Basically the idea is to look all wet. And short of standing around under a sprinkler—which severely limits one's range in making the scene—the best move may be to adopt this developing fad in sporting clothes. The new shiny effect is, as everyone reports, something else.
Young Americans who are now discovering it should credit the French: they started with a nylon fabric called ciré and made it into a windbreaker. Ciré is French for "waxed," which is as good a way as any to describe what they did to the fabric. The waxed and/or wet look was an immediate hit in Paris and, naturally, European and American designers promptly added some extra fillips of their own. They have now whipped ciré fabrics into jackets, shirts, pants—even beachwear and rainwear. Next winter it will show up here and there in lines of skiwear, and not long ago one London newspaper carried an article promoting knee socks with the wet look.
Such wildly innovative touches are overambitious for ciré—since the stuff merely manages to look wet; it is not waterproof. One would not wear it when sailing rough seas, for example. But stylists insist that practicality is not the idea—the look is.
The rainbow of wet-lookers riding through Central Park on the page opposite is typical. At far left is a green snap-up-the-front number imported from Italy for Fox Run ($13). The others pedal along in ciré jackets and shirts of Du Pont nylon made by College-Town in yellow and purple ($12), and a variety of other models such as Arrow's blue Eisenhower jacket ($12), Mr. Witt's red CPO shirt ($11), Peter's white shell ($14) and the Men's Store of Sears' yellow windbreaker ($8.95).
Ciré for cyclists comes with a certain touch of official endorsement: that blue waxed-sleeved arm hidden in there among the riders belongs to David Charig, who is a member of Central Park's volunteer bike patrol (on summer weekends every bicycle in the East goes to the park), an organization that directs traffic and picks up those who fall.
Closer up (bottom) Bill Moher wears Enro's new shirt with wet-Western touches ($12), and Kathy Loghry looks appropriately soaked from head to toe in a red jacket ($32) and white bell-bottoms ($24) by Jeannemarie Volk for Doodles. Moher's slacks and those worn by the other male cyclists are France's next sartorial contribution to the American sportswear scene—corduroy in a range of colors as broad and bright as the jackets and shirts. They're imported by De Noyer, an avant-garde New York boutique.
Still, if not entirely practical, there is at least one wet-look convenience model: Mighty-Mac's waxed wind shirt cum belt on this page ($25), which serves all sorts of double duties. The thing starts as a jacket, then rolls tightly into a compact waistline arrangement—which should solve the problem of the stylish thing to do with the wet look on a hot, dry day.