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Sorting Out Hits And Misses From The Fashion Grab Bag

Shanna Southern Peterson Correspondent

Every season brings a few offbeat ideas and innovations in fashion. For that reason, I keep a file folder titled, “Bizarre Stuff.” It’s full of things that don’t quite fit into other categories but are so different they deserve at least a little attention.

Some of these ideas are winners; others are near-misses or outright losers.

Delving into the folder brings forth this accumulation:

Thumbs Down: EMV T-shirts. “Energy Made Visible” is an idea that sounded too good to be true. Guess what? It was. The T-shirts are printed with a black-and-white drawing of various sports such as soccer, basketball or baseball. They are also printed with an invisible photosensitive ink that, when exposed to sunlight, will magically turn the pictures into full-color graphic designs.

It works for about the first three times in the sun, then the colors begin to fade. By the second trip through the washer and dryer, the T-shirts fail to change from the basic black and white. Too bad. This could have been a hot item with the grade school kids.

Thumbs Up: Alaska Ice Clothing, Cool Thing and Cool Zone Cold Collars. Several companies have come out with their versions of acrylic polymer crystal cooling collars that are becoming all the rage with sports enthusiasts, whether you’re a participant or spectator.

The cotton/polyester tubes are filled with crystals that help keep you cool even on the hottest days. To activate, simply soak the collar in water for 10 minutes. Gently squeeze out the excess water, drape over it your neck and the cooling effect begins immediately. The best part is the collar will stay cool for up to three days without refrigeration. When it starts to lose its cool, simply soak it in water for a few minutes to reactivate the crystals.

The collars are available by contacting Alaska Ice Clothing Co., at 534-7274; The Cool Thing at (914) 273-4090; or Cool Zone Cold Collars at (800) 477-4287.

Thumbs Down: Strapz. This was to be a revolutionary idea in the shoelace industry. Too bad somebody didn’t remind the inventor about Velcro.

Strapz are elastic strips with plastic hooks on each end that snap into the eyelets of sneakers allowing the wearer to slip his or her shoes on and off without the tedium of tying laces. Think of the seconds you could save over a lifetime by not having to tie your shoes. It’s simply mind-boggling.

The 9-, 10-, and 11-year-olds we had test this product said not only would they not wear these in their own shoes, but they would probably make fun of anyone they saw wearing Strapz instead of shoelaces. Brutal, but honest.

Thumbs Up: Coppertone Colorblock. This SPF 30 sunscreen goes on bright purple but disappears when it’s completely rubbed in. This helps parents know that kids’ skin receives complete sunblock coverage with no missed spots. We know of more than a few adults who have started using this clever sunscreen. It looks so cool to be covered in purple then have it disappear.

Thumbs Down: Babesball Cap. Some things are so stupid, it’s difficult to know where to start. But with this product, the most obvious place to begin is with the name, Babesball.

It’s offensive, pure and simple.

Next point. The cap is designed with a hole in the top so women with long hair can pull their ponytails up through the top, supposedly saving them from a bad hair day. Don’t hundreds of women achieve the same effect by wearing a cap with an adjuster in the back or by wearing a visor?

Why is this product even on the market?

There are dozen of other fashions and accessories that made me roll my eyes, or stop and say, “Wow!” But these are the most significant of the bunch. It’s probably safe to say the file folder marked “Bizarre Stuff” will start filling with fall items soon. I’ll share the best (and the worst) when there’s a good crop ready to harvest.

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