No Holds Barred: The Comfort Zone!

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We can’t blame it on the epidemic anymore. The fact is no one really gets dressed anymore. Once athleisure became luxe, fine dressing took a dive. Suddenly schlub attire won the battle. I thought with everyone on Ozempic and Peloton bikes, we would at least want to look ship shape. The “rules” were let go and now no one looks any better for it.

Maybe it’s time to roll out up the carpet.

Personally, I don’t follow fashion anymore. I never see fashion magazines (do they exist?) I don’t notice Red Carpet events. Sure, it’s my age, but life has changed as well. I used to read fashion reports as a way to scan the culture. Fashion was always another form of “breaking news.” But now I am beginning to wonder. Then again, I gave up reading all the wedding announcements for the obituaries.

Obviously, social media has replaced fashion magazines. It’s obvious that anything goes, and I guess that’s fine. Anyone and everyone gets to post themselves in their closets, striking a pose and promoting a “look.” Clicks abound. But is that really helping us look any better?

Men’s see-through mesh blazer … yours for only $43!

Whenever I go out, I can’t get over how many people are wearing the worst fitting jeans (now come on … jeans come in all sizes and shapes), and seriously transparent leggings on legs that need more coverage. Disheveled seems to be the look at most high-end eateries, including baseball caps. At a lot of black-tie events, guys are going shirtless under their tuxedo jacket. Only Lenny Kravitz can get away with that. And where are all the actual black tie events anymore?

Recently, Obama, Biden and Clinton led a fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall. All of them wore open white shirts under dark sport jackets. Biden might have worn his Sketcher slip-on loafers.

Were they going for that Rat Pack look? Even Sammy, Frank and Dean wore ties and tuxedos — only Sammy loosened his tie after the 2 AM late show. But that was Vegas, baby! When Vegas was Vegas.

President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama going for that Rat Pack look! (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

I guess as of late, nobody wants to be stylistically “out of their comfort zone.” Even Curb Your Enthusiasm creator and star, Larry David, managed to accomplish an acceptable LA “schlub chic” with his James Perse corduroy jeans, $65 white T-shirt, pricey soft cashmere Armani jacket or double zip track jacket and $180 Ecco golf sneakers. The few times David appeared in a suit and tie, he looked bound and gagged. As goes “Curb“ so goes our culture.

“Pretty pretty pretty good!”

The problem is once you go “laid-back” it’s hard to “get back.” You become less engaged in how you really look. As Billy Crystal’s Fernando always said, “It’s better to look good than to feel good.”

I caught myself the other day going to a restaurant in the same outfit I wore that morning to my Pilates class. I figured … why bother. In my former life, I always changed outfits — day was never night attire. When I saw myself leaving the restaurant in a zip jacket and leggings I was horrified. I have descended into “smash and grab” couture. No thought — just put on anything and make it work.

I realized I was giving up and giving into the worst state of “who cares.” But I do care. Getting out of my Hokas for a decent loafer is my first move up and out. Let’s put a hold on flip-flops and post-workout sandals.

We no longer have Mr. Blackwell to remind us of the best dressed and worst dressed lists anymore. I think I miss him terribly. I even miss the early days of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The gays really helped everyone dress up and live in a more consciously upscale way.

Mr. Blackwell: “Remember, dressing well really IS the best revenge!”

Social media influencers and trends haven’t helped. Nowadays all I see is how Beyoncé‘s new Cowboy Carter wave has reinvented a western wave. But western wear never came and went; it has always been a forever classic. A denim workout jacket is the same cut as a Chanel topper. Different fabric, same cut. However, maybe Beyoncé will get certain people to reconsider low-cut cowboy boots over Crocs.

Unconstructed style feels like an unconstructed life. On a recent major TV network, I saw a prime time election reporter giving results in front of a huge digital map in sneakers and a hoodie under a jacket. Even the local weather reporters are better dressed. I keep wondering, are we losing some sense of dignity by dressing so casual all the time?

With all the visual collapse swirling around in my head, I tried to look for some inspiration from someone … anyone. And I’m not talking about celebrities who are styled, but people who seem to care more than the world at the moment.

Another day in paradise with Suebelle.

Instagram is loaded with these “Influencers” and are grabbing my attention. Suebelle (love the name) Robbins is a new Palm Beach “content creator” with a hilarious Texas drawl and “bigger is better” blonde bouffant, giving her two-minute reports of the day. Sure Palm Beach is now full of these long “stop and chats” with society ladies narrating their visuals. Suebelle is different. She’s very frank and flirty with her CVS makeup tips, her silver Henri Bendel loafers and her very Palm Royale attire and lifestyle with a very 1950’s coquettish effect.

At first I thought she was doing “a bit.” She will tell you how happily married she is and how she loves her Chanel flats with her McClintock pastel pants (“only flats with pants never high heels unless you are under 35”) delivered with that ex-showgirl appeal. It turns out she was a Playboy Bunny. Trust me, she knows what she is saying at all times with a wink. Suebelle is known for weekly fashion critiques on gay men’s attire (they send her photos) and she is as good (tough love) as Mr. Blackwell.

Though I have absolutely no interest in Palm Beach or that lifestyle, there is something so positive and hopeful in her presentation. She may exude that uber glitz with her Aqua Net head and double barrel black fake lashes, painted half moon brows and frosted outlined mouth. Somehow it all works and she cares about every bag, belt and earring she wears. And thinks you should care too!

On the opposite end of Suebelle is Jordan Roth. A personality I never really knew about but started seeing his Instagram presence dressed in vintage couture outfits in front row designer shows. A friend of mine said he was the new Nan Kempner (best dressed popular couture obsessed socialite in the ’60s And ’70s).

Jordan Roth posing in front of Avedon’s Dovima with Elephants, 📷Marco Bahler/

Roth has a serious real and real life. The real life is he is a Princeton graduate majoring in business and philosophy, and is now a major Tony award-winning producer and owner of several Broadway theaters. He is also married to producer, Richie Jackson, and has two sons. He has worked the fashion runways, but now shows up at events in his own amazing, custom-made couture and shares his trends on his Instagram account – including changing his outfits in various cars in between showings. His commentaries about it all are very astute and deeply felt. He knows fashion. I wouldn’t call Jordan Roth a cross dresser. I guess he is the ultimate in gender fluid, but honestly I don’t know what that is exactly either. Jordan is Jordan.

He is pals with Anna Wintour and has made Vogue and New York Times Best Dressed list. To me he feels like a performing artist. He also has such scholarly knowledge of Atelier high design. He definitely pushes the boundaries, but his passion for real clothing and fit (he is 6 foot four) makes him more than just a run-of-the-mill influencer. Sometimes when I watch him, I am not sure what I am seeing since he isn’t RuPaul. After all, he is a 48-year-old president of Jujamcyn (owns 5 of the 41 Broadway play houses). He could be the next editor of Vogue, or even produce the Met Ball. Clearly, he is a huge fashion player and a super intelligent international theater innovator. He pays attention  and makes me feel I should too.

Jordan Roth fashion
You go girl! 📷 Udo Salters/PMC

And remember attention is what is needed to pull ourselves together … physically and mentally. But let’s not go crazy. Sadly, crazy is where our world is at nowadays.

Just as I think there are some people worth “looking at” we end up with another weekly report of Kanye West and his wife Bianca Censori who are making the scene naked as much as possible. Last week they showed up in LA Mall Cheesecake Factory — she in a sheer bodysuit with no underwear and plastic heels. Kanye was in his uniform of black huge windbreaker hoodie and baggy sweatpants and sneakers. Meanwhile, nobody seemed to stop and stare. Maybe we are Kanye/Bianca immune now. The culture vulture rapper is trying to have the visual last word — but what is that exactly?

When one door closes …

Meanwhile, I am back in my pajamas but not in public. I’m trying to care.

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