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Jewish World Review Sept. 8, 2004 /22 Elul, 5764

Lenore Skenazy

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Consumer Reports

Ponchos are back,
but not in my house | Let's see. They don't have pockets. They let the wind whip up to your armpits. And anyone modeling them has to lunge, Travolta-like, just to make them look swingy. As opposed to tent-y.

So why, the philosophers ask, are fashion ponchos back?

Did we learn nothing from the long, hard pashmina years? That era when any woman without a big, expensive scarf looked way better than any woman with a big, expensive scarf falling off her shoulders or tightening around her windpipe?

Don't we all know by now that too much fabric is worse than none at all? (Think maxiskirts!) That Western women don't do droopy? (Think maxiskirts!) That if you are not Audrey Hepburn, you should avoid all ridiculous accessories? (Think pancake hats! Think cigarette holders! Think Ashton Kutcher!)

Apparently, this wisdom has been lost on the legions buying this summer's must-have - which, by the way, was originally 18th-century Chile's must-have: the blanket with a slit for the head.

Here we are, lucky enough to live in a place where females are actually allowed to stick their arms through something as practical and unisex as sleeves, yet we reject that freedom in favor of an item whose corners will, I promise, end up dragging through the ketchup.

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The problem isn't even new. Ponchos were big in the 1940s. And big again in the early '70s, when certain would-be columnists were still taking their first (and last) crocheting classes, convinced that a lumpy poncho, even one missing many of its orange and yellow stitches, would render them irresistible.

This is a power that ponchos, on occasion, actually do confer: "I remember once I was wearing one in this kind of bad neighborhood," recalls my sister-in-law, Carmela, "and this guy called out, 'Hey baby, I wanna wrap you up!'"

See? Irresistible as a burrito.

"I love them!" says my classy colleague Carole. "I always buy them."

And then?

"When I clean out my closet, I find them again."

"I like the ones with the big, fuzzy balls," enthused another pal, adding, "Um, you might want to phrase that differently."

Okay, I will: Ponchos are back and I'm going to quit complaining. After all, it could be worse.

It could be capes.

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JWR contributor Lenore Skenazy is a columnist for The New York Daily News. Comment by clicking here.

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