Living in a fashion police state

As usual, I was consumed with loneliness this summer. Luckily, I got a job at a law office so the huge chasm in my chest was filled with anxiety. The job at the law office has also provided me with something called money. I am finally earning more than a drinking wage.

I realize that Social Security and Medicare will be bankrupt long before I retire and that I should choose to save, but I need some new clothes. I used to think I’d never get tired of slacks and white, button-down shirts with no tie, but the impossible has happened.

This is a problem, though. I have no idea what to wear, for, just as the railroad spurred the rapid development of much of our country in the last century, information technology has caused the rate of change in fashion to increase exponentially.

It’s no secret that we live in a fashion police state.

If you don’t read the style section of the newspaper – and really, why would you? – then you have some talk-show host telling you what’s appropriate through the language of make-overs.

“Thank you Jenny. I had no idea the kind of person I could be, the kinds of potential I had to fulfill until you trimmed my hair and put me in Capri pants.”

If that isn’t enough, there are attractive young people on television and bus-stop benches wearing orange vests. I want to be an attractive young person. Should I go to the Gap and buy an orange vest?

In one sense it’s cool: the orange vest is ironic and ironic is what we all want to be. On the other hand, it’s an orange vest and, therefore, ridiculous. Do I have the courage to be ridiculous?

I could look to what the people around me are wearing. But I don’t want to do that. I’m different, that is to say, not at all like you. I’m sure, reader, that you also think you’re different from everyone else, but if that’s true, why are you all wearing pretty much the same thing?

To return to this orange vest, I’ve been burned before by this sort of thing. In the spring of 1997, everyone wore powder-blue shirts. Those shirts signaled the return of color to our wardrobes. It was exciting, just like Pleasantville without the not-very-subtle racial subtext.

I bought a powder-blue shirt. It was talismanic, I could do anything in that shirt. Then powder blue disappeared. Aside from the sky and some girls’ tank tops, it is nowhere to be seen.

Will this happen with the orange vest and the clothes I’ll have to buy to go with it? This is the peril of our “Information Age.” This, and Y2K. I realize that some people believe the computer glitches will be no more serious than those during a big winter storm, but a reliable source with a bullhorn who generally hangs out on K Street assured me that it will signal Jesus’ return and the start of a new era.

I guess if all that’s going to happen in about three months, it won’t matter what I’m wearing. I’ll just spend my money on better beer.

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