Despite what spending too many weeks looking at too-thin models wearing too-expensive clothes can do to your sense of reality, my semiannual trips to cover the runway shows in Europe and New York have their illuminating moments.
One came at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, while I was watching a fashion show sponsored by Mouton-Cadet in conjunction with its Young Designer Award.
The show itself was actually a series of mini shows featuring the clothes of the seven nominees for the award. The models were not the ones we'd been seeing on the runways all month. Presumably, Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington were already booked.
The Mouton-Cadet mannequins were not as reed-thin and long-legg as the models who work the regular shows. Still, they were a long way from overweight.
They looked, collectively, like the prettiest girl in high school, the one who grows up to carefully watch her weight, religiously follow Jane Fonda's workout video, and play tennis twice a week.
Majority left out another thing about these woman. They didn't look very good in the spring clothes.
What does this tell up? Nothing we don't already know in some secret place in our hearts. Very tall, very thin women look better in almost anything than less tall, less thin women do.
I can live with that. Those of us who don't possess drop-dead bodies are, we hope, amply compensated in some other way.
But it's ironic that the very clothes designers and retailers are hoping will lure recession-spooked shoppers back to the stores won't look good on the vast majority of those customers.
It's not that I don't like the clothes shown for spring. In fact, I like them quite a lot. But I can't wear many of them, and neither can most of the women I know.
Dark colors, virtually nonexistent in the spring collections, are more flattering to the average woman with the average extra weight around her hips than are bright colors and splashy prints. Skimpy slip dresses - a popular spring trend - really require a show-offable body to have the right effect.
I'm not suggesting designers stick to boring formula of tried-and-true basics. I appreciate change.
But I think it might not be a bad idea if designers paid a little more attention to what the bodies of real women actually look like before they try to convince us that they are, in fact, designing clothes for us.
I'd be happy to act here as a consultant, free of charge.
Short skirts are fine. I like them. I even wear them. But they are not the best length for everyone, and when they climb higher than two inches above the knees, they aren't the best length for anyone over 16 years and 100 pounds.