And here we thought "Fashion Police" was just a basic-cable TV show.

But if Wildwood's commissioners adopt a new ordinance, police may be issuing summonses this summer to people who are inappropriately dressed on the city's famous Boardwalk.

On June 12, a public hearing will be held on an ordinance to require people to wear shoes on the Boardwalk, to wear shirts after 8 p.m., and to keep their pants pulled up.

City officials say the footwear edict is a safety issue, while the shirt and pants requirements are meant to answer complaints from visitors and residents who find some Boardwalk outfits tasteless and not in keeping with the town's family-friendly image.

If you've ever wanted to tell some young kid strutting in front of you with his jeans hanging down past the middle of his boxers to pull up his pants, you know where the folks in Wildwood are coming from. Still, pity the cop who has to decide if a waistband is "more than 3 inches below the wearer's waist -

interpreted to mean at a level below the crest of the ilium."

Here's the part of the editorial where we're supposed to say that you can't legislate good taste, that the way people dress is a form of free speech and that the real problem with laws like this is that they can be selectively enforced.

All that's true, but as much as we're wary of the intrusive hand of Big Brother tucking in shirttails and buttoning up blouses, it is tempting to want to see this idea catch on. Could we extend the ban to sweatsuits at the supermarket? Inappropriate messages on T-shirts at family gatherings? Some sort of requirement that middle-aged men pass a physical before they can wear a Speedo?

Wildwood is joining other shore towns such as Cape May and Ocean City that try to regulate what people can wear on the Boardwalk. You may have noticed, it doesn't work all that well.

If anyone is hoping that this law will actually change the behavior of young people, they are bound to be disappointed. The point of a certain kind of youth fashion is to discombobulate older folks. Since people are dressing this way to display their disdain for authority, they're not likely to pay attention to such laws.

It might be more effective to make the shirtless and half-pantless look mandatory. Then you'd see teenagers buttoning up to avoid looking uncool.

In the end, the only effective way to deal with an offensive fashion trend may be the same method a previous generation used when teenagers wore tattered elephant bell bottoms and Earth Shoes.

Wait it out.


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