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Lindsay Lohan Has Right Idea - About Fashion

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Say what you want about Lindsay Lohan but her desire to sell a line of leggings is absolutely right on.

Leggings are as liberating as the "divided skirt" was a hundred years ago that allowed women to first ride bicycles.

Women born before 1985 well remember the "dance" you had to do to dress your legs in tights or, God forbid, pantyhose. If you were over 5' 3", they didn't reach your waist, though you pulled them tight enough to splay your toes, and you spent the whole day worrying about imminent exposure.

Lohan

Even if you weighed 103, your legs feel like stuffed sausages, your waist felt tourniqueted and your feet froze all winter.

On rare occasions when the tights fit - came up to your waist and stayed there - they would run in the feet, "reinforced" heels and toes notwithstanding. When L'eggs pantyhose used to come in a plastic egg, comedian Joan Rivers joked that you know it's coming to be a bad day when you crack an egg for an omelet and pantyhose come out. (You also knew it was going to be a bad day when the tights or pantyhose you washed by hand the night before - put them in the washer? - were still damp at 7 AM.)

Nor did tights lend themselves to working out, despite being the Olivia Newton-John Let's Get Physical look in the 1980s, replete with V-shaped briefs to take the eye away from the disaster zone known as one's hips. Not only were your toes splayed and your circulation cut off at the waist, your range of movement was nil and you couldn't sweat through all that Spandex. No wonder dancers always wore "footless tights" which became today's leggings.

The other great invention is yoga pants. Whereas sweat pants, their functional predecessor, could not be disguised under a blazer for work without raising doubts about the respect you had for the position (I tried), yoga pants can. (Maybe it was the drawstring?) Cozy yoga pants can be paired with a cotton blend blazer with 2 percent stretch for a pajama feel all day at work, if you make sure to remove the lint when they are dark colored.

Women's outwear has also improved from the days it was called "coats" and "better coats." Even though three out of four late fall and winter days are wet and windy, the fashion industry used to offer women cloth coats which resembled wet dogs after a day in the elements. Nor did the coats have hoods forcing a hat and muffler combo which looked self-conscious and was way thermally inferior. Hats and mufflers looked even lamer on fur coats which made women look fat, heartless and culturally exiled. (Why, when thousands are losing their homes and no one has a job, are they still selling furs? Is cruelty recession proof?)

Today the fashion industry offers us nylon zip-up coats with hoods (nee parkas) that are sleek and satiny, warm, rain and sleet-proof, ethical if down-free, lightweight, inexpensive and doesn't show the dirt as Mom used to advise. We also finally have plastic or rubber boots that don't leak like the leather boots the fashion industry passed off as "water resistant" for years (right) which only added to our already damp pantyhosed feet.

Of course it's tempting to accuse designers of slighting women since nylon has existed on the ski slopes for years but only became standard outerwear 15 years ago. But men are the ones who should have fashion complaints.

Even though they are now permitted to carry formerly taboo messenger bags (once too purse-like), freeing their briefcase hand for their cell, their outerwear is still 1980. They're still wearing the cloth coats we jettisoned years ago - that resemble wet dogs after a day in the elements - and their heads and feet are left out of the fashion equation altogether.

In fact it is said whoever designs winter headgear for businessmen that covers the ears and stays put unlike newsboy caps and fedoras but doesn't look Elmer Fuddy like earflap and trapper hats, will earn a fortune. Like Lohan will probably do with leggings.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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