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FASHION POLICE

Readers Are Rapt in the Flag--and Variations of All Stripes.

September 22, 2000|Jeannine Stein

To wear the flag or not wear the flag. That was the question we posed a couple of weeks ago. Our inquiry was prompted by a letter from "Long May It Wave (on a Flagpole)," who emphatically refused to wear anything that depicted Old Glory, saying she found it "disrespectful and offensive."

We wondered how you felt about turning the stars and stripes into clothing--whether you felt it was denigrating the United States or an inoffensive way of showing your pride in our country.

The split was pretty even, and whether for or against, your responses were quite passionate. Such is the response Old Glory inspires.

"I have had my Perry Ellis flag skirt for ages. I wear it especially on Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day. I'm happy to advertise that I'm an American and proud of it."

"I wouldn't like to see clothing which looks like it was cut from a flag; that's tacky. However, I have created many a T-shirt using stars and stripes for festive square dance holiday dances and festivals that fall on Memorial Day or July 4."

"Seeing the flag on clothing is not appealing to me. I think it is a little bit distasteful, as well as being unimaginative and exploitative. But I do not mind stars on a blue field and red and white stripes used as design elements on a bikini, a necktie or an Olympic uniform. I remember in elementary school seeing a shield with the stars across the top and vertical stripes below. I think a shield like this would be more appropriate to apply to clothing."

"Do I wear the flag? I once went to a toga party with only the stars and stripes wrapped around me! One very large and drunk man got into my face and said that I was disrespecting the country. I honestly never thought it could be construed that way and talked my way out of another Civil War. People wear Nike or DKNY all over their bodies to promote those companies, so why would the American flag be any different? Disrespect? No! Honor? Yes!"

"The wearing of clothing, hats, etc., with the American flag displayed is disrespectful and very offensive. I would never buy or allow my children to buy or wear any clothing with the flag on it."

"I, too, have strong feelings about the stars and stripes being shown on clothes. In the early '70s, our girls' basketball team wore stars and stripes shoes and socks--it was our trademark. I fly the American flag outside my home every day, and my dishes, silverware, shirts, socks, shoes all are stars and stripes. Why? I'm proud to fly and wear our colors!"

"I love it whenever I find anything with an American flag design. I feel having something American makes me feel so happy to be here. I feel that all flag burners and those who hate the sight of Old Glory should be put on an island in the middle of the ocean. They just don't know how good they have it in America."

"The American flag should not be used as material for clothing, nor should the emblem be misused on clothing. To me this is most disrespectful. Don't we have enough symbols of designers and products adorning clothes, luggage, etc., on the market already? Let us all respect our American flag!"

"Having a dad who served in World War II and having served in Vietnam myself, I have very strong feelings about our flag.

"Not long after I got out of the service, I got into custom painting cars and motorcycles. I noticed a trend--a backlash, if you wish--against anti-American sentiment. [It became popular] to put the flag on cars and bikes in a stylized way.

"Flags have become increasingly common on clothing of late, and for the most part, in good taste. A few years ago, North Beach Leather came out with a flag jacket. My wife wanted that jacket more than anything. Right after I bought it, Desert Storm let rip, and the reaction my wife's jacket elicited is another story--but all good."

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Write to Fashion Police, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles CA 90012, fax to (213) 237-4888, or send e-mail to socalliving@latimes.com.

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