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Club Guy

Dressing On The Side

Club fashion demands an individualistic twist. Everything is in style. And nothing is sacred. So get dressed already.

By Dara Colwell

Photographs by George Sakkestad

MUCH INK HAS DRIBBLED over the pages of glossy fashionista bibles such as Vogue, claiming--in tones ranging from swank snobbery to wheezing pragmatism--that style is, indeed, dead. And yes, yes, yes, we've all heard that Silicon Valley-ites, the infamous cubicle-bound, are dimly aware of what fashion translates into outside the office. But let's ignore those outraged, haughty design students, bemoaning couture's shift from Gucci to Gap, and the magazine maven ranks--we're not here to cram your head full of banal, five-second tips. Instead, let's talk about Style.

Now that we've arrived at an era marked by a casual chic as disposable as our income, there are fewer constraints dictating what we should--or shouldn't--wear. But while style largely remains in the eye of the beholder, some looks are more equal than others. Or at least more indicative of the valley. (And according to most, we need help.)

Now, before we go any further, know that some fashion rules still apply in today's democratic vision. Here's the skinny. One: Style is a capricious hussy. You can bend the rules, but freedom always names its price. Two: Never listen to a straight man for style approval, girls. He'll notice how you eat a banana long before he glimpses your pink Miu Miu mules. Three: Trusting your gut when it comes to running the fashion derby doesn't mean you should showcase it. (We're not naming any names, but we've seen the cottage cheese.) Four: Clothing is a sound investment. Spend wisely. And, lastly: Fashion is all about fun. Safe equals death. Think Charlie's Angels when you hit the racks.

The Look

In this MTV-inspired age, marked by flashy consumerism and fashion advertising, it's nearly impossible to relegate fashion to a few particular looks. So, with a healthy disclaimer that anything (save sweatpants) goes, here are some statements that should wash once you've stepped into San Jose's nightlife.

Club Woman

Foxy Pop Chick

You know who you are, girlfriend. Tight snakeskin capris, high-heeled court shoes, audaciously bright tights and spun rayon halters signal this bird's entrance into the fray. Taking her cue from the street, the Foxy Pop Chick knows how to be savagely sexy. With a no-fuss, zip-up-and-go attitude, this girl is one-up on '90s counter-culture grunge fashion. This is the look of streamlined urban renewal with a sporty edge: Slim belts that add accent, raw, slinky snakeskin prints, backless weave tops and hard-edged, Wild West denim are playfully adult. Bright tropical colors--fuchsia-pink, neon-green and Popsicle-orange--and python patterns straight from the Hollywood jungle make this chick hard to lose in the crowd. Just follow the pack of hyenas sniffing around her spaghetti-strapped heels. Fake boobs and fake tans are optional.

Where to spot upscale hooch: Mission Ale House, Voodoo Lounge, Flying Pig.

Where to shop for it: Try Bizzo in Los Gatos. Check out the Bisou Bisou, Miss Sixty and Doll House lines. At the mall, try Wetseal, Nordies, and Aldo's for shoes. And if you look hard enough, Payless Shoe Source has some hidden and affordable wonders.

Club Woman Elegant Pussycat

Meow, baby, meow. Feminine, flirty and as girlie as all get-out, the look of the Elegant Pussycat is sensationally pretty and unashamedly wealthy. Sporting clothing cut with romantic, vintage flourish, this lady has moved away from the '80s pop-princess glam of past jet-setters in favor of Euro-sophistication. Our kitten's wardrobe, with its feline sense of sex appeal, is as expensively acquired as champagne. This look plays with muted shades of lavender, mint and cream, embellished necklines and sleeves, asymmetric skirts with flamenco flair, and draped, scarf-print fabrics that are loud yet so Jackie O. Playful but polished, this woman wants to play dress-up and whatever her age, she can pull it off. And she'll charge it.

Where to spot this bourgeois babe: Hotel lobbies, privately catered functions, Gordon Biersch.

Where to charge it: Bebe, in the Valley Fair mall, is babe central. Run next door to Charles David for pumps, square-heeled sandals and an array of stylish shoes by Guess.

Club Guy Neurotic New York Jew Boy

C'mon, boys, you know you're out there. With nerdy simplicity, this guy has put a spin on the woeful Sixteen Candles gimp. With chunky dark frames, a clean buttoned-up shirt, and casual, loose-fitting cotton pants, the Neurotic NYJ Boy looks safe enough to bring home to your mother. The look is slightly tousled, Ira Glass-esque, with a dash of spent-the-night-under-the-cubicle roughness thrown in for good measure. But, thank the goddess, there are no more seersucker slacks. Fabrics are light, neutral and sleek. It's dressed-up casual, easy but not careless, and can be readily achieved by flipping through a Banana Republic catalogue. Dress this look up with a crumpled linen leisure suit; dress it down with a trip to J.C. Penney.

Where to spot geek chic: In front of a computer, City Lights Espresso (Bill Gates' favorite coffee dive), Mom's living room.

Where to buy it: Macy's, Nordstrom.

Uber Casual Draughtsman

In jeans or dark khaki fatigues and a clean, starched shirt tucked neatly inside, this all-American guy emanates collegiate nonchalance. Loose-fitting slacks that don't buckle under the weight of cell phones, pagers and odd change and a sturdy belt to keep that spreading bar tab at bay, compliment practical leather or athletic shoes. With a change in shoe-shirt combination, Draughtsmen can wear this uniform from the boardroom to the barroom and then back to the office again. In fact, they do. Dressed up with a classic navy garbardine blazer, cashmere shirt or flat-front cotton trousers, the Draughtsman magically transforms into a restaurateur. Or accompanied by black Italian leather shoes and mountains of hair gel, this guy could pull an inebriated Foxy Pop Chick at Boswell's.

Where to spot the dotcommoner: Toon's, City Bar and Grill, Waves Smokehouse and Saloon.

Where to buy in bulk: look for the for-sale sign. Or try anywhere within spitting distance of Valley Fair. And remember, navy is the key.

Mind the Gapster

Adaptable, accessible and, oh hell, let's just say it--ubiquitous, the twentysomething trend-setting Gapster is a swinger. While sporty Abercrombie & Fitch fashionistas give 'em a run for the money, the androgynous Gapster runs with the fashion elite. Wrinkle-resistant, gray-green-camel and navy, 100 percent cotton pants, shirts and skirts make this fashion-plate look smart while blending into the woodwork. Gapsters run the gamut from sneaker-clad, cargo pants guys touting backwards baseball caps, to the more colorful surfer set, in over-sized silk shirts with palm trees swirling across the pockets. Lady Gapsters tend toward capris, casual tops with a matching cardigan tied around the waist and sneakers or comfy pumps. Come beer spillage, strobe lights or the big city, Gapsters always look hip--and if you can tell them apart, let me know.

Where to spot the walking billboard: Agenda Lounge, the Usual.

Where to buy it: Why, Gap, of course. Or Old Navy for a bit less money.

Follow this fashion advice and Joan Rivers, queen of fashion catastrophes, might overlook you if she ever saunters into the neighborhood. But above all else, remember, fashion is ultimately about more than what you're wearing--it's about you. So strike the pose, baby, there's nothing to it.

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From the June 22-28, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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