1/28/2016

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! 

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