New England Fashion an Amusing Concept!

This might sound odd from a guy whose idea of fashion is a clean T-shirt, but one of my favorite features in the paper is its periodic look at “local fashion.” The quotation marks are necessary because New Englanders don’t really do fashion. But that doesn’t prevent some folks from trying. I love the fashion section because it’s so damned funny.

Weather conspires against high fashion. In Massachusetts, there are just 98 days of full sunshine per year, and more than a third of the time Mr. Sol fails to appear at all. Imagine the statistics for northern Vermont or Down East Maine. We get enough snow, ice, rain, and cold to make skinny fashion models reach for long underwear, pork rinds, hot coffee, and the “Help Wanted” ads. New England fashion pretty much gravitates between styles labeled “prep,” “classic,” “hunting and fishing,” and “Igloowear.”

Here are some things that make for New England fashion amusement:

1. Uggs are rather universally panned these days. I don’t find them offensive, but they seem pretty dumb up these parts. We call untreated suede “bedroom slippers,” and know better than to wear them on slushy streets. We also wonder why anyone would wear them in warm weather.
2. Short dresses with down jackets make even less sense. Replace the rule of thumb with the rule of knee: If your knees turn red when you go outside, put on long pants! The male equivalent is the idea that a hoodie is outerwear. I don’t know whether to laugh or scowl when I see some young guy shivering in 10-degree weather. Hoodies are a layer, dude! (Move the calendar to June. Observe the same feckless youth sweltering in his hoodie.)

3. Sneakers: No more than two primary colors under any circumstance. Avoid all hues that look like something went wrong in the chemistry lab.

4. Long shorts are a contradiction in terms—especially if, like me, you’re short. It’s embarrassing when people come up to you and ask how you manage to walk without knees. NBA players are even worse; their ‘shorts’ make them look as if 80% of their height is from the waist up.

5. Clam diggers are for people who can’t decide between jeans and shorts. For the record, they have nothing to do with hunting mollusks; actual clam diggers wear wicked tall rubber boots. As fashion, Grace Kelly introduced clam diggers. She would have looked just as glamorous wearing the aforementioned rubber boots.

6. When I see ripped jeans I think, “Sucker!” Practical New Englanders either patch ripped jeans, or call them “rags.” If you must have a pair, don’t pay some fashion label $100; buy a pair of $30 Lees from Target, an exacto knife, and make your own.

7. On most men, moccasin style shoes say “geezer.” Or “banker on holiday.”

8. I am a proud Scot. Scots have a quirky sense of humor. Plaid is the best joke Scots have ever played on the world. There are–maybe­–two plaids that look halfway attractive. Chances are they are not in an L.L. Bean catalog near you.

9. There are two worse patterns than plaid, one of which is madras. I think it comes from the Hindi words that means, “getting sick from Indian food that’s off.” The worst of all, though, is camouflage, which is French for “monkey butt ugly.” Do you ever have the urge to come up to some camo-clad mall rat and say, “Despite your best efforts to hide, I saw you behind that rack of fuchsia towels?”

10. Pastels look good in Florida. In New England they make you look like a lost tourist. 

11. Hey guys, WTF with the sport jacket and an untucked shirt hanging a foot below the jacket hem. It makes you look like either: (a) a person who needs to get up 10 minutes earlier to finish dressing, (b) a slob, (c) a person who needs to ask his mom what goes together, or (d) all of the above.

12. It’s hard to avoid logos like the Nike swoosh, Lacoste alligators, or designer labels, but steer clear of what I call billboardware—the stuff that blasts the brand name and logo all over the article of clothing. You are, in essence, paying big bucks to become a walking advertisement. Especially avoid clothing that plasters its name across your rear end, or anything filled with so many logos it makes you look like a NASCAR driver or a Tour de France biker. Here’s the difference: those companies sponsor the celebrities, whereas you pay the companies for the privilege of looking dopey.
13. If you’re a normal person, avoid things in catalogs that say slimming. Yeah—they take a 100-poung woman or a ripped 160-pound guy, stick ‘em in Spandex and they instantly look to be not an ounce over 95 or 157. You will look like meat being stuffed into a sausage skin.

14. Mullet dresses. Just no. No mullet anything for anybody except hockey players missing at least 9 teeth. 

Not Ok.


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