Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Were You a Conformist at Fifteen

(Portrait of Sylvia Plath)

In 1963, I flattened my hair into a pageboy, took to wearing only black, burgundy, gray, brown and navy straight skirts with white blouses and cardigans. No patterns. I wore oxford shores with dark stockings.

In Philadelphia it was called dressing conservative (although it had nothing to do with politics) and I think it came out of the parochial schools. The boys cut their hair like the Beatles and dressed similarly. Why, I have no idea. Did you adopt a style of dress to fit in with a group of teenagers at that age? Or were you secure enough to be yourself? Have you ever conformed to a style that was not particularly yours? How far did you go to fit in?

26 comments:

David Cranmer said...

For a brief moment in 1985 I was wearing a white jacket like Don Johnson of Miami Vice. No socks and not shaving my peach fuzz. So silly.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You weren't the only one. Our generation had nehru jackets.
Two posts posted today. The second was supposed to post later but I will leave it up.

Chad said...

Sure, I think we're all conformists at that age. Even subcultures(goth/rockabilly/punk) are a type of conformity, aren't they?

15 was the start of my black t-shirts, black pants and dyed black hair years.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And yet, I can remember kids that just went on dressing and acting the way they always had. We thought they were nerds at that time, but I think they were actually less driven by a need to fit in. Wonder how they turned out.

Charles Gramlich said...

My major act of conformity was at age 27 when I shaved my beard, cut my hair, bought a suit. All for a job interview out of grad school. I got the job. I still have it. But the hair and beard are back and the suit is lost to posterity.

Anonymous said...

I had a Nehru jacket! I only wore it a few times, but I did have it.

And yes, otherwise I was your typical conforming "good" kid (not that I felt that I had a choice, with my parents) on the pre-Beatles early 1960's.

Jeff M.

Charlieopera said...

I was a DOOFUS with very long garage band rock-n-roll hair. Thought I was a chubby ginger baker ... it all came off when I started playing football (and my mother continues to thank God for that).

pattinase (abbott) said...

What was a ginger baker? Or was it a person? I like it as a term.

Graham Powell said...

I always went my own way as far as style. Unfortunately, "my own way" was indistinguishable from complete conformity. Bonus: I still dress that way.

Ginger Baker, FYI, was best known as the drummer for Cream.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Darn I was already planning on using the term in a story. A ginger baker is one who....have to work on it.

Dorte H said...

I know that isn´t what you asked, but in 1963 I wore whatever my mother put me into ;D

I don´t know about conformist, but I am sure I was lethally boring when I was a teenager. Things improved a bit after my 18th birthday (more spirits but no money).

pattinase (abbott) said...

My mother liked the look. It was neat, like a uniform almost.
I had so few clothes, it was a good move.

Cap'n Bob said...

I dressed like everyione else in high school, pegged pants without cuffs or belt loops and button-down-collar or tab collar shirts. Later, in my hippie days, I looked like a hippie. After that I just wore what I wanted and still do--jeans and a work shirt, mostly.

Ron Scheer said...

Flat-top and button fly Levi's. And to show my nonconformity, I had a red windbreaker like James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.

pattinase (abbott) said...

You rock, Ron. Or what would have been. You're cool.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved dressing like a hippie. It was so comfortable yet feminine. I am still attracted to loose tops, wide skirts, sandals.

Jack Bates said...

I made the 'hip' fashion section of my senior book for wearing jean overalls, a tee shirt, and sneakers. Somehow I avoided the hanging open flannel shirt over the rock group tee, though. I basically had a rotation of shirts- one of which was covered in the Budweiser logo. That wouldn't even mae it through the door of my classroom today,

pattinase (abbott) said...

I guess each generation is the victim of some fashion trend. You can't escape it.

Todd Mason said...

This will surprise you:

Did you adopt a style of dress to fit in with a group of teenagers at that age?

No.

Or were you secure enough to be yourself?

It didn't occur to me that clothes made much difference.

Have you ever conformed to a style that was not particularly yours?

No, as much as I had one. (My first ex noted to me that I was the only person she knew who wasn't trying to make Any statement with wardrobe...beyond, perhaps, this is how I cover my body.)

How far did you go to fit in?

Any such efforts usually felt wrong, so I didn't go very far, no.

Todd Mason said...

(in late 1963, I began growing a placenta...)

Charlieopera said...

"Ginger Baker, please" (Jack Bruce says that after a GB annoying solo) ... drummer for Cream ... he was my hero as a drummer way back. I think he's actually a politician these days (in England). The great thing about Baker was he was essentially a jazz musician playing rock (but using paradiddles instead of LFLF rolls). The bad thing (really bad thing) about Baker was he introduced the 30 minutes bore one to death drum solos with Toad.

Deb said...

I think I looked my absolute best in the late 1970s when I was in my early 20s and it was the disco days. People laugh at those clothes now, but back then the bright colors and flowing designs were a reaction against the blue jeans and tee-shirts that had been de riguer (pardon my spelling) for the past few years.

Fun fact: In the 1980s, when I was living in southern California, I distinctly remember Ginger Baker was giving drumming lessons in Los Angeles; he used to run ads in alternative newspapers like L.A. WEEKLY and L.A. READER.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am not surprised, Todd, except for the placenta.
I will never forget Ginger Baker again,

Todd Mason said...

Yes, but when Ginger snaps...(thirty-minute rimshot follows)

I guess it's possibly more true that the placenta in question was a joint effort between my mother and myself...

Erik Donald France said...

I pretty much did whatever I felt like, just like now. If people didn't like me it was there problem, not mine ;->

Erik Donald France said...

i.e. their, not there!