I know I’m getting old when I remember multiple incarnations of a fashion trend. High, up-to-the-knee leather boots on women are popular again for the third time. My sisters and most other women wore them in the sixties. They were ubiquitous again in the eighties and nineties - way back in the 20th century. Now in winter, 2014, I’m seeing them again. They've never gone out of fashion in the sado-masochist community, I learned while doing research for this column. Evidently leather and arousal go together for a lot of people. Now I'll have to add that to the long list of the things I've never understood.
Lately I’m spending a couple of days a week in the Portland area. There I can perceive style trends seldom apparent in Lovell. The other day I cut through Macy’s on my way to the Apple Store in the Maine Mall because it was raining. That took me through the men’s clothing department and I noticed the mannequins were wearing shirts with the collars up. Back in the 1980s, my fashion-addicted students always wore them that way. The mannequins were dressed in two layers of shirts and both collars were up. Perhaps this was fashionable during some other period of my lifetime and I didn’t notice. My wife says I don’t notice a lot of things going on around me and she’s probably right because some things just don't interest me. I won’t be conforming to this latest fad though. All my collars are the button-down type. I like those because I wear a string on my glasses that goes around my neck and it gets caught on collars that aren’t buttoned down.
Wearing shirts outside one’s pants instead of tucked into them has been stylish the past few years I’ve noticed. It was considered sloppy when I was a kid though. My mother was constantly ordering me to tuck my shirt in and it seldom stayed that way for long. So there’s a fad I can endorse heartily - at least until I’m outside in a cold wind.
Staying in Lovell full-time, I didn’t notice fashion trends much. Clothing items in a rural area with harsh winters tend toward the utilitarian. I own two pairs of leather construction boots that I treat with waterproofing several times a year. One goes just above my ankles for walking in woods and fields as well as muddy or sandy areas or in light snow. The other pair goes halfway up my calf and those are good for deep snow or walking through heavy brush. My wife almost never wears boots. She might own a pair, but maybe not. She prefers sneakers and she doesn’t accompany me when I’m in the brush or deep snow. Nobody does, now that I think about it, but I digress.
Several times this winter I put my collar up and didn’t even know I looked cool. It’s not likely that anyone noticed though because it was when I was snow-blowing my driveway in a strong wind or going out for a run on a cold morning. Sometimes shelter from the elements and fashion coincide, but not very often.
Women are more fashion-conscious than men - or straight men at least. Always have been. Studying history, I notice relatively wild swings in the way women clothed themselves during the 20th century, which is the period I taught for many years. Men, by contrast, don’t look very different at all except for the presence or absence of whiskers. Business suits or just jacket-and-tie hasn’t varied much and that’s good for my wallet. I don’t own a suit anymore but I do have several jackets, ties and two pairs of dress pants - the flimsy kind that cling to my legs with static electricity during winter. I hate that, and they don’t keep out the wind either. I don’t like wearing them and seldom have to except to weddings and funerals. Unfortunately there have been several of the latter recently.