Fashionable Beachwear, 2010
I suppose if you do this blog thing long enough, it's inevitable that you'll loop around to update some of the older stories.
Here it is late December and I was in San Diego the other day hanging around raffish neighborhoods taking pictures. Last December, at almost the exact same time, I was hanging around raffish neighborhoods east of Los Angeles. I even wrote a blog post about a store window I saw there. The blog post was titled the “Resort Wear Issue.”
Normally there would be no connection between these two business trips, except that in this case they both happened to be for the same client and both ended with mid-December trips to California. But even more important, both trips brought me into contact with an apparent California fashion trend I’d not taken seriously before.
Last Wednesday it was overcast and drizzly most of the day. I started with a walk along the Pacific oceanfront in Mission Beach. Mission Beach is one of those places that’s hip enough to have a fancy Urban Outfitters store, drunks asleep on the sidewalk, “old soul” surfers and lots of ironic young hipsters in t-shirts and Vans. In other words, my kind of neighborhood, an eclectic enough place that nobody takes much notice of a guy with a camera.
I was doing my usual reconnoitering, looking at things, looking behind things, walking up and down streets and alleys and so on. Some people prefer to look for pictures on the main avenues. I’m more of an alley person. In a Mission Beach alley it’s possible to see a pair of Bentleys in the garage of a multi-million dollar house on one side of the street and a little bungalow like this right across the alley. (If you’re interested in the bungalow, by the way, one in slightly worse shape just down the alley is for sale for $775,000. Parking not included.)
Not a Rental, 2010
As I was walking back to my car, I happened to look into the window of one of the t-shirt shops and notice the pictures shown above. I’m talking about the ones with the happy couples in matching resort wear.
Indeed, there seems to be something in California to this notion of couples wearing matching resort wear. I’ve seen it now in two different stores in two different California communities.
It’s said that trends frequently start on one of the coasts and move across the country to the other over a year or two’s time. But this matching floral shirt thing is not a trend that seems to have made it to the East Coast yet, though because I haven’t been there I can’t say for sure that this isn’t the case in New Jersey or on the shuffleboard circuit in Florida.
Like many men, my fashion sense locked in sometime between high school and college—thankfully, if it had to be in that era—just before platform shoes got big. These days I can be well turned out if I need to. But I’m unlikely to ever be considered fashion forward. Still, my wife would probably smack me silly if I brought home a pair of matching floral print tops for us to wear anywhere, no matter how many California boutiques I told her I’d seen them in.
My clients don’t pay me for my fashion sense. I did a lot of fashion retailing research, though, when I first started out. And if you’re professionally inclined to notice things—which, as a researcher I am—your eyes and mind don’t turn off just because they’re not on the meter. You notice things, like the time I took note of orange purses in San Francisco’s Chinatown. I went home and told my wife about them. She laughed until a year later just about every women’s leather accessory came out in that shade of orange. Or like in 1989 when we noticed all the hip kids in Britain wearing clunky Doc Martins, a craze that spread to U.S. and became huge here a few years later.
Matching floral resort wear. You heard it here first. Laugh if you want. But you won't be laughing when you see it on the cover of Vogue or Women’s Wear Daily.