Women’s fashion was pretty staid during my childhood years. Floral frocks with cinched-in waists, cardigans, hats, coats, gloves, and handbags were the thing. Men also dressed smartly, and only wore casual clothes for sport or gardening. But, then the ’70s happened and everything changed.
Suddenly the mini skirt appeared, and scandalously, it was above the knee. Remember Jean Shrimpton and her mini and gorgeous legs? No more waists, the shift frock was popular. But, influenced by cultural and social changes which were also reflected in the music and art scene, colour and pattern became popular. Carnaby Street in England influenced even the local culture in quiet old Christchurch New Zealand. My teenage friends and I were caught up in the frenzy of this wild new scene.
I’m almost sure that most women reading this had a pair of knee-high white boots. Weren’t they great? I adored mine and wore them with mini skirts and little skinny knit tops. Then came the hot pants. Oh dear, not popular with our mums, they thought they made us look ‘common’, but we convinced them that if worn with pantyhose and platforms they were just a pair of fancy shorts. Poor mum and dad. By that stage, they struggled to get me to wear conservative clothes. Then came the maxi skirt that buttoned up to the waist. I loved it. It was annoying to wear and I would trip on the volume of material, but I still persisted in order to look ‘fab’.
Psychedelic prints, bright colours, granny prints, denim, and more. Peace sign jewelry reminded us of Woodstock, and bellbottoms were the only jeans we would consider wearing. I had a big corduroy baker’s style cap worn with a corduroy waistcoat over hot pants. The knee-high boots finished off the look.
We thought we looked very groovy when my school friends and I went to a local dance, put our handbags in the middle of the floor, and danced by ourselves in a circle until a brave boy would come and ask us to dance. There was a light that showed up on anything that was white and so our white lipstick and white eyeshadow glowed brightly. We thought we were very cool.
Ah, but tripping down the stairs on your platforms was not much fun after a few illicit swigs from some borrowed alcohol in a soft drink bottle. Catching the soft part of your foot on the back of your platform shoe was agonizing, but at least we looked good. By the time I was 18 I had morphed into a more ‘boho’ hippy style and so shabby torn jeans, tie-dyed singlets and op shop nighties became the ‘must haves’ in our fashion world. Then it was sandals and kaftans and gypsy scarves. But, maybe that is a story for another time.
I always smile when I see the young people around me embracing the ‘look’ of the moment. Often is very similar to what we wore when we were teenagers. I love fashion, and while I’m a bit past wearing it myself, I always enjoy seeing them all dressed up and looking beautiful.
Great memories of being young and a few black and white photos and faded polaroids to prove it.