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Could women of polygamist sect launch of-the-moment fashion trend?

By Jan Hearne • Sep 15, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Editor’s note: This column first appeared in the Johnson City Press on May 4, 2008. We are republishing it in honor of Jan Hearne, our former longtime Living section editor who died last week. This column was awarded first place in the 2009 State Press Awards for Best Personal Humor Column.

An Associated Press writer actually posed this question: “Will polygamist fashions have any influence on mainstream style?”

Good grief. Let’s hope not.

For one thing, I am a winter. Winters do not do pastels, which make us look washed out. Winters need strong colors — jewel tones — I was told during my Color Me Beautiful analysis more than 20 years ago.

Obviously, this polygamist sect has not invested in Color Me anything, choosing shades flattering only to a Cabbage Patch Kid.

It’s interesting that people are speculating on polygamist fashion in the midst of this debacle. All kinds of hideous accusations are being lobbed. We must keep some sense of perspective.

Like what about those hairdos?

They look like beehive souffles that collapsed upon themselves or maybe X-Men’s Wolverine with hair extensions. Is this look meant to attract or repel?

The women claim these dresses and hairstyles are a matter of choice. I argue any woman who chooses this “look” is incapable of making a reasoned decision. She has fallen into the hands of men who want to dress her so that she is indistinguishable from other women and thus interchangeable.

Much like the fashion industry.

The AP writer chirped on: “It’s not outlandish to imagine the prairie look influencing today’s styles, given that trends can come from unexpected places ... You can already find blouses with high necks and ruffles in stores, and puffed shoulders on short and longsleeved shirts. Prairie skirts are in fashion this season, while dusty pastels and neutrals are being introduced to offset trendy bold colors and patterns.”

It is my fervent hope this writer was on deadline, painfully hungover and going through Hoodia withdrawal. How else do you explain such an inane observation?

Everyone knows prairie skirts aren’t flattering. They make your hips and feet look bigger. If the neutral prairie skirt craze takes hold, we will all look like biped wheat sheaves.

I fear this polygamist fashion idea is just the beginning of a new trend: ripped-from-the-headlines wear. If it comes to that, fashion will have to be disposable as it ricochets from formal to street based on the cause celebre.

I’d rather see the “polygamist women” on “Oprah,” getting a good old-fashioned makeover. It might boost their self-esteem to the point they can actually appreciate their individuality. Or, at the very least, ditch those puffy sleeves.

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