Jon Bon Jovi now
Flashback to my last year in college:
I’m in a business class and we’re discussing job interviews. One of the students raises his hand and says, “It’s not fair. I’ve got great grades and I’m a hard worker, but as soon as I walk into an interview I know I don’t have a shot, all because of my hair.”
He was right. Why? He had Jon Bon Jovi hair. No, not the cool stylings of the present day Bon Jovi. This was the Eighties, people. His tresses looked like a teased out poodle with twenty-inch long hair extensions had exploded on his head.
Now a lot of girls thought Bon Jovi's hair was totally rad back then, but interviewers? Different story.
Anyway, the teacher looked at the guy and said, “Why don’t you just cut your hair?”
He said, “Because it’s me. Why can’t people just look passed it to see the kind of guy I am?”
Then the teacher said, “If people have to look passed your hair to see the real you, then maybe your hair really isn’t ‘you.’”
Long story short: the kid cut his hair and landed a job soon afterward. Ain’t it sweet when things wrap up so easily?
You know, we keep being told ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’? Still, we do it all the time. Why? Maybe because we can make certain judgements based on one’s appearance. After all, the way people dress reflects who they are, right? Just go through any high school in the U.S. and it's not too tough to point out the jocks, goths, preps, nerds and stoners pretty easily. As for the Eighties? I've got to tell you, even back then a guy with Bon Jovi hair would not have been pegged as a smart, hard working Business major. Looks like this case is closed.
Though sometimes the way people dress reflects who they are, sometimes it just doesn't. Some people hide behind their clothes as if they were wearing a mask. Others feel pressure to blend in and wear clothes for approval. Others just wear what's hanging in the closet without care for what message they're sending.
Isn't it funny how what one person feels totally comfortable wearing can make someone else feel totally uncomfortable? I still remember when Laura Ashley dresses were popular in the Eighties. If you don't know what one looked like back then, here's a 'vintage’ one available on eBay:
Girls wore them with hairbows, pearls, and -- here’s the really embarrassing part -- bobby socks and Keds. The look was hot. The look was cool. This meant, of course, I bought one.
When I wore it I felt like a moron.
Not that I didn’t look good. The dress was beautiful and I had all the proper accessories. But it wasn’t me. What many considered comfortable, I considered a costume. Even though I blended in, I felt like I stood out.
But back to the whole 'job' thing. Let's say there are two girls. One is wearing sweats, gym shoes, and the whole ponytail-with-a-rubber-band-around-the-head thing. Another is wearing a black leather jacket, matching lipstick, and a nose ring. If I needed someone to help me with an after school fitness program for kids, who do you think I'd hire first? For all I know, the goth chick is an awesome athlete and great with kids, but she sure not dressed for the part.
If you want a certain job you’ve got to dress for it. That's always been the case. We don’t see a lot of accountants running around in kimonos and bamboo flip flops, do we? Still, what about that lone accountant who really wants to wear one? What if wearing a kimono reflects who he or she really is?
I don’t know if I have any real answers here. I just know if you want to be taken seriously, you’ve got to dress that way. When it comes to work -- heck, when it comes to life -- sometimes you’re required to wear a costume. It sucks, but it's true.
So judging a book by it's cover? We have to recognize that people do it every day. As for how we use this information, that's up to the individual.
So take a look at yourself right now. I'm curious. Does what you’re wearing reflect the real you? If it does, how? If it doesn’t, why?
Just a point to ponder.
Hey, guys! Have you heard about the latest fashion trend? They’re called ‘jeggings,’ a cute jeans/leggings combo to be worn in lieu of pants. Stylish, huh? I would LOVE to find out who designed these super sassy things so I can hunt them down and burn them at the stake.
You heard me. I am not pleased.
Don’t get me wrong, I know they didn’t have me in mind when they created them. No one, and I mean no one, wants to see my thunder thighs sporting a pair. Jeggings were created for the typical American teenager. You know, the 5’10”, 100 lb. girl with big boobs, tiny waist and long, lean legs? She’s featured in all the magazines.... Oh, sorry. You don’t look like that? Well just whip out the lip gloss and mark a big ‘ole "L" in the middle of your forehead right now.
Anyway, just because the target market for these cool puppies is limited to the perfectly proportioned, don’t think others won’t wear them.
Because they will, my dears. THEY WILL.
I’m not talking about your fellow students. Teenagers have much prettier bodies than their fragile self-esteem allows them to believe. But there are other people out there, people who latch onto fashion trends despite their ability to wear them. These individuals must be protected from themselves or we, as a nation, will face an ocular doom of ungodly magnitude.
So begins my cautionary tale….
I know, no leggings. Just work with me here.
Now others may remember it differently, but for me things really started taking shape in 1983 with the movie Flashdance, a sweet tale starring Jennifer Beals about a beautiful welder/exotic dancer who dreamt of performing for a real ballet company. You should have seen her. She was a maniac, maniac on the floor! She was dancing like she’d never danced before! Then she dumped a bucket of water on herself and the crowd went wild.
But I digress. The important thing is what the dancers wore: leotards, LEGGINGS, and leg warmers. (Oh, man. A chill just went down my spine when I wrote "leg warmers.") In addition to all that, there was Jennifer’s signature piece, the over-sized sweatshirt. Anyway, after the movie came out everyone wanted to have "the look."
Now thanks to a national aerobics craze fueled by Jane make-it-burn Fonda's illustrious videos, leggings (and legwarmers) had already worked their way into the gym. Once Flashdance debuted and girls saw super stylish young women wearing them instead of just super old (yet admittedly buff) ones, leggings started popping up everywhere. They officially became cool.
In the beginning, people wore them with the signature sweatshirts. Then they moved on to tunics. Oh! I'd be remiss to omit Madonna's huge influence, too. She made the leggings/skirt combo very chic. As time moved on, big wide belts were added to the mix, fashionably cinched at the waist.
For many years leggings were incorporated into a number of looks, all reflections of the times. They all had one thing in common, though: one's butt was ALWAYS covered.
Then one day tragedy struck.
Quicker than Jimmy Dean could say “sausage links,” a horrifying practice emerged that left many fashion victims in its wake. People started thinking – no, dare I say believing – that leggings could be worn as plain old pants. I can’t remember the exact year when it happened (sorry, I’m still dazed from the experience) but one fair morning in the early Nineties we woke up and realized the leggings trend had transformed into this:
Frankly, that’s more than I needed to see. And now it’s happening again.
Leggings already made their mild comeback, our first cause of alarm. Plus watching jeans go from flared to skinny? Buttock-challenged females are still in a state of shock. And now we have jeggings. I ask you, do we really need to see and/or reveal every pucker and bulge again? I, for one, do not. Still, there will be those who blindly indulge, ending in results that will horrify.
So what do we do? Scorn the poor, unknowing fashion victims? No. Our wrath must be targeted at the real criminals: the lame-brained designers who brought jeggings to life. I mean, come on. We all come in different shapes and sizes. Why force an item which only 11.3% of the population looks good in? I know their job is to make us feel physically inadequate, but this is taking it way too far.
I, for one, am standing up to this injustice. I hope you will join me, too. Do everyone a favor: say no to jeggings.
Trust me, the world will thank you.
Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.
- Oscar Wilde
Not that we realize it at the time, though. How else can you explain our continued, though seriously waning, dedication to Crocs? Through the ages, women have been willingly brain-washed into wearing a variety of en vogue fashions, however beautiful or fugly they are. This blog is dedicated in memory of them.
Now before I begin, I must explain to you that although I’ve received a bit of help compiling the following facts, I still feel as though I have yet to fully explore and understand all that fashion offered us over the years. So if your grandma or much-younger-and-cooler-than-your-mother aunt read this and feel I’ve left something important out, contact me and I’ll update this post to make up for my gross negligence.
With that said, I introduce you to:
THROUGH THE AGES: FASHION
Okay, so teenagers didn’t really wear these. They wore what most kids did -- the clothes their mothers made for them. No, not ALL their clothes, but fashions were primarily dictated by what people could make with a Singer sewing machine and a yard or two of fabric. For girls, that meant dresses, skirts and blouses, all simple in construction. But then the flapper dress entered the picture. Yep, that straight-up-and-down mini-dress you see in old movies where people are dancing the Charleston. In 1926, this dress was not only easy to sew, but fashionable. Suddenly, the ability to be stylish wasn’t relegated to the rich. All a woman had to do was whip up the dress, cut her hair short and sleek, then smash her b00bs down so they were as flat as a plasma screen TV. That’s right. You heard me -tatas were OUT. I knew I was born in the wrong decade. Thus the beginning of fashion for the masses, though there were a few bumps along the way…
Um, excuse me. Did you know the country went through a major depression? Some even called it “Great.” I found this obscure fact during my research. It started in 1929 and lasted a long, long time. Anyway, the Thirties weren’t very good years for fashion. Though the ready-to-wear industry was staring to take off, what little money people had was spent on food, not on looking like Greta Garbo. But those with money did follow the shift toward a curvier look due, in part, to the introduction of the zipper. Girls continued to wear dresses or blouse/skirt combos that usually hit mid-calf. They paired them with simple leather shoes and ankle socks, a trend that carried over into the forties.
Whew! So glad to stop writing about the depression. Wait a second... WHAT? We were in a WAR? Those poor fashionistas. They were so ready for a comback. Instead, gone were silk blouses – the fabric went to make parachutes. Wool? Uniforms and blankets for soldiers. So unfair. In an effort to conserve fabric, hemlines rose to just below the knee (scandal!), and skirts were more form-fitting, with fewer gathers and pleats. Jackets were also shorter and more fitted. Clothes also looked more masculine – check out those shoulders! - since many men were gone at war, leaving the women to work their jobs. Imagine that, women doing men’s work. It’s a wonder they survived. As for girls? Sweaters finally became major players. Oversized ones were often worn with - you guessed it - skirts.
Okay, now things start to get more interesting. With no depression or war to hinder fashion, more stylish looks prevailed. No, girls didn’t wear pants to school yet. They still wore skirts, full or pleated. A famous one? The poodle skirt. Not all had poodle appliqués, though. Some featurened music notes or records. (You know, those black, oversized CD-like things they had back in the day. God, I feel old.) White bobby socks with buckskin or saddle shoes were often worn. Sweater sets and blouses were common tops. As for pants, they started wearing them a bit more outside of school. As for jeans? Not so much. Known as ‘dungarees,' they were reserved for lounging around.
When you think of the Sixties, you think of crazy, far-out clothes, right? Well, actually, that was the Seventies. Well, I’ll give you ’68 and ‘69. Clothes did start to get more colorful, though. However, girls STILL wore skirts to school and, once again, usually below the knee. Not that hemlines didn’t start to rise, they were just considered casual wear. Instead of bobby socks, they went with knee-his. Jeans started becoming more acceptable, though only for casual events. Out to dinner and a movie? No way. Kids favored hip hugging, low slung jeans with wide belts in different colors. Near the end of the decade, we started to see bell bottoms. Then the wackiness began.
Talk about groovy. Upset with ‘the man’ and the Vietnam War, teenagers used clothing to express their rebellion. Known for wild colors and patterns, the seventies gave us tie-dye t-shirts, the peasant look, and hot pants. (The latter was a “must have” for the disco dancing set.) As for skirts, they skipped the knees all together, pushing minis to the max. They also had maxis that went clear to the ankles. Later on we saw tube tops, too. Trust me, the guys really liked this decade. As for school? Girls finally wore pants and jeans, both of which were bell bottoms. Take that, oppressive school system! However, most jeans manufacturers still focused on boys so many girls wore boy’s jeans. Yes, it's sad. But don’t you worry, girls get their due….
This was my decade, as well as most of your parents, so I’ll say a lille more on this one. I briefly remember a painter’s pants fascination before going straight into the preppy look. Monogrammed sweaters with your initials, IZOD polo shirts in every color (collars flipped up, of course), plus a nautical obsession - particularly with whales? – featuring boat shoes and boat neck shirts. Remember the whole ‘boy jean’ issue? Well in the Eighties, girls’ designer jeans took the world by storm. Calvin Klein, Jordache, and Gloria Vanderbilt to name a few. You were the jeans you wore.
The advent of movie “Flashdance” in 1983 had us all wearing leggings and legwarmers, plus big sweatshirts that hung off the shoulder. In September of 1985, Madonna blew the world away with her trashy, see-through lacy shirt, bra and lycra skirt style, making even the cutest nine year-old girls look like prostitutes. Plus there were shoulder pads -- lots of shoulder pads -- and stirrup pants. Crop tops and neon clothing had their day in the sun, as well. Never had there been a decade so decadent, which leads us to the nineties…
Talk about a backlash! I’ll be honest, like most of your moms, these were baby-making years. Most of us had NO FASHION SENSE AT ALL. We were just happy when we could get our butts back into a pair of jeans after losing the baby weight. From what I hear, though, we didn’t miss a thing. Sick of the over-the-top Eighties mentality, the Grunge look emerged. Torn jeans, t-shirts and flannel shirts told the world teens no longer cared. Which they didn’t, until the movie “Clueless” came out in the summer of 1985. Suddenly, it was all about baby doll dresses, slip dresses worn over t-shirts, and thigh-high stockings. For the hip hop set, track suits and Starter jackets were on the scene, making way for those jeans -- those big, baggy jeans….
Remember how I said I hate butt cracks? Well, it started out with underwear. The hip hop set started wearing their jeans so baggy and low, their underwear was always exposed. Gross. But how does that relate to teen girls? Well, the dorks running the fashion industry took the cue and started designing jeans with waists so low…well, you know where I’m going with this. Hip hop did inspire hoodies, though, so it ain’t all bad. With the 2000s, came the advent of layering shirts. Heaven forbid you just wear one shirt at a time. Plus, like jeans in the eighties, kids got label conscious with tops. In alphabetical order (don’t want to show favoritism) we were introduced to Abercrombie and Fitch, Aeropostale, American Eagle and Hollister. If you didn’t have one of their logos on your chest, go home. Sad really.
So there you have it. Did I miss anything? Seriously let me know. As for how to end this post? I’ll make just one more plea:
Just say ‘no’ to butt cracks!
Now go in peace.
It’s time for another installment of …
BACK IN THE DAY
Fashion: Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
So I’ve got this problem and it’s really REALLY starting to bug me. Butt cracks. You heard me, butt cracks. I bet I see more crack on a daily basis than Dan the Drug Dealer. Why? I blame the fashion industry. For a few of years now we’ve been subjected to wearing those low slung jeans that let it all hang out –literally. And, yes, I said ‘we.’ Not only do I have to see a bunch of cute girls’ cracks when I sit on the bleachers at a basketball game, I have to bear the humiliation of knowing my own – much fatter – butt is also on display. Okay, okay – I know they make shirts longer these days. Most of the time things stay under wraps. But still, who among us can’t admit to an accidental showing of butt cleavage? I dare say no one!
So why DO we willing become slaves of fashion? I’m not the first to ask. The topic has been argued for years. But as the debate goes on, so does our apparent willingness to take whatever Vogue prescribes. Sigh.
So at this point you may be wondering, what did your mom wear ‘in the day’ that she’d rather not admit to now? She might not tell you, but I will. Cue the wavy lines on the screen as I flashback to my younger days….
Ahhh…those pants. Those wonderful, wonderful pants. They were light blue, with silhouettes of pink, purple and navy ponies all over them. Dare I say, they were groovy. I was only eight or so, but my love affair with fashion began when I got those pants. I realized how my clothing could express my identity, how what I wore announced to the world who I was. Now why I felt a pair of pony pants accomplished that is something I’ll reserve for a therapist, but I will tell you that when I wore them I felt fabulous. I was fabulous.
But that was me, and I promised you some dirt on your mom. Are you ready? Here it is: knickers. Your heard me. No, I don’t mean the British term for undies. I mean those ridiculous cut-at-the-knee poofy pants that Thomas Jefferson wore while writing the Declaration of Independence. Well in the early 80s they made a minor comeback. Did I think they looked weird? Yes. Did I buy a pair? Of course! Who was I to question the fashion industry? Now here’s the really interesting part: when I searched for a stock photo of someone wearing a pair, I couldn’t find one. Not one! Smelling a conspiracy, I hunkered down and finally found some carefully hidden evidence to back my claim. Exhibit A: a Vintage 1980s McCalls Knickers Sewing Pattern. And they thought they could shield you from past horrors. Hah!
Luckily, the fad didn’t last long and, let’s face it, your mom may be a decade older or younger than me, so she may not have worn them. But there were other, equally goofy trends to which she certainly fell victim. Like the time we all wore our over-sized sweatshirts inside out, or delved into neon. (I nearly burned out my eyeballs with that one.) We also had the Preppy phase with everyone running around in polo shirts, wide wale corduroys and sweaters tied around their necks like Superman capes. Ugh. Plus there was the "Flashdance" craze (leggings and leotards and legwarmers - oh my!) and the whole Madonna thing, too. (Anyone need a pair of lace gloves cut off at the fingers? I thought not. )
Trust me, there’s plenty for us moms to be embarrassed about, and I haven’t even talked about hair yet. So if your mom ever gives you a goofy look when you debut the latest trend, just say, “Hey, mom? How many pairs of legwarmers did you own?” I guarantee she’ll pass judgment no more. That is, unless your butt crack is showing.
No more butt cracks… please!
Photo credits: Butt crack: