Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Fashionista Four Decades Ahead of the Trend

My mother used to keep clothing in her closet for decades, reasoning that eventually all fashion repeats itself. Of course, she didn't always wait for a particular style to return to vogue, but she was correct that designers revive the past. 

So it was with a little bit of a smirky “been there, done that” attitude that I noticed the lead article of Thursday’s Styles section of The NY Times described how blue is the new black when it comes to tuxedos ( Yours truly was a fashionista four decades ahead of the trend. My wedding tuxedo back in 1973 was midnight blue, worn with a powder blue ruffled shirt and oversized velvet blue bow tie. 

I wore that tuxedo for more than a dozen years, until the waistline of the pants could be let out no more to accommodate my expanded tummy. I even had midnight blue shoes, a pair of Soldini Italian loafers with tassels I found in Macon, GA, at the opening of an Aim for the Best store. 

You've never heard of Aim for the Best? Not surprising. It was an effort by T.G. & Y. Stores of Oklahoma City, an old-fashioned variety and discount store chain of some 930 units and $1.9 billion in sales, to go upscale in the early 1980s. It was a beautiful store but required more discipline to operate than the good people at T.G. & Y. could muster on a consistent basis. Aim for the Best didn't last too long. For that matter T.G. & Y. didn't last too much longer either, a casualty of Wal-Mart’s conquest of middle America.

I loved those blue loafers even though my boss John made fun of them. After a resoling in the mid-90’s, the shoes felt tight. It broke my heart to give them away. I didn't realize it at the time but my discomfort had nothing to do with the shoes. It was an early warning sign of peripheral neuropathy in my feet.

Getting back to the tuxedo, I found a discrepancy between The Times article and Downton Abbey concerning the timing of when a dinner jacket with black tie and pants supplanted the more formal white tie and tails men of a certain social standing customarily wore in the evening. 

The Times dated the introduction of the tuxedo to no later than 1886, while Downton Abbey implied that a full 30 years later, during World War I, standards of dress became more lax and commonplace ( Personally, my comfort level remains blue, as in blue jeans. Sometimes worn with a casual sports jacket.