Orlando Sentinel July By Jean Patterson Fashion s big coverup by thebestone

VIEWS: 18 PAGES: 2

									        Orlando Sentinel
July 22, 2004                                                                                              By Jean Patterson


Fashion's big coverup
Modesty returns, along with longer-length skirts, higher waistlines — and, at long last,
belly buttons disappear.

Miniskirts, skimpy tops and those embarrassing, thong-baring jeans are on the way
out. They are being replaced by high-waist pants, long-sleeve tunics and knee-grazing
skirts.

The latest fashion watchword is modesty.                                                   From tweens on up, clothes that cover up
                                                                                           tummies, arms, and legs are becoming
A word long missing from the style lexicon, it's suddenly on the tongue of every trend-    more popular for purchase.
                                                                                           Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando
watcher, on the runways of London, Paris and New York, and in the latest issues of         Sentinel
magazines as different as Seventeen, InStyle and Vogue.

"Naughty vs. nice," trumpets Vogue's cover. And inside: "The end of the reign of the
teen pop temptress. ... Britney, Paris and Christina are overexposed in every way."

InStyle suggests readers steal the preppy '50s look of Faith Hill in "The Stepford
Wives," and praises the "bookish refinement" of Hilary Swank's buttoned-up white
blouse and knee-length gray skirt.

Hilary Duff, looking squeaky-clean in a demure, dove-gray jacket over a white top, is
Seventeen's cover girl. (Could old-fashioned names such as Hilary also be part of the
trend?)
                                                                                           Styles seen in movies such as "The
                                                                                           Stepford Wives" can be seen on clothing
In a single season, fashion has flipped from cheesy to cutesy.                             racks across the nation.
                                                                                           Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando
                                                                                           Sentinel
Fashion experts suggest a number of reasons for the about-face. Some welcome it;
others view it with suspicion. But all agree it is happening — from coast to coast, and
for everyone from tweens on up.

"The first reason that comes to mind is the most obvious: the fashion pendulum," says
Rachel Weingarten, a trends expert and president of GTK Marketing Group in New
York. "Fashion is always swinging from one extreme to the other: mini to maxi, tight
leggings to baggy pants, bare to covered-up.

"Think of Madonna, how she's gone from bustiers to mumsy dresses and floral frocks."
                                                                                           Modesty rules in the latest fashions, with
                                                                                           knee-grazing skirts and long-sleeve tunics
There's also the current backlash against showing too much skin, she says — against        making appearances on models.
Abercrombie & Fitch's naked catalog models; against Janet Jackson's flash during the       Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando
                                                                                           Sentinel
Super Bowl halftime show.

"People have had enough. Even sexualized pop stars are starting to scale back," she says.

The backlash against revealing fashions has been unusually virulent in recent months, says Lyn Mikel Brown, an associate
professor of women's gender and sexuality studies at Colby College in Waterville, Maine.
The reason: Marketers have targeted "even the littlest girls with sexualized clothing and messages."

"I think for many parents, myself included, this was the most offensive part of the trend," says Brown, mother of a preteen
daughter. It's hard to explain to an 8-year-old — and as a mother I resent the fact that I'm pressed to do so — why certain
clothing suggests certain things to certain people."

In other words, try explaining "hooker chic" to an 8-year-old.

Catherine Stellin, a vice president at Youth Intelligence, a trend-tracking company in Los Angeles, agrees the "slutty look"
is passé.

"It's oversaturated," she says. "The way to stand out is to go against the grain. Right now, that means having a more
covered-up, sophisticated look.

"It's nice," she adds, "when trends work in parents' favor."

In interviews with girls and young women across the country, "the word 'trashy' came up a lot," Stellin says. Teens who a
few months ago emulated the provocative style of pop idols such as Jennifer Lopez now are spurning those looks as
"trashy," she says.

Their new role models are fresh-faced stars such as TV's Mischa Barton of "The O.C." and Amber Tamblyn of "Joan of
Arcadia." The modesty trend is also tied to the political climate, says Stellin. "There's this sense of uncertainty — about the
economy, the threat of terrorism, the war in Iraq, the (Abu Ghraib) prison scandal. These are big issues in people's minds,
issues that call for more-serious clothing."

Sexy style is the culmination of two major lifestyle forces: "The sexual liberation movements of the 1970s and the physical-
fitness craze of the '80s. They merged during the '90s, slowly but surely," says David Wolfe, creative director at the
Doneger Group, a trend-forecasting company in New York. "Now low-rise can go no lower — I hope."

Fashion has reached the point of "sleaze fatigue," says Jamie Ross, another consultant with the Doneger Group. "Bare just
doesn't look new anymore — and fashion needs to look new all the time."

This quest for newness, and the marketing hype that accompanies each new trend, troubles Colby College's Brown.

"Whenever there's a dramatic shift, it's a marketer's dream. It means there's a whole new line of clothes to market," she
says. "I suspect clothing manufacturers are gleeful and are pushing this big-time."

Also, watchwords such as "modest" and "demure" raise a red flag for Brown.

"'Modesty' sounds like pre- or post-feminist jargon for stepping back, acting nice, not making waves," she explains. "I
worry that what will follow is a push for girls to be more accommodating and conservative."

She would rather girls be creative, bold and independent — no matter what trend they follow.

								
To top