairs of non-sandal shoes.

But what's a gal to do when she desperately needs out-of-season footwear and can't find it? Don't let yourself get stuck. Buy what you need in season and get a couple of extra pairs to see you through the rest of the year. Yes, toe and heel shapes do change, but they usually stay in style for about a year, so you should remain in style. If you're terribly worried about that, choose the most basic, traditional style you can find.

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

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