Be it ever so humble ... the Birkenstock. It tramps through puddles, clomps over matted fields, on a correct cushion of righteousness. Part podiatric, part peaceful, the Birkenstock sandal is for mamas and papas and those who would, in their woolly socks, have some soul. Little wonder it returns as the footwear of protest, the pod complement to granny skirts and lumpy old sweaters and the parted locks of a new hippie age.
But then, what does one wear to a new age protest? Last week's peace march in Washington suggests that dishevelment remains the most comfortable form of dissent, suitable for both long bus rides from college campuses and anti-Establishment sentiments. It is no accident, no whim of fashion, that American teenagers now drape their shoulders in kaffiyehs, the patterned scarves worn by Palestinians. Once a street vendor accessory signifying casual chic, the kaffiyeh -- and its Saudi counterpart, the ghutra -- are becoming symbols of solidarity.
Of course, vintage motifs still apply -- the unlaced Army boots and ponchos, the peace signs and patched jeans. Old hippies, bearded and graying, gather with new converts. Punks and rastas converge on the same turf, their hair statements ranging from rooster to reggae. The musty scent of pot hangs in the air -- for what seems like the first time in years. And the American flag is back again, worn without mockery as bandanna, applique and cloak.
Fashionably speaking, these protest clothes appear to be conscientious attempts to identify with a cause, and in their motley disparity they suggest a more genuine motive than playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a New York fashion show. That happened too, last week, but given the context -- a menswear show in the Grand Ballroom at the Plaza -- it was an empty gesture.