Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What were we thinking?


DECATUR, Ill. - Few can forget the 1970s fashions of bell bottoms, disco shirts, platform shoes and, to top off the outfit, a medallion necklace.

Remember the '80s and '90s with their stirrup and parachute pants? How about the 1980s and backpack purses and baby doll dresses from the '90s?

Those fashions were popular back then, but coming away from those decades, you now may ask, "What were we thinking?"

Fashion faux pas can be a universal fad or an individual mistake, but either way, it is a social blunder.

George Streckfuss, owner of The Brass Horn, described a fashion faux pas as "any cautious or incautious way of interpreting fashion, but missing it by a mile."

Streckfuss, who has been in men's fashion for 15 years, said the 1970s were the most memorable for him as "bad fashion."

"Everything was skin tight. There were open-collared shirts worn with medallions. The ties were really wide and made out of polyester. High platform shoes weren't good," Streckfuss said. "But at that time, that was the fashion."

He added that a lot of white and light powder blue colors were worn, and the polyester shirts from the '70s offered no absorption and were often sweated out dancing.

Jan Hooten agreed, saying, "The disco look was the worst look."

Hooten, owner of Pazazz, a downtown specialty boutique, said the '70s were mainly bell bottoms, longer tops and high heels.

She said there was some good feminine clothing in the era, with the peasant look that was flattering to most women.

"I think fashion is best when it is designed to look good on a wide range of people," Hooten said of fashion designers.

She also said individuals commit fashion faux pas.

"There are individuals wearing items that are so wrong for them because they have become slaves to fashion - they wear what is trendy.

"Like today, some women and young women are wearing crop tops and hip huggers with no business showing their pale skin and fat rolls."

While the fashion today resembles the tight clothing of the '70s, the '90s were the opposite with less form-fitting clothes and showing less body.

Hooten said she remembered the 90s as saggy, baggy pants for the males, and the women often would wear boxers that showed over their pants.

"The 90s was a total loss for fashion," Hooten laughed.

She said the '80s were bad simply because of bulky shoulder pads in dresses and shirts.

Even though these fashions are considered out of date, fashion faux pas of eras past are haunting the shelves at department stores everywhere.

Streckfuss said he has seen some fashions come back two times already.

"They must swing back around every 10 years," he said, laughing.

"We have now come back around to the traditional, preppy look," said Streckfuss of the items in his store. He said leisure suits for men are coming back, but he has no interest in selling the suits in his store.

Hooten, whose boutique features career and special occasion clothing, said nostalgia plays a role in fashion designing today.

"Nostalgia has a lot to do with fashion design playing on the memories of the next generation," she said.

She said designers are trying to revive happy memories of the past in their clothing to attract the people who remember the fashion, possibly on their mothers, as beautiful and elegant. She said what mothers once wore in the '20s, '30s and '40s are being mimicked to the children who wanted to wear these fashions to dress like their mother today.

"No matter what the trend, there will always be classic styling. When in doubt, go for classic," Hooeten said.


  1. hates, hates, hates the '60'sTuesday, December 20, 2005 2:39:00 AM

    The faded, pastel retro-'60's and '70's look is really popular with my coworkers. I think so many of the things they wear would be so much cooler if they had dug them out of their grandma's closet, but these items have gap and old navy tags on them. Either way, these are generally really unflattering styles, materials and colors for a set of people who are young and attractive and otherwise in a position to benefit from good fashion decisions, whatever decade they choose to borrow from.......

    One chick was wearing some fleur-de-lis print blouse with awful, huge, covered buttons and a background color that was that old, greasy not-white-beige-orange, but smoked-stained wallpaper look. I said, thinking she had broken into my house and raided my mom's closet, "where did you GET that blouse?"

    After telling me how expensive it was at some specialty outdoor market, I tried to ascertain whether the seamstress had in fact simply stolen the fabric from my mom's fabric bin in the basement..........

    ugh, ugh, ugly. Don't these girls realize how ugly and unflattering to the skin-and-body-type ironically considered de riguer during this era (white, small-busted and very thin), these fabric choices and styles were in the first place?? Ironically, they repeat history by wearing stuff that looks like crap on them.

    I have a theory: Generally, you hate the music, fashions and hairstyles perpetuated during the decade you were born into, but the following decade -- the one where you come of age, marks your 'branding' period. Children can cut through the stupidity of teeny-bopper music and the idiocy of current fashion, but as teens, we lose our heads and fall prey to marketing. Oddly, the decade preceding our birth often has a particular hold on us emotionally, which is why retro can flourish the way it does......

  2. Right on the mark as always.

    Personally, I'm facintaed with the '70s, bored with the '80s and remember the styles of the '90s fondly, even though I wouldn't wear a lot of it now.

    It's funny how we all do the same thing, but yet it seems different on each person.