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Something to really be excited about

By
September 6, 2007

Fashion Week is happening in New York City, and, darling, I know you are excited. Because this is such a sparkling event, I will not spoil it by throwing a cheese sandwich on the catwalk and starting a food riot.

That would be so cruel. Those poor, underfed models are miserable enough without some overfed writer playing the well-meaning fool.

I know, I know. I can never make these slaves of fashion smile. I know they are forever doomed to waggle their hips by putting one foot in front of the other as if walking the line during a DUI stop, and always with boredom writ large on their scowling faces.

No, I won’t put on a velvet suit and fly to New York City to make a statement with a cheese sandwich.

But I feel I have to do something to end the fashionable abuse of these young women. Surely they would like to shed the constraints of a fashion-driven society and have normal bodies that could be cuddled by a friend without fear of cracking a rib.

I ask myself: What can I, as a regular pudgy person, do about this cruel pageant?

Why, I can be a rumpled slob who prides himself not on being fashion conscious but fashion unconscious. In short, I can do what I have always done.

I cannot say whether fashion today is good or bad in its particulars. I am the last one to ask what the bodice is doing at this moment of history. The same with hemlines — are they up or down in the best fashion circles? Beats me.

While I live in hope that hemlines are up, I am against all fashion — sartorial, literary, political, artistic and culinary — as a matter of principle. My view is that if you stick with one thing, fashion will come to you and it will be less expensive.

(If you want to please me, take off your hat, stop deconstructing the text, split the neo from your agenda, cut the cubism and give me, yes, a cheese sandwich.)

I haven’t worried for years about fashion trends. To be sure, as an impressionable youth, I was deeply scarred by fashion mistakes. I remember bell-bottom jeans with shame. In those days, you went to a dance thinking you looked like a cowboy only to be greeted with cries of “Hello, sailor!”

There were also medieval-like jerkin coats for men. Rather than making me look like a cool cat, the jerkin either made me look like a jerk or a medieval shepherd that had lost his flock.

Nowadays, I go my own way. At work, I wear the traditional uniform of the editorial writer — the navy blue blazer, shirt, tie, gray slacks and loafers. Year in and year out, it is a look both old-fashioned and contemporary, boring yet half awake. Nothing ever changes.

True, blazers will sag with the weight of adjectives, shirts will become threadbare, ties and slacks will become soup-encrusted and loafers will wear out from excessive loafing. But all replacements will be in the same mode.

Contrast this with the anxieties faced by you fashion-conscious readers. All this week you will be looking fearfully to New York City for guidance on what you will be wearing shortly. You know the peril you are in, don’t you?

It is entirely probable that the fashion mavens, moved by a secret loathing of humankind, will establish some terrible fashion dictate that will cause whole wardrobes to be jettisoned in favor of styles that set dogs to barking.

Perhaps garbage-bin lids will be the new hats. Perhaps excessive padding will return to the shoulders of women’s dresses, turning every woman into a linebacker. Who knows what Fashion Week will hatch.

You can put an end to this, you know. Follow my lead and adopt a style and stick with it. You may not think you look so attractive, but the nights are dark and you can still find love.

Do it for you and do it for her, the sullen catwalk hip swayer put on public display — yes, reunite her with her inner cheese sandwich.

(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)postgazette.com)