That ’70s Party

Later this month, Kish and I are going to a conference for work.  The organization sponsoring the conference is celebrating its 40th anniversary and decided to mark the occasion by having a party where everyone dresses up like people did in the year the organization was founded.

what-did-people-wear-in-the-70sIt’s a clever idea, but for those of you who are mathematically challenged, that means we’re supposed to party like it’s 1979.

This will be a tough challenge, because I don’t have any ’70s-style clothing.  In fact, it’s fair to say that I have tried to get as far away from ’70s garb, and ’70s hairstyles, as is humanly possible.  Having gone to high school and college in the ’70s, I enjoyed ’70s rock music then and still do, and I can definitely wax nostalgic about the shows and skits put on by the first cast of Saturday Night Live.  But the clothes and haircuts of that decade are another thing entirely.  Loud “leisure” suits, platform shoes, brightly colored, patterned polyester shirts that were manufactured without any breathing, natural fibers, monster bell bottoms with huge cuffs, enormous sideburns, and carefully combed hair helmets only begin to scratch the surface.

So don’t talk to me about “’70s style” — in reality, that’s a self-contradictory phrase.   From a physical appearance standpoint, the ’70s is undoubtedly the ugliest decade in American history, when the clothing and grooming industries pulled a fast one on the gullible citizens of this great nation, and I’ve consciously tried to put it out of my mind since the calendar page turned to January 1, 1980.

Kish and I have talked about where we might go to find ’70s clothes, but I’m afraid if we bought such items at a thrift store they might end up infecting the rest of the clothing in our closets.

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National Siblings Day

00019764UJ has posted something on Facebook about National Siblings Day. I was not aware that there was such a thing, but then it sounds like one of those lame, made-up days concocted solely to sell greetings cards or promote Facebook postings.

Not that your brothers and sisters shouldn’t be recognized. After all, you’ve shared all kinds of meaningful moments with them, and they put up with you during the teenage years — when everyone is at their worst. They deserve credit and accolades.

But if you’re going to do recognize your siblings, why not do it in the way most families do — by posting an embarrassing photo from the early 1970s, with a ludicrous white brick fireplace backdrop and chintzy hanging lamps, when everyone looks like an idiot and the clothing selections are sure to humiliate even the most hardened personality — whether it’s a pink tie, yellow knee socks, some kind of quasi-Germanic outfit, or combdown sideburns? Only my youngest sister Jean looks like a reasonable human being in this atrocity.

Bad Jeans

Today, like millions of other Americans, I’m wearing my jeans. Unfortunately for me, unlike the rest of the country, my jeans apparently suck.

IMG_5978Kish, Russell, and Richard are unanimous: my one pair of jeans should be thrown out immediately, if not doused in pitch, placed on a funeral pyre, and lit on fire in some kind of quasi-Viking ceremony that involves chanting. As they explain it, everything about the jeans is wrong. They’re too light and too blue. They’re embarrassingly frayed at the bottom of the legs. They’re too baggy. They’re very worn, and a few holes are visible here and there. When I wear them, Russell says I look like a deranged homeless guy. (Of course, I’m not sure you can blame the jeans for the “deranged” part.)

The concept of jeans has changed since I was a teenager. In those days, you had one pair of jeans that you wore until they basically fell apart and your Mom threw them away. Patches were cool. Fraying was cool. Holes that were created by your wearing the jeans (as opposed to fake, manufactured rips) were cool. The whole idea of jeans was about comfort, with a bit of counter-culture rebellion thrown in for good measure. I’m confident that, if my ’70s self saw my current jeans, they’d get the thumbs-up sign.

But, at some point between the ’70s and now, things changed. Jeans became a fashion item. People started to buy multiple pairs of jeans, and what was a multi-purpose article of clothing became specialized. People needed jeans in different colors, flares and straight legs, “destroyed” and non-destroyed, with different pocket designs. Pocket designs? I don’t know if my jeans even have one, because I’d never think of looking at a pocket as part of the jeans-buying decision-making process.

So, I’m reconciled to the fact that my jeans should be the source of humiliation. I don’t care. I’m not wearing them to make a fashion statement, I’m wearing them because they’re comfortable. I cling to the old ways. Oh, and one other thing — I’m cheap.

Asking For Outfit Guidance From The Fashion-Challenged

Every morning my lovely wife takes great care in assembling her outfit, thoughtfully matching her skirt or pants, blouse, sweater, shoes and a fashion accessory like a scarf or pearls.  And then she foolishly throws caution to the winds by asking me what I think of the final combination.

I always say that her choices look good — because, in fact, they always do.  The unfortunate reality, however, is that my opinion is without value because I have absolutely no fashion sense.  I can’t distinguish between subtle shades of black.  I don’t know when — if ever — it’s appropriate to wear plaid.  I have no clue which colors “go together” and which colors “clash.”  (“Clash” seems like pretty violent imagery for a clothing-related issue, incidentally.)  Indeed, I can’t even figure out how to hang up most of Kish’s clothes, what with all of the mysterious straps and outsized or undersized holes, much less express a meaningful view of whether they logically should be worn together.

I probably inherited my fashion obliviousness from my father.  During the ’70s he plunged into the outlandish clothing trends of the decade with reckless abandon, going all in for brightly colored Sansabelt slacks, loud checked jackets, white loafers with the gold buckles, leisure suits, and shirts with zippers.  It’s probably fortunate for me that, as a lawyer, I’m expected to wear basic gray or blue suits, white shirts, and some kind of drab tie.  I can manage that without embarrassing myself.

So this morning, Kish will ask how she looks, and I’ll say she looks great as she always does.  Lately, though, I’ve been noticing that after I express my heartfelt opinions she’s likely to go change her outfit, anyway.  Maybe she’s not relying on my sense of chic after all.