Thursday, July 28, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

What to wear

School clothes are in the news these days.

The Holly Springs School District is keeping its school uniform policy as is. Marshall Academy is going to a school dress code when classes start in August. The Marshall County School Board is likely going to phase in a school uniform policy, too, at a time yet to be decided.

School uniforms appear to be a good thing – better for the parents and the students. It’s an issue that could be debated, debated and then debated some more – but we have to entrust our school leaders to do what’s best for our children.

I wonder what it would have been like to have school uniforms back in the ’70s, when I was in high school. I guess we would have gone with pin-striped bell bottoms and tank tops. I can’t remember worrying a whole lot about clothes when I was a teenager. But there was pressure, even then, to “fit in.”

My children laugh at pictures of me from those days. I laugh at the photographs, too. I can’t believe I dressed that way and wore my hair that long. But as I told them, that was the style. They find that hard to believe. I do too.

Here’s some samples of popular ’70s fashions, with some help from

Bell bottoms – a hangover from the ’60s. Pants were tight at the top and baggy at the bottom. They evolved into the supreme fashion icon of the ’70s, “flares.”

Corduroy – Originally known as poor man’s velvet, when invented in the 18th century, corduroy enjoyed enormous popularity in ’70s men’s clothes and was made into suits, blazers, leisure suits, shirts and jeans. Popular colors were tan, brown, burgundy and bottle-green. The fabric also appeared made into women’s skirts, but on the whole it was thought of by designers as a men’s material.

Leisure suit – A loose-tailored suit with flat jacket pockets which experienced a brief popularity as an after-work outfit for men. Often made from textured polyester blends and offered in distinctly non-professional colors like lemon yellow and robin’s egg blue.

Pin stripes – Usually seen in flared pants. A fine vertical, single or double dotted line running through the material (usually navy blue or dark grey).

Platform shoes – Shoes with a sole of at least six or seven inches high.

Starsky cardigan – As worn by Starsky on the TV cop show Starsky and Hutch. A hand knitted cardigan in a cream color with a brown horizontal pattern banded around the middle.

Tank top – A sleeveless top or pullover, usually with a low, round or v-neck, worn over a body-hugging shirt with long pointed collar or sometimes alone.

Tie dye – A ’60s left-over. Any shirt or article of clothing that was put into a tub with colored dyes and tied with rubber bands to produce a streaked multi-colored garment.

As the decade progressed, disco made its debut and synthetic fabrics took on a life of their own. Satin, polyester and velour abounded, as did designer clothes and shoes, French cut jeans, high-waisted, super wide pantsuits, short bomber jackets, strappy high-heels, wraparound skirts, halter tops, tube tops, blouses with puffy sleeves and wide gathered waists, tiny gold pants, hot pants and so on.

Our sports uniforms were much different, too. In basketball, we didn’t wear the baggy shorts. We wore the short ones with tube socks almost up to the knees. The basketball shoes were the white Converse, high tops. All the team members wore them. We were “up-town” when we went to the old Houston Astros style baseball uniforms – pullovers with stripes.

Styles have changed in the past 30 years. But no matter what the fashion, there’s always peer pressure when it comes to clothes, “what’s cool and what’s not.”

Hopefully, school uniforms cut down on that and help our children focus even more on learning.

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