Fashion Emergency!; or: Averting a Sartorial Crisis Before Moderating a Screenwriting Panel at USC

While driving to USC on Wednesday afternoon to moderate a panel discussion featuring Hollywood script readers, I realized that I had made a major fashion faux pas before leaving the house and that it was too late to go back home to correct it. I was wearing my fabulous brown Ben Sherman shoes and matching brown socks—but I had accidentally put on a black belt! What the hell was I thinking?! That's a basic fashion no-no that someone like me should know instinctively straight out of the womb.

I thought to myself, "I now know what it feels like to be a straight guy." The difference is, of course, straight guys are blissfully unaware of their fashion naivete, so they never would've gotten as panicked as I did, cursing at myself in rush-hour traffic.

Shortly before I had to show up at the venue, I pulled into the shopping center across from the USC campus. I rushed through the complex, looking for a men's clothing store. No such luck. I blew into a women's shop and asked the woman at the counter, "Do you have anything—anything—that looks like a men's belt?" She pointed at a rack chock full of fake diamond-studded atrocities. "There's no way I could pull that off," I thought and got back into my car.

On my phone, I searched for stores that might've carried men's belts. Nothing nearby. Damn. I decided to drive and drive.

After a few miles of wandering the city, I spotted a sign for a fashion outlet. I wasn't sure what that meant, really, but I went inside anyway, only to find a rack full of men's belts that were all black.

Next door there was a Rite Aid, and I remembered seeing belts at a Walgreen's once. Not an obvious choice, but, hey, they had 'em. So I went into the Rite Aid and found a bunch of made-in-China $2.99 belts. There were a lot of brown ones.

And here I encountered the greatest dilemma I have faced all year. Was it better to wear a cheap $2.99 brown belt (that was probably assembled by asthmatic Asian children) to go along with my fancy brown shoes? Or was it better to wear a classy, elegant, expensive black belt to go along with my fancy brown shoes?

In the end, I waltzed onto the USC campus with the brown belt. As Billy Crystal's SNL character, Fernando, used to say, "It is better to look good than to feel good."

Right? Right?!

(By the way, the panelists were insightful and engaging, and the event was packed. I think the Los Angeles Times highlighted it somewhere, so we had plenty of non-MPW students show up too. Ah, yes, expanding the empire—one fashionable event at a time.)


  1. Harrumph!

    hose/no hose/tights/spanx
    matching bag/shoes/lipstick
    metallics as neutrals?
    hair up/hair down
    flats/heels/skyscrapers strapped to ankles

    ...and this is why I labeled my fashion personality "quirky post punk" and just wear funky scarves with everything.

  2. Don't feel too bad about the purchase-most expensive brands use the exact same manufacturers (a.k.a. sweatshops) to make their products. Nordstrom, Macy's, Bebe, and Guess employ the same factories as Forever 21 and Ross for their clothes. So even though you're paying more money by shopping at these bigger labels, none of it reaches the labor. You can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that it doesn't matter how much you pay, what you're wearing was probably still made by asthmatic Asian children, except maybe in El Monte instead.

  3. Sterling1/29/2010

    It is better to wear an expensive black belt with expensive brown shoes than a $3 drugstore brown belt with expensive brown shoes. Quality always tells, and I would have raised an eyebrow had I seen a cheap belt on someone like you, Prince.

  4. Smartlikeatruck, you should send that to a poetry magazine.

    Average Monet has eased my mind, but Sterling has made me feel shame. Two of you equals one of my mother.

  5. I thought this was funny and read it aloud to Pete who tells me "He's stopping to buy a belt to match his shoes? Then he does not know what it's like to be straight."

    I can vouch that this straight guy would not even notice you or anyone else had clashing leather accessories.

    But, funny post.

    I will say -- You do have awesome shoes. Can you please take my husband shopping?

  6. Louise, those are Ben Sherman shoes. I bought them online. Your husband needs a pair!