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Salt Lake City Weekly Spring Fashion Report

Haute Couture expert Mr. Lyle's fashion tips and style trends to look for this spring.

By Bill Frost

APRIL 20, 1998:  After a long, cold winter of hiding out, the time has come once again to evaluate your fashion-preparedness for spring 1998. It's a scary thought, since Utah was recently ranked as one of the top ten worst states for fashion by the ultra-hip Jeunesse Dorée magazine.

To help remedy this situation, I contacted international fashion critic and Jeunesse Dorée contributor Mr. Lyle, who was more than happy to extend advice for the heretofore hopeless Utahn for an ample fee. Mr. Lyle also imparted some of his insider knowledge of what's going to be hot in the fashion world for spring 1998, for an additional fee.

The following Q&A was conducted over the phone while Mr. Lyle was in the midst of an exclusive runway show in Manhattan—fashion never rests:

Utah was ranked just under Alabama as one of the worst fashion-offenders in the United States: What can be done to help the people of this state become stylish?

Well, first of all, Utah will probably remain near the top of the list for all time and eternity. Why? Because your people tend to be very, how shall we say, corpulent? Fat people just aren't fashionable. I know that it's a difficult fact to face, but even with Oprah Winfrey and that Delta Burke woman trying to tell the public otherwise, fat doesn't fly. That university coach who's been on TV recently [University of Utah basketball coach Rick Majerus] is a prime example: There he was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, oozing out over the chair and filling up the entire screen. He was representing your big, fat state perfectly. My first piece of advice to Utahns would be to put down the ice cream and get on a Stair Master.

We sent you a videotape of a typical spring day at one of our local parks, featuring average people who were out and about for the first days of the season: What were your conclusions?

My first reaction was one of horror: "For the love of God! Don't wear shorts that were made for a person half your size!" I thought that some of those women would burst right out of their cut-offs, and I don't even want to talk about the men—where do you go to still get that Billy Ray Cyrus/professional wrestler haircut?"

We have about nine SuperCuts outlets in the valley.

Steal this dress: Supermodel Lia strikes a pose in vintage leather dress from the Bag Lady Boutique.
photo: Fred Hayes
That explains it. Getting back to the shorts for a moment, I must also add that, just because spandex shorts say "one size fits all," it should not be taken literally by anyone over 300 pounds and standing under five feet tall. It's sick, it's wrong, and you're only hurting yourself—and anyone who has the misfortune of seeing you bend over to pick up a frisbee. For the most part, I would simply advise Utah men and women to pick up a fashion magazine once in a while—recent ones, not the ones from the '80s that they are obviously reading in dentists' offices.

Maybe we can begin the healing right now: What's going to be "in" for the spring of 1998?

Platform shoes will be even bigger this year—literally. We're going to be seeing 12- to 18-inch heels everywhere, for both men and women. Tall is in, and you simply wouldn't want to be caught dead at a party or function staring into someone's chest—unless you're the president [laughs].

For men, the backlash against the designer, greed-driven apparel of the corporate '90s will manifest itself even further. It will go beyond the blue-collar, working-man look and head directly for the lowest rung on the career ladder: fast-food uniforms. Men who like to play it safe will be drawn to the understated Burger King or Taco Bell ensembles, while the truly daring and rebellious will go for the timeless Hot Dog On a Stick outfit.

As far as men's hairstyles go, it's all about consolidation: The shaven pate, long sideburns and facial hair will all combine with a bold look that's been dubbed in Europe as the "Uniburn." You achieve this look by first growing a beard and long sideburns. Then, you shave the front and back halves of the skull, as well as the mustache, leaving what is, in effect, a continuous "sideburn" that runs over the head and around the chin, framing the face. It is very important to keep the Uniburn neatly trimmed, or it will just look silly.

For women, one of the most exciting items to come off the runways in Milan is a wonderful retro-combination of two favorites from the '70s, the mood ring and the tube top, called—what else?—the "Mood Top." Also, the hit TV show Ally McBeal has triggered a trend toward skirts that are shorter than allowed by law in some states—Utah included, I would guess. Wearing these micro-skirts with the platform shoes that I mentioned earlier could mean that anyone not wearing tall shoes could get quite an eyeful—don't forget the underwear, ladies.

Speaking of underwear, an audacious move by a start-up company called My Little Secret has the women's business fashion world buzzing. No doubt you've heard of Depends, the adult diaper? The designers at MLS, in tune with the fact that today's career woman is far too busy for any interruptions in her work day, have taken the concept to the next level—sexy, yet functional adult diapers that move beautifully from the boardroom to the bedroom. Victoria's Secret is rumored to be buying the patent.

One of the more-unusual trends coming this spring relates not to the clothes but the shopping experience itself. Consignment shops and used-clothing stores have been popular for years, but this year things will move to the next level: stealing other people's clothing. It's kind of a thrill-seeking endeavor that's all the rage in haute couture right now—taking clothes from laundromats, clotheslines, health-club locker rooms, dressing rooms of clothing stores, you name it. The consignment shop is passe; that's so 1996.

I had no idea. Thank you, Mr. Lyle—this has been very informative. Any parting suggestions for fashion-hungry Utahns as they move into spring?

Just remember: If you don't look good, your state doesn't look good and, in turn, you don't look good again. And please, skip a meal or eight—navigating 18-inch platforms while wearing that Mood Top and short skirt will be difficult enough: don't make it harder on yourself. Happy stealing!

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