Pushing the Boundaries of Good Taste

February 15, 2015 Updated: February 15, 2015

New York, along with Paris and Milan, is one of the fashion capitals of the world. Yet so few women know how to dress. New York has the finest clothing stores such as Saks and Bergdorf and designer boutiques with personal shoppers available. New York is also where most of the fashion magazines are published. But most women pay no attention.

It’s Fashion Week now in New York and in addition to seeing the shows, I’ve also been watching the audience members. Not the fashion editors and buyers, but people who enjoy fashion.

Some of what I’ve seen is truly frightening. At some of the shows fashion merchandising students from a college acted as ushers.

One young girl was about 25 pounds overweight and wore a very tight, very short black dress with tiny straps that showed every lump and bump and roll of fat—of which there were many. She looked very uncomfortable and obviously felt more so because she kept tugging the bodice up and the skirt down. At least she had the excuse of youth.

This was not the case for a woman in the audience who looked to be in her 70s. She was wearing an extremely busy, bright print suit with a very short skirt. Her accessories included the most elaborate eyeglasses I had ever seen, in the shape of a starburst, about 4-inches high with earrings to match, also very large. Completing this vision was a large black hat with the most enormous feathers.

But that’s not all: She also wore a black-dotted veil covering the glasses and fingerless lace gloves. The last time I saw those was in a film adaptation of a Jane Austin novel. She was carrying a fabric drawstring purse similar to the ones carried by ladies in the 1800s and called a reticule.

Wait, it gets worse.

She also wore knee socks and black opaque anklets over them. Her feet were shod in mules made of a wild print clashing with the print of her suit.

And we cannot forget the jewelry—a six-strand pearl choker, half-a-dozen cocktail rings, assorted bracelets, and other doodads.

There were so many things wrong here, I wouldn’t know where to begin. But here’s a general rule: Just one extreme thing at a time, please. And a veil and glasses don’t go together.

From her demeanor it was obvious that she thought she looked marvelous. The poor lady was probably wondering why the people across the runway were snickering when looking at her.

If you’re not sure of your taste, try to get help.

Miriam Silverberg is a freelance journalist and owner of Miriam Silverberg Associates, a boutique publicity firm in Manhattan. She may be reached at silverbergm@mindspring.com