After a Fashion

Nepotism is disliked only by those who have no familial connections to make use of.

ATTENTION BUSINESS OWNERS The Chronicle's Style Avatar is pleased to announce our new Secret Shopper program and urges businesses to alert us by e-mail (, voice mail (454-5765), fax (458-6910), or snail mail (PO Box 49066, Austin, 78765) about current and upcoming events, showings, and other style-related happenings. Put us on your mailing list and keep us informed. Be assured we will never smear anyone publicly, unless, of course, the concerned party does everything possible to make that happen. Having owned our own business before, the Style Avatar is sympathetic to the pressures of business ownership, but is a stickler for excellent customer service. Experience has taught me that that is the only hope a small retailer or service-oriented business has as a weapon against the conglomerates. On the other hand, there is evidence everywhere that the consumer can be easily trained to accept substandard quality, and it is the retailer or service provider's obligation to educate. This means educating the sales clerks as well. Nothing is worse for a business than having employees who cannot demonstrate product knowledge. The competition is enormous, and small businesses (and large ones, too) are regularly eaten for breakfast. It's a jungle out there, so let's all put on some smart little safari outfits and go shopping.

WHERE DID OUR STRIPES GO? So sorry to hear of Diana Ross' recent altercation at Heathrow Airport and subsequent arrest. Though Miss Ross' crime seems to have been that of being generally unpleasant, if that were the case, Miss Ross would have received a life sentence years ago. Charges have been dropped, and we have been deprived of knowing what Miss Ross would have chosen to wear in jail, but perhaps she can write us another one of those inspirational little books about the experience.

WWJD I have asked myself repeatedly, "What Would Jackie Do about all the messy hair on the runways of the spring shows?" Well, Jackie hasn't gotten back to me yet on the issue, and I needed an answer right away. The problem is of such urgency, I felt I might need more drastic measures than Jackie may be able to provide. I turned to another expert in the field of style and human relations, Joan Crawford, and beseeched her to share her wisdom with me. What Would Joan Do about messy hair on the runways? Joan, who could scare her hair into place, is a no-nonsense kind of dame who would have thrown her shoulder pads back, stuck her bosoms out, and marched backstage, rounded up the hairdressers responsible for these atrocities and told them, "Don't f*ck with me, fellas. This isn't my first time at the rodeo."

READERS WRITE It may please some of you to know that the Style Avatar is mired in a firestorm of controversy over the capri pants and big shoes issue. Debby W. has informed me in the nicest way possible that big shoes worn with capri pants are fashionable. The Style Avatar is aware of that, and that's why we raised the issue in the first place. Ms. W. further asserts that the big shoes and capri pants combination works to make the legs look smaller. Big shoes only make the legs look smaller in the same way that Minnie Mouse's shoes make her legs look smaller. As for the capri pants, if we were really trying hard to camouflage a large leg, would we choose something that cuts us off in the middle? I think not. In the end, however, Ms. W. forgives what she considers to be the Style Avatar's transgressions, because "you're a boy." Dear Ms. W., that's not what you'd call me if you knew me, but I welcome spirited debate on fashion nonetheless. ... Speaking of not knowing anything about me at all, Mr. Sid L. writes, in a cryptic message called "The Clique," that, "Hmmmm. It's not what you know ... " Let's be clear about this, Mr. L.: If your snide implication is that I used my connections to get this job, you are absolutely correct. Nepotism is a charming and sacred institution and is disliked only by those who have no familial connections to make use of. So, yes, it is who I know that helped me land this job, but it's what I know about fashion that will keep me there. Thank you for your concern. ... Confidential to Sonya R.: Thanks, hon -- you have excellent taste in compliments. ... Gail, a local retailer, sets a perfect example for other retailers by offering the Style Avatar a warm welcome. After all, you never know when our secret shopper will shop your store.

Write to our Style Avatar with your related events, news, and hautey bits: or PO Box 49066, Austin, 78765 or 458-6910 (fax)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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