Vintage Miscellany – March 31, 2019

As a girl going to school in the 1960s and 70s, and later as a public school teacher, I’ve experienced both sides of the dress code debate.  In 1971 a lawsuit against my school system forced it to amend the code to allow facial hair for males and pants for females. Even then there were rules. We could only wear pants that were part of a matching set, with a tunic top or vest that came down to the hips.

By the next year we figured out that the new rules were not going to be enforced. By my senior year in 1973, we were wearing the forbidden jeans. I can remember the first day I wore jeans to class. I spent the entire day worried that I’d be sent home to change. My mother had even tried to talk me into taking a change of clothes with me to school.

But the day passed uneventfully, and before long all the girls were wearing pretty much what we wanted. I’m sure that the school officials figured out pretty quickly that a pair of jeans was preferable to the extremely short skirts of the day.

  •  Maybe that’s why the insistence of a charter school in North Carolina that pants on girls is somehow counter to the “traditional values” of the school seems so puzzling. The ACLU sued the school on behalf of three girls, and last week a court ruled that the rule was a violation of the Constitution’s equal protection provision.  Evidently the school’s administration thought they could take state tax money as a charter, but still pass rules based on their religious beliefs.
  •  In other dress code news, we go to British Columbia, where a dress code for the Legislative Assembly written  in 1980 is being used to tell women not to bare their arms. A bare armed protest was staged the next day.
  •   The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, has a new exhibition, Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence , which can be seen until January, 2020. included in older displays.
  •   Marks & Spencer has developed a played based on the history of the store, using clothing from their archive and replicas.
  •    The popularity of period dramas on TV and in film has created work for historical consultants.
  •    There are quilts, and then there are quilts.
  •    How one museum is reconsidering the out-dated notions included in older displays.
  •    What happened when the Soviet government in the 1920s considered a post-revolutionary fashion for women. 
  •    Here’s the fascinating story of Eliza Hamilton, and how her clothing style “froze” when her husband Alexander was killed.

18 Comments

Filed under Vintage Miscellany

18 responses to “Vintage Miscellany – March 31, 2019

  1. j

    My senior year being ten before yours is interesting. Jeans or khakis for the boys. The girls had to wear skirts. No pants!Skirts had to be strictly to the knee. I remember them rolling them up after they got into school. Blouses with petal / round collars and cardigan sweaters were popular. I guess we were preps?! Bass loafers were our (guys) shoe – without socks. Very Kennedy! Button down shirts only! Surfer haircuts too. Pretty much still wearing the same stuff! Who needed Ralph Lauren?That is another story. No one credits Lilly P for changing the prep for girls ten years before that!

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  2. jacq staubs

    ONE year makes a difference -at this ripe age- correction 9 years-aren’t you girls happy-you did not have bloomers!?Sweet photo!

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  3. The Soviet article is interesting–my academic background is Soviet history, and I’m always interested to read more about domestic/social history, which is my main interest. Have you seen The Red Queen on amazon? It is a Russian import mini series about the first Soviet super model in the 1950s and 1960s–it is interesting about the industrial clothing bit, because that is definitely a point of conflict between the party apparachiks and the Soviet fashion houses of the time.

    Those quilts are AMAZING.

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  4. I confess I am horrified at the way some kids go to school today. Some girls might as well be in swim suits. Prom dresses are VERY bare, and parents seem just fine with it. I don’t believe in complete rigidity, but I bemoan the complete lack of decorum. Much of this trend is Hollywood inspired, Enough said.

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  5. I can truthfully say that I was instrumental in changing our high school academy dress code. In my freshman year (1971), after being sent home from school numerous times for wearing jeans, my mother insisted it was my fight and allowed me to fight the system. We won and I wore jeans to school for the next 4 years. After taking the quiz, I am apparently more Eliza 1777 in NY. Very surprising as I have no fashion sense whatsoever now!

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  6. Donna

    Going to school in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, we could not wear pants and had to wear dresses even in the winter. Tights did not keep our legs warm and I have always hated wearing dresses! Once I hit 40, I decided no more skirts or dresses ever!

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  7. Thanks for all these thought-provoking links. I’m a feminist, but I confess that two of the women in the bare-armed protest did seem to me to be inappropriately dressed, as if they had dropped by to do a little legislating on their way to the gym. (I’m thinking of the racer-back and the camisole top.) How would we feel about a male legislator wearing a tank top to work? Uneasy?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really think the women you are referring to must have been dressing at the far end of the spectrum in order to make their point. In my opinion, professional-looking sleeveless blouses would have been much more effective in making the point.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. kickshawproductions

    While I never understood why the issue over women in pants, I have to say I agree with the no sleeveless rule like the one in British Columbia. It is not aimed at women, as men are also not permitted to wear sleeveless shirts – in fact the men are also required to wear ties. There have to be some rules about appropriate dress codes in the workplace and I think the photo of the three women with the one in the middle in a tank top and tattoo proves that. She will never be taken seriously by her bosses dressed for a bbq.

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    • I think we’ve somehow come to think of “appropriate” dress as stuffy and old-fashioned, and even anti-feminist. Having worked in a conservative profession that had a dress code, it was always obvious when someone crossed over the line into inappropriate. At that point the offender became an object of discussion, and so was distracting. Rules exist for a reason.

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  9. Paloverde

    Our public school did not allow pants until my senior year (1971–72), but we had always had a special exception to the rule (elementary through high school): Rodeo Day (Tucson, AZ). The actual day was a holiday so everyone could go watch the non-mechanized parade, but the week of it (or maybe the day before—I can’t remember) girls were allowed, even encouraged, to dress western in jeans, western shirts, hats, boots, etc. Rodeo Day is still a school holiday, but the excitement of dressing for it is long gone.

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