Thursday, June 02, 2005

Welcome back, ye olde prairie skirt

Let us now praise whatever fashion gods have deemed the ankle-grazing prairie skirt the dernier cri of summer chic. At last, modest clothing returns to the racks and to the backs of college girls everywhere.

Each semester, I marveled at whatever saucy new trend had been dictated to the fashion-obsessed undergrads. Inevitably they would turn up for class decked out in nearly identical versions of the latest look. Like a secret memo had gone out to the sorority houses: "Burn all black velour Juicy Couture. Must haves: denim minis, pastel Polos, Jimmy Choos with kitten heels. Wearing of knock-offs will result in strictest punishment."

Last winter the prevailing look was a perplexing ensemble indeed: Baby pink or pale blue Uggs (ugly boots that make even the thinnest gams look like hamhocks), flouncy mini-skirts and cashmere or heavy cotton hoodies. In lieu of the mini-flounce, the tiny faded denim skirt with a ragged-chewed hem was acceptable, in gynecologically dangerous sizes. God, those skirts were short. So, I thought as I watched the legions of leggy lasses file out of the lecture halls and into the icy January wind, they want to keep their chests and feet warm, but they let their Brazilian-waxed nether regions freeze. Maybe they wore little mink thongs under there.

I was never fond of the towel dress either. That was the yellow or lime green Juicy tube, strapless, very short. During summer school, I was assigned a classroom with notoriously brisk air conditioning. Some days the digital thermostat registered 62 degrees. Meat locker cold. After an hour or two, the rows of revealing terry tubetops and towel dresses turned into hard-nipple city. Turkey's done! Headlights on!

During the apex of the Juicy phase, one set of greeks favored the tightest possible black versions, with the pullover extending just to the top of the bellybutton, the better to let the diamond stud wink from within the innies. With their scary-thin figures, long streaky ponytails and Chanel sunglasses, it was nearly impossible to tell one from another. A herd of hungry Heathers.

And the guys? There were so few in the classes I taught -- 20 females to every 2 males -- it was hard to discern trends. The Brads (the gender opposite of the Ashleys) favored baggy shorts, flipflops (even in winter), team jerseys, Polos. Facial hair = out. Year-round tans = in. These boys log so much time on tanning beds, they should get frequent fryer miles.

So I say welcome back, prairie skirt. I still have several from the first time they were in. Just like everything else that was popular when I was in college, it all comes back eventually, tighter and more expensive.

Hang onto those Uggs, girls. When you're 30, they'll be vintage and desirable. But those teeny-weeny minis? You can safely dispose of those along with the notes you took in Intro to Mass Media. Take that as gospel from a survivor of the humiliating "Hot Pants" era. Fashion trends may come and go. But your upper thighs will never again look as good as they do right this minute.

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