I ran into one of my former journalism students, The Fashion King. That
was my nickname for him, at least. When he was in my class, he also worked for a local fashion magazine, which amazed me not because he was only a sophomore, but because I had no idea Milwaukee had a local fashion magazine.

Seeing him reminded me of when I was The Fashion Editor.

Or, more correctly, when I worked at a newspaper that had only fourteen reporters, and none of the others had poodle hair and a collection of skinny ties. One day the editor appeared at my desk and said, “We’re doing a special fashion section. You’re in charge.”

If you’ve seen me any time during the past twenty years, I’ll forgive you for thinking, “That guy knew something about fashion?” Well, I did. For three years or so, when Mary Jo and I were freshly married and had no kids and worked outside the home and sometimes went to discos.

We also had disposable income, and I threw some of it away on records and clothes. I admit to having owned both a Bolo tie and a Rockwell LP. If you’re wondering what those were, click the links and Wikipedia will tell you all you need to know.

If you go back in time and see
these people, tell them to destroy
this picture.

Times have changed. In 1985, I had one closet just for sport coats. I now have just one sport coat in my closet. I’m down to about a dozen ties, but that’s more than I need to get me though one a calendar year without repeating. None of them are skinny, but then, neither am I.

After a two-decade fashion vacation, I now have to know something about style again. Fortunately, I don’t have to hang out in malls or watch music videos to catch up. When I absolutely must say what Lara or Sushma or some other character in Malibu Bride is wearing, ideas are just a mouse click away.

I’m happy to see that the little black dress is as popular as ever. And jeans. Really tight ones. And women’s business suits, though I’m told they no longer come as outfits, but as separates, which mystifies me. How did not matching become the new matching?

It’s amusing to see 1980s fashions making a comeback. Especially those bun-hugging sweater dresses worn with big hair and black tights. The new ones lack Joan Crawford shoulder pads, but shoulder pads always looked dopey. At least, as dopey as poodle hair.

Thinking of those days made me nostalgic for the three articles of women’s clothing I have always loved best. The off-white, gold-sequined mini dress Mary Jo wore to the Madonna show in Chicago. The pink-and-grey striped suit she wore to the office in the summer. And the grey-green vintage dress and matching bolero jacket that she wore just about everywhere.

And that got me nostalgic about picking her up after work on the corner of Wisconsin and Cass, and driving home in our crummy Chevy Monza with Rockwell in the cassette deck and talking about how my boss had just made me The Fashion Editor.

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