Taking a sort of a break from sewing, tonight, and I apologize in advance if this post is rambly shambly. My head’s a little fuzzy (a combination of allergy medicine & basically living off Whole Foods’ Boston Clam Chowder, I suspect). Though, since I’m really not sure where this post is going, it’s quite possible you’ll see some sewing-related content here.
Maybe some sewing related content from the 70’s, in fact. Yes! Let’s go there!
I grew up in the 70’s.
We had a black and white TV. It was gold-tone and the screen was curved. We wouldn’t get a remote control for years and years, and I remember the dull click-click-click of the channel knob fondly. The UHF knob was less satisfactory, but more surprising because you never knew when you might run across some static-filled public TV threatening to break through commercial television.
I watched reruns of That Girl with my own mother practically every morning. It came on after Captain Kangaroo and New Zoo Review and George Of The Jungle and Speed Racer. Let’s pause here and watch that:[Awww! I’d totally forgotten the winking mannequin and the pink kite! Check. Out. The. Wardrobe. Swoon and splat.] I am a sucker for those clothes.
There had to be some imprinting going on. Between Marlo Thomas and my fashion conscious parents (video evidence here) and my grandmother, Ruby, who worked at Sakowitz (a very posh department store) for more than 25 years, you’d think I would dress impeccably. Hardy-har-har-har! No, I’m afraid that wasn’t ever going to be the case. Reason: lazy. But check out this picture of my mother from back in the day. So much to emulate, there:
I admire tailored clothing tremendously, I haven’t had the kind of body that benefits from that kind of tailoring since I hit puberty. I veered towards hip huggers and bandana tops, for myself. Even in the 80’s. Especially in the 80’s, in fact. I was light and lean. Bandana’s were cheap. Mom wasn’t wearing her hip huggers anymore.
Although, when I was just getting started in the working world, back when we still had to wear a skirt and pantyhose to work every day, I dressed almost entirely out of my mother’s wardrobe. I even got a job in a very exclusive clothing store in Denver, when I was 19 — mostly because I borrowed my mother’s clothes to dress for the interview. My mother was in to tailored shoulders and waists. I loved fashion when I worked at that store. I even worked as a dresser for a fashion show, once. I subscribed to Women’s Wear Daily, and I got to meet some famous designers when they came in to the store for trunk showings.
Rambling on but picking up the thread of work wear, the last job I ever had that required me to wear a skirt to work was 20 years ago. It was PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and I was sole tech support for the Austin office. I had to crawl under desks in a skirt and heels until they relaxed the dress code and allowed women to wear slacks to work — and even then, I once got sent home because I wasn’t wearing hosiery under my pants. Wow. What I totally just meant to convey was an image of me crawling around under desks in a skirt and heels to run cables and check network connections.
Ok, let’s begin with the next job. No dress code there, so I wore my Levi’s 501’s to work every day. Mostly because I could.
And when I went to work for IBM, I actually interviewed in bell bottoms, platform sandals, and a frilly pink sweater set. With a bald head. Because by then, I was making my own dress code, evidently. Being bald was the very best way to meet new people I’ve ever found (short of blogging). Practically every business relationship I had in that job began with the person asking me if they could rub my head. And the answer was always yes. The head rubbing was nice. In fact, I think we Americans should just add that to our repertoire and make it a polite form of greeting. Everyone would be so much happier, I promise you.
The head shaving thing was a one-time only deal. I live in Austin and at the time I was living in a very groovy part of Austin and female head shaving was trending (albeit briefly). Since then I tend to think of my hair in before and after terms: before I shaved my head I colored my hair. After I shaved my head I did not color my hair. Before I shaved my head I had no appreciation for the natural texture of my hair and spent gazillions of dollars on hair product. After I shaved my head I luxuriated in every soft centimeter of my hair and was soon amazed to find out it was naturally somewhat curly.
At any rate, I quit my job a year and a half ago, and I’d worked from home for more than 10 years prior to that (excluding a brief year and a half stint at Apple, where people sometimes came to work in Cosplay costume just because they could). By the time I became interested in sewing again I’d so completely lost track of fashion that I wasn’t even groovy anymore. Just comfortable. My wardrobe consists mostly of Anthropologie and Target t-shirts, a couple of pairs of bell bottom hip huggers I got from Salvation Army (adore), and a whole lot of Walgreen stretch pants because they fit and are cheap and comfy. And socks. I have so many pairs of socks.
There’s this thing about sewing that is both good and disconcerting. Good in that I’m interested in clothes again for the first time in a long, long time. Disconcerting in that I keep expecting to have the same body I had the last time I was interested in fashion — but I do not. So I’m getting to know what fits me and what doesn’t, what works on me and what doesn’t, what I like and what I do not like — all over again.
Going back to the beginning. 1970’s fashion.
For example, I ordered a bunch of vintage sewing patterns last week. Most of them came in the mail yesterday. I am itching to try them all. Unfortunately, every single pattern is several inches too small for me — but their inspiration is just what I need right now. Maybe they’ll be inspiring to you, too? I’m sure they won’t be the last vintage 70’s patterns you’ll see around this blog.