After a Fashion

Happy birthday to me!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US This column marks "After a Fashion"'s very first birthday, and your Style Avatar becomes misty-eyed and pensive at the thought of it. What a banner year for Austin fashion -- you've gained not only your beloved Style Avatar, but also the world's very first Susan Dell boutique. We're stylin' now! But, let's travel down memory lane, shall we, and look over our fashion calendar for the last year? Our first column introduced "WWJD," which asks the eternal fashion question, "What would Jackie do?" I had been so thrilled to find all this jewelry and accessories emblazoned with "WWJD," realizing how many people out there must be asking the same question of St. Jackie. And then afterward, I got the prim, anal-voiced message pointing out that the jewelry and accessories with "WWJD" on them meant "What would Jesus do?" not "What would Jackie do?" I stand corrected. And very disappointed. We have traveled to the runways of Paris and London (and next week, to the runways of Iceland), talked about the clothes, the designers, and the models, both internationally, and in our own back yard. We have reported on good service and bad, done battle with the House of Oldham, been battered by critics as well as being showered with praise. We have covered online shopping, travel wear, fur, diets, fashion books, local and international awards show fashions, every major fashion show here in Austin, some of the more fashionable SXSW events, and sometimes, you've even been subjected to my demented musing about fashion and life in general. But we have, hopefully, always attained our goal of making you think about fashion and style, putting it in perspective as a basic human necessity, and well as a multizillion dollar industry, and finding the reality of it all somewhere in between. And still entertain you on top of that. After a fashion, of course.

THE POWER OF THE PRESS Little did I know that I would create a veritable firestorm of controversy with my remarks about Men's Wearhouse. It started before the remarks were even published, when I received e-mail from a proofreader, saying, "I just finished proofing your critique of Men's Wearhouse. I thought it was funny, because I consider that store to be the perfect clothing store. You see, it's aimed at us straight men, not you. Unlike you, we despise shopping -- personally, the only thing I'd rather do less than shop is ... well, actually, I can't think of anything. I love that place because I go in, tell them what I need, they hand it to me, and I walk out. Done in a matter of minutes. No 'Would you be interested in this?' or 'We have a special on this.' In. Out. Done. And of course, we need fashion consultants. We've been dressed by our mothers, girlfriends, and wives, and any interludes in between that find us woman-less are always the worst-dressed years of our lives. Just thought you might like a different perspective, Lee Nichols."

Well! I guess I've been told, haven't I? Another response also pointed out, "Nobody could help you, you're so picky." Picky? If picky means you like selecting your own clothes, then I am guilty, but that's hardly a crime. But, taking a look at the sheer size of this chain, the Men's Wearhouse has lots and lots of happy customers, although, as the illustrious Mr. Nichols heterophiliacly points out, "It's aimed at us straight men, not you." Well, we're not going to follow that train of thought any further. But, then, a week after publication, I get a call from Mal Foley, regional manager of Men's Wearhouse, apologizing for the bad service. "It wasn't bad service," I told him, "it's just not how I want to shop." But I was mightily impressed that this man was taking time to call me. "How can we get you back into our store?" he asked me. "I have no problem with your store, you have good merchandise at good prices. I'll just do what I did last time and say, 'I can find what I need, and I'll let you know when I need help with anything.'" He was so diplomatic and service-oriented and such a pleasure to speak with; that's excellent service in my book. And any regular reader of this column knows that I am just as quick to mention good service as I am to mention bad. Mr. Foley, you should be pleased to know your stores have such a loyal and vocal following.

Write to our Style Avatar with your related events, news, and hautey bits: style@auschron.com 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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More After a Fashion
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Stephen MacMillan Moser, July 5, 2013

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