Keeping up with fashion

Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 13, 2018

Several of us “girls” were having lunch the other day and one of them mentioned the time my daughter came “clomping” home from Alabama – the institution of higher learning, not the “institution” – wearing shoes that looked like horse hooves. She was washing her hair with shampoo that was used to wash horse tails.

“Mane and Tail,” she said. “It makes your hair full and bouncy.”

I’d never thought of a horse’s tail as full and bouncy but maybe it is. I should pay closer attention.

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When we, the “girls” were growing up, the first “in fashion” items that we could remember were bobby socks and saddle oxfords – not poodle skirts. Not one of us ever wore any such thing.

The only poodle skirt that I have seen, outside the movies, was on a waitress at a diner in Dothan. Several of us had decided to give the diner a try. We ordered chicken n’ dumplin’s, which came fresh from a can. The food was awful and so was the service.

A tip was not deserved but we decided to tip anyway. The waitress needed the money or she wouldn’t have been running around in a poodle skirt.

Poodle skirts might have been the fashion in some teen circles, but not in rural South Alabama.

We did wear penny loafers (with a penny, Lincoln side up, tucked in the split in the strap across the top) with our wool plaid skirts and v-neck sweaters. That was before Global Warming, so we could wear wool.

We wore Chino pants – that gave us that Ivy League look – and, when Elvis and Ricky Nelson stole our hearts, we turned up the back of our collars and wore narrow, white kid belts to hold up our rolled up blue jeans and danced The Bop.

And, we were the Queens of the Crinolines. It took every cornstarch company in the country running day and night to keep up with the demand.

It took many starched as “stiff as a board” crinolines – stiff petticoats we called them – to “bellow out” the 10 yards of material in our “full skirts.”

As long as you were standing, and unless a strong wind lifted you into the atmosphere, you were in control of the ballooning skirt. But, sit down, and the front of your skirt flung up in your face, completely blocking your view and possibly exposing your “Days of the Week” panties.

Then when you stood, the starch in the back of the petticoats had lost its “spunk” under the weight and lay flat against your behind end while the front retained its full “velocity.”

Back in “our” days, the only brands we knew were on cows and trendy shops were not yet in business. Many of us wore handmade skirts and dresses and most of us shopped at places with given names and/or currency designations – like Rose’s or Bill’s Dollar.

We wore the labels inside our clothes, ironed out the wrinkles, discarded our clothes with holes and handed the others down.

We laughing tried to imagine us “girls” in blue jeans with more holes than fabric, flimsy shirts with our mid-drifts showing and neon shoes with six-inch clodhopper heels. But, then it was even harder to imagine us with gray hair, wearing plus size clothing and ordering from the senior menu.