Friday, February 01, 2008

Kathleen Was Never Too Cool For the School

SUNDAY UPDATE: Today's Star Tribune says Fall '08 fashions include bright tights, which can be worn under fishnet stockings held up by garters under short shorts. Also hot pants (Now, where's that cute raspberry pink leather pair I wore in the early 70's?) and the leg warmers (80's) that were never suppsed to come back--although I loved them on my little girl. And circle skirts. Get ready to twirl!

We begin with a question: Which of today's styles will people be laughing about in forty years?

I'm asking because yesterday ended with a question that began with Grandma? (Actually, Nana.) Guess who they were looking at.

Yep, c'est moi, back in the black-and-white high school senior portrait days, complete with the ever-popular basic white shell. Believe me, the flip never stayed this flippy for long. Not even industrial hair spray is strong enough to hold this hair in this do. Quick, in the name of all that's cool and for the sake of posterity, take the picture before it all droops!

So my 3- and 5-year-old granddaughters are enamored of the movie Hairspray. I bought them the latest version on DVD, and they watch it all the time. (When their Auntie Elizabeth was about 10, she did the same with Grease, another Travolta musical. I keep meaning to rent it so the girls can see why I keep saying he.) Anyway, recently we were searching up and down the family section in Blockbuster when the 3-year-old spotted the 1988 Ricki Lake/Divine version, and she brought it to me. Somehow she knew it was another Hairspray. I told her I didn't think she'd like it as well, but she insisted. For the next week we were doing the Mashed Potatoes and the Continental, Hand Jivin' and Ponying to beat the band. We're practicing in front of the mirror just the way I did with my girlfriends way back when. And the 3-year-old loves to recite lines. They're playing school, and I hear, "Tracy Turnblad, if I have to write you up for inappropriate hair height one more time..."

We're watching the '88 version and somebody mentions pettipants. I haven't thought about pettipants in ages. I had some sort of like these. (This was before miniskirts came in, at which point we switched to "tap pants," cute little shortie pettipants.) So I explained these garments to the girls, along with the girdle and those thingies (what were they called?) that held up your stockings, and why stockings had to be held up. The other option was a garter belt, which we were able to lose mid-60's with the advent of pantyhose. I rarely complain about pantyhose.

Hairspray is pre-British invasion, which would be my junior high, high school freshman period. We wore the mohair sweater--I had a baby blue one like this, but it was cable knit, not popcorn. Goes well with the pettipants, n'est pas? (Yes, we loved to throw the French I phrases around back then.) I found lots of knitting sites in my search for blog photos. Knitting--which I haven't done since late 60's and 70's--is back, and so is mohair. (And so are my knitting needles.) But this sweater was labeled vintage. You'd wear it with your stirrup pants. These were really unflattering. You had no butt, and, yes, the crotch looked just the way it does here. But we thought they were cool. Cool meant good. (It still does, doesn't it?)

You could also wear your tassel necklace with this outfit. If you were wearing a pleated skirt with knee socks, you might affix a tassel pin to the side on one sock. And I'm seeing tassel jewelry again. I'm also seeing the spike heels and pointy toes of that period--a style we later thought would never come back to torture the female foot. But pointy toes bounced back with Beatle boots, which came in male and female styles. The Fab Four wore them before they were fab, before they were the Beatles, back when the style was called "Continental" and the Continentals were the non-Collegiate crowd. The short boots had "Cuban" heels. Long about '65, '66 we ditched our penny loafers for Go-Go boots, Beatles, and gillies. They're updated and back.

Tent dresses and capris are back. And bells, although not with quite as much flare. I remember people ripping out seams in the legs of their jeans and adding fabric from the knee down. We used to sew back then. I understand the poncho is still out, but I had a lovely plaid one with a hood. I didn't make it myself, but I could have. Can you see the size on this pattern? It says: Medium, 14-16. I wore a size 12 back then. And it never occurred to me that I was fat. (I wasn't, but nowadays it's the perception that counts more than the reality.) I understand that I probably would have worn a smaller number in the upscale department even then, but we weren't as brand conscious in the good ol' days. And we became less so as flower children.

What amazes me is how little clothing styles have changed in the last 50 years. I know some things are probably gone for good. (Who owns a petticoat or your basic full slip anymore?) But looking back 50 years from when I was a kid, man! Styles were so different. (We've come a long way, Baby!) And music. Daddy said it was a flash in the pan, but the heart of rock-n-roll is still beatin'. And that '67 Impala Michele mentioned yesterday is classic, but today's hotties don't mind driving classics. How many teens were driving Model A Fords (first produced in 1927) back in the 60's? Okay, maybe I'm just wallowing in nostalgia. But with all the technological changes we've seen in the last half century or so, I wonder why so much of our world still looks the same.

What was in style when you were a teenager? What did your favorite outfit look like? And what's cool today that people will be laughing at in 40 years?


Cindy Gerard said...

OMG, Kathleen. Did you bring back some memories. I can almost smell my mohair sweater :o) I remember feeling very naughty and daring when I wore my box pleated knee skirt to school then rolled it up at the waist so it would be shorter. Shocking!
Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. What fun

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, yeah, rolling the waistband. Remember when the skirt was too short for school when it didn't touch the floor if you were on your knees?

I've been searching for the name of the low heel that's shaped like an hourglass. That style--along with the pointy toe--has come and gone over the centuries. I have some 1914 McCall's pattern book pages that show that heel. It was in when I was a pre-teen, and I saw it again recently. Is that what they called the Baby Louis heel?

I'll bet Betina knows.

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy-- I'm wondering how many of our readers wonder what a box pleated skirt is! lol

My favorite outfit was a fabulous navy A-line skirt a blouse with a round collar and heather blue "Villager" cardigan (soft cable knit) sweater (which wasn't ultimate luxury, just good higher end). Nylons were required and Bass "Weejun" loafers completed the "collegiate" look. Though I had the same loafers, made by Bostonian and always yearned after the real thing. The power of labels!

Gogo boots-- in white patent leather. LOL! I had a dark pair in college, but didn't wear them very much. And pettipants. . . they still sell them, you know. I bought two pairs when I moved to Florida-- the land of NO NYLONS. And I seldom wear them; too hot.

It's interesting that so much of what we know and love stays the same. It's like the outer form stays the same for comfort and the innards of things change like crazy. TV's for example. Still boxes, still color. . . but so much bigger and sharper and thinner and cooler. And we can now watch movies on demand, series on demand, even slo-mo or freeze frame our favorites as we watch. It's like we want the comfort of familiarity with the advances of technology.

One thing that would have shocked us back in the late60's and early 70's is the prevalence of bottled water. Who would have predicted people selling plain water like this?

And as for what people will laugh at 40 years from now. . . undoubtedly the baggy pants stuff for guys and probably the tattoos and muffin-top jeans for girls. Also-- I hope-- the extreme nails with the big square tips that look like shovels to me!

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy we called the little hour-glass heel a "French heel." Don't know if that held true everywhere.

Michele Hauf said...

Love your trip back, Kathy! And that picture of the Simplicity pattern swept me back. My mother was an avid seamstress, and I don't think I wore store bought clothes until middle school. Everything was polyester. Do kids even know what polyester is nowadays, and how just speaking the word can make me shudder?
I remember gauchoes (late 70s?), and yeah, we even called them gauchoes. And cowl-neck sweaters were the rage. Those are back. Uggh.
We had the neon phaze in the early 80s. Man, half my clothes were neon pink and green, and spotted with rhinestones.
I am always glad to see the ultra-pointy-toed spike high heel come back though. Love that look.
Hmm, I remember elephant pants, which were the huge flares, and then Zena jeans were the jeans to have. Along with some Bonnie Bell lip smackers tucked in your pocket (for the record, my mom never allowed me to get the lip smackers; too slutty). Sigh...

Michele Hauf said...

What will they be laughing at in 40 years? I can't wait until my son's children (non-exsistant at the moment) laugh at their dad's need to wear his jeans so loose they fall down mid-conversation, and force him to walk all gawky just to keep them up on those skinny hips.

Playground Monitor said...

Oh my goodness. I think Betina and I wore the same clothes. I wanted Weejuns so badly too but my mother said Bostonians were made better and would hold up better (translated: they cost less). Then in college I moved into bell-bottom jeans, tie dye t-shirts and my first "granny" glasses. Oh, and a pair of Dr. Scholls wooden sandals.

What'll they be laughing at in 40 years? Easy. Crocs, cause the pair I bought yesterday will still be around in 40 years. They're indestructible. I got them because after my foot surgery in 2 weeks it's about the only shoe I'll be able to wear for about 6 weeks. And if the DH calls them ugly again I might be tempted to comment on the ugly do-rags he wears under his motorcycle helmet.


Playground Monitor said...

Forgot to mention the petticoat -- I tried to buy one last summer and couldn't find but a few at Walmart. They had half-slips and camisoles so I doubled them up and served the same purpose. I don't know about y'all, but my grandma told me nice girls always wore a petticoat under their dresses and skirts.


Betina Krahn said...

Marilyn, I'm not sure the Bostonians actuallly costed less. If I remember correctly, Weejuns were $12.99 a pair, which was on the higher side of reasonable then. I'm pretty sure the Bostonians were comparably priced. My mom had a friend who worked in a certain shoe store (where they also had great sales!)and they didn't carry Bass, only Bostonians. They were the exact same "last" as the Weejuns so my mom didn't see the difference. sigh.

Looking back, she was probably right.

Crocs! Yeah, baby!

Betina Krahn said...

And Michelle, the neon phase. . . my younger son was so enamored of it that he insisted everything he wear be neon orange or green, with gray and black coordinates. He was quite the fashion plate in his grade!

Michele Hauf said...

We so rocked the neon!

Debra Dixon said...

Oh, my gosh. I can clearly remember the fashion show of junior high in which we were shown what was appropriate and what was *not* appropriate now that we were going to be allowed to wear...PANTS! LOL!

My grandmother was a professional seamstress so we also had lots of non-store bought clothing. Some was fabulous and other pieces, while not looking home made, just made me want to hide. No one else knew my hippy pants were made out of someone's curtains, but I did!

I once had a "dressy" outfit with bells so wide they looked like Charro pants if anyone remembers that look she had.

And I made a bathing suit once that I still remember fondly.

Playground Monitor said...

I never got to wear pants to school. :-( Well... in grade school if it was really cold you could wear a pair of pants under your dress and oh boy that really looked cool. :-/

I remember Charro. Coochie coochie coochie!

In my area Bostonians were cheaper. Probably the law of supply and demand in action. AND Weejuns were made differently on the heel and the little penny slot was ever so slightly different and the mean girls at school could tell the difference. *g*

Helen Brenna said...

Elephant pants, and Zena jeans! God, Michele, I'd forgotten all about those.

I had a pair of lime green hip huggers, they were call back then. Lower rise with flared legs. Love them!

After that flip went out, Kathy, like in your picture, remember how flat and straight hair styles got?

Styles today? I wonder if all the tats and piercings will be something people will look back at and freak.

Helen Brenna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathleen Eagle said...

I'm right there on the Weejuns envy, girlfriends. I never got them, either. I had American Girls, which were definitely cheaper than Weejuns. I seem to remember Bostonians being somewhere in between. And, Betina, I had the same Collegiate outfit. I remember going to a skit during freshman orientation at Mount Holyoke ("never abbreviated because we don't like the sound of MT) put on by juniors--our "big sister"--that spoofed the "uniform"--plaid A-line skirt, solid (coordinating) Villager cardigan, white blouse with Peter Pan collar, gold circle pin. It was funny because the British had invaded, and Mod was quickly becoming boss. Remember Mary Quant? Remember Yardley toiletries and slicker? But the "old money" girls in New England hung onto their Talbots classics. College closets were well-stocked with the flats with the flower on the toe in every color. Blue and green were the basics.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, and by the time I graduated from college (1970) my "old money" girlfriends were getting Navy uniform pants (7-button) and jeans at Army-Navy Surplus. They were shopping the Salvation Army Store for suitable flower child attire.

Remember Earth Shoes? The Crocs of their day in shape. (Have to say, I love my Crocs flip-flops.)

Kathleen Eagle said...

Thank you for "French heel," Betina. That's what we called them. So maybe it did come from the Baby Louis of old. And now we have the kitten heel, which is low and spiky. We had high and low spikes in the 60's, but they might not have been as low as the kitten heel, and I know they weren't as high as today's stilettos. And we had a blocky version of the Cuban heel for girls' dress shoes. In my research for today I discovered that the Cuban heel goes back at least to the early 20th century, and that's what it was called. Footwear is fascinating, isn't it?

Kathleen Eagle said...

I am so down (get that? So down?) with the prediction that saggin' will give our grandchildren a big laugh. I hope to watch a basketball game with players wearing something besides parachutes again someday. And the pierced lips, noses, tongues will likely become a "What were you thinking?" moment. I'd love to be a fly on the wall to hear the answers, but that would mean that I'd been reincarnated way down the food chain.

Christie Ridgway said...

My mom sewed (still does) and I sewed a few clothes up until my 20s, but I've only dragged out my machine for curtains and hems and such since. However, I read that sewing is back, thanks to shows like Project Runway. I can't imagine sewing without a pattern, though.

A couple of years ago, our own Susie Law was on the hunt for a half-slip and even that was hard to find. I remember scouting for her and could only find them at Kohls.

My fave outfit? Yikes. I remember a very cute dress that my mom made me. Olive green thin-wale (whale?) corduroy. It was a sort of smock-style and I think I wore it with tights. She had also embroidered an owl on the front. I might have been 4th grade.

Yes, everyone will laugh at the way teenage boys waddle with their jeans hanging so low. How silly is that!

Fiona said...

My senior year of High School saw the invasion of the PREPPY LOOK. Pink, green, tan and white. Cardigans. Izod. Do you remember that? It was between the end of the '70's and early 80's--pre neon.

My mother loved it. Looking back, I wonder if it was a grand conspiracy by parents to get their kids to cut their hair and dress "neatly."

I laugh at my son wanting baggy pants, Element and Quicksilver everything, and long hair. He looks good in the long hair & keeps it clean, so I'm OK with it. The pants are AWFUL, but after some of the things I wore at his age, I make few comments. LOL

Keri Ford said...

Eastlands and Mary Jane shoes were popular when I was in jr. high. I remember wearing blue mascara on occasion and I think people are making fun of that now!

The only thing I remember wearing a lot in high school had been my cheerleader uniform! 3 times a week sometimes depending on game schedule.

I'm all about the pointed toe shoes and have been wearing them a while. On of my DH's friends asked me whose Barbie I'd swipped them off!

Kathleen Eagle said...

I wore lots of Mama-made clothes growing up, and I made my wedding gown. Made my first dress as a 4-H project in 5th grade. It was a sack. I was dying to finish it on my own, and I missed the 7/8" seam instruction. Had to rip out every seam.

Mama took a tailoring class and made me a gorgeous powder blue coat when I was about 13. I wish I'd saved it. It meant more to me than she could have known. I'm sure I didn't tell her. But I wore it often--it was a dress coat--and boasted that my mother made it. One Christmas when money was tight she made most of the gifts for my sister and me--doll clothes, girl clothes--I remember getting a flannel housecoat. (Do we still have housecoats?) One of the first things I bought when I was "on my own" was a sewing machine. Haven't sewn in some years, but I do know how.

Michele Hauf said...

Makes me wonder about sewing. Do they even teach that in school anymore? Is it becoming a lost art?

I remember I made many dresses and pants and skirts for myself, and wore them proudly (probably because they weren't polyester). Even made a few quilts and entered them in the fair. That was probably all pre-boys, though. I think the sewing machine began collecting dust when I started dating.

Playground Monitor said...

My boys are 25 and 30 and in middle school they had to take a semester of shop (now called something more politically correct) and a semester of home ec (now called something like consumer science). They had a sewing unit. One son made a t-shirt and the other made a pair of boxer shorts. I doubt, though, that either could sew on a button today if required.

#1 son also had both ears pierced his freshman year in college. And one ear is pierced twice -- in the lobe and again up high in the cartilege. It was his big show of independence. He hasn't worn an earring in probably 5 years or more though. #2 son got a tattoo as his big independent move, and had it for a year or more before we found out. We were going to one of his college track meets and he called ahead of time to tell us about it. Since he had to wear his uniform singlet, it couldn't be covered up. And he said he'd rather tell us than us just see it. Gotta give him props for that.


Kathleen Eagle said...

Marilyn, my #1 son did the independence day tats too. I've known so many people with tatoo remorse. It's hard to go back. I had a student who used to tatoo her boyfriend's name or initials on her arms, homemade India ink-style. But she often changed boyfriends, so she removed the so yesterday guy herself. She told me she used an eraser. "You just keep working on it." But one of the other kids said she used a razor blade.

Being a teenager always has been more than just Weejuns and Yardley slicker, but these days it seems more complicated in some ways. Not that we didn't have our worries. The Bomb was not, like, Da Bomb.

And some things are so much better. Hey, the Dems are about to nominate either a woman or a Black man for president! I'll say it again, we've come a long way, Baby. (Remember that ad? Cigarettes for women. We're past that, too! The ads, anyway.)

Bridget Locke said...

When I was in high school (90-94) we were very much into the whole preppy thing. Jeans that actually fit, button down shirts, sweaters, etc (these were the popular kids, mind you). I wore jeans and lots of t-shirts with snarky commentary on them. I love the snarkiness. :)

This is going to sound weird, but I'm glad they figured out tampons & pads. :) When I first started, they weren't horrible like they were years before, but they weren't great. Now there's such a variety. That's my commentary on the past couple of decades. :D

And as for what will be laughed at??? The whole gangster wannabe's with the crotch of the pants down around the ankles. I wonder if more guys would wear jeans that actually fit if they realized girls like to see well worn jeans that hug a nice butt? I'm just sayin'. LOL!

byrdloves2read said...

Well, that was a fun stroll down memory lane, Kathleen. Your picture looks very much like my senior high school picture except for the bangs. LOL Oh the Villager sweaters, box pleated skirts, peter pan collars, weeguns, I haven't thought about these in YEARS. My favorite outfit was in the 70's - bell bottom hip huggers and, oh what were they called, the stretchy bandeau tops we wore without bras and Bass sandals.

I agree with everyone, the grandchildren will laugh at the baggy pants that have the crotch down at the knees. They just have to.

Kathleen Eagle said...

>>the stretchy bandeau tops we wore without bras<<

Tube tops?

We all agree on the saggin' pants. When my boys started wearing the huge pants (they didn't sag, but they looked like rodeo clown pants) I kept asking, "Do girls/women like this style? Do they ever *say* they like this style?" I don't think they ever gave a straight answer. I don't think I actually admitted to myself that I found Clyde's cowboy ass very attractive in those Wranglers, but I have a gorgeous photo of him walking away back then, and I still sigh.

I'm trying to remember whether we said "preppy" when I was in high school. I remember "collegiate." I think we said preppy, too, but back then (or maybe it was regional--New England) preps were the kids who went to prep school, and their version of collegiate dress was that Talbots look. Interesting. Private school isn't as important in the Midwest as it was in the Northeast when I lived there. Wonder if it ever was.

Anonymous said...

As a California girl who attended high school in the 'sixties in the San Francisco Bay area, the clothes I remember are a bit different.

The surfer chick look was big. Straight-as-a-board hair (we did it with dippity-do and a real iron). Tight, skinny ankle-length white jeans or elpantine bells worn with a cropped top (usually striped) or a halter that left nearly your entire back bare.

The mod look was also big. Wild paisleys and big, bright geometric prints. One favorite outfit was a green and blue diamond print mini-dress worn with green fishnets over blue tights. White go-go boots. And big plastic disc earrings, also blue and green. Was I stylin' or what?!

Also did the hippie-chick, flower-child look. Jeans ripped out along the seams and colorful fabric sewn in to make a long skirt. Gauzy embroidered tops. Fringed leather vests. Tie-dye scarves. Handmade beaded jewelery.

About the only look I didn't try on was the preppy or collegiate.

Kathleen Eagle said...

#2 20-something son predicts that his grandchildren will make fun of some of the music popular now--New Country, New Metal ("Boy bands") Emo. I know nothing about Metal or Emo, but this is #2 son, who says he thinks all things Goth will be a joke by then and that reality TV will be dead "if there's any justice in the world."

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