Saturday, August 13, 2005

Seventies Fashion ?????

Fashion of the 1970's.
(You may click the pictures to enlarge but I wouldn't recommend it)
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"Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time. Fashion, on the other hand, produces beautiful things which always become ugly with time."
~ Jean Cocteau (French Poet, Novelist, Actor, Film Director and Painter, 1889-1963)
I didn't take these pictures, I think my brother took them on his little Kodak camera. This was the age of polyester. I admit that I had a lot of polyester dresses and "pant suits" as well but not like this. My style was more subtle in college. Solid color browns, navy, and black polyester pantsuits. Long (to the floor) dresses with bias cut black red and white plaid (small plaid) and an attached top that looked like a white shirt with black vest but was in reality a single piece. Add a red patent leather two inch wide belt and add a floor length black wool cape with hood, lined in red and you have a homecoming game outfit.

What was my mother thinking? She had umpteen numbers of these things all bright colors with large prints. I remember a lime green and menopausal (royal) blue striped dress she thought was wonderful; I thought it was hideous but compared to the dresses she had made after I left for college in 1970, that was tame.

One of the worst was made out of a cotton fabric, white or pale pink. The fabric had threads pulled through every one-half inch or so; these were thick like embroidery thread and were hot pink, mint green and sky blue, kind of fluffy on the ends. The overall look of the material was that of a shag rug that had been slightly thinned out. The dress obviously looked like a fitted shag rug. She thought so much of this that she bought me a piece to make myself a dress. It was a black and white gingham check (small checks) but the shag threads were red, yellow and orange. Just kill me now! I smiled sweetly and told her I'd have to find just the right pattern for it and then put it in a fabric box for 10 years or so.

When Nyssa was four I dug through all my old fabric looking for pieces to make "dress up" clothes for a Christmas gift. There it was. I fashioned a couple of pull on skirts and peasant type tops out of it. With the less than ten set it was a hit. Add a couple of grandma's old wigs, an oversized purse and high heel shoes six sizes too big and you have a pair of happy little friends.

Fortunately, this "wild child" period of my mom's fashion died down. She still likes a bit more color than I'm comfortable with but the prints are smaller and the dresses are at least polyester blends not thick and heavy material. She gave Nyssa these dresses thinking I could cut them down for her dress up box but alas, time waits not even for me and she outgrew this pastime.

Years passed. In her sophomore year of high school, Nyssa took drama and the class put on a play "Arsenic and Old Lace." They needed costumes. We dug through the attic and found the polyester nightmares. They tucked and pinned and added shaws, dimestore costume jewelry pins and sweaters. Along with the powdered white hair done up in buns, these teenagers transformed into cranky, addled old women who delivered their lines to roaring audience laughter. The play was a hit. The actors were applauded. The seventies fashion found a home.

Seventies fashion, what were they thinking?

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