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Dumbed Down Dressing for Suburban Holidays

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You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked and Racked New York for over a year. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion (which—as far as he's concerned—are essentially the same thing) even better with his brand new column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.


The one we'd wear (Polo) verses the ones that might help us fit in via Lars Holdus Christmas Sweater Collection.

Dear Friends and Relatives We Only See at Holidays,

We really try and tone it down when we see you. We realize Thanksgiving and Christmas take us out of our natural urban environment and spit us out into the suburban nowhere from whence we came—a decidedly less liberal and less welcoming space where a leopard print Paul Smith tie or a pair of Liberty floral Marc Jacobs jeans are neither normal nor a pleasant surprise.

In our day to day in the big, crazy city our acid-colored Ted Baker fair isles, porn-printed Moschino shirting and big, yellow Duckie Brown brogues are practically conservative. Seriously, in the last four hours we encountered one guy wearing loose-knit sweater-y harem pants and another in a floral broomstick skirt accented by a blousy Missoni sweater—in comparison we often appear almost nondescript.

Well, maybe not totally nondescript—there are definitely days we consciously dress in Levi's and a chambray shirt and a Uniqlo cardigan and Converse and we still tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Knowing this about ourselves we keep a mental list of New York-only items. That patchwork broadcloth shirt from Black Fleece probably screams "Homosexual Easter Egg" outside the five boroughs (and by five we mean two (parts of two)). Likewise, that shrunken jersey blazer in neon green—it very likely screams "Drag Queen Hunting."

We admit it. We have made mistakes—or maybe misjudgments. We really didn't think the navy blue Brooks Brothers bowtie we wore with khakis and boat shoes to a first holy communion party on a Sunday in May at a country club would cause that big a stir. Likewise the American Apparel track jacket that just happened to be pink, or, well, any tie or pair of pants that might be too skinny; any shoes that might be anything but brown or black; any anything that's not a solid color (which in and of itself is a major problem because even most of our pants aren't a solid color).

What makes all this dressing down—or dressing dumb—even sadder: All the cute seasonally appropriate items we collected! A vintage orange shirt printed in feathers! Another with basket-weave stripes flanked on either side by perfectly autumnal oak leaves! Harris tweed blazers with elbow patches in either violet or a rich pinkish brown! And forget about Christmas: Velvet jackets and plaid jackets and piped jackets, red tartan everything, an excess of emerald-hued bowties, a Michael Bastian shirt woven with just the slightest bit of metallic silver thread ? The head spins.

And yet, it just isn't worth wearing them around the relatives, the in-laws, the neighbors and all their gross kids. Too much explaining; too many questions; too many people feeling your fabric; too many risked spills and smudges. These are people who have seriously never encountered a dust bag—and they think you're nuts! It's disheartening, to say the very least.

So, we'll dress as normally as our wardrobe permits—never mind your Tom Turkey Bakelite brooches and jingle bell festooned Santa sweaters. But once we get home, and it'll be sooner rather than later, we're letting our fashion flag fly. Hell, by then we might be feeling so desperate and repressed we'll want to give those loose-knit sweater-y harem pants a try.


· Love, Frank [RNA]