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Nostalgia December 2016

Amazing Peak Experiences

What’s That You’re Wearing?

By Rick Sheridan

One of my first fashion influences was “glam” back in the 1970s. This dress was theatrical with sci-fi jumpsuits, platform boots, and metallic fabrics. This fashion overload of the 1970s morphed into the David Bowie and Lady Gaga look. Glam both influenced, and was influenced by the disco and punk movements.

Have you ever wondered what factors influenced the clothing that you have seen during your lifetime? Many readers have probably not stopped long enough to think about all of the influences that go in to their wardrobe or their choices of entertainment.  Although many people dress in a nondescript and unassuming way, there are still many factors that go into their clothing. Here are some of the trends during the last 50 to 80 years:

Rock and Roll: The idea of rock and roll having an influence over fashion and popular culture is taken for granted. But, how many seniors have tried to dig deeper to discover that rock and roll was heavily influenced by rockabilly, blues, and even by teen cinema? One sub-category was the rocker – often associated with motorcycle gangs. They generally go for a dark masculine look that included denims, leather caps, air force jackets, and boots.

Western style: Inspired by the endless Western-themed movies and television shows. The legends and mythology of the cowboy figure, as the tough and self-sufficient individualist. The actual look includes a Stetson hat, jeans, large belt buckle, and bandana (or some variation). Some of the ideas were appropriated by other fashion trends such as rockabilly, bikers, etc.

Athletic wear: Specialized clothing for sports activities has influenced mainstream fashion since the 1920s. Golf sweaters, tennis shoes, ski wear, football and basketball uniforms have made their way into mainstream fashion. Sports stars became fashion leaders and trend setters.

Preppy style: Influenced by the “business casual” look combined with an upper class prep school or Ivy League look. Younger men and women trying to mimic their social superiors as a fashion trend. The look includes boat shoes, penny loafers, polo shirts, navy blazers, Oxford cloth shirts. J. Press and Brooks Brothers. Revival in the 1980s with the business-oriented political climate. Films such as the Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink influenced this trend, with brands such as Lauren, Hilfiger, J. Crew, etc.

Surf Culture: Influenced by Elvis Presley and Beach Boys music and movies. People in the colder climates yearned for the winter sun and adopted this wardrobe as a protest of their gloomy winters. Hang Ten fast-drying shirts and high-waisted lace-up shorts are part of the package.

Skateboarding: We have all seen the youngsters blasting past us on their skateboards. This lifestyle spawned its own art and fashion. The typical clothes include: hoodies, outsize t-shirts, wallet chain, trucker cap, baggy jeans, custom sneakers, etc.

Hip hop: According to Josh Sims in his book 100 Ideas That Changed Street Style, modern hip hop and rap music known for its urban style, with loose-fitting sportswear, and a love of bold color and accessories that grab attention, was influenced by the funk and soul music styles, along with the much older jazz, swing and bebop styles of music and culture.

Punk rock: The new wave and punk rock movements of the 1970s and 1980s still have an impact on today’s fashions and music. Major new wave influences reach all the way back to the “dandyism” of Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron. Punk was also influenced by the “mods” of the 1960s, with their narrow ties, stove pipe trousers, Vespa scooters, and unisex fashion for women.

Glam: One of my first fashion influences was “glam” back in the 1970s. This dress was theatrical with sci-fi jumpsuits, platform boots, and metallic fabrics. This fashion overload of the 1970s morphed into the David Bowie and Lady Gaga look. Glam both influenced, and was influenced by the disco and punk movements.

Hippie: The hippie look of the 1960s, with the long hair, bright colors, flared jeans, tie-dye, ethnic garments, sandals, and beaded necklaces ruled the fashion scene for many years. There were several influences that are often overlooked. One of these was the Beat Generation of the 1950s with its jeans and denim shirts, polo sweaters, beret, bongo drums and cynical poetry. Reaching further back was the bohemianism of Baudelaire and Poe who were influenced by the Romani (gypsies) and the Bloomsbury Literary Group.

Goth: The goths are alive and well in 2016. They often portray a teen angst image, with pale, white-painted faces against a black, tattered wardrobe. They are part art, part rocker, part horror, part vampire and part theater. Goth has become one of the most enduring and widely followed youth movements since it originated in the 1980s, taking its name, and approach from the Gothic horror romance of the Victorian period, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Goth originated in the post-punk era, and has proven to be more sophisticated and intellectual than its spooky image might portray.

Techno: The techno or rave movements are well-known for their all-night parties with pulsating electronic music, vibrant colors, platform shoes, novelty sunglasses, glow-sticks, and customized work clothes. These movements were heavily influenced by cyberpunk, a futuristic, computer-based movement from pre-Internet days.

Reggae: The reggae or Rastafarian movement is based on many factors, including the rejection of the vanity of modern hair care products, and the easy maintenance of dreadlocks. Deeper roots go back to the Jamaican independence and “back to Africa” movements. Reggae music is said to be a combination of the rhythm and blues music broadcast from high-powered New Orleans’ AM radio stations, combined with the local calypso and ska music.

You may want to dig into your memory or history books long enough to consider the various influences that have helped to shape what you have worn in your lifetime.


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