Fashionable Aspen time to ogle
December 20, 2007
Those fashionistas from Texas, California and Brazil have landed. Tis the season for middle-age cleavage, newly minted faces and mink-clad kids. Aspens answer to Rios Carnival is upon us. From Dec. 22 to Jan. 5, our tasteful, little understated town is slammed by this annual Fellini-inspired fashion storm. We all anticipate it. Great people watching. The laid-back locals love it. The less-blessed tourists love it. And the flock of peacocks love taking their fashion to the max. And we love the fact that they take their credit cards to max. Well, probably not literally. But this fashion cacophony can be confusing even for the trained eye. There are many things going on. So, to fully appreciate these 15 days, its important to put our fine-feathered friends into style categories. Lets start with the fun crowd: the Californians and the Texans. Easy spot. They are the ones wearing ice skating rinks on their fingers, a mother lode of make-up, big hair and are draped in head-to-toe fur. And all they talk about is what they did in St. Tropez last winter.Next up: The hip, cool, furless Europeans who walk around in this-tight jeans, heavy stubble, and the big attitude. Except for the stubble, the same goes for the women. On to those queens of bling, the ladies from Brazil and Mexico City. Very glammed-out women sporting 10-carat canary rocks. The kids prance around in $1,000 sweaters and squeal, not when they see a toy store, but when they spot Gucci or Prada.In this holy time of the year, Aspen is a fashion melting pot of wretched excess. And, over the years, its just gotten worse.
Aspen is one of the best showcases in the world and it attracts a certain kind of people. Our visitors know that there are going to be people here that they think are important.We see a lot more furs. And in skiwear we see multiple furs fur hats with fur coats with furs boots, said Boogies manager, Kim Wilson. These folks are going to the high-end and its head-to-toe label.Whereas laid-back Aspenites are happy in their Merrells or Justins, our visitors salivate over Dior Moon Boots. Once upon a time, high-end skiwear meant Obermeyer, Burton and Stefan Kaelin. Then came the uber-luxury upstarts: Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Prada. Now there are Chanel ski pants, Chanel skis and, yes, Chanel snowboards. Label. Label. Label.The women are anywhere from 35 and over, observed Boogies buyer, Nicolette Human. They wear a lot of makeup, carry over-the-top designer handbags, over-the-top embellished cashmere sweaters, over-the-top watches, super-tight skinny jeans and tall bright colored boots. These women have been planning their outfits for months, she added. Once we had a very petite, a very round woman in the store. She had on a one-piece pink ski suit super too small. She had a white fur ski hat with little antenna things sticking out all over it with feathers on the ends. Her nails were so long they curved around. It was all pink. We thought she was kidding.
And you can always tell the California woman, chimed in Wilson. She has a lot of breast showing. She loves those low-cut, tight, skimpy tops that show off big breasts. Walk into the Caribou and youre going to see a lot of those tops, tight low-waisted jeans, high, high shoes and a load of glitter.European women usually know their style; American women tend to follow the trends. And they are always chasing a younger look. And then there are the kids. Recently weve seen more and more children in furs, Wilson said. Thats been a big one. From the fur boots to the fur hats to full length furs on children ranging from age 8 to 14. Thats been a big trend. Its very scary. Its all about showing wealth.But, God bless em, our fashion friends do spend. And theyre keeping our town strong, Wilson said. We love that they spend money here.For some reason, people think that when they come to Aspen, you need to dress up in the fur coats, said Monica Oginski of Bandana Kids & Women. Sometimes its funny because we see the outdated fur coats that people from Florida or from Texas wear. They never, ever have to wear heavy stuff at home and they come and they have these furs in their closets for like 10 years or 15 years, and they just drag these to Aspen thinking its a necessity. On the other hand, we have visitors who wouldnt be caught dead in last years anything.
When some come to Aspen they think you have to have this Dior, that Louis Vuitton bag, or some other high-end brand name thing. But when you live in Aspen, you see that people dont really care about the brand-name stuff. People in Aspen dress toned down and its not necessary to have all these brand names displayed. When I used to work in another place, I had customers say, Have you seen this rock? But we really dont care about all this blinky stuff here.The tourists are very glitz-oriented in Aspen, said Susan Harvey, owner of Susies in Aspen. Not so much in Snowmass but in Aspen. We are a famous ski town. We get written up with all the glitz and all the glamour. Theyre here to go with it. They want to be part of it.
One salesperson, who would rather not be identified, said she sees this stuff all the time. Its like what were they thinking?, she mused. I think theyve watched so many old James Bond movies that thats the image in their heads. They all want to look like they have the money and try to outdo each other. You just want to gag. They come to Aspen and they pack what they think they should wear. Most people want to fit in but cant quite make it. And then they say, Oh my God. Ive got all the wrong stuff. And then they go shopping. But can all this display of wealth be healthy for our overdressed guests?No way, said Aspen psychologist Sallyanne Johnson.These people need to impress and are quick to impress. For them, its whats up front, what I have, that counts. Aspen is a place where some people come to see and be seen. They need to show off all those clothes. They need to be outrageous. The psychological part of this says to me that theres some kind of identification with what they are wearing. What it reflects about them. Its their persona. What they present to the outside world is actually their identity. In a way, you could envy these people in that they can do this, but I think that also, in a way, you can feel for them in that they need to do this.This did not used to happen, added Johnson, an Aspen resident for 29 years. It seems as though its got much more extreme since the mid-80s. In the late-80s, it got to a point where it was quite ridiculous. For Johnson, this one-upmanship is a contest. These people really need to impress within their group, she said. Theres definitely a competition about who can wear the most expensive outfit, the most outrageous outfit, be invited and be seen at the flashiest, most exclusive parties. If thats where your focus is all the time, I think that it unfortunately detracts from whats inside of you, who you are. These people find out that as time goes along it leaves them feeling kind of empty. As you go along, theres less allure, less attraction.
How do we really feel about our town being invaded by these people for this Christmas period? Maybe we look at them and think theyre slightly ridiculous and a bit of a joke. But there are some of us who enjoy the show and who buy into it and think Wow! Im really envious. I wish I could dress like that. Well, on second thought, maybe not.Regardless of the Forbes 400 aspect, Aspenites are a simple folk. We understand two styles: Aspen chic and Aspen casual. If the invitation says Aspen chic, you will feel comfortable in cashmere, sexy jeans and some nice Frye boots. If the invitation says Aspen casual, you have a lot of leeway to be comfortable. A parka over sweats or yoga pants would do. Or maybe a pair of jeans, a leather coat and a sweater. For shoes, cowboy boots, clogs, tennis shoes, or Uggs are all acceptable. But always acceptable for real locals, whether mega-celebs or part-time bartenders, are jeans, broken in boots and a functioning ski jacket.And, in Aspen, stylish womens shoes are a special problem. I dont think a lot of women in Aspen will run around in high heels as much as they would like to because the streets are very slick and messy, said Bandanas Oginski. Its almost impossible. In Aspen its hard to find boots that are casual and elegant because we only find the extreme stuff: stilettos at the high-end boutiques or sporty boots that you can only wear after-ski. But if you want something that combines style and elegance, its difficult to find here.Aspen is a very unique town where the wealth and the high-end boutiques are condensed into a very small space and that makes for an excellent showcase. Lets face it we all love a fashion show. And this fashion show is free. Loro Piana, Bulgari, Brioni, and all of our more than welcome guests, we love you and we really enjoy the show.