Don't Stare: It's Menswear

TO WIT

September 20, 1992|By DAVE BARRY

Recently I read an alarming fashion article in the New York Times.

I should note that I have never been on the cutting edge of fashion. I'm more on the trailing edge of fashion, or even the discarded cardboard box of fashion that the blade of fashion was originally packaged in.

For example, it wasn't until this year that I went out in public with my shirt buttoned all the way to the top, and no tie. Before that I always followed the Official 1961 Guy Fashion Code, which said that if you buttoned your top button, you were a sissy, and Joey Maglio and Steve Stromack might stuff you into your locker and leave you there for the duration of the school year. (Granted, they might do this anyway, but it was more likely if your top button was buttoned.)

At some point, I think during the Carter administration, fashions changed and some guys started buttoning their top buttons. But I never had the courage to do this until just recently, when my wife, for my 45th birthday, gave me a very stylish (for me) shirt, which I would describe as "green," and, in a bold birthday mood, I wore it to a restaurant buttoned all the way up. Nothing bad happened, although I did sporadically emit wads of high-velocity, semi-chewed food as a result of constantly whirling around to see if people were laughing at me.

So I'm making some progress toward fashion hipsterhood. Some day I may even wear an earring. Of course, this would have to be after my death. And even then, I'd want the casket to be kept closed, in case Joey and Steve came to the funeral.

My point is that I am not in the avant-garde (literally, "hot tub") of fashion. That's why I was so alarmed by an article that appeared in the Aug. 3 New York Times under the headline: "Women's Designers Unveil A New Ease For Men." This article concerns top women's fashion designers who are now making clothes for men.

At the top of the page is a photograph of an outfit from Perry Ellis: The model, a broad-shouldered man, is wearing boots, a rugged lumberjack-style plaid shirt and . . . tights. No pants. No shorts. Just a pair of tight-looking tights. The model is frowning. He doesn't look like he's experiencing A New Ease For Men. He looks like a man who realizes that he's walking around in public dressed like a cross between a lumberjack and the late Mary Martin starring as Peter Pan.

I bet he's also worrying about how he's going to work things out in the men's room.

Even more alarming is the look being proposed for men by designer Donna Karan. According to the Times, the program for Ms. Karan's fashion show describes her designs as follows: "Take the sexiness of Indiana Jones. The earnestness of Mr. Smith in Washington. The relaxed glamour of Gary Cooper." The Times article has a photograph of a muscular male model wearing a Donna Karan outfit consisting of a jacket, no shirt, and -- here comes the New Ease For Men part -- a skirt. Really. It's a wraparound plaid skirt, quite short. The Times describes it is as a "sarong"-style skirt, and notes that "its masculinity is shored up by a garrison belt." It most certainly is.

Ms. Karan would also like you men to start covering your heads with designer bandannas, and so would Calvin Klein. The Times printed a photograph of a model wearing one of Calvin's outfits consisting of a head bandanna and an enormous three-piece suit that is spacious enough to easily hold the model and at least one head of cattle.

The thing is, right now I can't imagine wearing any of these outfits, but that's exactly how I used to feel about buttoning my top button. I'm wondering if, 25 years from now, I might be stomping crankily around the house, complaining that it's my bowling night and I can't find my official team sarong. So I'm

thinking that maybe, instead of making fun of these fashion designers, I should respect them for having the vision and courage to point the way to the future for the rest of us. Maybe it's time I wrote something positive about the fashion industry. And I will.

Just as soon as I see a leading male designer wearing tights.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.