A new marginalized constituency is emerging in Manhattan.
We’re irate, we’re short and we can’t find a thing to wear! I’m talking about the sartorial pixies, we undersized male fashion gnomes who have been dwarf-tossed from the front lawn of fashion.
There seems to be no shortage of glamorous clothing for female pixies: Teen midgets Mandy Moore, Ashley Olsen et al. adorn-annoyingly-the cover of this month’s Vanity Fair in their Chanels and Proenza Schoulers. Clearly they had no trouble finding groovy clothes. But how about us guy pixies? Where are we supposed to shop?
As the clothing industry sizes up to accommodate the new McDonald’s-fed gargantuans of the 21st century, we elves and gnomes are being swept under a toadstool. Those farty boys’ clothing stores-that old stand-by for Manhattan munchkins-have all shuttered their doors (R.I.P., Barneys Boystown), or surrendered to the prodigious appetite of a husky hip-hop nation. The last time I checked out the boys’ department at the downtown Old Navy, I seriously contemplated buying a T-shirt and having it made into a yurta, or two.
What’s a midget to do?
In a desperate quest for answers, I grilled a sampling of fellow L.P.’s and came up with the following five pointers.
The Knowing Gnome’s Guide to Sartorial Success:
1. Shop with a tall friend. People enjoy picking fights with little ‘uns; we need a big sister/brother to fend off any would-be dwarf-tossers. A tall friend can also be very helpful in attracting the attention of a salesperson, who may or may not spot us frantically gesticulating behind tall garment racks.
2. Follow the dykes. There are petite, fashionably butch, trim lesbians (yes, there are!) of my acquaintance who have sussed out amazing resources. Deb Schwartz, 5-foot-3 senior consulting editor at Lucky magazine, spoke to me right before one of her regular forays to Lacoste (543 Madison Avenue, 212-750-8115) in search of the $50 boys’ polos. “The boys’ Lacoste have much better colors-lime green and mandarin orange,” said Deb, a gamine 37. Certain brands-or so claimed this lesbian leprechaun-tend to be more pixie-friendly than others. “I’m loving Ben Sherman and Fred Perry,” she said, referring to the mod favorites she purchases at 99X, between Third and Fourth avenues on Tenth Street (212-460-8599). For formal occasions, Deb entrusts herself to Seize Sur Vingt at 243 Elizabeth Street (212-343-0476.) “I’m about to splurge on another custom suit,” said Ms./Mr. Schwartz, who adores the store’s Italian tailor and the groovy pro-pixie staff.
3. If you’re frustrated and desperate and can’t afford $1,750 for a Seize Sur Vingt custom suit, there is always Gap Kids. I highly recommend the new range of $16.50 surfer T’s, which are emblazoned with amusingly bogus things like “Ocean Coast Invitational Surfing Competition” and “Custom Boards, est. 1969” in burnt orange and navy with yellow embroidery. An XXL boys’ T-shirt is about a 36 chest. Short-sleeved T’s only, please: The sleeves on the long-sleeved T’s are never quite long enough, giving the impression that one has just experienced a growth spurt.
4. When lurking around kids’ stores, make sure your lawyer is present. A short gay man with a penchant for trying on boys’ clothing is open to all kinds of hideous accusations: There is no shortage of nut cases poised to falsely accuse. For more on this subject, read Dorothy Rabinowitz’s brilliant, riveting and harrowing new book, No Crueler Tyrannies (Wall Street Journal Books, $25). Pulitzer Prize–winning Wall Street columnist Dotty lives on my block and has enthralled me for years with tales of her ballsy, life-saving crusade against the army of crazed prosecutors and deranged recovered-memory therapists who jailed hundreds of innocent Americans during the child-abuse hysteria of 1980s and 90’s. Highly recommended for intense beach reading.
5. Embrace your Napoleonic complex: Stomp into your favorite store and demand that your preferred designers carry smaller sizes. For validation and encouragement, just log onto http://www.shortsupport.org. Click on the “Who’s Who” and marvel at your fabulous, powerful petit peers and their lack of height: Prince (5-foot-2), Voltaire (5-foot-3), Aristotle Onassis (5-foot-5), Guy Lombardo (5-foot-4), Deng Xiaoping and Shari Lewis (both 5-foot-0), to name but a few.
Big oaks do from little acorns grow!