By Hannah Berman

At one time, the definition of the word gimmick escaped me. No longer! I learned that a gimmick is something invented especially for the purpose of attracting attention and that it has no other purpose. So now that I get it, I recognize a gimmick when I see one. A great many gimmicks exist in the fashion industry. But these gimmicks are somewhat different because they do have a purpose. They do more than attract attention; they bring in money. This is because people will buy and wear anything if it has become fashionable.

For the past few years, people have been wearing jeans that are torn. They are replete with holes, and it appears that the more the fabric is ripped and the larger the holes in a pair of jeans, the more stylish and desirable it is. My first thought upon seeing this new fashion statement was that it would never last. After all, how many people would want to walk around wearing jeans that look as if they are worn out? I was very wrong. I get it now. What I get is that the manufacturers are charging more but are providing less fabric.

This bit of nonsense caught on like a fast-spreading fire. It has worked out so well that now we see the same thing in tops. But these tops are not torn like the jeans. They have a section that is cut out. Once upon a time, the term “cold shoulder” was used to indicate that a person was purposely ignoring another. Not anymore! In fashion circles, these cut-open tops are referred to as “cold shoulder.” Like the torn jeans, it is another gimmick that is a money-maker. This is even more profitable than torn or worn-out jeans because jeans are only for sportswear, but blouses, shirts, or dresses featuring the “cold shoulder” can be worn for many occasions.

Television newscasters wear dresses, sweaters, or shirts with slits in the sleeves. Some of the openings are lower down on the sleeve, exposing the outside of the upper arm, and others are open at shoulder level. Even formalwear now features gowns with those ridiculous-looking slits. This is the newest definition of the term “cold shoulder,” and it has taken the fashion industry by storm. It’s a weird look, but it has caught on. One can only hope that it is not here to stay. Why would a female want anyone to see the skin on or just below her shoulders? But the good news is that the only part of the arm that is exposed is the outside part. The underside of the upper arm, which is often fleshy and unattractive, remains out of view. Thank goodness for that.

But none of this applies to me since there is no way I would ever wear clothing—top or bottom—that is torn, worn-looking, or cut open. The only parts of me that I don’t have a problem letting people see are my face, hands, and ankles.

But nothing lasts forever, and as time passes and age takes its toll, even some of that is questionable. As we age, our hands tend to acquire brown spots. In addition, blue veins, which were once well-hidden, suddenly become visible. And ankles, which at one time were slim and shapely, are often swollen. Thanks to cosmetics, the face is usually OK, but who knows how long makeup will be able to hide wrinkles and blemishes. Necks don’t remain in great shape forever either. But the neck doesn’t have to be much of a problem since it can be easily covered with a scarf. Some of us have become experts in this area of fashion. Candidly, I am the proud owner of so many scarves that I could open an accessories store. Although belts, headbands, gloves, and jewelry fall into the accessories category, my store would be limited to the sale of scarves.

As regards the female torso, one can’t imagine what will be next. We will have to wait to see what new bit of nonsense the fashionistas will come up with. If history is any indicator, it won’t be long before the designers introduce some new outlandish style. And once again, chances are that women, to whom style is so important, will grab them up like hotcakes. Anything and everything is possible in the world of fashion. That’s just the way it is!

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mah-jongg and canasta. She can be reached at or 516-295-4435. Read more of Hannah Berman’s articles on


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