Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z April Challenge: W is for What I Wore

Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.

is for what I wore.

When I think of fashion in the 1960s, I think of Go-Go boots, tie-dye and psychedelic patterns, and bell-bottom pants. Twiggy’s fashion sense turned the world upside down with the mini-skirt and shift dresses.

But fashion in Cradock High School was far more conservative than that. Girls tried to go mini, but there were strict guidelines about where that hemline could fall. I’m sure our skirts were considered short at the time, but they look more than respectable today.

Let’s look back at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  Actually, let’s get “Bad and Ugly” out of the way in one fashion trend:

Wendy, Lynnette, Lynn, Pat
8th grade trip to Washington DC
How did Pat NOT have a scarf? Smart girl!

What were we thinking? We looked like we were collecting alms for the poor.

The rest is actually pretty Good (or maybe I just THINK it looks good because it was MY fashion past).


Plaid jumpers, plaid skirts, plaid shirts and blouses - we loved plaid.

Wendy and Judy
I was wearing a blue plaid Dirndl skirt
Wendy and Guy "American Gothic"
Obviously we had time to kill
taking silly pictures.

Moi on the left wearing plaid skirt and sweater
(pretty sure that's my charm bracelet too!)


Me in a London Fog coat 1965
London Fog coats with a Chesterfield collar appealed to a lot of us who thought it was pretty cool to be able to zip the lining in or out according to the weather.

Oooh that was a desirable label! His preppy line popularized the plaid A-line skirt and cardigan. A blouse with Peter Pan collar completed the look. The label was pricey, so if I owned the real deal, it was because my grandmother bought it for Christmas. Otherwise I wore plenty of homemade knock-offs thanks to my talented seamstress mother.

While I napped,
Pat (left) sported the
John Meyer / Villager
skirt and sweater style.
Momma and Moi in our Villager skirt
and pintuck blouse KNOCK-OFFS
This was another desirable label that rarely made it into my closet except through my mother’s skill at copying the popular look. Villager was known for its pastel print dresses, and pastel print A-line skirts with matching pintuck blouses. Villager also made the wool skirt and sweater sets similar to the John Meyer look.

Bass Weejuns were the rage, and the NAME mattered. Most of my friends wore the penny-loafer style, but I chose the ones with the kiltie tassel. Mine were not considered as cool.

Baby doll shoes and T-straps were also very popular.

scanned from my yearbook
Can you spot which shoes were baby dolls, T-straps,
and Weejuns? HINT: I wore baby dolls.


My charm bracelet

Just about every girl had a charm bracelet. It was fun collecting meaningful charms although I have a few that are just charms with no special significance.

The large flower pin centered on a blouse, dress or jumper was a must, especially on summer dresses. They were part of that quirky Mod style of bold and bright graphic design.

Judy and Moi sporting a flower pin

The circle pin was the expected adornment on any John Meyer or Villager blouse. Circle pins varied in design: some were just metal rings, some were flat disks, and some came with an added design element like a pearl or flower. If you had the money, you bought a circle pin and had it monogrammed.

My monogrammed circle pin
Monograms were equally important embroidered on sweaters and dresses. Villager sold skirt and sweater sets that could be embroidered, but they were quite expensive. Instead, Momma made my skirt and we bought a sweater to match giving me that Villager look. Wayside Cleaners offered embroidery service. Their motto was “Let Joe Do It,” so we did.

A good summary of the 1960s fashions at Cradock High School
Villager print dress, lots of plaid, John Meyer-style skirt and sweater,
Peter Pan collars, and 4 circle pins!

If you have withstood my wily and whimsical wheedling, then wallow in the wanderlust of more waggish writings and witticisms wafting your way at the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Your post evoked so many memories of 60's fashions - not just the dresses but also the hairstyles and spectacles. It reminded me I have some fun mini- skirted fashion photos to feature some time. But I had never heard of London fog coats or Chesterfield collars, bit I wore shift dresses, pinafore dresses, and Peter Pan collars. Triangle scarfs looked a mess on my head. A great little social history.

    1. I'm sure you couldn't have looked any worse than I did in that scarf!

  2. So great that you had these pictures! I recognized a lot of styles that I wore! Wonderful post! :)

    1. I hadn't thought about a lot of these trends in years. It was fun for me looking back too.

  3. ahhh the 60's - I was at this stage in the 70's and I think the fashions were a lot less attractive than yours are :) Leanne @ cresting the hill

  4. Great 60's Fashion Review...could have been straight out of 'Seventeen'. OMgosh...that triangle scarf...I looked like a washerwoman in one. I have several of the 'flower' pins exactly like the one you were wearing in the center of your dress with clip-on earrings that matched. Loved the charm bracelet...still have sports little basketballs and sewing charms...I always wanted a peace sign. Fun were stylin'!
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

    1. I have a sewing machine charm but it's flipped over in the picture (between the envelope and mortar board).

  5. Go-go boots - LOVED THEM! In fact, I would wear them today if I had them. ;-) We did the scarf thing too. Why, I don't know. Either I didn't pay attention to brands, they weren't important in my world, or I've forgotten all about them but thanks for the fashion reminders.

    1. I had boots but was not a fan in general. In fact, I am still not a boots wearer and dread the thought of having to wear them in the snow.

    2. Go-go boots were the last boots I've worn other than cowboy boots (when I had my horse) and snow boots.

  6. LOL with the picture of you three wearing scarves :) I remember when I was in high school, graduates 1975, girls had to wear dresses or skirts except for Friday when we could wear pants. That was for my freshman year and sophomore year, by my junior year they changed it that girls could wear pants all the time. I also remember when I was in a Catholic school up until 8th grade, us girls would turn up our skirts to get them short, but we always had to make sure we didn't get them too short or we would be in trouble with the nuns.


    1. In my freshman year at college, it was second semester before the school allowed women to wear pants but they had to be PANTS SUITS. Momma made me several pants suits for Christmas. Then I guess it was the next year that jeans were allowed. Bell-bottom jeans and they were wide bells too!

  7. I remember wearing scarves but I think they were bigger than those you all are sporting. Gogo boots came out about the time I went to college, never had any. The high school fashions at my school in the early 1960s were pretty much skirts and blouses. I don't remember the particulars as to names and stuff because I was oblivious to the finer points of the fashion world. In college I wore the same until bell bottoms came in. I went to New York with my father on a trip the winter of 1966/67 and came back with a pair of bell bottoms. Two pairs in fact. My grandmother was so disappointed that I went to NYC and didn't get an outfit. But I was the first in the art department to wear bellbottom jeans. My one and only time of being in the forefront of fashion I think. Thank you for the trip back in time.

    Finding Eliza

    1. I was AWARE of name brands because other girls were but I never felt I had to have them - perfectly happy with copying the look. I was never at the forefront of fashion. In fact, I'm slow to catch on. By the time I like it, it's on its way out.

  8. Major flashbacks here although on the West coast I think some of our styles were more casual, there are still a lot of similarities. On bad hair days now I often think of my scarf days and although they don't do well in photos, I am sometimes tempted to bring them back.

  9. Fun post. I love your charm bracelet. I have a number of photos of my mother in those 60s plaid skirts, I love them.

  10. Ooooh you were such a fashionista! My mom was too, but not me, I was so conservative. I bought a mini skirt, wore it once, I was so uncomfortable I never wore it again.. Lol. By the time I got used to a style and decided on pieces I'd like to wear I couldn't find it any more, it was way out of style. I'm still like that, I hate shopping for me. :-/

    1. HA - "fashionista" is not a term that applies to me very often. I was never comfortable in anything too short either. Looking at these photos, I'm surprised anyone thought they were short.

  11. This was a great post! I'm surprised that you didn't mention the really cool glasses that folks wore back then. I started wearing glasses when I was five years old, so in 1970. Mine were the "cat eye" style, too...little, bitty baby blue ones. :)

    Have a blessed night!

    1. I guess because I didn't wear glasses until much later in life, I wasn't aware of them or that they even had a "style." However, I do remember when wire rims came into vogue.

  12. Wendy - look at all these comments. This post obviously struck a chord. Honestly this is an absolute goldmine for a someone who works in wardrobe. I had no idea pins were so popular....I loved Seventeen magazine when I was a teenager but for some reason none of the brand names stuck in my head. The picture that I like the best is the American Gothic one...that is a blast!

    1. I ran into Guy's mother the other day - haven't seen her in years. As we were catching up, I mentioned finding this picture and she asked me to send it to her through Facebook.

  13. Twiggy caused an absolute riot at our Melbourne Cup races for the shortness of her skirt...and no gloves!!!! OMG!!!

    I must have had some sense...I remember the scarves but didn't wear them ;) I've never been much into fashion or labels which is a well because like your mum, mine was a good sewer (ah, the English language!) and made all my outfits. I remember only two we bought...a red,white and blue number in which the stripes matched perfectly, and a red woollen pant suit with a Nehru jacket and bell bottom trousers...loved both of them.

    I also got sent charms by my American pen friends...I still have them in my memory box.

    When I read about fashion and American school days I am so grateful I went to a uniform-only much less hassle and peer pressure.

    1. Ooh Nehru jacket and bell bottoms -- now that was a look! As for name brands and labels, I was aware of them like I'm aware of Rolls Royce and Ferrari, but I didn't whine over not having the real deal. I thought we were pretty slick making a knock-off.

      I had a pen pal in the 4th grade, but that didn't last. It must have been fun to sustain SEVERAL pen pal relationships. Did your friends send charms representing their state?

  14. Oops, silly mistake, was Jean Shrimpton not Twiggy.