By Mike Monopoli
Spring is here! Time to put away the parkas, peel off the layers and think about warm weather fashion.
I must issue a disclaimer at this point, as this may be a case of the blind leading the blind. Though I’ve never been arrested by the fashion police, on occasion they have given me a menacing glare. Fortunately, in these days and times, there are a multitude of acceptable styles. Style was more uniform in the past, and those who were a little off the mark seemed to stick out in a crowd. Like music, fashion trends have been recycled, refined and re-introduced to us as the latest and greatest. I find the trick is to figure out what suits your physical stature, personality and lifestyle. Something comfortable and flattering tends to be more attractive than a contrived outfit copied from a mannequin at your local shopping mall. Remember, just like smoking doesn’t make you look cool, an outfit will not make you look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model.
Our first concern will be…Just what’s been lurking under that parka all winter, anyway? I know it can be scary to think about, but without all those layers, the real you is revealed. The pasty skin, love handles and errant body hair will no longer be hidden from view. Assess the damage that winter has caused and just what measures can be taken to transform into the golden, athletic boy-of-summer that you want to be. A step-up in your exercise program may be in order. You may want to break out the loofah, the clippers and the back-hair shaver. With body hair maintenance, less can be more. While a bit of grooming helps keep you from looking like a gorilla, avoid treating your body hair like a topiary. Try as you might, you can’t sculpt pectorals and ab muscles with a Conair clippers. You may also want to avoid sculpting your eyebrows into a shape which makes you look perpetually startled. A couple trips to the tanning salon will give you that nice all-over glow and even out any tan lines you may get from hanging your arm out of the car window. For those who don’t care to do their own maintenance, consult a professional for a manicure, pedicure, and waxing. A luxurious massage or body wrap at a local spa will ease tension and revitalize the skin.
Now is the time to assess your existing wardrobe, preferably with the assistance of an honest friend with fashion sense and a little tact. Do as they say when they tell you to throw out the Hawaiian shirts, Speedo, and the “I’m with Stupid” T-shirt. Face it, your diving career is over, and you dumped “Stupid” years ago. It’s also time to get rid of those leather sandals with the tire tread soles that look like some sort of kinky bondage device. As for the grotesquely revealing Daisy Duke denim short-shorts, be sure to burn them so they may never surface again…anywhere. Remember to keep any vintage t-shirts with trendy graphics of action figures and toy logos ~ they can be fun to wear in casual situations, along with old jeans with holes which look like new jeans with holes. Keep in mind what sort of activities you’ll be doing this summer. Will you be attending upscale lawn parties? Poolside barbecues? Are you the outdoorsy type? Will you be running, hiking or playing sports? Are you planning a sea side vacation? Make a list if necessary, and don’t forget socks and underwear!
Let’s start at the top, with hats. The ever-popular cap is still in style, from ultra-casual trucker caps, like the ones advertising road side diners, to the stylish fitted caps you find at trendy clothing stores like Abercrombie, Hollister and The Gap. New England sports fans, like myself, must have at least one Red Sox cap. Other accessories, such as belts and shoes, matter a great deal when putting together an outfit. Your belt collection should include a number of styles and colors, ranging from dressy to casual and including rustic, distressed styles to be worn with jeans and cargoes. An oversized buckle can be fun worn with low rise jeans. An assortment of shoes is also helpful; I lean towards athletic shoes myself, which can be both functional and attractive. Flip flops have become more fashionable (a far cry from the brightly colored, very plastic ones we wore to the beach as kids), as have sandals, which now come in both casual and sporty styles. Don’t forget to purchase some ankle socks to be worn with shorts ~ the fashion police frown upon knee length gym socks with colored stripes, and for Pete’s sake, NEVER wear socks under sandals. If your sandals are that uncomfortable, or your feet that ugly, wear sneakers instead. Necklaces and bracelets featuring natural elements such as leather, twill rope and metal also remain popular, just be careful not to overdo it.
Your summer wardrobe should feature earthy-colored short sleeved button-down cotton shirts, along with polos and casual Ts, all of which should be left untucked. Retailers now offer a variety of styles and colors that are sure to please anyone. Again, it would be helpful to bring along that fashionable and honest-yet-tactful friend, the one who can tell you your ass is too wide for skinny jeans with just a look. Your pants selection should include some nice casual slacks, twill and cargo shorts, athletic shorts, and tasteful swim trunks. Avoid Capri pants and too many pastels, unless you’re starring in a local production of The Birdcage. Try on some different styles and colors, and with a little help from your friend, determine what suits you best and make sure it fits right.