Sunday, March 2, 2008

Party like the '70s: history vs. memory

Last night, I went to a benefit for a charity with my family. The theme of the evening was the 1970s, so my cousin and I both donned recognizably 1970s day dresses: she, a vintage plaid dress with large pront pockets, and I this:

black and white

Headband: H&M
70s dress: trade with roommate
Bangle: Urban Outfitters
Owl pendant: Forever 21
60s handbag: thrifted
Tights: Target
Pumps: Rebel

...Granted, I didn't do head-to-toe 1970s, (no Farrah hair or stacked-wood pumps,) but between the dress and the pendant I felt I was definitely channeling the decade. My cousin and I were two of the youngest people there...most of the guests were my parents' age or older. Most of them probably spent the 1970s as teens or young adults.

With that in mind, I was quite surprised when nearly every female guest wore an outfit that seemed to channel the late 1960s. Three-fourths of the women were dressed as go-go dancers, in dresses with psychadelic prints reminiscent of Austin Powers' London. Most of these dresses were new, designed in the style of this era (I can't fault them for not wearing actual vintage.) Still, I have to say that I was surprised by how many people botched the era despite having a first-hand account of it.

Was this simply a case of people not knowing what exactly to wear and buying something that comes close? Or, do people remember the past in different ways? Granted, I know that women didn't simply burn their 60s minis and go-go boots as soon as 1970 rolled around, so women presumably still wore these iconic 60s pieces into the 1970s. Something that channels the '60s is probably also easier to find than something that channels the '70s, at least for women. I also think that the '70s has assumed a sort of outrageous quality in cultural memory that wasn't present during the time itself, and that people dressed in such a way as to recall the myth and not the reality.

These questions definitely led me to ask a few of my own. I was 13 on New Years' Day, 2001, so the 2000s are definitely my coming-of-age fashion decade. How will it be remembered by our kids? Will my teenage daughter giggle some day and ask me if I really wore Uggs with mini-skirts? Will she complain that I never bought a pair of Crocs? Will I show her a picture of me at a party in a tunic and skinny jeans and sigh, saying "I can't believe we thought we looked good?" What styles will mark the decade we are living through after it is over? Or, in an era of countless fashion subcultures and retail options, is the time of an 'iconic look' that defines a decade long past?


Liberty said...

I know what you mean about decade overlaps, we had a supposedly seventies themed social here but nearly everyone went sixties, i think they are the two decades that perhaps get more mixed up than any others. As for defining our era I don't think we've come up with anything yet, the nineties don't have anything ultra defining either we seem to be falling back on the old to create the new.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a cute look! I really like the bag and your necklace!

Wendy said...

You look so cute! Those shoes are lovely.

Anonymous said...

I think the looks that define a decade are over. I can't think of any that define this decade. Everything's rehash.

The most recent look for a decade I can think of is grunge in the nineties.

The Clothes Horse said...

I think iconic looks are gone. People dress more freely now and there isn't such a distinct "you must wear this" vibe. I think the popularity of vintage shows this. Your dress is gorge.

Isabel said...

That's a great look! is the dress actually from the 1970s?

I really hope my kids don't judge the fashion of the 2000s by Uggs with miniskirts. That would be depressing. I wholly do not agree with the 'there are no more defining looks of the decade' anymore. The decade isn't even over yet, how can you even judge that?

hillary said...

OMG I didn't realize you were so young! Hee I am delusional and thought we were the same age. :D Thats a compliment to you and me being silly! I realized it because I was 23 on NYday 2001.
I asked my mom who was a teen thru the 70's and she said that she and her friends were way into psychadelic and gogo boots and that along with fringed suede was very big at her highschool also a lot os peasant tops. She was born in 59. I think its hard to really "define" decades sometimes, esp once we were not alive for. We know what books and such tell us. Know what I mean?

WendyB said...

Very cute.

the iron chic said...

I think the seventies and eighties had some despicable fashion crimes.
Bad bell bottoms and ridiculous shoulder pads and perms!!!
My mom had the worst eighties perm.

Anonymous said...

huh? 70s was NOT bell bottoms, go-go boots, or hippie at all! i should know, i graduated hs in 75. things i remember about the 70s were hot pants (thankfully a brief phenomenon,) levis, and an early form of grunge (shopping at the military surplus for fatigues and sailor pants.) there was an earthy, natural, granola-type movement in the 70s which impinged on clothing styles to some extent. older people wore the horrid leisure suits, and lots of pastels. verging on preppy toward the end of the decade. it was hardly memorable hence the 60s and 80s overshadow the decade...malaise was the operative term of the decade

Anonymous said...

i forgot to mention: DISCO! it's all coming back to me....

hailey said...

i love that dress on you, the proportions wouldn't work on everyone with the big block in the middle. i think uggs will be back again in the future, i hope crocs go away forever i dont care how comfortable they are - they are too ugly! to liberty's comment - 90's now seems to be defined as either you were in neon or in grunge! lol

Flying Cakes! said...

I don't know how you'd define or classify looks from the 90's, but when I see any television show aired then, I feel there was defiantly a unique 1990's style. Every time I watch any episode of Northern Exposure, I laugh at the teenaged character Shelly who is always donning looks of the decade. Bitchin'