Apropos of Nothing: A Dude’s Reflection on Fashion
An Editorial by Jamie Beckett
A reflection on fashion from a dude. It’s not pretty. But at least it’s comfortable. Hey, that’s his style and he’s sticking to it.
You may be shocked to learn that I have never, at any time in my life, been fashionable. Not ever. Not even in the mid-1980s when I lived just blocks from Fashion Avenue in New York City. Not even on a dare. It’s not my thing.
Fashion is big business, with or without me. Which is not to say it’s important, or necessary, or even smart. It just is. Who knows why? Maybe it’s because people want to show off in a way that’s not completely aggressive, but they still want to be sure others recognize their uniqueness. Their cool factor, as it were.
None of this matters, by the way, even though there are magazines and television shows and self-help books that swear it’s the most important thing in your life. Right now. Everything will change soon enough.
Fashion is cool, but it’s also goofy. Not in present tense, of course. Right now it’s rad. It’s lit. It’s all kinds of superlatives expressed in words that are equally popular for the moment. But as with the fashions they describe, the words themselves will be “Oh, so last season,” while the clothes they described are on their way to the consignment shop. That’s where people who couldn’t afford the latest fashions buy the semi-latest fashions, before eventually handing them off to the Salvation Army bin.
Did you ever wonder where it all started? Certainly it wasn’t when Davey Jones donned a Nehru jacket for a Monkees music video. Fashion was old even 20 years earlier when Cab Calloway wrapped himself up in a zoot suit to wow the folks at the Copacabana Club. A quarter century before that my grandmother was all decked out as a flapper trying to sneak into a speakeasy, which attracted the attention of my grandfather who thought she was just the bee’s knees, Roscoe.
Nope, fashion goes back farther than we can imagine. Way back to the beginning of human history. It harkens back to a time when Carlotta the Cave Queen turned her deer skin frock into a sporty off-the-shoulder number so she could stand out from all the other girls huddled around the cave one spring evening. A few months later Alma the All That modified her skirt to be just a tad bit shorter than Carlotta’s. Which caused Fern the Fabulous to run a slit up the side of her outfit. And so it was that the fashion industry was off to the races.
This all happened in a cluster of cave dwellings located in the south of what is now known as France, of course. This sort of thing wasn’t going to originate in the forerunner of Germany, or Romania. Those folks were far too practical and staid for something so lighthearted as seasonal fashions. Besides, somebody had to put in the experimental hours that were necessary to bring about the perfect potato pancake.
These things don’t just happen by accident, you know.
The Italians weren’t far behind in the pre-historic fashion world. Although they weren’t known as Italians then. They were Romans. But they got it all backward. The men wore short skirts and the women wore long gowns. This is where fashion got really silly, as Italian cars are now. Sure, they look great, but they can’t keep one running for long enough to get to the mall and back. So what’s the point of having a great looking car if all you can do with it is lounge on its hood in a seductive manner while you wait for AAA to send a tow truck your way?
This is why to this very day fashion is limited to coastal cities with international flavor. Think about it, have you ever heard of a fashion show breaking out in Norman, Oklahoma? Or Salina, Kansas? Or Kearney, Nebraska? No, you haven’t. And why not?
I’m going to guess it’s because Tony Lama, Levi Strauss, and Cumberland Outfitters just don’t sound as chic and exotic as the European brand names do. But given the choice, I’m more impressed by a cowgirl in flannel and denim than I am by some Euro-weirdo in chiffon and lace.
I just can’t imagine my wife taking out the garbage or cleaning up after the dog while wearing anything designed by Karl Lagerfeld, or Hubert de Givenchy. But then again, I’m not fashionable. Never was, never will be. So sue me.