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Eat Your Heart Out

Ah, high school. Those magical years where we were transformed from being gawky kids into responsible grown-ups that could drive, be drafted into the military, smoke cigarettes and drink. Okay, the responsible part didn’t work so well for some of us, but hey, we are all evolving.

I graduated from high school in the early 70s. My group was on the “cusp” as far as being full-fledged hippies. We were more like wanna-be hippies and emulated idols and older friends with our music, hair styles and what we wore.

As I drew this cartoon it got me to thinking about the kinds of clothing we “non-conformists” ALL cherished back then. Bragging aside, a few of the things we wore every day, I wouldn’t even WANT to fit into today, even if I was skinny. I know, I know, things have changed, fashion has changed, we’ve changed. But, geez, I wouldn’t be caught dead in most of the garb I thought was so cool in high school. Here are a few garments I cringe at now. See if you can relate.

Platform Shoes

Remember these? What on earth were we thinking? We walked long distances and even danced in these things. The only purpose they served was to keep our long bell bottom jeans out of the dirt. I’m tall and these stilt shoes raised me to new heights, literally. I towered over all the boys I liked. But, I still wore them because, well, everybody did.

I’d break my neck if I tried to walk down the street in my old platform shoes today.

Mini Skirts

I went to high school in Carrollton, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas. It was a somewhat progressive area that my mother often described as a hole in the Bible belt. But, no matter how forward thinking my school was,  there was no way they were going to allow girls to parade up and down the halls in super short skirts. It was considered unladylike.

The principals added this rule to the dress code: girls’` dresses cannot be any shorter than 5 inches above the knee. They even made some girls in question drop to their knees in the middle of the principal’s office while they measured with a yardstick! Oh, but we pushed it to the limit, centimeter by centimeter.  We were proud when we got sent to the office to be measured. We were such rebels.

The short girls, who had short legs had the advantage. A hemline five inches above the knee on a short girl’s leg is much shorter than a skirt 5 inches above the knee on a tall girl.

Regardless, nowadays, I never wear skirts, much less mini skirts.

Coordinated Pantsuits

When I was a freshman in high school, all girls had to wear dresses to school. It wasn’t until the second half of my sophomore year that girls were allowed to wear pants, and even then, it had to be “coordinated pantsuits.” I guess the school fashion police were sick of measuring skirt lengths. But the polyester pantsuit look was just plain ugly. Still is today.

Elephant Bell Bottom Jeans

By my junior year we could finally wear jeans. Thank goodness. Jeans are jeans, right? Not in the early 70s. We took advantage of our denim privilege by making the legs of our jeans as extreme as possible.  Some even wore bell bottoms on steroids. These pants were so flared that they could knock over products on the bottom shelf at a grocery store.

Bell bottoms, yes. Elephant pants, no way. Not then. Not now. Not ever.

Drill Team Boots

The Lionettes were the drill team at my high school. They performed at half time at football games and it was a big deal to be a Lionette back then. My sophomore and junior years, I was one.

We wore shiny blue uniforms with bouncy short skirts, white gloves, and white cowboy hats that were always worn a little tilted to the side. To make this totally ridiculous look complete, we wore these hideous white boots that came up to about mid-shin. If our boots were not clean and polished to perfection for each game, we got demerits and lost privileges.

There was no way, unless you wore at least three pairs of socks, that the precious things would stay on our feet, and many times, on the football field at half time, when we did our high kicks, a boot would go flying up into the bleachers.

I have to admit the boots were better than platforms, but there is no way you’d get me in a pair today.  

Velour Jumpsuits

I think I mentioned that I’m tall. The person who came up with the jumpsuit that zipped up the front should be shot. But they were all the craze in my high school days and I had one. Not only was I constantly trying to pull the stupid thing out of my crotch, but every time I had to go to the bathroom the whole garment had to come off. What were they thinking???


I’ve never been very fond of vests. In fact, the only time I can remember wearing one was when I was in a college production of Godspell. I just don’t see what purpose they serve. But they were all the rage in high school. And some of them were made of leather and had fringe. Yippee Ki Yay! Eeew.

Wasn’t fond of that look then and not now either.

Blue Eye Shadow

One of the wisest things that my mother, rest her soul, taught me was to always take off my makeup at night before bedtime. As you might have guessed, Texas is a southern state with southern women who like to slather on the makeup to look “pretty.” My mom wouldn’t let me wear short, short skirts but when I turned 13, she took me down to Merle Norman and had the experts show me how to “fix my face.”

The biggest trend in eye makeup during my high school years was blue, blue eyeshadow, so of course, I had to be “in.” Talk about looking like a clown. When I see photos of how I looked in the name of beauty, it makes me shiver.

Baby Doll and Granny Dresses

I think this look came from many singers popular during my high school years. I donned both looks, but again, I’m tall. When I wore a granny dress, I looked like…well, a granny. Maybe a cool granny?

But a baby doll dress? Because of my height, I never could pull off the cutesy, baby dollish look. But oh, I tried. These dresses had big puffy sleeves, a high waist and were short. Think Baby Huey meets Chatty Cathy, that was me.

My, my how my closet has changed since I was in high school. It has definitely improved as far as comfort. Looking cool as a teenager was a big deal. Nowadays, being “in” is kind of a joke. I just don’t care anymore. Maybe it means I am mature and responsible now, eh? Nah, that will never happen!

What were some of the fashion statements you made in high school that you’d rather forget? I know I’ve probably left some off my list. Comment or write to me. I’d love to know.

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This work by Anel “Pookie” Ryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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