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Randi Kreiss

Fashion: Think your mother’s rubber gloves


I never got women’s fashion. I suppose that’s hilariously obvious to anyone who knows me. The idea that we women, and men as well, should follow the dictates of fashion gurus and buy what they tell us is “in” has always seemed absurd to me.

I have a solution, but first consider the demands of high fashion.

Clothes made for 6-foot-tall women who weigh 90 pounds don’t fit real people who actually need to eat. And the need to always find something “new” pushes the boundaries of the grotesque on many runways. If you want to be seen as trendy, you must continually toss out the old and buy the new.

In this particular politically fraught season, orange is definitely the new black, and orange jumpsuits have even been featured on the front pages of our major newspapers (see: Manafort, Paul). Private bet: We will soon be seeing prison wear on the racks. But I drift . . .

I want to share with you the most recent fashion trends as presented in the high-end fashion zines, and perhaps, even though no one can agree on anything anymore, we may agree that rubber dresses are a non-starter.

Elle magazine says that this spring, one of the go-to fashions will make you nostalgic for your mother’s yellow dish gloves. The dresses are form-fitting, in bold colors, of the synthetic rubber variety. What I imagine is a rubber dress, like a giant condom, suffocating the body and triggering hyperthermia within minutes. I hope ambulances are on standby, because rubber will surely hit the road.

For eveningwear, it’s go really big or go naked. Half of the featured gowns are enormous, shapeless tents that engulf the wearer. The women remind me of hermit crabs that carry their houses with them. Just wearing one of these creations would be a challenge. Actually performing any human function, like sitting down, is out of the question. The other half of dress-up goes transparent, with super-sheer gowns that can be found in the “exhibitionist only” aisle. Bizarre.

This spring the models are carrying handbags that range from the uselessly minuscule to something you might find in an aviary. One woman carried something all black and white and feathery that looked very much like a penguin. Oh yes, feathers and sticks are all the rage.

Elle also tells me that I must wear bicycle shorts with a long, conservative, man-style blazer. The look is the work of a misogynist. It’s all knees and disproportion. If you sport a blazer in a bold plaid and polka dot shorts, you’re in. And if you wear over-the-thigh black boots and a bucket hat, you are beyond cool.

Please allow me one I-told-you-so. Decades ago, my mother told me to toss my padded shoulder blouses and jackets. But we all know it all circles back, and sure enough, padded shoulders are in again. Ruching is also tres chic. That’s when the material in a skirt or dress is all bunched up, as mine usually is after I take a nap in a ball gown, if I had one.

Some designers are featuring asymmetrical clothes, which, honestly, look as if your 2-year-old dressed you in the dark.

Shoes are crippling creations, as usual. I did, however, see a small ad for plantar fasciitis sneakers, which, hooray, can really serve a purpose for active people with issues.

My pushback solution against the Kim Jong-uns of haute couture is the concept of a kind of uniform for women when they dress for business or stepping out. I’m not talking orange jumpsuit, but Elle does feature a “utilitarian one-piece garment” that evokes a kind of fashion-conscious custodian look.

Some women TV anchors have begun to wear uniform-like basic tops and blazers in simple dark colors that are just there and don’t draw attention to themselves. I see that as a strong feminist statement: See who I am, not what I’m wearing. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow wears pretty much the same black jacket every night. Her sister talk show host, Mika Brzezinski, who once flaunted patterns and flowing scarves, has also been trending toward simple navy or burgundy long-sleeved tops.

I like it. For years, many of us regular folks have been wearing black as a kind of uniform, from leggings or jeans to shirts and sweaters and tops that cover us in an attractive way but don’t decorate us for someone else’s approval.

Copyright 2019 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.