IN THE LAST 10 years, Seattle has emerged as the new epicenter of the fashion world. Of course, the Miuccia Pradas and Anna Suis would have you believe that fashion evolves in a glamorous fairy-tale kingdom somewhere far, far away -- a magical land where everyone speaks with an accent, has one percent body fat, and can easily drop 5,000 bucks a pop on the ridiculous clown suits Gucci and Versace parade down the runway each season.

From this mythical land, the fashion czars maintain, the latest brainchildren of fashion's elite slowly trickle their way to New York City, and from there begin the slow, agonizing crawl through the aesthetic wasteland of the American Midwest, finally to arrive, tattered and gasping, upon the doorstep of the West Coast. This fairy tale was created and maintained by the fashion industry -- which has a vested interest in keeping the would-be hipster a dithering, bulimic mass of neurotic fashion victimhood. This industry would have you think that true fashion is far beyond your reach. Au contraire!

In Seattle -- the city powerful enough to pluck grunge out of the shower drain and slap it on the back of the world -- fashion has evolved organically from everyday people on the streets. From the sexy barista boys with their soiled Pac-Man T-shirts and shag haircuts to the girl garage bands with their ever-exposed navels and butterfly barrettes, that unmistakable Seattle style has gradually made its way across the world and onto the runways of Paul Smith and Helmut Lang (who, of course, try to claim all the credit. Don't buy it for a second).

Seattle's strength as a world power of fashion lies in Seattleites' understanding of the fundamental difference between fashion and style. Fashion is designed to keep insecure mall rats enslaved to the fashion industry. Style, on the other hand, gets you laid. With exquisite practicality, Seattleites have abandoned all illusions and boldly embraced the fact that what you wear, like everything else in life, is about one thing: sex, sex, sex! You can't lift a rock in New York or L.A. without finding some hairdresser with an overgenerous sugar daddy swathed head to toe in Prada, trying desperately to impress someone. But if any authentic Seattle hipster actually came across a Prada shirt, they would probably tear it, dye it, and douse it in Jack Daniel's before even dreaming of putting it on.

Seattle is blessedly free of label whores and name-droppers, and its style-savvy natives have boiled the true essence of fashion down to its simplest and most effective elements: (A) Do I look like I just got fucked? (B) Does it look like I care that I look like I just got fucked? and (C) Will this look get me fucked again? Prim, pressed, and April-fresh is hopelessly unsexy, and therefore spells fashion death for the would-be hipster. Your ensemble should whisper "Fuck me!" with every breath and "Harder!" with every motion. Wearing a shirt that looks like someone just used it to wipe up after a gangbang is the surest road to fashion success.

The greatest fashion faux pas one can make in Seattle this season is wearing clothes that fit. Mysterious concealment or brazen exaggeration is the name of the game, and any clothing in your size should be shunned like the devil. Natural fibers are making a daring return this fall with wool pants and cotton jumpers all the rage -- two sizes too small or large, of course -- while polyester and fake fur remain firmly ensconced as the yardsticks by which all true chic is measured. And every truly stylish ensemble will recognize the importance of two vital and indispensable elements: shoes and eyewear. If you are wise you will shun all that is Payless, and never don anything so common as Nike. Socks with sandals (or worse yet -- Birkenstocks!) are the fastest road to fashion hell. And if you don't have a clever and catchy pair of eyeglasses, you might as well be wearing a garbage bag.

For men, the disinterested "just rolled out of the hamper" look is hot again this season, with the big news being body modification. Über-sexy nose and tongue rings are the puncture wounds of choice, with even the most conservative twentysomething reluctant to venture outside without a hardware store sticking out of his face. (How do they get on airplanes?) Tattoos are bolder this fall, no longer content to peek sheepishly from behind cuff or collar, and are making their way, like sexual road maps, all over exposed -- and possibly unexposed -- flesh.

Old school vintage is still commanding attention this fall, and the blue-collar aesthetic is still exemplified in the dress of the hip Seattle male. Far from being on its way out, Seattle's tribute to the working man is as vital as ever. The uniforms of the humble gas station attendant, construction worker, or Metro bus driver are the trophies sought by Seattle's hip elite, and aluminum lunchpail-toting lads clad in traditional grease-monkey jumpsuits can still be found from the Alibi Room to the Backdoor Lounge! Add Coke-bottle glasses for a look that will simply scream Seattle!

Many male fashion plates are giving this image a surprising twist with toe and/or nail polish. In fact, makeup of all kinds is being embraced by the hip -- and presumably heterosexual -- male, including eyeliner, eye shadow, and lip gloss! This can be charmingly disarming when combined with such a traditionally macho image, and the effete construction worker is one of this season's most daring new looks!

In another sublime development, gym-pumped party boys are becoming rarer than hens' teeth as men make a dashing turn toward the always-enticing scrawny little boy look. Any hipster worth his or her martini knows that nothing gets you laid like skinny, and the lines to the bench press are shrinking as Seattle's most nubile male flesh eschew their muscles for that oh-so-sexy speed freak chic! Topping off this look is an uneven Belle and Sebastian bowl cut, a belly-revealing undersized vintage tee, and a heavily creased pair of tweed plus-fours and/or polyester cigarette pants with high-ankle monk strap boots by Bulo. Luscious!

With the younger and less employable set, the traditional skater-punk look is, lamentably, on its way out in favor of that ever-popular street-kid chic! Those darling punks once found proudly eating asphalt have grown and tossed aside their boards and sassy, multi-layered skating duds to don the heavily mended black denim uniform of the common s'panger. This look (which some find unbelievably sexy) is usually accessorized with a pet of some sort, a paper cup full of coins, and for brief periods, older gentlemen in Lincoln Town Cars or Cadillac Coupes.

Baggy, baggy, baggy is all the rage for the weapons-toting pubescent this season, and the back-to-school look is definitely in da 'hood. Teenage men are donning bellbottomed drawstring trousers baggier than Grandma's be-hind that hover about their lower extremities like antebellum hoopskirts, adding a potent allure and mystery to young men who are just discovering their hormones. What exactly is going on beneath those yards and yards of khaki? These days, the randy schoolboy need no longer resort to the boner-hiding book-in-front-of-the-crotch maneuver to conceal his over-eager manhood: These pants reveal nothing! If you were to shake down today's teen, it wouldn't be surprising to discover not only a myriad of automatic weapons, party drugs, and a complete Sega video game system, but possibly several other teens hidden in the folds. Electrifying! Top off the ensemble with a crisp white nipple-revealing tee, a black jumper and a backward baseball cap that murmurs "oral sex," and Seattle's hip-hoppin' young man is ready for public education -- and everything the term implies!

Capitalizing on the bitter and confused rage of spoiled urban youth, teen girls are looking sassier than ever this season, with a surreal, Japanimated, Hello Kitty meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer quality: tough and savvy, cuddly but slightly vicious. Mini skirts are back, along with the too-tight Alice B. sweaters and/or Daddy's white button-down work shirt, worn with knee-high white stockings and black flats -- Catholic schoolgirls, with an edge! Some unapologetically street-chic young ladies are as baggy as the boys in bellbottom denim, platform Adidas, and crowned with the ever-popular bellybutton-revealing halter top, pigtails, and body glitter. Baby, you're a star!

The most "in" look for Seattle's hip, lounge-haunting woman this season is eclectic, slightly edgy, and vintage: a mélange of art gallery owner meets Lili Taylor on a bad laundry day. Rhinestone-studded horn-rimmed vintage eyewear, faux chinchilla, plaid toreador pants, and the ever-present halter top often mark this look. Many women lose the fur, add some facial piercings, PVC, and a questionable dye job to attain the über-popular trashy rocker girl look. Lesbianism, of course, is still hot, hot, hot for Gen X women, and one of the most versatile and potent fashion accessories today's young woman can possess is a girlfriend -- or at least the nebulous suspicion of bisexuality.

Deeply inspired by several successful movies about Renaissance England (e.g. Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love), many women in their late 20s to early 30s are shying away from the makeup counter to embrace the clean, windswept, "fresh off the moors" look. Refreshingly free of product, this simple but alluring choice is complimented by brown wool turtleneck sweaters (still short enough to show some tummy, of course), tweed pants, and chestnut leather riding boots. Others seem to be moving away from Seattle's classic eclectic look to embrace a very Lilith Fair motif -- cinnamon saris with floral print, sandals, and even brown wool wraps. Brown is the black of the '90s, and ladies with a lust for the rustic are relishing its return!

Seattle is blessed with more fags than a British smoke shop, and no aesthetic analysis would be complete without a discreet peek in the queer closet (so to speak). Since most Seattle style transfers easily from the hetero to homo worlds (except the aforementioned toenail polish fad, which is, oddly enough, an almost exclusively straight male phenomenon), to see what the fashion-conscious queer is sporting this season, we must turn to the true hotbed of queer sartorial ingenuity: the gay disco! This season, gay men are making a curious lateral move toward the club gear they wore in the early to mid-'90s, and gay dance halls are filled with muscle shirts, tank tops, oversized slacks, and neckwear of varying degrees of hideousness. Although this would seem contrary to the very nature of 0the ever-forward-moving homosexual, their instincts should be trusted without question.

To the untrained eye it would seem that fags have simply run out of ideas. Well, smarty-pants, you should shut your sassy mouth! Fags pioneered much of what the world wears today, and are probably responsible for whatever you have on your back right now. Without fags there would be no fashion, and you'd be walking around wrapped in a dog pelt or something. So show some respect! Get out there and buy yourself a spandex muscle shirt, put on a ball-bearing necklace, and wait until the gays innovate the next big fashion trend -- -which is sure to knock you -- and the world of fashion -- on its ass!