After A Fashion
Stephen remakes his nephew: Can the world handle another style-happy Moser?
FASHIONING TYLER I have a nephew. Actually, I have several nephews, but the oldest of them has just turned 20 and has come to live with me. Yikes. For all the times I've wanted a 20-year-old, believe me, this was not what I had in mind. But Tyler, my nephew, came to me a few weeks ago, right before he turned 20, and asked if I'd help him with his looks. Hell, yes, I'd help him with his looks. I hated the tired, ratty, skater-boy look, with its oversized ragged clothes, puffy shoes, and unattractively long hair. Nothing unusual here – there are hordes of teenagers out there who look like this. I'm just not related to any of them. And Tyler isn't a teenager anymore, as he himself has pointed out. Well, fine. Then let's stop looking like one, shall we? First, we were off to Pink Salon for a properly stylish haircut. Tyler hit it off with the hairdresser and walked out of there with a shiny new head of hair, long enough to style but short enough to be low maintenance. At home we played with a number of hair products – gels, waxes, lotions, and sprays – all designed to achieve a specific result. We tried smooth mod looks, spiky punk looks, and Porter Wagoner pompadours, and frankly, I deeply admired this 6-foot-4-inch 20-year-old's ability to sit still while his ancient queen uncle subjected him to one humiliating 'do after another. I imagined myself as looking like a stereotypical Hollywood hairdresser from the Fifties – someone who calls himself Mr. Leon and wears a clipped mustache and a short-sleeved smock with pockets in front, while flitting about, pausing momentarily with his hands on his hips to study the hair before busily attacking again with the clink of metal combs and a spray bottle while murmuring to himself, "Yes, that's it," and "OK, here we go." Inevitably, when left to his own devices, Tyler tended to apply too much product at first, and the results were disappointing. But isn't that exactly how a person learns to use a product? Then we hit the stores, stocking up on well-fitted jeans, slacks, and shorts; T-shirts, button-downs, and vests. I showed him how to essentially select a uniform of tops and bottoms that were easy to throw together and left very little room for error, while working perfectly for him for most occasions. Basing the choices on black, red, and white, with an occasional splash of another color, Tyler has adopted a look (at my urging) that is part emo and part rockabilly, though it's been a challenge to get him to understand that cowboy boots are a reasonable choice for virtually any occasion. We addressed the issues of shoes, socks, underwear, and accessories. The underwear part was tricky, but I knew it was my god-given duty to tell Tyler that it was time to stop showing so much underwear above his belt and to concentrate on the style of the underwear and keeping it where it belonged: under the clothes. "Tyler," I said, "I don't suppose it's occurred to you that men could have sexy underwear, too," and we began a dialogue about the purpose and function of underwear and how it was possible to achieve every goal while still looking and feeling sexy. This was the role I was born to play: style mentor, cool uncle, and underwear specialist. But now, of course, I've created a monster. Hairstyling can take an hour or so, wardrobe selection can be excruciating, and accessorizing (will it be the rubber necklace or the silver chain?) can require a sedative. But I will admit to secretly giggling with delight recently when Tyler announced that he had to get ready for dinner with his Auntie M (yes, my sister Margaret) – three hours beforehand. Awww, like uncle, like nephew.
QUICKIES The always fun and fabulous Help Clifford Help Kids benefit, starring Delbert McClinton, is Thursday, Nov. 13, at the Austin Music Hall. Follow the link at www.americanyouthworks.org... Ballet Austin's glamorous ballet fete, Fly Me to the Moon, is Thursday, Oct. 23. Info at www.balletaustin.org.