Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dressing Down the Decades
1956 - 1962

Pleated Skirts & Sweater Sets

High school and the first two years of college found me in pleated skirts and sweater sets. The sweaters were the same color, a cardigan worn over a shell. You could also wear the cardigan with a blouse and the shell alone or with a jacket. Having a plaid skirt with four colors in it and then a sweater set in each of those colors was the goal. I did the first two years of high school at Hillsdale High in San Mateo, California and the last two at Thomas Downey High in Modesto. College was the University of California at Berkeley. My mother thought, when I went away to college, that I would come home with polish. Maybe wearing a circle pin.

The only problem with this plan was that I arrived at Berkeley during the beginning of the student movement. I may have dressed like I was on my way to stereotypic adult womanhood, but it wasn't to be. The combination of who I was and where and when I was quickly derailed that plan. Anyway, this is what I mostly wore when I was majoring in anthropology and my mother still had hopes.

Sandals & Shirtmakers

The fact that within two months of hitting Berkeley I went to Sandals Unlimited and had a pair of these custom made did give her pause. Well, to truly understand my mother's concern you have to know that these are really the ones I had.
Wide leather and tied just above the knee. Most comfortable pair of shoes I ever owned in my life and I wore them almost exclusively for at least 15 years. To this day I am one of the few women my age without bunions or other misshapen conditions of the foot, because while I was being a hippy and wearing sandals that had been cut to the pattern of my feet and then soaked and worn until they dried to an exact conformation, most women were wearing high heels with needle points. Had I been more pliable, more accepting of my fate as a woman, I too could have been half crippled by my shoes.

The other thing I wore in high school and college was shirtmaker dresses. I loved them. They had such freedom -- as easy to wear as a man's shirt, looked good. My favorite I got my junior year of high school and wore at least weekly through my sophomore year of college. My roommate wore it to a Halloween party and everyone knew she had come as me. By college, I had begun to find some sense of a different style and these I usually wore with the gladiator sandals and a four inch wide black leather belt. The buckle was a gate hinge. Smashing!

My freshman year at Berkeley I joined the staff of the Independent Californian, an underground newspaper formed when the Regents started censoring the Daily Californian for its coverage of the HUAC riots in San Francisco and the staff resigned and started their own paper. Here we see me getting radicalized even though I was still partially dressed like a proper young lady.


saz said...

Hillsdale High? You were in my neck of the woods! Didn't go to high school there but lived in Foster City from '82 to '96. My high school years were at Mills and Crestmoor mid 60's and I had plenty of pleated skirts and sweaters. Think I wore saddle shoes or flats with them but the gladiator sandals would have been so cool.

Tabor said...

I remember the Dian VonFurstenburg wrap dress which was on the cover of every magazine. They are still stylish today!

Maya's Granny said...

Foster City! Yes, that's where we lived my sophomore year! High school, I also wore flats or saddle shoes. And Bonnie Dunes (fuzzy wool socks) to match my sweaters.

Kay Dennison said...

lol I remember this but you were ahead of me! When I graduated in 1965, we wore pleated skirts with shetlad crew neck or V-neck sweaters with button-down collar shirts underneath. Weejuns penny loafers completed the ensemble worn with nylons, of course. We were soooooo cool!!!! Spring of my senior year -- madras was the rage. I saved my babysitting money for a madras wraparound skirt! Thanks for the memories! lol

laluna said...

Sounds like that was the era of comfort. Fashion has a way of coming around again. Target is selling those lace up sandals and long man's shirt
dress. Crazy huh!