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Thursday, August 26, 2010

High School Fads and Follies

I am afraid I am as guilty as most "old folks" of making negative comments on the dress of kids in high school. However, something brought my own high school fashions to mind the other day. Plaid and pleated skirt, bobbie socks and the sloppy Joe sweater. For those who were not around in the late forties, a sloppy Joe sweater was a must for every girl's wardrobe. You went to the shops and found the biggest sweater you could find. I remember I barely weighed one hundred pounds, and my sloppy Joe was a size 42. The sleeves were too long so had to be pushed up but wouldn't stay up as the cuff was too big so you put a rubber band around the cuff. Then you folded the cuff up to cover the rubber band after which your sleeve would stay put. The things hung down almost to our knees and were completely shapeless which may have been the point in a society of girls embarrassed by the changes in their bodies and any attention those changes caused.

Everyone wore saddle shoes and white bobbie socks. In my school one wouldn't be caught dead in clean saddle shoes. They were supposed to be grunchy, every spot a memory. My dad, a marine, decided one day to polish all the shoes in the house. I was not home at the time, but later I saw my lovely, dirty saddle shoes now immaculate and shiny. Disaster! How was I to even go to school the following day. To tell you the truth I don't remember how this turned out, but I am sure my mother would not have thought clean shoes sufficient reason to miss school..

Every girl wore makeup. Generally just lipstick and the redder the better, and powder. The hairdo of the day was the pompadour. You achieved those neat rolls at each side of your head with rats. Really, that's what they were called. Found in every five and dime they were made of some soft substance and covererd with a netting material to hold it together. You put one on one side of your head and pinned it at each end with bobby pins. Then you rolled and tucked the hair around and under the rat. Same thing on the other side. It was amazing how all this stayed in place. Even a fast game of volleyball in gym class could not muss your hair.

Boys had their own fashion dictates. One year all the "in" guys wore corduroys to school. However, they had to be unwashed. They wore them until they were so stiff they stood up by themselves, and for some reason we girls thought that cool. Another fad taken up by the boys were the reversible coats. Somebody came to school wearing a tan, reversible coat, corduroy on one side and the other was a canvas like material that was waterproof. Everyone had to have one. The thing was, all this clean, blank fabric was too big a temptation. Soon everyone with a coat was having it signed by their friends on the smooth waterproof side. Of course, knowing what their parents would say, they always wore it with the corduroy side showing when at home.

I have just touched on a few things that come readily to mind, but the next time you laugh at an old picture of your Mom, remember your own high school days.

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