Friday, February 13, 2009


I have two teenagers living with me (unless you count my husband Jay who has many teen-like qualities, but that's for another time). My son Tyler is 17 and my daughter Kelsey is 13. And although my kids may deny it, I used to be a teenager myself. No, not one of the hippies or the bobbie sox and poodle skirts they envision, but a kind of regular teen.

I was a teenager in the eighties, when my generation wore preppy clothes like Dickies, Levis, Polo and Lacoste, designer jeans, Dock Siders, rugby shirts, pink & green. Realizing that fashion trends come back around, I've been holding my breath, hoping the preppy craze will come back before Kelsey gets any older because I can't stand the 70's style clothing. At least the midriff-baring shirts are out now. As a teenager, I always wanted the name brand clothing, but my parents never saw the need (or had the money) to buy me the good stuff. So I had one yellow crew neck Polo sweater I got on sale that I wore to death because it was the only Polo anything I had. I was so proud when I finally got my first pair of Levis at the age of 12. They were light blue corduroys that I wore even in the summer. Because I wore them horsebackriding, they got horse dirt on the inside part of the lower legs. I would scrub them with a toothbrush each time to so they would still be clean enough for me to wear to school.

Being sensitive to the name brand gotta-haves that teenagers obsess over, I vowed that my children would never have to get their jeans from Hill's Department Store (kind of like a Woolworth) like I did. They'd never have to get the cheap sneaker knock offs while their step-dad got Nikes. As luck would have it, my kids are self-labeled "Indies", meaning they wear whatever they want; Abercrombie and Aeropostale are not necessities. For years, I fought their tendency to lose socks and wear mismatched pairs. In one of my many vane attempts to teach my children independence and not be the sort of mom who does everything for her kids just so it's done right, I held "Clothes Sorting Parties". I would dump all the clean clothes on our bed, call everyone in to fold and sort their own clothes and pair together socks. This was done in an attempt to force them to take responsibility and put their own socks together. I even got everyone in the family their own jar of safety pins to pin socks together before the washer and dryer randomly ate them. As it turns out, my non-conformist mismatched sock kids were complimented at school for their sock fashion. Now some stores actually sell socks in pairs that are deliberately mismatched. So maybe my kids started a trend?

One trend with teenage "dudes" that isn't from the 70's is the hip-hop-pants-worn-below-the-butt-cheeks style. I know the day will come with those same boys will look back at pictures taken with their boxers exposed and the crotch hanging down to the knees and say "what was I thinking?" What the teens don't realize is that they are missing out on an advertising opportunity with their low-riding style. Back in the old days, when I was a teenage girl, my friends and I often observed and rated the rear ends of the guys according to how they looked in a pair of Levis. We labeled them as "runner's butts", "lacrosse butts", football butts", etc. based upon the in-depth personal study of athletes and how their sport gave them distinctive musculature in the glutenous region. Don't tell me you haven't noticed the same thing, especially when it comes to male dancers. If teen dudes would wear less baggy pants (it doesn't have to be the so-called "girl pants", just more complimentary to their figures), they might attract more girls and eliminate some of the laughing behind their backs. There's also the fringe benefit of being able to walk comfortably without chaffing and run in the event of an emergency.


  1. I was a teenager in the eightiesBeing born in 1963 means you would turn 13 in 1976 and you would turn 20 (end of teenagery) in 1983. 3 of your 7 teenaged years were in the 1970s. However, your fashion understanding is not incorrect. The trend toward more conservative dress began in the late 1970s and continued to the mid-1980s, when the miniskirt reappeared.

  2. Interesting story!

    I actually remember when you were a teenager, although admittedly from a different perspective. (Fathers are supposed to have that, you know.) In fact, remember when I was a teenager; however, I am not going to succumb to the temptation to regale you with a description of the kind of clothes we wore. Or what it was like when the King of Rock 'n' Roll was "Who's that?"

    Yo' Papa

  3. Interesting story! Actually, several interesting stories on the blog.

    And,just to be sure you know, I also remember when you were a teenager, although I suppose Father's have a somewhat different perspective.