Monday, September 28, 2009

Memory Monday: Fashion Sense

I didn’t have any – not in my youth, at any rate. In middle age I have gone to the other extreme, wearing very conservative clothes in plain colors, no prints. It must be that I don’t trust myself to put together anything tasteful.

I have tried to find some old junior high school/high school pictures to illustrate my poor fashion judgment, but mercifully, I couldn’t find any. No, really. Cross my heart.

I entered junior high school in the late 1960s, a time which, depending on your point of view, was either a wonderful period of exuberant experimentation and inspired innovation in fashion, or a dismal illustration of the appalling consequences of a lack of inhibition, restraint, and taste. I go with the latter interpretation. Now I do, that is. Unfortunately, then, in the 60s, I did not.

So, from “kid” clothes of the 6th grade, I went to matched sets in 7th grade: a china blue and white print skirt and jacket set and a bright (= neon) orange and yellow floral print skirt with yellow top and bright orange belt. None of these colors were flattering. To make it worse, another fad of the day were those lacy, textured stockings, and I had a matching set for both of those outfits. This was truly the realm of fashion nightmare. (Please, God, tell me there are no pictures of me in the Curtis Junior High School yearbook.)

As our family fortunes declined through my junior high and high school years, we had less to spend on clothing. This meant that each choice I made became even more critical, since we couldn’t just go out and buy replacement clothes if and when I ever realized what terrible choices I had made. I wish I could say that I was up to the challenge, but I’m afraid that wasn’t so. Oh, having less money helped a bit, because often I could not afford the truly disastrous fashions I yearned for. But every once in a while I had an opportunity to grab something outright atrocious and I took it. There were bellbottoms, both the hugely flared, drag-on-the-ground ones and a more modestly flared pair of high-waisted suspender bellbottoms, worn with a frilly white shirt.

Almost everyone at Seymour High School wore pants almost all of the time, and that made sense – many of the kids lived on farms and had farm chores to do. I was shocked to find when I moved to Texas from California that many people did indeed wear cowboy hats and pointy-toed boots (affectionately referred to as “kicker boots”), including girls. The closest I ever came to wearing any cowboy-style clothes was when I bought a brown leather fringed jacket (and this was as much hippie as it was cowboy) in my senior year when someone went down to Mexico to buy a bunch of them for cheap. I loved that jacket. It was warm, comfortable, and not too bad looking. Unfortunately, I lost it after I went to college.

Next weekend I am going clothes shopping with my younger daughter, the one with a taste for bright colors and hippie-esque clothes. She has increasingly found herself “borrowing” her sister’s more conservative (but immensely more flattering) shirts, so she wants to buy something like that. We’ll see who’s a good or bad influence on whom.

One of my last "hippie" skirts. Why is this still in my closet?


  1. Greta,

    What a great fashion story. If that skirt were not still in you closet, then you would not have been able to "show" and "tell" on this blog. LOL

  2. Oh, that's a hysterical thought, Professor Dru! I hadn't thought of that. Now I'll be even more of a packrat because all of my crazy old stuff will be potential blog fodder!