Follow 50 years of back-to-school fashion

August 18, 2009

By Kathleen R. Merrill

Michele Forkner, code compliance officer for the city, and her date in 1970 at Mt.Diablo High School in Concord, Calif. Contributed

Michele Forkner, code compliance officer for the city, and her date in 1970 at Mt.Diablo High School in Concord, Calif. Contributed

Ahh, school clothes. They’re likely as confusing and agonizing to shop for now as they were 50 years ago, and all of the years in between.

You want something cool. Your parents want something affordable. And you can almost never agree on what to buy.

Fashions have changed over the years, and school clothes are no exception. We’ve gone from one crazy hairstyle to the next and one fashion fad to another.

Go ahead and walk down memory lane here: penny loafers, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, skinny ties, wide ties, long collars, button-down collars, cardigans, argyle sweaters, turtleneck sweaters, plaid pants, plaid jackets, mohair shirts, pointed-toed shoes, skinny jeans, leggings, bell bottoms, baggy pants, gauchos, stirrup pants, mini skirts, micro minis, long skirts, pencil skirts, satin, velour, corduroy, wool, terry cloth, pleather, skinny belts, wide belts, shoulder pads, neon colors, spaghetti straps, tube tops, platforms, moccasins, high top sneakers. You can likely quickly think of 10 things of your own to add.Some local residents recently recalled their high school fashions.

In the late 1940s, girls wore skirts, sweaters, saddle shoes or loafers to Salinas High School in Salinas, Calif., according to Issaquah resident Carol Baumann, a very young 77-year-old who has lived here since 1986. Girls never wore jeans or shorts to school then.

Michele Forkner, code compliance officer for the city, was in high school from 1967-1971, the height of the hippie phase, at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, Calif., in the Bay Area.

“We couldn’t wear pants until 1970 and then it couldn’t be jeans,” she said. “My older sister and I traded clothes thinking we were wearing something new, but we went to the same high school!

“I tried to dress nice, because I was a cheerleader and going steady with the captain of the football team. Typical high school ‘Barbie and Ken’ story.”

The Rev. Don Burnett, pastor at Evergreen Community Church, graduated from South Pasadena High School in 1972.

“That was the era of bell bottoms, afros, tie dye. I tended to go toward the preppy edge of life,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The picture that is attached to this e-mail is typical of the window-pane plaids and broad ties that were common for graduation shots.”

“Later in the 1970s, growing up in Los Angeles, we all had to look like ‘The Brady Bunch’ kids or the Partridge family,” Issaquah resident Bryan Weinstein recalled.

“I was in high school 1978-1980,” he said. “Skin-tight Calvin Klein white pants with an Izod Lacoste (alligator) pink shirt was really, really cool, along with Sperry topsiders (no socks). It was called ‘the preppy’ look. Now, I wear plaid.”

When asked if he had photos, he replied, “Thankfully, no.”

Maybe it’s just as well.

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