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Sunday, March 20, 2005

"Rhinestone shades and cheap sunglasses!"

While sitting at a stop light, broadcasting my iPod selections to the small area immediately around my car, I suddenly made a fairly obvious connection between what was playing at that moment (ZZ Top’s ‘Cheap Sunglasses’) and a group of young female soldiers standing at a bus stop wearing, you guessed it… cheap sunglasses. I would have employed the adjective ‘attractive’ to describe them, but because their faces were completely hidden behind their big goofy sunglasses I really couldn’t say!

I’ve mention on several occasions my opinion that there is really no middle ground when it comes to Israeli fashion sense. Israelis are either fabulous fashion plates… or horrible fashion victims.  However, when it comes to Israelis trying to accessorize with eyewear, there seems to be a common thread of ‘uh oh’ that spans the religious and political spectrum from Metulla to Eilat.

Once upon a time every self-respecting Israeli wore sleek aviator-style sunglasses. I suppose the reason for this was that every Israeli secretly wanted to be mistaken for a fighter pilot (the apex of the Israeli military pantheon)... and every Israeli Air Force pilot favored this one distinct style of aviator shades.

Thus, for the first 30-40 years of the State, there was a comfortable conformity in Israeli summer eyewear.

I don’t know exactly when or where the train left the tracks, but at some point in the early ‘90s, Israelis seem to have abandoned the fighter pilot look and instead took leave of their collective fashion sense.

Some went for the marginally tolerable wrap-around surfer/shabak (secret service) shades… but most took a nasty turn towards the big, gaudy drug store sunglasses favored by senior citizens the world over.

I really wish I could understand the mental checklist that the youth of Israel ‘tick’ off as they get dressed these days:

  • Perfectly styled hair - CHECK
  • Tastefully applied make-up - CHECK
  • Latest fashion clothing – CHECK

Hmmmm… something’s missing… oh I know:

  • Clown glasses!

I feel confident that my maternal grandmother (she should rest in peace), whose taste in sunglasses (and many other things) bordered on comfortably garish, would have felt right at home with the typical Israeli teenager’s taste in sunglasses.

Oh, and my comment earlier about these oversized, rhinestone-festooned circus-shades being cheap drug-store fare?

Not so much.

I recently went into several high-end eyeglass stores looking for some reading glasses (yes, I’ve arrived at that stage of life) and was floored to see what Israelis are paying for sunglasses that will hide their faces from mouth to hairline. These are definitely NOT your grandmother’s sunglasses (my grandma Fay would have flat-lined after one glance at the price tag)!

In an inexplicable flip-flop of the price-to-quality equation, what used to be a dime-store bargain is now expensive beyond reason… and what was once a pricey commodity is now relatively affordable. Such is the case with the Israeli sunglass market.

You want a pair of plain aviator glasses? No problem, how many would you like?

You want a pair of these big foolish eyesores? We’ll have to check your credit before we can let you try them on!

As the light changed and I slowly accelerated past this gaggle of [perhaps attractive] young soldiers, I couldn’t help mentally paraphrasing the end of the song:

"What would really knock me out’d be some cheap sunglasses! Dudda da da d’da da DUH, dudda da dada…"


Posted by David Bogner on March 20, 2005 | Permalink


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I hear female Israeli soldiers go crazy for a sharp dressed man!

I'll take it as an optimistic sign of the Israeli economy that people are spending a lot of money on moronic things. People who are poor, or scared they might soon be poor, don't do that. I hope things there feel as good as they look from far away. The violence seems to be trending down. It's been weeks since I've heard major media hand-wringing about the fence. And I get the feeling Palestinians are realizing that Israel isn't going anywhere.

Now if we can just get through the summer without Gaza residents and IDF soldiers injuring each other, that would make even me willing to buy giant expensive clown glasses.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 20, 2005 11:52:24 AM

Doctor Bean... "...female Israeli soldiers go crazy for a sharp dressed man!

I wouldn't know since a) I am never sharply dressed; and b) I am invisible to girls of this age (which is as it should be).

As far as what makes the news there... there isn't always a connection between what is picked up by the international news and what is actually happening on the ground.

Right now the media seems bent on lending credibility to the Palestinian leaderships efforts to secure a truce / cease fire, so they are not reporting the shootings or attempted infiltrations that have continued to take place. In theory I have no problem with this 'self-cesnorship', since Abbas would have a hard doing any serious horse-trading with the various factions while under a constant media microscope. However, I wish Israel sometimes got that kind of benefit-of-the-doubt from the world press.

As to whether this will be a peaceful summer... Only time (no, not the magazine) will tell.

Posted by: David | Mar 20, 2005 12:05:38 PM

"sharp dressed man"

That was just a (too obscure, obviously) allusion to another ZZ Top song. (It was either that or try to work the word "Tush" into the comment...)

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Mar 20, 2005 12:33:41 PM

As a fashion-magazine addict, I think I can be confident in saying that these enormous gaudy sunglasses have been de rigeur for a few years now. All the posh fashion houses do them and all the trendy celebs and pop music people wear them. I guess Israel is both up with the trend, and very sunny. English people would probably be doing the same thing, if they ever got any decent weather. Texans wouldn't, fashion is an alien concept to them (and I mean that as a compliment). Don't know much about any other places.

However, fashions in sunglasses are slower to change than fashions in skirt-length or jacket-shape, so I have every faith that we may be seeing littler glasses in the not-too-distant future. Personally I can't wait for those little John Lennon-sized mirror glasses to come back. I wore them for years, and now you can't even get them on the cheapest market stall anymore, and if it takes much longer I'm going to be too old to get away with them... *sigh*

Posted by: Alice | Mar 20, 2005 12:48:55 PM

Doctor Bean... Thank you for your restraint. On another note that I didn't address from your first comment, Israelis spend money whether they have it or not. They spend whether there is war or relative peace. They live WAY beyond their means and drive their bank managers to distractions. The national symbol should be the minus sign to denote the overdrawn state of most people's bank accounts!

Alice... Oh wonderful. So you're saying I should be sneaking a peek at Zahava's InStyle Magazine in order to find out if something I spot in Israel is simply a local sickness or perhaps a global pandemic?

Posted by: David | Mar 20, 2005 5:15:22 PM

They work out a little more reasonably when you buy them in November like I did!

There are too many Israeli fashion crimes to count and when the list includes tummy tops on 60 year olds I think that we can put this into the category of "ugly but unlikely to lead to vomitting".


Posted by: gil ben mori | Mar 20, 2005 5:43:02 PM

ZZ Top- You know that you could take some of the folks walking around various Yeshivot and drop them on stage with the band and they could have a new career. Not that it matters. ;)

Ugly sunglasses are everywhere, unfortunately.

Posted by: Jack | Mar 20, 2005 7:00:00 PM


Well that's the beauty of blogging- you don't have to, because your commenters can let you know!

Posted by: Alice | Mar 21, 2005 2:04:33 AM

My daughter ( a soldier and fashion expert) explains that there are several items that a soldier (male or female) can choose to wear while in green without being regulated by the army. Therefore the soldiers will pick outrageous styles to point out their individuality.

Posted by: kobi | Mar 21, 2005 8:27:38 AM

Gilly... True, but the worst is when I overhear a couple of youngsters ooohing and ahhhhing over some horrible fashion mistake with the words, "Wow... Ze America!". I feel like telling them, yes, it may in fact be something borrowed from America, but do they always have to borrow the very worst things from the 'Goldene Medina'?

Jack... I've often had the same thought, although I suspect the bearded objects of our musings wouldn't see or share the humor.

Alice... Thanks for clearing that up. I never know what to tell people when they ask why I keep up this little hobby... now I know. :-)

Kobi... You didn't have to use so many words! As soon as you said either 'daughter' or 'soldier' it was understood we were talking about a fashion expert! :-) Your point makes sense, though. I hadn't thought about the natural youthful urge to express individuality while in uniform. My only question is, aren't there any tasteful ways to do so?

Posted by: David | Mar 21, 2005 8:48:33 AM

I wonder if Israelis refer to the band as Zed-Zed Top.

As an American it sends shivers up my spine to say "Zed" instead of "Zee". Unfortunately, as a comptuer proffessional I occasionally need to, but I always grit my teeth...

Posted by: Dave | Mar 21, 2005 8:56:30 AM

Jack... I've often had the same thought, although I suspect the bearded objects of our musings wouldn't see or share the humor.

Maybe if we tell them it is part of a mass kiruv project they'd consider it. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Mar 21, 2005 9:30:58 AM

Hey, hon! Love the post, but will comment instead on Gilly's comment:

HA! ROTFLMAO! "ugly but unlikely to lead to vomitting" -- around our house we yell, "YIKES! BLIND! And 10 seconds too late!" LOL.

Posted by: zahava | Mar 21, 2005 3:36:02 PM

Unfortunately those fashion eyesores can be seen accessorizing the faces of many a fashion slave in Los Angeles.

It's the whole "80s are back in style" thing that's going on here. As someone who lived through the 80s the first time, I'm compelled to shake some sense into these poor misguided fools.

If stirrup pants make a comeback, I cannot be responsible for my actions...

Posted by: Carol | Mar 22, 2005 8:00:12 AM

I recently had the misfortune of having my car broken into, and in addition to some valuble stuff, they also took my cheap sunglasses. I went to the drugstore to pick up another pair. I looked at the $10 rack...some were ok. Then I saw the $2.99 rack. They were all horrible, but one seemed to meet my criteria: 1) very dark, 2) wraps around to block out the sun, 3) doesn't touch my eyelashes (very annoying), 4) I can put it on with one hand while I drive.

I went driving with them one day. Bad mistake. They were dark, but not polarized, so everytime I drove into shade, I got a blackout.

You get what you pay for.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Mar 22, 2005 4:28:48 PM

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