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Changing traits are in your jeans

Timing is everything. If you hit a homer with the bases loaded, it might win the baseball game. When your blast flies out of the park on the wrong side of the foul pole, you're not likely to become a hero.

This also happens in the world of fashion, where last year's raggedy bum might prove to be tomorrow's fashion plate.

Our world has rarely seen a bigger change in style than with a single garment called blue jeans. Years ago, we wore blue jeans because they were rugged and cheap. Fashion had nothing to do with their popularity.

That perception has changed radically during recent decades. Youngsters have worn jeans everywhere, even as dress-up garb.

But first, they ripped holes in the knees and bleached their jeans to look like they had suffered hard wear. The legs often were ripped off and frayed to create shorts. Then girls wore them with spike-heeled shoes on formal occasions.

The younger generation thought these high-priced, tie-dyed trousers were highly fashionable. They looked especially chic when paired with a cap worn backwards, with the bill pointing in the wrong direction. Most young folks thought this looked best when paired with a T-shirt that carried an off-color message.

While daughter led this style revolution, Mom wasn't far behind. Mothers quit wearing dresses and began appearing in public in blue jeans, too. It got so bad a high-fashion dress shop in Smith Center closed for lack of patronage. The ladies, perhaps, didn't look as alluring in jeans as they had in dresses, but they felt more comfortable. This became so pervasive you don't see a woman wearing a skirt for months at a time. Men hardly turn their heads any more and they don't hold open many doors.

But men have suffered most from the blue-jean craze. Once upon a time, the average fellow wore sports shirts or white shirts with dress trousers made of expensive materials that would hold a crease. They even donned sports coats and neckties on numerous occasions. Now they lounge around in torn, worn blue jeans even when they haven't been working. This is a sensational look when paired with a dirty T-shirt or sweatshirt.

This revolution reached its peak, to my dismay, when I attended the Methodist Church's Kansas West conference in Salina a few years back.

Most of the men wore white shirts and suits, and most women dug out a dress of some sort that was saved especially for church occasions.

What caught my eye was a young couple who had been hired to play and sing most of the music for this really special occasion. They were quite attractive and were excellent musicians -- just what the conference needed. Unfortunately, both of them wore T-shirts, blue jeans and sports shoes, which detracted from their presentations.

No doubt these observations will rub some readers the wrong way. Sorry. These comments are not presented as criticisms but rather are given as part of mankind's historical record.

Maybe I'm only sore because I never have been on the right side of fashion. You see, when I attended high, I seldom shaved or cut my hair and I wore dirty blue jeans all the time. I was a bum. But, a half century later, I would have been the most fashionable boy in school.

Darrel Miller lives near Downs in rural Osborne County and is a retired weekly newspaper editor.