Thursday, January 31, 2008

Progressive in conservative's clothing.

Once, during high-school, just after my parents had removed to remote and unfashionable Darrington, I left for a date wearing a knee-length grey jersey shirtdress. As I walked to the car, my mom called out, "You're wearing that to see a boy? You look like a frumpy librarian!"

This is the same mom who now has an enormous closet full of floor-length floral skirts (though I guess floral's en vogue now, too, proving all fashion transitory and vaguely arbitrary, basically a game of roulette winnable by anyone with some semblance of personal style).

Anyway, I occasionally did feel like a prudish aunt trapped in a teenage world of magazines lined with navel-skimming J-Lo necklines and department store shelves overflowing with thong-baring 7 jeans. All I ever wanted was to be a responsible adult, with a job, an apartment, a kitchen-aid mixer, and a nice pair of pumps. My first crush was Alex P. Keaton, and I while I quickly was bred into liberalism, my biker/hippie mom was obviously unable to break me of my affinity for pinstripes. It may never be my work wardrobe, nor (more unfortunately) Brian's, but I do love a nice suit.

So it was with enthusiasm I read the The Newly Uptight in the NY times. Blazer-loving women unite! Next week's NY Fashion Week promises a wealth of pencil skirts, pumps and properly-fitted strong lady pieces.

Beyond my general appreciation for the conservative aesthetic, these structured suits are safely non-trendy (read: timeless, not boring), and more flattering than most contemporary fashion -- designed in the 1950's/early '60s, when important women drove markets and not their troubled teenage daughters. It may all be fashion, but knee-length wool skirts are not equal to skinny jeans.

I can only hope the Jackie O manicured, first-lady-waiving, perfectly coifed image will actually replace the now-popular Mary Kate and Ashley O stringy-hair, anorexic-hunched, boho image for some significant duration. If the Times' quotations on this movement as "fashion comfort food" for the current/impending recession are to be believed, I imagine it may be safe beyond autumn.

Photo: Old ladies, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton

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