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Ponytails and Polka Dots

THE FILMS: “L.A. Story” versus “Scenes From a Mall.”

THE LOOK: Both Los Angeles-based movies trade in local fashion stereotypes. The “Scenes” characters are depicted as label slaves and trend victims. Those in “Story” are dressed as types, such as the girlfriend with a heart of coal, impeccable wardrobe and perfect hair.

Each film makes broad strokes of humor via wardrobe, but “Story” costume designer Rudy Dillon has a light touch while “Scenes” designer Albert Wolsky’s effect is clumsy.

The leading men dress in the same cool-guy-around-town style: slightly oversize shirts and softly draped pants. But Allen, with his rodent-like ponytail, looks lost inside his loose clothes in “Scenes.” Martin (pictured), on the other hand, wears his palm frond-printed shirts and slacks gracefully in “Story.”

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In “Scenes,” Bette Midler’s character, Deborah Fifer, dresses as a dowdy matron. She wears a Rolex and dyes her hair a fireball-red.

In “Story,” Marilu Henner (pictured) plays Trudi, Martin’s vacuous but beautifully detailed girlfriend. She wears artful chignons, shops in head-to-toe polka dots and paints on “30-minute lips.”

Victoria Tennant, who portrays the good woman who gets her man, is another stereotype. She goes for the flower-child look: straw hats, cardigans and ankle-length skirts.

THE PAYOFF: Although both films offer amusing looks at style, “L.A. Story” has a kind spirit; “Scenes” seems like a cruel joke.

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