Keep on truckin' with newest fashions

There are a few noteworthy things about this column. First, I've since learned to dress like a normal person. Second, trends have changed. Third, the most memorable thing about my writing this was that I misspelled, like, forty things in the original draft. I did not know how to spell Louis Vuitton properly, for example ( version is here).

April 12, 2004
I’m from Chicago, so my opinions on fashion probably aren’t always incredibly valid. Chicago is always near the top of the “America’s Fattest Cities” lists, and fashion, needless to say, does not favor the heavy.

However, now that I live on the East Coast, I’ve noticed I am woefully behind the times on fashion. Whenever I go out to any hip place (concerts, art galleries, restaurants) I always find that I look like a Midwesterner, some sort of male Laverne/Shirley/Richie Cunningham combination. Everyone around me will be wearing nice clothing and look good, while I dress like I just rolled out of bed and was beaten by a group of children.

I’m not talking about high fashion (the stuff you see on ‘Sex and the City,’ E!, and in Vogue magazine). I don’t understand high fashion, you don’t understand high fashion, the highly fashionable don’t understand high fashion.

No one does. How can anyone explain wearing a top hat, sweat pants, platform sandals and a dusk mask? No one. But it’s all the rage at “Fashion Week.”

(The fashion people especially go for one-of-a-kind couture. Couture literally means “seam,” in French, but I think it’s really code for “nothing anyone with a brain would ever spend $5,000 on.”)

Rather, I’m having increasing trouble with normal, everyday fashion trends. You know, the things average Americans wear. Lately, I’ve noticed dirty jeans, pointy shoes and trucker hats occupying the fashion scene, and I don’t understand those things at all.

The first fashion trend I do not understand is what I call the “dirty jeans look.” If you’ve been out in public in the last year or so, you’ve probably seen people wearing jeans that look like they need to be washed. Not dirty in the “she wore those too long and they smell like a locker room” sense, but rather, dirty in the “she was kneeling in mud on the banks of the Potomac” sense. These jeans look like they’ve been worn (white-dirty), grass-stained (green-dirty) or muddy (brown- or yellow-dirty). Apparently, dirty jeans knows no color boundaries.

Worn-in jeans are not a new trend; people have been buying what are essentially used-looking jeans for years. However, the curiosity lies in the place of the wear. Instead of the obvious places for wear (knees, rear, hem, etc.), these pants are worn uniformly from thigh to hem; just a big, old stripe of green, brown or white on each leg. It’s as though jean manufacturers decided that dirt-mark racing stripes were in this season.

The irony in this trend is the price of said jeans. Paper & Denim Clothe (a stylish jeans company) has a model of jeans called “Low 5 Flare, Filter,” that are of the dirty/worn-in style. The pants carry a $150 price tag. For that money, you should buy a pair of $50 Levi’s and pay a homeless guy $100 to dirty them up for you.

Another popular trend is pointy shoes. Luckily, being a man, I don’t have to deal with this first-hand, as men’s shoes still come in the same categories: mobster (wing tips), fashion plates (square-toed), frat guy (round-toed), loafers (loafers) and Elvis (blue suede). There is no place for pointy-toed shoes in men’s fashion, as we’re overloaded with the above categories. (Women, on the other hand, have more shoe varieties than independent states in the United Nations.)

Fashion, to me, is mainly about utility. In the winter, a wool coat and boots are necessary to combat the cold. Galoshes work for downpours and sandals for the beach.

However, I find absolutely no utility in wearing pointy shoes. Is this a response to violence in the region? Are women defending themselves with shoes that can stab? Women don’t need switchblades or guns; they’ve got Louis Vuitton.

The irony in these shoes is the size of them. Because, thankfully, no one binds their feet anymore, the pointy, dangerous tips of these shoes are totally hollow. So, instead of wearing normal shoes, women are now turning to clown-like, hollow-tipped lethal weapons. Not only do I not understand pointy shoes; they scare the life out of me.

However, the fashion trend that both confuses and angers me is the trucker hat trend. Trucker hats are the foam-front, mesh-backed hats that John Deere salesmen wear. It is, effectively, the hat version of a mullet. In the past, the most popular accessory to the trucker hat was crystal meth and a rusted-out Camaro.

Now, it’s a $4,000 handbag and pointy shoes.

What bugs me about trucker hats is that they are, in essence, cheap things that got expensive. For years, I would go to flea markets and buy one eith stupid sayings (“I’m with stupid!” or “Foxy Grampa” etc.) for a dollar each. Now, a clothing store I frequent sells them with stupid brand names (“Girls Gone Wild,” “Olde English 800,” etc.) for $15 to 20 each. If anything else saw that kind of five-year price increase, the world would turn upside down. No one is demanding $20,000 for a ‘91 Accord, why are trucker hats worth $20?

These hats are part of a trend dubbed “trucker chic” currently sweeping the nation. Along with said hats, jean jackets, dirty denim and thrift-store T-shirts are becoming more and more popular. People are trying to dress more and more like the men driving big rigs across the United States. I guess it’s perfect irony; I move away from the Midwest and the Midwest comes back to me. Now, if only the rolled out of bed look would come back, I’d be in great shape.

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