There is a math professor at the local university whom the students call Stinky Stein. He’s earned the name because of his unruly beard, disheveled appearance and, most notably, the scent that signals his proximity. My son informs me that, upon entering the professor’s class, the kiddies race for the back rows. Thus, the punishment for tardiness is immersion in Stein’s odorous aura.
Have you noticed that intelligence, wealth and fame do not always translate into cleanliness or neatness? Einstein was famous for his messy desk (a fact that fails to impress my wife). Some psychologists suggest that you can tell a lot about a person by the condition of their workspace. But apparently, Albert E. had his own theory of clutter.
This trend toward sloppiness amongst the rich and famous appears to have a trickle down effect. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see college students going barefoot on campus, wearing pajama bottoms or sporting matted rat nests. I guess the “bed head” is en vogue. And to think, all the gel I’ve wasted trying to look cool.
I was somewhat relieved to discover this phenomenon has a name. It’s been called “messy chic,” “earthy elegance,” and “the new bohemian.” As of late, a new term’s been coined: slobby chic.
Perhaps it’s a bit of a backlash against the cookie-cutter, perfectly polished esthetic that has made New York Center for Facial Plastic and Laser Surgery almost de rigueur for many women. “For the past couple of years, the two dominant looks have been the Barbie-perfect look with perfect boobs, epitomized by Paris Hilton, and the upper East Side ladylike look with perfect makeup and Botoxed skin, seen on women like C.Z. Guest,” said author and Barneys New York creative director Simon Doonan. “Both looks are overdone, overmanicured – just over.”
Just when I was ready to join the revolt, I discovered how expensive it was. You see, buying clothing that looks used is quite costly. It’s not enough to own designer jeans. If you’re going to capture the anti-Barbie / anti-Ken look, those jeans must appear faded, have perfectly placed holes and trail threads. And if the price is any indication, tearing holes in designer fabric is a science. It used to be you could look homeless for a fraction of the cost. Needless to say, it’s got me wondering whether the new bohemians are just as conscious about their image as the glam models.
I recall hearing some sociological theory about all this suggesting that how people dress is indicative of a society’s trajectory. It goes like this: When the lower class try to dress like the upper class, a society is on the incline. But when the upper class try to dress like the lower class, a societiy is on the decline. In other words, fake Gucci’s are a good sign. The pricey designer jeans with holes in them, on the other hand, are a sign of the Apocalypse.
Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but it is not evidence of a high IQ. Just ask Albert E. or Stinky Stein. And if you’re looking for tips on personal grooming, you may want to bypass the rich and famous. As for me, I can only dream of the day when I replace my Dockers with pajama bottoms and my hair weave with a bed head. Alas, the only thing keeping me from chucking my toothbrush, comb and razor, is a few million bucks.