Fashion Pt V Back in the Day

Everyone loves that "first real job" post-college time in your '20's where you finally have some money and can indulge your fashion whims. Enjoy it while you can, bc pretty soon the babies and the mortgage and the bills kick in and you will never have this much free spending money again until you are too old and too fat to enjoy it. And I did. I went on a fashion binge and I have never regretted it. Above: Wearing red cashmere sweater and dark blue and green wool plaid pants, from Scotch House (in Edinburgh Scotland) with a cream linen blouse (Laura Ashley) at Dickens on the Strand in Galveston, Tx. in the early 1980's. Below: One of the many weddings I went to in the '80's. Wearing a silk suit of fawn mocha brown and cream (can't remember the designers' name) , my signature pearls, and a cameo I had bought in Italy.
Yet another wedding - The same Laura Ashley cream linen blouse , this time with a Ralph Lauren gray paisley print linen skirt and pink suede belt. Same jewelry as always. God knows why the three of us in this photo look so wretched ...I suspect we are hideously drunk.
Getting together with the girls, '80's style. I am wearing a man's oversize cotton tuxedo shirt, with Navajo silver and turquoise shirt/cuff studs (purchased in Gallup, NM.), a "Navajo Pearls" silver bead necklace, jeans, and a Ralph Lauren pink floral canvas bag. I still have the bag, somewhere
.....My love of Southwestern Native American jewelry began when I was a child, on family vacations to the Four Corners Area. I started collecting then, and I still collect, now .
I miss Laura Ashley....would still wear it if it was around. With Ray-Bans. And a  blue "chakra crystal."

Fashion Pt IV Back in the Day

By the time I got to college, all those fabulous college theme parties made regular trips to the "Purple Heart" thrift store in Houston a weekend event. Somewhere, if I can find it, I have photos of me in a "you Tarzan - me Jane" leopard print furry cave girl outfit, of me in a leather miniskirt dress with a studded dog collar neckline.... Even though it was still the late 70's and the "popular" types continued wearing the skinny strap polyester disco dresses for formal events, my friends and I started doing the vintage thing and literally created the trend on our campus for 1950's-'60's style cocktail dresses and more. I have never really given it up.

Above: For a "Gatsby" theme party, I actually made my own dress, by hand. Under-dress was a gold-purple metallic lame` fabric, which I not only designed, made my own pattern, and sewed, but also hand-beaded the bodice. The over-dress was a sheer transparent silk, shot through with purple, green, and metallic gold. I sewed this into a toga. To create matching shoes, I spray painted a pair of navy "Dress for Success" leather pumps dark green, and sprinkled green glitter on them while they were still wet. Then I bought some already made sequined braid and sewed straps. I also made the headband out of scraps from the dress. (Finally, all those damn sewing classes my mother had made me take came to good use!)

Below: A '50's "Debutant " style dress from Purple Heart worn as an early  '80's "Formal" gown. Pale pale pink, almost blush, silk taffeta under-dress, stiff silk chiffon over-dress in the same color.

Above: Another '50's cocktail dress, worn in the '80s, this time with a fitted black velvet bodice and a black layered full tulle skirt. It occurs to me as I write this that probably few even know what these archaic terms mean anymore. :-(

Life is not always peaches and cream, velvet and pearls....I mentioned before the many sub-movements of late '70's fashion....one of which was punk. I embraced it heartily. Made myself a "SID VICIOUS LIVES" t-shirt, where the letters looked like blood dripping, bc growing up in Dallas , Texas, you could not find these sorts of things for sale in my local Valley View Mall. Below: Winning a punk dance contest at a discotheque in Athens. I am wearing an hombre burgundy-purple sequined tube top as a mini skirt, and a boy's red silk polka dotted shirt as my shirt. It would have been better with a pair of Dr. Martens, but I didn't have any - yet.
After punk came "New Wave"....and more college theme parties. Here, my roommates and I are devolving (as in the band DEVO.)
Above: We called this look "preppy punk" (above) bc most of the time, we were just "preppy" (below)

Fashion Pt III Back in the Day

Late 70's fashion veered away from the hippie look and splintered into the 1000 different fashion moments we know today. Above, me rockin' the "Annie Hall" look.

At JR prom, with my boyfriend, and an embarrassingly poor quality and unflattering home-made dress. But the one dozen yellow roses on my wrist made me feel like a queen ! And here you have the earliest example in my life of Iris Apfel's adage that "the more bling you have, the less they look at your flaws."

A growth spurt and lack of proper nutrition gave me the sort of slender good looks necessary to catch a beau - or two - in western society. Thank god. Above, brief stint as a model. Below: I am third from left and rockin' what was then called the "Charlie;s Angels" look. Check out those shoes - I am ready to spring up form that dreary College Bowl competition and head out for a night of "Saturday Night Fever" style disco dancing. And I did!

The look du jour for "formal" prom and dance dresses in the late 1970's was low cut spaghetti straps and a wrist corsage. Above: "typical" late '70's prom dress, made of that wonder fabric, quiana. It was a sort of soft, thick, flowing polyester knit fabric that never wrinkled. You could bunch this up, store it at the bottom of the laundry hamper with wet jeans and  dirty socks for weeks, and then pull it out and it would look just the same. Good thing....Where is my corsage, you ask? Well, it got lost.... somewhere.... during something I was doing, prior to the photo being taken. No need to mention that, forsooth.

By senior prom I flexed a little counter-culture muscle, in my own way. As I was getting ready to head out on a 10 week "Grand Tour" of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and I had just gotten a whole battery of vaccinations required by the World Health Organization to set foot on the continent of Africa. The smallpox vaccine, in particular, was oozing a a 3" crusty weal on my upper left arm that looked like a syphilitic chancre similar to that of the Cook's knee in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. I had to cover it up with something. I opted for vintage - a lavender silk under-dress, with lavender flower silk chiffon over-dress. To spice it up and make it my own, I undid a few buttons. The original style had a high frilly neckline, granny-esque. Always workin' it..... my best gf followed suit, in peach eyelet.

Fashion Pt II Back in the Day

One thing I like to point out - especially to students who love to ask me what it was like growing up in the '60's - is that I didn't own a pair of jeans until I was 11 or so. This was not uncommon. Little girls had 3 types of dresses when I was growing up : church dresses, school dresses, and play dresses. The fabric, trim, detailing and styling grew progressively simpler down the chain, but we had no pants. (We often wore short shorts under our school and play dresses so we could hang from the monkey bars upside down.) My best friend was sent home from school on the first day of first grade because her mom, not an American, sent her to school in pants. A very stylish, modest pantsuit. When the principal called the mom and told her to come up to school and bring a change of clothes, a dress for her daughter, the mom replied with the totally logical, "How do either of these things impact her learning or the learning of others?" Keeping in mind these were 6 year olds in the mid-1960's. I belonged to a totally tomboy little Brownie later Girl Scout troop and our uniforms were dresses. Eventually the moms decided to buck tradition and let us wear jeans for horseback riding and deep woods camping only. We were not allowed to wear pants to school until the Great Energy Crisis of 1974, because (I am assuming) it was cold (at least in other climes) .
Somewhere around this time - my mom (and everyone else's mom I knew) started sewing all our clothes. Did the spiraling inflation of the 1970's mean clothing costs sky-rocketed? I don't remember. Even hubster's mom made him leisure suits out of purple velvet and orange polyester. At first, the dresses were simple and my mom did ok sewing them. Above, all home-made clothes (except for the Girl Scout Uniform.)
Left- home sewn dress. Right - store bought dress. When my mom did buy them, she kept buying (for reasons known only to herself) LaCoste sportswear dresses from Neimans's (perhaps bc no one else wanted them and they were at "Last Call", the final clearance sale of the year.) . All I remember is, they were polyester, and they were itchy.

You may notice some funky things going on with my hair back then. For some reason - and nearly every girlfriend I know from back then had a similar experience - my mom suddenly one day in 5th grade decided to force me to get all my hair cut off. Maybe there was a lice epidemic, maybe my burgeoning sexuality was too much for her, but whatever the reason, she did it in the worst possible way. She dragged me, kicking and screaming, into an "old lady" beauty parlor -where all the moms went every Saturday to get their beehive hairdo's shellacked for church the next day- and where the stylist tried to do the same to me. As soon as I got home I washed it and tried to style it some way....any way.....that did not look like my mother's hair. Huge generational statement for daughters of the 1970's : a flat top,close to your skull, was required for your hair style to be "cool" (absolutely no puffiness or back-combing, teasing, curls, or "rats"), preferably with a straight part down the middle. That was how we liked it. 

Eventually, every daughter figures out that one thing she can do to piss her mother off....and for me, this was it .(Above.) No helmet, no shoes, no bra. Look, ma! 

Fashion Pt I Back in the Day

I have always loved fashion. Having been on both sides of the "attractive" and "unattractive" spectrum, I can say that no matter which side you are on, wearing something that makes you feel good about yourself is not wasted time, effort, or money. It is an art form unto itself.

A child of the 60's, I am here to tell you it wasn't all hippies, "flower power" and free love. (My students often ask me this.) While teenagers were out there wearing bell-bottoms, giant 'fro's, and tie-dyed Grateful Dead t-shirts, most of us had our clothes chosen by our parents. There was little we could do about it. Sears toughskin jeans and t-shirts predominated for boys. Little girls wore dresses. Above: Rockin' the frilly plastic diaper cover-up panties.

There were some powerful fashion influences out there - not just Twiggy. Here I am clearly sporting a "Jackie O" vibe. (Above). The pix below is me dressed as a young Natalie Wood.
Of course, little girls wore their best dress for their "formal" pictures (often taken, back in the day, at the photography studio inside the Sears or Penny's). In the early years, my mom had store-bought dresses for me to wear.
 I suffer for my art - Far left.

Rage Against the Machine PT I

My readers may have figured out that I am a teacher by day (and a blogger by night!) and wondered why I haven't spoken up more about what's really going on in education. Truth is, I have - under a pseudonym - because like most teachers, I fear for my job and the havoc it would create in my family were I to lose it. 

However, as I am getting older I am getting bolder. I am close enough to retirement that I am starting to just not worry about it anymore..... And I have seen enough truly horrible situations with colleagues (both good and bad) to realize that the worse they can do is send me to teach at a middle school. (That's what they do in my district when teachers have been "bad", and have "lawyer-ed up", have no connections or administration doesn't like you. If you have connections or they like you, you get promoted!) For the few years I have left till I am gone forever, I think I can tolerate that fate. And I am not really "bad" in the traditional sense: I come to work each day on time. I do not humiliate or ridicule students. I am not a sexual predator. My only sin is being outspoken, and my test scores are damn good. I turn my paperwork in on time. I follow the rules for employees (dress code, grading, etc.) I pass (or at least, don't fail) the requisite number of students. Did you know these are the criteria for being a "good" teacher these days? 

Most importantly, I have been around long enough to know where some of the bodies are buried. As long as no one hassles me, I will keep my mouth shut about who did what. If any of my 19 bosses decides I am a problem for telling the truth about education these days, I am not afraid to spill all - names, dates, places - and I have saved the documentation, over the years, to prove it. Emails, paperwork. Yes I have.

I know all about:

* A school that hired the wife of a friend of the principal, we'll call her Teacher Z, despite Teacher Z having no formal education, experience, or qualifications as a teacher; Z was a former airline stewardess. She kept her job for over 7 years in spite of the fact that she was a drug addict (OxyContin pain pills) who rarely even showed up for work. Even Z used to tell stories about "waking up to find my principal inside my apartment, because the door was left open- principal had come to wake me up and drag me into work for the day." Apparently this happened more than once. Year after year passed and Teacher Z could not pass the certifying test for her profession. Teacher Z's students had dismal test scores, she never turned in lesson plans, she had no furniture in her classroom except beanbag chairs and pillows, and she never put any grades for her students into the online (and view-able by all) computerized grade book. Her supervisor had to invent grades for Z's students out of whole cloth. When Z did show up for work, she let her students roam freely and graffiti the walls so badly the first year she taught that the next year she painted all the walls of her classroom black. Yes, black.

* A school that hired a friend of the principal's, we'll call this person "Teacher Y", as a coach and special education teacher. Teacher Y had no qualifying education, prior experience, or teacher credentials, and administration decided to put the name of a different teacher, Teacher X, (another one on the same campus, one with legit credentials), on every document that contained Teacher Y's name. Teacher X, was put into the computer as the "teacher of record" for all Teacher Y's classes taught, students legally responsible for, paperwork, etc. Every document associated with Teacher Y had Teacher X's name on it, but Teacher Y filled it out, and signed Teacher X's name to it. Anyone who looked carefully enough - an auditor, a payroll clerk, a state accrediting agency - would notice that employee X seemingly taught 2 full jobs - double the classes, double the students, double the subjects, as well as coached, all because Teacher Y had no credentials for the job whatsoever. But no one ever did. Situation went on for years, and may, in fact, still be going on. Teacher X was never notified of any of this but found out accidentally due to an email she was accidentally cc'd on.

* A school hired a friend of the principal's, we'll call this person Teacher Q, who had no education, credentials, or experience to be a teacher. Teacher Q routinely ridiculed and failed too many of his students. He made them sit in a box in his classroom when he decided that they had done something he didn't like. This teacher was promoted to administrator! 

*A school that hires many coaches without any certification, education, or experience teaching whatsoever, and assigns them teaching study hall and similar courses. One guy just mows the grass, for which he is paid $70K a year. 

*A school that hired a friend of the principal's relative as a teacher's aide (all the same work for half the money.) This teacher's aide decided to start a club, which had a show and a fund-raiser, and sold thousands of dollars of raffle tickets for a car donated by a local dealership. Somehow, all the money mysteriously disappeared....all while the Teacher's Aide found Jesus and was telling her co-workers they were going to hell bc they hadn't done the same.

This is but the tip of the iceberg, my friends. However, if you are concerned about the education your children are getting, I urge you to look up your students’ teachers’ qualifications, education, and certifications online. You can check out the teacher certification of anyone in Texas on the TEA website. I am sure it is similar in any state- there is a state licensing board. While certification isn’t the guarantee of a great teacher, at least it is a starting point. It means the teacher passed a basic test, took some college courses. With “No Child Left Behind” laws coming to an end, the rule that teachers must be “highly qualified” (at least certified and have college coursework in the area they are teaching) is coming to an end. Which means the shenanigans will end, and schools will just openly hire whoever they wish and not even try to make them appear to be qualified.