Hockey Moms! You Need a Makeover

Along with every other person in New York, I have been afflicted with a persistent and depressing cold. How depressing? Oh, about as depressing as a hockey mom’s oversize, dropped-waist denim dress.

Gosh darn, I badly needed cheering up! On Thursday night I popped a zinc lozenge and tuned in to watch the vice presidential debate. I was hoping for a few unintentional chuckles. None were forthcoming. By the end of the telecast I was forced to confront the horrible truth: Sarah Palin and I are opposites. We have nothing in common. Simply put: I believe in the power of style; she is a veritable anti-fashion crusader.

While La Palin herself is a snappy, pulled-together kind of a chick—expertly applied maquillage, sculpted tight black silk Shantung suit—her utterances vehemently discourage and disallow any stylish expression among the rest of us. It’s that typical beauty queen mentality: I’m the glam ruler and y’all are my earnest-but-dowdy serfs. According to the Republican candidate, we, her subjects, are a homogenous nation of “hockey moms and Joe Six-Packs.” This relentlessly panache-free vision of the United States is gruesomely uninspiring, to say the least.

In Sarah Palin’s America, there are no Diana Vreelands, hip-hop queens, Janis Joplins, Zelda Fitzgeralds, Gwen Stefanis, Edie Sedgwicks, Annie Oakleys or Babe Paleys. There is a chilling absence of stylish daring. In its place are hockey moms, masses and masses of hockey moms—all attired, one imagines, in those denim dresses, worn over turtlenecks. Uggs in winter. Crocs in summer. Holiday-themed sweaters. Quacker Factory, etc. Pass the cyanide capsules, please.

And what about those “Joe Six-Packs” to which the vice presidential candidate alluded? Initially, this concept sounded quite promising: In my mind’s eye, I saw glistening David Beckham-ish blokes with fiercely toned abs. Then the penny dropped—a bit like the waist on a hockey mom’s denim dress—and I realized she was not referring to those lads in the Abercrombie ads, but rather to that genre of male that unwinds chaque soir by slurping and farting its way through six burpy cans of beer.

Paging Abraham Lincoln! Paging Liberace! Paging Tom Wolfe! Paging any American with a dollop of savoir-faire!

I take comfort from the certainty that Governor Palin’s vision is inaccurate. My America, I am happy to report, is bursting with swaggering boulevardiers and fashion-lovin’ divas. My “Main Street” is filled with showoffs who live to gird up their loins with a stylish garter or two.

This season, however, the economy has made these folks a little scared to splurge. Even the seasoned extroverts in my hood are in need of a little encouragement. Here goes:

What, pray, should a fashion daredevil buy from the fall 2009 collections when s/he can only really afford one item because s/he feels weird about spending frivolously because a s/he is worried that s/he might end up on the street pushing an older relative in a shopping cart?

For women: It’s only about a purple heavily fringed Louboutin spike-heeled boot ($1,575 at Barneys). Gorge with a short skirt, and you wont believe how the Joe Six-Packs will whistle when, fringe flying, you run for the bus!

For men: This season Gucci offers a kind of deconstructed Adam Ant/Cossack collection filled with romantic military-inspired jackets. It’s butch and piratey, just like the covers of those swashbuckling romance novels, with which one suspects the hockey moms of Alaska might be more than familiar.

So, gosh darn it, style mavens of America, show Sarah Palin what you’re made of! Go shop! Go feed the economy! Go gussy up! And, for God’s sake take a hockey mom with you.

sdoonan@observer.com Hockey Moms! You Need a Makeover