On the outs

When reading fashion magazines’ lists of what’s "in" and "out," one expects to be ignorant of some items on the "in" list. After all, they’ve achieved "in" status by being so cutting edge that only the most fashionable trend-setters are now sporting them.

It’s a little disheartening, though, to be equally clueless about items listed among the "out"-casts. How hopelessly unchic must you be to have missed the reign and subsequent overthrow of the fashion in question? The new issue of Harper’s Bazaar offers an example of this phenomenon. In a collection of "ins" and "outs," it places "color block" in the former category. (A photo of a Calvin Klein dress, whose colors are in discrete blocks, makes it clear what the term means.) Consigned to the ranks of out-of-fashion fashions is something called "ombré." (No, we’re not talking about the other kind of ombre, without the accent.) Perhaps this is a household word among the magazine’s stylish readers, but I’d bet that most of the rest of us haven’t the faintest idea what ombré is (except for AdFreak’s art director, who provided this item’s visual)—let alone that it used to be chic but has ceased to be so. (Having taken recourse to the dictionary, I can tell you that it refers to colors that shade into one another.)

If you have a closetful of "dominatrix dresses"—and who of us does not?—you may be distressed to learn from the magazine that they’ve fallen "out" (supplanted by "goddess gowns"). But at least you’ll have the comfort of knowing what a dominatrix dress is.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver