Fashion: Listening to Your Inner Child

slope3There’s a slippery slope that happens in this life, and it doesn’t end unless you find yourself chasing the garbage man down the alley in nothing but your Buzz Lightyear boxers and a beltless bathrobe.  You might do this ‘cause it’s important; that trash is going to smell like dead hobbits the day after tomorrow.  And you may even rationalize it by saying, “That trash is going to smell like dead hobbits the day after tomorrow.”  But, you still know you’ve just stepped through the looking glass.  What was once an intimate detail, known only to your mother and a few significant others, is now available to the general viewing public.  More importantly, you hope none of your neighbours caught your Batman imitation on their cell phones.

We don’t all end up on Pinterest as “Meanwhile at WalMart” memes — but we could.  There’s a charming little voice in everybody’s inner adult that whispers “What the hell?  It’s only the Drive-thru.  This shirt’s good enough.”  So we grab the keys instead of listening to our inner child, who would scold us into, at the very least, changing our underwear.  (I was nearly 10 before I realized clean underwear didn’t actually prevent traffic accidents.)  It’s that same voice that urges us to wear pink with plaid and refuses to part with the UCLA T-shirt that was printed when Zorro was a boy.  We all have it.  Our parents warned us about it, but all of us still listen.  Bad mistake!

Back in the day, mostly mom (and sometimes dad) taught us that going out in public was a sacred trust.  People were looking at us, and we needed to show some respect.  Neat was important, but clean was essential.  As we got older, that sage bit of advice translated into sex, straight up and down.  You need to look your best because nobody is going to sleep with a slob.  Unfortunately, adulthood and cohabitation dulls the echoes of our parents, and more and more we end up relying on our own resources.

At first, it’s okay.  We dress for work, go out with our friends, flirt with the cashiers at the grocery store and leave our private face at home where it belongs.  However, eventually, those sweatpants are just too damn comfy not to get trotted out to mow the lawn.  But that’s okay too: we’re in our own yard, they’re clean, and they still kinda fit in the crotch.  Besides, they cover up that extra 10 lbs that’s been hanging around all summer.  Oops!  This is where it gets problematical.

As we get older, we tend to spread in all directions.  Clothes just aren’t as friendly as they were back when we were slopetwenty.  And this is when our inner adult comes calling.  “Hey, buddy!  You’re a grown man.  You pay taxes.  You have a mortgage and a Mercedes.  You haven’t eaten liver or lima beans in 12 years!  If you want to wear socks with sandals, screw the hippie who says you can’t!”  And we listen.  But the socks with sandals (or your personal equivalent) are just the thin edge of the wedge.  Pretty soon, it’s only work, weddings and funerals that get a tie.  Family functions are all informal, and those sweatpants that kinda fit – question mark — have migrated from the back yard to the shopping mall.  It’s unavoidable.

The thing to remember, if you don’t want to end up dressing like Robin Williams in The Fisher King, is that your inner adult is a spoiled brat.  He thinks that whatever he says goes, and he pouts if he doesn’t get his own way.  You’re far better off to listen to your common-sense child, who’s very aware of what not to wear.  The parents explained it to him.

My point is that, as we get older, we all dress for comfort, not for speed, but you don’t get any points for running amok.  Therefore, it’s best to cool your jets or you’ll end up as the Flying Dutchman of the Internet, repinned and reposted as The Old Man in the Leopard-skin Leotard.

A Dedicated Follower of Fashion

Paris fashion updateFor a man (moi) writing about women is never a good idea; invariably, he’s going to piss somebody off.  The problem is, despite what every amateur sociologist with a pen will tell you, women do not speak with one voice.  Therefore, regardless of what you say, somebody is going to get mad at you and point out what an incredible handicap that Y chromosome really is.  However, since women are half the population of this planet, and I’d rather not publically admit my cowardice (again) I’m going to write about women and, more courageously, one of the strangest things they do.

Just as the worm follows the plow, here on earth summer is followed by Fashion Month.  All over the world supermodels are being dressed up like anorexic Barbie dolls in a hip-swinging, heel-to-toe, catwalkathon that dictates what women will be wearing when the snow melts again next year.  These masquerade balls might be centred in New York, London, Paris and Milano, but there isn’t a person alive, male or female, who will not feel their effects.  This kind of power is worthy of comment.

FYI:  Just so you know, I’m a big fan of the fashion industry.  I believe the way we adorn ourselves is central to our species and, more immediately, fashion, like trash, is virtually recession proof.  A good thing in these troubled times.  But I also have to admit I have absolutely no creds when it comes to fashion itself; I’m still wearing the Levis and sweatshirt uniform I wore when I was 20, allbeit in the new roomier, rumpstrung size.  Don’t get me wrong: I’d wear Armani if I could afford it, but the lapels would probably be circa 1975.

However, to continue, one doesn’t have to wear this year’s fashions to notice that they’re godawful hideous — the fashion3culmination of the four decades of godawful hideous that came before it.  In fact, women’s fashions have been off-and-on godawful hideous since Mrs. Grog the cave woman accidently tore her leopard skin and invented décolletage.  Historically speaking, women have dressed in some of the weirdest contraptions imaginable.  You don’t have to go much past panniers and bustles to figure that one out.  Nor have things changed that much.  After all, skinny jeans, a direct assault on the circulatory system, can’t be comfortable, and they must take upwards of an hour to get into.  This kind of time and trouble certainly explains why, centuries ago, fashionable women were sown into their clothes every morning and stitch-picked out of them every night.

It strikes me that, given the evidence, fashion designers may have seen women, even examined them closely, but they have no idea what women are about.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t harness them up like this.  However, the more important question is why do women put up with it?  Obviously, back in the day, they had to, but here we are in the oh-so-enlightened 21st century and the fashion industry still generates billions of dollars telling women what to wear, and most of it looks like crap.

Here’s the deal!  Women don’t dress for men, anymore.  They don’t have to.  If they did, the only retail outlet in the mall besides Starbucks would be Victoria’s Secret.  These days, women dress for other women.  Why else would somebody willingly pay money for a shapeless, strapless gown that straps her in like an L’Oreal cosmetic test bunny?  Respiratory problems?  It’s the female equivalent of the macho man, zero-to-sixty bum-numbing sports car or the bone-shattering mega-bass. I-can’t-hear-you stereo.  Women style and profile for other women mainly because other women style and profile for them.  And it all starts on the runways of Paris et al

Gucci Milan Fashion WeekTake a look at any Give-Me-An-Award Red Carpet TV program.  Who’s watching the show?  It ain’t Ben and Gary from lamps and lighting at Home Depot, even though Selma Hayek’s going to be there, falling out of most of her dress.  Nope, it’s Sara from plumbing who wants to know what dress Selma’s wearing, what Joan Rivers and her band of witchy critics are saying about it and where she, Sara, can get the knockoff so the girls back at HD will be green with… you get the idea.

Of course, there are some who would say this has always been the case, but I don’t think so.  In the old days, attracting a man was a necessity for women, and marrying well was an art.  Fashion played a huge part in this game of reveal and conceal.  These days, while sexual attraction is still part of our makeup, nobody really cares what we cover it with.  Witness Miley Cyrus’ recent VMA performance.  Would she have done better in Yves St. Laurent?  I doubt it.

I’m sure that the last thing any woman wants to hear is she’s a slave to the fashion industry.  Or that in the caring, sharing 21st century, she’s in direct competition with every other woman on the planet.  However, as the man said, “It is what it is.”

And let the emails begin.

Advertising: It’s All About Timing

adI’ve been watching TV off and on (I didn’t have a television machine for a decade or so in the middle) since the days when Lucy had “some ‘splaining to do” and father knew best.  However, recently I’ve discovered an interesting phenomenon – the ads know what you’re doing.  Somehow that wireless cable you’ve connected to, is connected to a modern day Mad Man, who, like Santa Claus and the NSA, is keeping track of what you’re up to.  It’s nothing sinister but you might want to keep you clothes on.  Let me demonstrate.

You’re watching the ball game (any ball game) and your team has just made a ___________ (fill in the blank) to tie the score with 2 minutes left in the bottom of the ninth.  You can literally taste the testosterone you’re percolating, and the next voice you hear is Denis Leary or Sam Elliott telling you to buy what looks like an armoured personnel carrier.  This machine eats regular trucks.  It tows ten story buildings.  It’s Knightrider black with a massive faux chrome grill that would make Katy Perry jealous.  It drives over mountains, through ecologically sensitive salmon spawning streams, up the sides of buildings.  It gets thirty yards to the gallon, uses liquid oxygen high octane fuel and needs two NASA technicians just to start it, but, who cares ‘cause you’re fist punching the living room and screaming, “Hell, yeah!  I need one of those.”  And the only thing that saves you from buying it right then and there is it costs 8 million dollars and Craig’s List rejects your Visa card.

The same thing happens late at night with sad movies.  You’re watching, They Came to Cry, the one about Eddie, the plucky non-profit vegetarian butcher who’s dying of E. Coli.  You just get to the part where his girlfriend Gwen is crawling out of the gutter after she’s been robbed by her no-good brother’s friends.  She pulls out her handkerchief to soak up the last of the antidote she spilled trying to protect herself, and suddenly there’s this dirty little kid looking at you.  A couple of flies land on his forehead, a voice says, “This is Lanzuca.  He’s eight years old.  He wants to go to school but his mother has Aids” and you burst into tears.  And you realize you’re not crying because Eddie might die or Gwen’s got a no-good brother or even because Lanzuca has to rob tourists to feed his family.  No, you’re sobbing away because it’s 1:30 in the morning, you had KFC for dinner — again, you’re going to be 36 next month and you’re watching They Came to Cry for the third time … ALONE.  So, you kinda blow your nose and, between Kleenexes, you call the 1-800 number and give them enough money to feed Manhattan because now it’s two o’clock and the only person who’s ever coming to your funeral is your high school football coach.

However, the best one, the very best one, is when you’re watching … whatever.  You get hungry and order the deep-dishad1 extra meat-lover’s Mucho Grande delivered in 30 minutes pizza.  You devour everything but the last slice like you’re a member of the Donner party, wash it down with the free two litre Pepsi, and now, surrounded by crumbs and crusts, you have to burp.  Unfortunately, it’s lying down there like a submerged bathysphere, and you’re scared to force it in case you pull a muscle.  At this point, regardless of whatever else is on TV, who shows up on every channel of the million channel universe? Mr. Bowflex and his pint-sized uber-wench girlfriend, Bicepual.  He smiles and says, “I used to look like this.” and, holy crap, it’s a black and white picture of you (with one less chin.)  “But, since I’ve got the Bowflex Semi-Pro Muscle Snapper II, I look like this.”  Then he pulls off his shirt and the guy looks like he was carved out of soap.  Seriously, if you’re that shiny you don’t need a Bowflex; you need a doctor.  “Just thirty minutes, three times a week and the girls’ll be on you like ugly on an ape.”  And out of nowhere, our boy’s surrounded by 72 virgin bikinis.  Not to be outdone, the camera pans back to Bicepual and she’s lifting weights like they’re stuff with marshmallows.  “I used to hate the beach” and the camera cuts to what is clearly a Shetland pony (bad hair and no eyes) in a black one piece bathing suit, “but now I don’t care if people are looking at me.”  And there she is in a thong, playing beach volleyball with one of the Meangirls’ heads.  She’s looking absolute fine but you’re not even thinking about it because you know, deep in your soul, in an unguarded moment of passion, a woman like that could kill a guy like you.  Meanwhile, soap sculpture is back on stage, striding around as if he were God’s gift to muscles, telling you just how easy everything is.  But, that doesn’t matter, because even though you know that there’s no way you and Bicepual are ever going to hook up, even in Fantasyland, you’ve already decided on the 72 bikini virgins.  So, you search through the cushions on the sofa, find your phone and your wallet and buy the thing, sight unseen, including another $199.95 for express shipping and a $99.00 service charge for convenient monthly payments.  The thing shows up a week and a half later, when you’ve already forgotten about it.  You and two friends haul it upstairs and, for the next four years, it sits, half assembled, in the corner of your bedroom until you finally move out of that apartment and just leave the bastard thing for the next guy.

Always be careful with advertising.  It can get you when you least expect it.