Monday, January 06, 2020

If It Still Fits, Wear It
I posted this outfit on Instagram, but thought it deserved a longer story here. I’ve owned the dress since the late 1970s, so there’s  a lot to say about it. 

I was getting to the age where I needed something “nice” to wear for various parties, wedding showers, graduations, etc. I’ve always had a sense of style however it rarely extended to anything that could be described as, “nice.” It wasn’t my fault punk happened😁. To counter my tendency to wear my dad’s old work shirts belted over shorts to look like a dress, my mother would on occasion purchase clothing for me that could pass as appropriate in most situations. 
At least 50% of what my mother bought for me wouldn’t fit as she was forever purchasing my clothes too small as some sort of motivation to make me thinner. I suppose if she’d thought about it, matronly looking polyester frocks weren’t terribly motivating to the average kid and less so to one with an already entrenched style, but eh, whatever. The rest of the time the clothes would fit, but were hideous.
Oh I know what you’re thinking and no, that green dress isn’t terrible-today. Forty years ago? Different story. I’ve kept this one all these years as it was the “least horrible” thing my mother ever purchased, if that gives you any idea. There was the dress with a border print of creepy , cursed , marionettes that looked like they could sneak off the fabric at night to go out and murder people in their sleep. There was the full length faux mink coat that made me look like a sixth grade Little Edie. There were the pale blue ultrasuede jeans with red contrast stitching. There were smock tops. Oh god, so many smock tops. There was the red Orphan Annie dress with a white collar. The day-glo orange playsuit made from terry/ toweling material that at least had a zip down the front facilitating a quick change to get out of the horrible thing. On and on. The green dress truly is the least worst thing she ever bought me.
Around that time I had a pair of shoes that I was quite attached to. Green suede clogs with a pointy toe and western stitching with yellow perseplex heels. They were magnificent. I loved those shoes until they were beyond repair by quite some ways. Obviously I wore them with everything because they were, as pointed out, magnificent. Not everyone appreciated my taste in footwear . I don’t know why. No accounting for taste I guess. Anyway, my sister was getting married (again) and I needed something to wear, so it was decided that the green dress would be acceptable. 

At some point our housekeeper pulled me aside and informed me that I needed to buy some proper shoes for the wedding. It was a casual reception but no, she wasn’t letting me wear those green suede clogs. If it had been my mother or sister insisting, I’d have ignored them, but I had enough respect ( and fear) to do what Ella Mae told me. I took myself over to I Magnin and bought a pair of peach coloured stilettos 😬. That would have been classy in 1982.
Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the shoes but here’s the dress in action! My hair was an attempt to look “normal “ as it would typically be worn up in spikes. Instead I look like a five year old gave me a bowl cut. 

I was trying to remember if this is the oldest piece in my wardrobe that was purchased new, but it turns out  I still have a white polo neck with red hearts from 1977! It fits much tighter than it did at the time but is still wearable! I’m sure there are other pieces but I can’t think of anything at the moment. 

So that’s a bit more of the story of the green dress. How about you? Anyone still hanging onto clothes from their youth? Do Tell!


Vix said...

Morning! That was a cracking read.

My Mum had outlandish taste and always kitted me out in the craziest stuff - Biba hand-me-downs, vintage kimonos, 1950s French party dresses. I left home as a teenager and lived in a variety of rented hovels and the clothes I took with me tended to get left behind or nicked by flatmates.
The thing I most miss is the zip-up olive green satin jumpsuit by Lee Bender at Bus Stop Mum bought me for my 13th Birthday in an attempt to make me look like Debbie Harry from Blondie in the Tide Is High Video, I'm still the same height and weight as I was back then and I know it would fit me perfectly.

Polyester Princess said...

I had a good chuckle at "It wasn’t my fault punk happened". How I would have loved to use that as an excuse when my parents were on at me at what I was wearing. And I'm hearing you: that dress might be something I would gladly wear now, but there is NO WAY my Mum would have got me into that dress in the 1970s. And anything from back then definitely wouldn't fit me now! Loved seeing that old photo of you, I can totally see Danny in you there, but maybe it's best not to tell him ;-) xxx

Vronni's Style Meanderings said...

Danny is the spit of you! In the picture of the green dress worn for the wedding, I mean...

The story was great and I have to say some of the things you described your mum as buying you sounded pretty cool to me! My mum bought me quite funky/decent clothes; but the one I loved and remember the best was not from mum but from a friend of hers and it was a Christmas present for me. An emerald green, fine corduroy dress with a zip up the front. Mum cut it down to a mini dress for me; I thought it looked fab. I was 14 and wore it to mass the following Sunday.

As we went to mass on ours own (sans parents), as children we had to sit at the front. After the mass was over an older came over to me and berated me for 'tempting the priest' in my mini skirt! She must have known something about the Catholic priesthood then that most of us didn't...anyway it was last time I ever attended mass. I used to meet my friends down the pub instead!

It's fabulous you can still wear something you owned in the 70s; I'd never be able to get into anything from the 70s.

bahnwärterin said...

for you looking fabulous in your vintage outfit - this colors!!!
and wow for that the dress is still around - and fit you.
love reading your stories, beside of that we´d grow up with some years, a whole ocean and the iron curtain between us - i can find my own expieriences in them - and your "slightly sarcastic" story telling helps me to sort them out... (does that make sense in english?)

@clothing: there is NO CHANCE i would still fit in my teen clothes, do not even fit in the ones i wore with 40 anymore.... the rural life since 9 years made esp. my back/shoulders grow to the walkyrie frame that i have now.... but i still use a pair of red woolen mittens, a folky scarf and some legwarmers from my teens....

Miss Magpie said...

I love your story of the wedding reminds me of a similar situation I was in when I was full on into glam (hair) metal and had a family wedding. My hair was still enormous and I still wore a frilled shirt but I compromised on a blue skirt suit with them!

Sadly I am about 5 stone heavier now so there's no way I could fit in anything *sigh* I still wear a gorgeous ring I bought in an antique centre back in the day but it only fits on my little finger now :(

Emily from Etsy said...

Jumpsuits and play suits and track suits are so very '70s, in a charming way, but bright orange is the one color that would be hard to pull off, even for the most ironic style maven. It's just too prison-like! : )

You were smart to hang on to the green dress-- it's beautiful and you can wear it stylishly anywhere. And those magnificent green and yellow shoes may very well turn up some day at a thrift store near you, or on the Internet.

Beth Waltz said...

You've limited the selection with the criteria of "still fitting". Hmmmm….
When I downsized, I discarded almost all the relics of my long-ago youth.
However, there is still hanging in the garment bag of formal wear a full length hooded cotton velvet evening coat I wore to a dance in 196-. The occasion was held in one of the snowiest winters on record, and even my father could see my tweed winter coat didn't cover my ballerina ball gown.
Once white, it had aged to ivory when it had an outing for a friend's wedding in 198-. She wore the coat, while her daughter-the-bride wore my vintage white faux fur chubby. Now that I've checked, it's still intact, but growing creamy...

Bibi Maizoon said...

For some reason, my mom insisted on buying me hideous matronly polyester outfits too. My mom was very fond of Alfred Dunn & Koret pantsuits. Scratchy and hot, miserable and ill-fitting. Dreadful things. My schoolmates really had a good laugh. I'm certain those Gawd-awful pantsuits are still making the rounds at some central California thrift store - that 70s-80s polyester never wore out and is definitely not biodegradable!
You've certainly made that dress look swank with that lovely jacket you've paired it with!

Goody said...

Someday you'll find that jumpsuit again-it has to be out there somewhere.

Maybe we can make bumper stickers that say it.
In fairness, I was big for a 13 year old. I'm probably slightly smaller now.

I'm sure the pub was more fun ;)
Mind boggling that an adult would say something like that to a child.

It makes perfect sense. I think it might be a cultural universal that teenagers don't like the clothes parents want them to wear.

@Miss Magpie
The things we teens did to keep our parents happy!
I was a big teenager. I didn't grow much after.

Every once in a while I do some searches for my beloved shoes, but so far they haven't turned up. Someday. Probably at the same time I find the Paganne maxi I've been looking for since the early 70s ;)

Those sound like beautiful pieces!

Dunner *shudder*. I wore that crap when I started working in the early 80s. Koret had some nice stuff though a polyester pantsuit wouldn't look good on anyone. I wear them, but with a hell of a lot of irony.

Señora Allnut said...

woww, what a fab post!.
I've felt totally indentified with the 'It wasn’t my fault punk happened' thing. Also with the pressure to be thinner and look like a mini-me of my mother, even if I've been always very different shaped. But I think that your description of the clothes she bought you is the best part, you made me laugh loud and you made me also feel a lot of love for you, poor young lady!.
I remember being a thirteen years old girl, taller and bigger than mom herself and she made me wear a ridiculously childish dress to a wedding. Pigtails and all. I looked like a giant doll. No wonder that then I was a 'dressed in black and safety pins' kind of teenager. Karma?.
She's still really conventional, judgemental and obsessed with weight (bless her).
I've loved to read about your beloved clogs and how you wore them until they fall apart. Due to 80's oversized trend, I think I might wear some of my then favourites!

Mim said...

Your mother does sound like a bit of a horror when it came to buying you clothes. The dress looks nice now - though I reckon your spikes probably looked better than the 'bowl'. (I had a bowl cut through choice about aged 15, in the late 80s. Looking at the photos now, no wonder I was an outcast...)

I still have a cream cable cardigan from my mid-teens. Poor old thing's quite worn round the cuffs now. And I've hung onto a few bits from 18-25, though they're the ones that weren't quite my favourites, as I literally wore those out.