I see trouble ahead. Big trouble. Because of the fall hemlines. They're going to be shorter. This has been decreed by Paris, France, and ratified by New York, New York. You will be receiving your formal notification via mail within the next few weeks.

I am worried because, inevitably, we're going to have tragic cases wherein women who are not ideally suited for this fashion are going to wear it anyway. I'm talking about women who, although they have many other fine attributes, do not happen to have great thighs, or even thighs that you could fit both of them simultaneously onto a flatbed truck. Some such misguided soul will show up at a major social occasion encased in an 18-inch skirt that no doubt looked terrific on the anorexic model with great legs who wore it in the Vogue advertisement, but which now looks like the tutu on Francine the Ballerina Rhinoceros.

And the horror of it is, NOBODY WILL TELL HER. Her friends will squeal large artificial squeals and examine her skirt as though it were the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, making remarks such as: "Marge! It's absolutely DARLING!" And Marge will waddleoff, oblivious, to the buffet, while her "friends" race to the ladies' room to laugh until their makeup forms stalagmites on the floor.

It has already started to happen. I have just received a report from New York, where a friend of mine named Kae observed what she describes as "a VERY large woman wearing a VERY short skirt."


What this woman is, of course, is a Fashion Victim -- a person who, in a desperate effort to be part of a Trend, makes a fool of herself. Or himself. Men can be fashion victims, too. Have you ever seen a man wandering around a party with his collar carefully turned up, apparently thinking he looks like the sullenly handsome brooding model staring out from those vaguely threatening Calvin Klein advertisements, when in fact he looks like some weenie who forgot to put his collar down? This man is a victim. So is the man who goes around with several days' growth of beard, thinking he is reminding everybody of Don Johnson, although he is actually reminding everybody of Yasser Arafat.

Another example of Fashion Victimization is this trend toward paying good money for prescuzzed ratty-looking garments that earlier, less fashion-conscious generations such as your mother's would have used to wipe the toilet tank. I was in a fashionable store the other day, and they were selling blue jeans for $55 a pair, which would not be unusual except that these jeans had HOLES in them. On PURPOSE. They are imported from Italy, where a person is PAID to put holes in them. They are called "destroyed" jeans, and they are part of a raging international trend toward a leisure-wear "look" that was previously available only to the rural poor.

The question is: Why not take the next logical step? Why not prerub dirt into shirt collars? Why not hand-paste flakes of designer dandruff onto jackets? Why not SET FIRE to the jeans, right at the factory, and simply sell, for $55 each, wallet-sized certificates stating that a pair of jeans had been hand-destroyed in the bearer's name?

Ridiculous, you say? You're right. Your true Fashion Victim would pay a LOT more than $55 for such a certificate.

Could YOU be a fashion victim? Perhaps you should take this Helpful Self-Quiz:


1. Did you get a "punk" style haircut? Did your friends and coworkers tell you it looked "cute"? Did you believe them? Would you like to purchase some prime vacation property via mail?

2. Have you ever worn harlequin-style glasses? Are you aware that these glasses are an important comic element in many "Far Side" cartoons?

3. Do you attempt to wear the type of virtually nonexistent bathing suit featured in photographs of famous, politically active model Donna Rice? Do you have a body like Donna Rice's? Do you think it's fair thatANYBODY should have a body like Donna Rice's?

4. Have you carefully plucked out your natural eyebrows and replaced them with Magic-Marker-like lines that theoretically represent new eyebrows except they're too far up on your forehead, so you look like one of the more entertaining variations of Mrs. Potato Head?

5. Did you, after reading articles a while back claiming that tattoos for women were "in," actually go out and get one? Ha ha! Sorry.


1. Do you have a normal haircut except for a little tail of hair going down the back, so you look as though you were at the barber school on Prank Day?

2. Do you go around with your sports-jacket sleeves uncomfortably shoved halfway up your arms, as if you are just about to clean a mess of fish?

3. Do you agree that wearing a lot of gold jewelry is a good way for a man to make the fashion statement: "You see this? This is REAL GOLD."?

4. Do you wear bikini swim wear? Do you have a Jim Palmer-quality body? Do you agree with the words of noted fashion critic Jane Wooldridge, who said: "Fat hairy men should not go to the beach."?

5. Urban Professionals: Do you wear suspenders, which have lost any trace of originality and have now replaced those yellow ties festooned with blue goobers as the key identifying characteristic of the fashion-enslaved male career person? Do you also LIE about your suspenders? Do you tell people: "It's not a fashion thing! I wear suspenders because they're COMFORTABLE!"? Have you also replaced your cheap and reliable digital watch with a more expensive and less reliable old-fashioned one? Do you tell people: "It's easier to read!"? How far are you willing to follow this trend toward nostalgic business attire? Straw hats? Canes? DENTURES? ("They're easier to clean!")

HOW TO SCORE: We should not have to tell you.