Glamour mag throws party for the fashion victims

October 15, 1992|By Michael Kilian | Michael Kilian,Chicago Tribune

WRITING FROM NEW YORK -- I was at the most wonderfully chic, sophisticated, hot and trendy party here in the Fun Apple the other night. It was at ultra-campy, 1940-esque Supper Club, and I wasn't five minutes in the door when I saw a woman with toilet tissue stuck to the bottom of her shoe.

A gentlemanly waiter kindly removed the toilet paper, whereupon the woman shook her head, rushed to the ladies room and emerged with another stuck firmly to her footgear.

There were others as improbably improperly dressed: A man wearing too-short trousers, striped shirt, bright-checked sport coat, clashing red bow tie; a woman with exposed bra straps that looked like parachute straps.

One lovely but similarly mis-dressed lady -- I think her slip hung a good 6 inches below her skirt hem -- took in my neat, three-piece suit with a provocative eye and sneered: "You could have been more adventurous."

The party, don't you know, had the theme of glamour dos and don'ts,with most guests coming as definite don'ts. It was held to celebrate the paperback publication of a compilation of 50 years of Glamour magazine's famous feature of the same name, under the title, "Glamour Dos & Don'ts Hall of Fame" (Villard Books, $7.95).

Aside from the sheer horror of their look, what I found most striking about the glamour don'ts in both book and magazine is the timelessness of them. Don'ts from the '40s and '50s recur with appalling regularity in the '80s and '90s.

Thick-soled, high-heeled platform shoes, barely acceptable with knee-length or short skirts, look Truly Dreadful with slacks or long skirts, yet women have been prancing about that way ever since Glamour began doing dos and don'ts.

Other perennial don'ts included assorted mismatches, especially the idiotic sporting of leather bomber jackets over business suits; excessive eyeliner; too tight T-shirts; and, of course, exposed undies.

"Don'ts come from laziness, carelessness and slovenliness," said the woman with the toilet tissue on her shoe, Glamour senior fashion editor Joanne Mattera, who edited the book. "It's also a matter of trying to be too trendy and just overdoing."

Fashion dos, Ms. Mattera said, are rooted in "logic and good taste."

For prime examples of that, Glamour includes a "Do Hall of Fame" with such simply marvelous members as Candice Bergen, Katharine Hepburn, Jackie O., the always smashing Michelle Pfeiffer, Liz Claiborne, k.d. lang and, yes, Joan Rivers.

As a worshiper of good taste (if not necessarily of logic), I couldn't possibly disagree with any of Glamour's findings.

But imagine my astonishment just a few days later when another book came -- from the very same publisher, Villard Books -- titled, "Royal Fashion & Beauty Secrets: An Intimate Look at How Princess Diana Achieves Her Radiance, Style and Grace -- Revealed for Women Everywhere."

Mon Dieu, this volume is nothing less than 123 pages of what strike me as monumental fashion don'ts.

I mean, my dears, here's one picture of Di out for an afternoon stroll in a voluminously fur-trimmed tent of a coat that makes her look like Adm. Robert Peary trekking to the North Pole. Here's another of her in an evening gown with one shoulder bare and the other bedecked with a huge, ridiculous bow.

We also find her riding horseback in a raincoat that looks like one Napoleon wore retreating from Moscow, in a navy suit with striped lapels and cuffs desperately in need of horizontal hold. She is shown in a belted jacket with flounced hem that barely reaches to her royal hips, and (gads) in a strapless red evening gown with purple sari slash and tropical flowers in her hair (she looks like one of those drinks they serve at Trader Vics).

Not only is her eyeliner excessive, but it's the turquoise hue of her eyes. Even Picasso would have thought it wretched excess.

What can I say? This is a woman I saw bounding up the steps to the White House wearing a suit, high heels and NO STOCKINGS!

Yet here she is being put in the same fashion league as Candice Bergen and Pfeiffer -- or my own personal fash fave, Audrey Hepburn.

Like Ms. Mattera says, "logic and good taste."

And if you don't have that, marry a prince.

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