Monday, June 02, 2008

Regressing without regrets

The other morning, after dropping our kids off at school, Guy and I walked back to our respective houses and got talking about how we as parents dressed these days.

He was in long cargo shorts, Crocs and a warm hoodie whilst I hadn't even showered yet. I was in my running shoes, leggings (the athletic kind - not the Lindsay Lohan lesbian lecher kind), t-shirt and polar fleece jacket with hair like a windswept wheat field and cornflakes still stuck in the corners of my eyes.

Maybe Seinfeld was right: he once said that fathers tend to stick with the clothing style representing the year they were happiest in - in his own Dad's case, it was 1963. For my Dad, it was 1975, sensible v-neck jumpers, shirts that came out of a plastic box, long trouser shorts, knee high socks and leather shoes that only needed a blob of sauce on the top in order to convince me that they were, in actual fact, pasties.

"Seinfeld's right," Guy agreed. "But I think I also dress like it's 1975. Not in the fashion sense perhaps, but in the sense that I was nine then, and wouldn't have looked in a mirror for weeks and wore whatever Mum provided. I was always dressed in something that could deal with skateboarding, mud fights and bike riding." He looked down at himself, and realise that he was still wearing an outfit that would enable him to do just that.

Guy's brow furrowed in concern. "But how far can I take this? I mean when does it get to the point that Sarah thinks the way I look is way beyond a joke?"
"I dunno," was my meditative response. "But isn't that why we can dress like it's still 1975 - because we've found people who love us for who we are and don't care what we look like?"

Guy recalled his mother sewing practically every outfit he wore, bar his levi's cords that meant that he could never sneak up behind anyone without the tell-tale 'swish-swish-swish' sound betraying his arrival. She had one of the groovy overlocking machines and ventured bravely into tracksuit and windcheater territory. "One was a bright blue number, but the neck band was so tight I looked like a Pekinese pup by the time I squeezed my head through."

The sun was drying up the dew on the roses next to us as we reminisced. We both laughed at the tartan ensembles we willingly wore. Guy had a pair of trousers that were a brave mixture of tartan and plaid, consisting of every colour in the rainbow. "Our mothers liked them because they were loud enough to hide a multitude of stains," I said.

Guy gave me a 'Hey, you're right, I never thought about it like that' kind of nod, adding, "That's why by Friday night they were so stiff I had to be lifted out of them."

Of course when hysteria of the Bay City Rollers finally reached Australia in 1975, our canny mums just added a layer of tartan to the bottom of our ankle freezer jeans to extend their lifespan. We thought they were cool, but had to wrap thick rubber bands around our ankles if we wanted to ride our Malvern Stars on the footpaths without our flares getting caught in the chain. Having a strip of cardboard pegged on to the wheel spokes to provide a real motorbike noise upped the Hip Factor by at least a thousand percent.

Long live 1975 and the lack of worry about what one looked like. What was your year?

Me, 1975. When not in school uniform, I was wearing my older brother's hand-me-downs - old windcheaters (dark green), corduroy trousers, 'kickers' brand shoes and skivvies. Lots of skivvies.

And if it was really cold, a parka. "It needs to cover your bottom so that you don't get piles," was my mother's constant refrain. I was never sure what 'piles' were, but it seemed as though I'd avoid suffering from them if I wore a singlet under my skivvy and made sure I tucked both into my trousers before going outside to play in the sandpit or spread mud around the outside of our garden's burning bin (incinerator).

Christmas, 1975, showing my Mum the cool new 'transistor radio with ear piece' that Auntie Barbara gave me.

One of the rare occasions I wore a dress outside of school times, but I do remember thinking that Mum's choice of gold velour top qualified her as a true sartorial GODDESS in my admiring eyes, and perfectly complemented her flowery apron and white ribbed slacks.

Australia might have just been getting over the shock of the The Dismissal, yet I was still sad that the free bottles of milk at school program had been cancelled.

This ain't 1975, but 1979, when tracksuits ruled. By the time our big trek to Queensland and back had ended, this red-and-blue number was festooned with sew-on patches like The Big Banana, Gilltrap's Yesteryear World, Daintree Butterfly and Green Island Underwater Observatory to fully represent what a widely travelled and cultured kid I was.

As Guy reminded me, wearers of these ensembles would put their life into their hands if they dared stand near a naked flame or even a Vulcan bar heater. Many innocent polyesters died to make this outfit a reality.


Naomi said...

Hmmm memories there....I remember the high school days of the duffle coat complete with the number of your favourite Aussie Rules footballer stuck on the back, the buckle bag (making a big comeback these days) the hypercolour T-shirts, the desert boots....

The Blakkat said...

Nice share - love the old pics. Skivvies, yes. Lots & lots of skivvies (sp?) and that was still happening in the early 80s for me.

Baino said...

Classic! You're a bit younger than me but I remember the velour tracksuit. I was shocked to see them back in the shops and the younglings wearing them once again! I've been berated for chucking platform shoes and long cardies which seem to be in fashion at the moment. I remember buying Levi jeans for $9.99 . . .and the precurser to the runner "Kickers" for about the same price - now that makes me feel old I can tell you!

River said...

I remember the "kickers", but I couldn't afford them, so I bought the copies called "strikers". Looked exactly the same to me and much more affordable. I don't rmember what year that was. I remember making my kids wear skivvies in the winter, several of their school photos feature skivvies under shirts, they say they've never forgiven me for this, but they didn't seem to kind at the time......

FAPORT International said...

Nice article, sweet old pictures, old memories are very sweet..i like this it:)