“Fashionable is never comfortable” said a wise friend of mine many years ago. Nor is it always attractive. And I have jumped on many a trend in my day and had blisters, pains and silly clothes to prove it. During the time I was a high schooler _ with a brief exception to the days I spent in the world’s most hideous uniforms _ I used up a great deal of time trying to look just like every one else. It occurred to me that today’s fashion plates would have you think they are being different when indeed they have a similar look. The other day some one of undetermined gender, partially clothed in the latest garb and sporting fuchsia and lime green hair, rings everywhere but the ears _ you know the look _ snarled at me, “What are you looking at?” I thought, but that’s what it wanted. Did it want no one to see the creation it had worked so hard to achieve?
When I was in high school, a member of my class was the son of the famous bandleader Tony Pastor who, as I recall, played free at our proms. The son was always sharp looking and if he was noticed it was because of his good taste in clothes.
One day, Tony Jr. came to school wearing an outfit so scandalous, so unthinkable, so horrifying, that the bricks in the building quivered in their mortar nests, the traffic out front screeched to a halt and the birds stopped singing. Tony was wearing an Oxford shirt, a striped tie, a navy blazer, polished loafers and, gasp!, Bermuda shorts! He was, of course sent to see the vice principal, Mr. Reeves. (The most perfect name for a vice principal I’ve ever known). As the student body held its breath, Tony was severely scolded and sent home to change. He did and came back wearing long pants like the big boy that he was.
The next day a large number of boys and girls wore Bermuda shorts to school in shameful defiance of the administration and eventually the dress code was changed to come into compliance with the times.
If I start to comment on today’s fashion statements I will surely sound like a fogey, which I freely admit I am. But the per-square-inch skin exposure these days makes me stare, I’m afraid.
At the same school where I wore the ugly uniforms, we were required to sew six-inch strips of material along the bottom of our gym outfits because they were considered too revealing. To whom, I’m not sure; there wasn’t a male young enough to react within miles. And at the same establishment, the girls had to bring in their prom dresses a day ahead so that they could be examined for cleavage infringement. Those who flouted that rule were stopped at the door and draped in a shroud of black netting.
But I’m sure that the day Tony came to school in shorts, parents and other adults shook their heads and sighed, “What will they do next?” And now I sigh at the naked torsos and fluorescent hair and ask the timeless question myself. But, really! What WILL they do next?
Linda DuCharme is a retired free-lance writer living in Brookline.