Enough, already! We Washingtonians have to put up with a lot of nonsense voiced about our town by glib outlanders. But when an editorial page columnist in as respected and widely circulated an organ as The Wall Street Journal heaps calumny on us, it's time to strike back.
Suzanne Garment, whose writings usually are perceptive, started her Friday column on an asserted civil liberties outrage in Nicaragua with an ad hominem series of inaccurate irrelevancies about the way we dress.
"When it comes to style," Garment wrote, "the streets of Washington rank among the most stupefyingly boring in the world. You see your basic lobbyists clad in Midwestern chic, your basic secretaries robed in the dress-for-success suits. Only the messengers look cheeringly bizarre; even the bag ladies dress respectably. . . . "
As one who has trod sidewalks in cities as widely dispersed as Tbilisi in Soviet Georgia, Stockholm, Milan, Montreal and San Francisco, this Harris-tweedy columnist will stack the overall quality of Washingtonians' appearances up against anybody--although there is no defense for middle-level, middle-aged bureaucrats who pretend that an old suit coat is a sports jacket and pair it up with uncoordinated trousers.
What is "stupefyingly boring" about the Georgetown denizens on a spring evening? About the colorful Hispanics on Columbia Road? The runners and joggers on the Mall? Women on Capitol Hill, their dress ranging from skirt-and-sweater to multicolored frocks, strolling on Pennsylvania Avenue SE during the lunch hour? Or, for that matter, the diversely clad visitors? Those are just a few f'r-instances.
If you want to join in Washington's sartorial defense (or the attack), drop me a line. A selection of your responses will follow.