COMPLETE WITH LEISURE SUIT, DISCO SHIRT, EARTH SHOES, MARGARITA SMILE AND AVIATOR GOGGLES. OH, YES, DON’T FORGET THE “DO”!
When most people today look back on the recent past, they rhapsodize about the Fifties and Sixties! Yes, we got Doo-Wop and Motown from the combo and I’ll admit both had a great impact on the times and to an extent, today. But they didn’t give us one of the most important icons of the day . . . LEISURE SUITS!
Now for you youngsters who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll educate you. Leisure suits were an actual suit, a coat (some might call them jackets) and trousers. And the most important aspect of the apparel; they were made of polyester. That wonderful petroleum-based fiber that doesn’t crease or rumple easily. They were called leisure suits because they were meant to be worn to casual events such as a night out at the local discotheque, or to the office Christmas party. Normally formal suits as we all know, and have known them forever are usually made of linen, wool, cotton or some other more sophisticated fabric. They are usually fabricated of a muted color such as charcoal grey, black, or navy blue. Some have very pronounced stripes; some the stripes not so obvious.
Not so with leisure suits. No sir! Leisure suits were Forest Green and embossed fabric or white, or yellow with a C&W motif. Some were multi-colored. I had one that I thought was, as the late John Denver would have said “Outta Sight!” The bulk of the material was a deep burgundy and the jacket was accented with a gold and burgundy checker board lining. At the time I thought that it was the greatest looking outfit that I could have selected.
Also at the time, I hadn’t considered the following picture:
As they say in the legal profession: “I rest my case!” (against Leisure Suits and their short-lived existence).
70′ s HAIRSTYLES
The sixties gave us the Afro, Mop tops, long hair and sideburns. I knew that sideburns were officially a part of the American Tonsorial scene when I saw an airline pilot step off an airplane with sideburns at least two inches below where the top of the ear meets the head (Vietnam Era Veterans will be familiar with this term because that was the official benchmark that the U.S. military recognized as being acceptable hair fashion). You see, you didn’t get any more conservative than airline pilots.
Men’s hairstyles moved from being long and unkempt to being long and styled. By styled I mean long, combed and sprayed. The long, long hair of the previous decade had now evolved into a short almost “page-boy” look, only the sides partially covered the ears and the sideburns were trimmed. To add to the GQ look, an optional groomed mustache could be added for effect.
In my research for this posting I searched the internet for Earth Shoes and expected to find them only available from vintage clothiers purveying their garments on E-Bay. Not so. They are still being sold by hundreds if not thousands of footwear outlets. I mean you can even get them at the world’s largest retailer’s website.
The fascination with the design of the shoe, Negative Heel Technology, was the big selling point. That fascination soon evolved into “who cares” and the shoe went away. Well, let’s say it went into hibernation from the late 70’s until the year 2001 when the brand name was revived. The shoe design looks as if the machine that made them put too much sole on the front and forgot to put any on the rear end (the heel). The maker realizing this tried to compensate by shaving material from under the toes. However, too much was shaved leaving an unsightly “hump” under the ball of the feet.
Not wanting to trash the whole idea of a revolutionary new design, the designers said the heck with it, put it in a pretty box and shipped it to America on the premise that we will buy anything in a pretty box with the right merchandising. Kind of like Rap music. The original composers wrote some music that they thought would be the latest rage, gave it to some “Homeboys” in “The Hood” and told them to run with it. It didn’t quite make the scene until some enterprising young artist decided to drop the “C” from the beginning of the genre and the rest is history. Yes folks, Americans will buy anything, even crap, if it made to look like something pretty!
Next time you remember to do so, look at the footwear of the person to whom you are talking and see if they are wearing a pair. If they are, ask them to show their “Mood Ring”. I’m not going to waste your time on that one. Because if I do, then I’ll have to explain the “Pet Rock” to you and I’ve wasted enough of your time already.
Not knowing any better before I did my extensive research for this posting, I used to call them “Mural” shirts because that’s what they looked like to me. Now I do have to admit that I thought they were cool. One of the unique features of the style was the unusually large collar.
I remember that I had one that depicted a bucolic setting replete with towering shade trees. It may have portrayed young women politely sitting in ante-bellum dresses and bonnets, open parasols perched properly upon their shoulders. In the background could have been seen a Tara like mansion, young gentlemen in top hats and waistcoats poised atop prancing steeds being attended to by Negro groomsmen . . . I think you get the picture. I say “could have” and “may have” because as we all know, our memories of the past are always more vivid than the actual period. Plus, I was heavy into Margaritas at the time. Hence my name Mural shirt.
Finally, no look back at the seventies would be justified without the mention of eyewear. One word Aviator Goggles (okay two words). If I remember correctly you couldn’t buy a pair of eye glasses that didn’t look like pilot’s sunglasses, either metal framed or plastic. I, of course being the fashionista of the day, had both.
Unfortunately that is still the case today. However, the Optometrists have now peppered their selections with a few more wire rimmed choices, but it’s still hard to avoid the Chuck Yaeger (once again kids enlist the assistance of Grandpa for that one) look of the past.
NOT WORTH MENTIONING
Well I hope that you have enjoyed this brief look at one of the most forgettable decades in our history. It’s always a pleasure to be able to inform and educate you with my vast storehouse of knowledge of nothing. If you have enjoyed what you read here today, tell a friend. If not, I believe that there is a WordPress blog on knitting sweaters using dog and cat hair that you might enjoy.
It’s been said that what goes around comes around . . . I know that doesn’t apply here, but I hope most of the stuff that came around back then has gone away and never comes around again!
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