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San Diego high fashion on display at Horton Plaza

Liz Lang's On the Town

The Ralph Loren “Chaps” look — perfect sleepy-time attire for dizzy, busy San Diegans, ever eager to catch their 40 winks whenever and wherever they can!
  • The Ralph Loren “Chaps” look — perfect sleepy-time attire for dizzy, busy San Diegans, ever eager to catch their 40 winks whenever and wherever they can!

Corruptive Influence: Tidy classicism of "Waiter's Look" — white shirt, black trousers — creeps into San Diego daywear. A tad too chic for laid-back locals?

Corruptive Influence: Tidy classicism of "Waiter's Look" — white shirt, black trousers — creeps into San Diego daywear. A tad too chic for laid-back locals?

MAY DAY! MAY DAY!! Now is the time for all socially-conscious guys ‘n’ gals to come to the aid of their balmy corner of the continent! The eyes of the world are upon us. As our gawky, juvenescent town totters ever more unflinchingly towards cityhood — WORLD CLASS cityhood — idiosyncrasies once laughed off as CHILDISH QUIRKS solidify; are dismayingly regarded as CHARACTER DEFECTS

To pad or not to pad: Handbags tell the tale! The lady on the left (note dainty, poodlelike bow at base of skull) leaves her meaty epaulets exposed to pushing, shoving passers-by. On the right, protective, figure-enhancing shoulder pads keep this wise consumer safe from rude pedestrians — and from the censure of Dame Fashion!

To pad or not to pad: Handbags tell the tale! The lady on the left (note dainty, poodlelike bow at base of skull) leaves her meaty epaulets exposed to pushing, shoving passers-by. On the right, protective, figure-enhancing shoulder pads keep this wise consumer safe from rude pedestrians — and from the censure of Dame Fashion!

THE BOTTOM LINE reads S-T-Y-L-E! But just how WORLD CLASS le monde au-dehors perceives that style to be has little to do with HOW HIGH the scrapers of downtown’s skyline and HOW SLEEK the interiors of remodeled Banker’s Hill residences and HOW PRICEY the delightfully garish, ovoid objects d’ art from brutally oppressive 19th Century imperial regimes our museums display! But more importantly, it’s a heady pasticcio of HOW WE DRESS… WHAT WE CALL CULTURE … HOW WE SPEND OUR LEISURE TIME …that makes us uniquely, wonderfully SAN DIEGO. This gal-on-the-go’s been a watchin’ and is she proud!!

A Chairman of the Board — skateboard, that is! typifies daywear derring-do with a slouchy, Global Village touch: Guatemalan cotton “jams,” bleach-tipped DREDLOCKS. Could this signal the end of fashion forgettability in our corner of the continent?

A Chairman of the Board — skateboard, that is! typifies daywear derring-do with a slouchy, Global Village touch: Guatemalan cotton “jams,” bleach-tipped DREDLOCKS. Could this signal the end of fashion forgettability in our corner of the continent?

1. LA MODA

HORTON PLAZA. A dizzy, busy weekday noon. The perfect place and time to sneak a peek at San Diego fashion fundamentals. EXECU-FEMMES wearing sharply lined suits in this season’s hot parrot’s plumage tones make a beeline for NORDIE’S, their padded shoulders the perfect defensive tool with which to brush MERVYN’S-bound suburban MATRONS in polyester flower print blouses out of their paths. Squadrons of YOUNG URBAN TOUGHS stalk the food court in black nylon baseball jackets and basketball sneakers, engaged in a merry round of HIDE ‘N’ SEEK with snappily-uniformed Plaza security guards. Middle-aged BUSINESSMEN slip furtively into VICTORIA’S SECRET to purchase naughty Mother’s Day gifts, creatively besuited in a blend of neutral-toned, double-knit slacks and plaid pseudo-tweed jackets. Their leisure- time compatriots, browsing idly at the Plaza’s giant pineapples and soaring neo-classical escalators, show pale, meaty legs to best advantage with track shorts, STRIPED sports socks, and running shoes. The spindly heels of ENTRY-LEVEL SECRETARIES and STORE CLERKS carry them and their whimsically-sewn, Barbie doll-esque miniskirts smartly past Dixie-cup capped SAILORS who march in locked step down the promenade, garnering spitwads and playful sneers from AIMLESS TEENS with retro-'80s tight black clothing and pointy shoes leaning over the balustrade outside Z GALLERY.

Seaside sensibilities of two continents: A gauche, a Mediterranean fisherman in baggy trousers and espadrilles displays a Pepe le Pew-gets-electroshock-therapy hairdo: while at the right, a bespectacled swabbie opts for the crisp, easy-to-spot summer duds that make navy boys a hit with local lasses!

Seaside sensibilities of two continents: A gauche, a Mediterranean fisherman in baggy trousers and espadrilles displays a Pepe le Pew-gets-electroshock-therapy hairdo: while at the right, a bespectacled swabbie opts for the crisp, easy-to-spot summer duds that make navy boys a hit with local lasses!

Day wear’s mots de passe in these here parts? EASE …CONFORMITY through LACK OF INTEREST … Yet a certain thumbing-of-the-nose at East Coast concepts of DRESSING LIKE A GROWN UP … Our geographical location — nestled as we are at the very edge of the country — allows us, a, er latitude in matters of dress unenjoyed in more prominently-positioned urban centers. Like a child, who secreted in a corner, feels free to engage in behavior that would elsewhere bring her a slap upside the head. San Diego has heretofore taken advantage of its obscurity to revel in fashion laissez-faire.

And this pencil-packin’ social critic, for one, sees NO REASON WHATSOEVER for her fellow city mice to whip out the Visa Cards and head for Azzedine Alaia. Let other cities — the Londons, Romes, Parises — make what mark they can as centers of ready-to-wear eclecticism, as vortexes of exotic influences from all parts of the globe, vibrating with openmindedness and intellectual curiosity, continually stimulating to the eye and spirit!

What’s worn in San Diego shows a playful, spit-in-the-Devil’s-eye nonchalance that suits our brassy jeunesse to a T-Shirt! And, that, amigos y amigas, is what CHIC is all about.

There will be, no doubt, those who disagree. Those who would have us study the polish and wit of “the competition” and stifle our personal sense of vogue. Outside influences — migrants from the North, East, and South, with change in their pockets and rigid standards in their minds — will arrive, adopt our disinterested abandon or subtly alter the local fashion landscape. To avoid such corruptive influences, careful self-examination on the part of all San Diegans will become A MUST. We have a reputation to build, after all. There are no cotillions, no charm schools for burgeoning burgs! It’s TRIAL and ERROR in the big leagues, babes. SINK or SWIM. LA LOI de la JUNGLE.

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