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Fashion Statements: wardrobe for a small, wet planet

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We met Adam Thesz en route to his favorite fashion outlet--the Omni Super Store. Thesz stops there regularly to restock on high-quality plastic sacks, the ones he swears make the snappiest and most durable booties.

Rolling by on his low-velocity velo, Thesz's protective headgear, eyewear, snowgear, and raingear seem to tread function-over-form tracks: "Fully dressed, and damn glad to be."

But our Fashion Sociologists, cautious in their presumptions, took the time to assess, classify, and relabel the look.

The outfit is capped with a porkpie hat, which, despite its lowbrow moniker, cut a high-fashion profile on the crowded men's market around 1956, when the tweed set took a fancy to the restraint of its narrow brim and flat crown.

The American bandanna, Hillary Weiss argues in her book on the subject, serves with admirable versatility as scarf, hankie, headband, bandage, sling, mask, and bundle. Thesz pushes the frontier-style fashion forward, showing the kerchief knotted around the neck, lending the look of elegant euro-flair favored by French movie stars bereft of top buttons.

A chain, most likely of the light-switch variety, swoops between ski jacket and trousers, evoking the English dandy's watch fob, correctly slung from belt loop to pocket.

For footgear, Thesz says, he's wearing "those basket weave" sandals, covered by a double layer of Omni sacking, secured by square knots and two ("that's the best method") heavy-gauge rubber bands. Though the style has achieved classic status in the city's declasse neighborhoods, it follows the lines of the rather recherche men's rubber. According to Esquire's Enclyopedia of 20th Century Men's Fashions, some of the finest slip-ons once came with molded in wingtips, vamps, and laces. Thesz's home-fashioned brand unwittingly re-creates the ghost-shoe look by retracing the straps of his sandals with the bands at arch and ankle.

While the Omni bag with its roomier fit and ankle ties is well-suited to boot duty, Thesz selects cholesterol-free-Butternut bags, prized for their moderate size, elongated shape, and red-and-white cuff trim, to layer over his mittens. Perhaps our roving fashion plate can't, as dandy Beau Brummell insisted one must, change gloves six times a day, but at least his mitts pile several layers deep.

Man and bike coordinate in their matching chains, protective footgear, and spare plastic carryalls. The conversion of the hobo's knapsack into foulard, pull chain to watch fob, and bags to boots gives this streetwise Fashion Statement an uncommon resourcefulness and ingenuity. It seems to quote from Esquire's fashion bible: "There is something about inclement weather that induces a style-conscious man to meet the challenge head-on and look not only comfortable despite it but fashionable because of it."

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