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Archive for April, 2021

Here’s the whole outfit: a pair of thick, black tights, with the feet cut off and rolled up to the middle of my calf. The footie part of the sock was hidden inside my shoes – a pair of black dress shoes Mom had bought from a bargain bin for two dollars, not realizing they were boys’. My father’s cadet blue cashmere sweater, too small for his latest girth, but long enough to hit me just above the knees, then hiked up a little thanks to a wide, black belt that gave the illusion that my waist was at least two inches smaller.

Elyse Nebbitt, fictional character in the YA novel, Pudge & Prejudice by A. K. Pittman (Wander Publishers).

As a budding children’s literature writer myself, I read picture books, middle grade novels (that’s what I write), and occasionally young adult novels. This one intrigued me because it’s another spin on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, reset in 1984. Interesting, because I have heard that currently publishers are turning down anything set in that decade. I suppose what saved this manuscript from the “no thanks” pile is the Jane Austen element. Plus the author has written a couple of other novels, so she already has a platform.

This passage reminded me that in the 1980s I also sported my father’s cashmere navy blue sweater. But I didn’t use it as a dress. I paired it with a longish skirt, wide belt, and boots. Oversized was a definite look in those days. I still wear that sweater!

The 1980s was when everyone really experimented with their style – mixing vintage with new, clashing colors and prints, using accessories in unusual ways. Such fun!

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Spandau Ballet, circa 1980s.

I’m disappointed at the homogenization of looks. You don’t see young kids coming up with many ideas of their own. They can create their identity on their Facebook page or their Instagram site. They don’t need to create it on the street. They don’t need to find their tribe by going out in a uniform and going to a club. They can do that on the Internet.

Gary Kemp – founding member of the 1980s British pop music band Spandau Ballet.

This quote is from an article in WWD, May 2015 – the same year a documentary on Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, was released.

Turns out that the fellas of Spandau Ballet were quite the fashion trendsetters. Gary Kemp in particular enjoyed exploring sartorial expression. Inspired by his father who was a teddy boy, Mr. Kemp followed underground fashions of the day, his favorite being Glam Rock a la David Bowie. Later, on the 1983 True Tour, he and the band revived the teddy boy look with long jackets and western ties.

Along with Mr. Kemp, I am disappointed that modern teenagers are complete blank pages when it comes to style. Just like their parents, it’s sweats, t-shirts, shorts, t-shirts and oh yeah, sweats. Since the pandemic, not even jeans make the cut. When I was in high school I was experimenting with all kinds of silhouettes, colors, layering. I was adding vintage to new and sporting jewelry galore. It’s the time for exploration. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on that.

A few years ago I interviewed a teen girl on her style and what she was describing was pretty dull. She explained that she didn’t want to stand out. I’ve heard adults say that too. Just by wearing a dress, or a blazer, or a hat (anything other than sweats and a t-shirt) I stand out every time I leave my house. To be honest sometimes I wish I didn’t, but what I wear is what I wear and if it stands out in the mass of athleisure, then so be it.

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