hippie clothes

January 27, 1979



January 27, 1979

Party Invitation_edited-2

This is a party I’d like to throw again. As the invite explains, the concept was excavate your most repulsive fashion mistakes from the dark recesses of your closet and wear them to this party.  I had no shortage of strong contenders for the honor in 1979. Today, I’ve got far more – a bottomless stash of trash.

Eric Onstad, Joyce Knutsen (Salter) and Art Everett
Eric Onstad, Joyce Knutsen (Salter) and Art Everett

How did I collect so much crap? By not throwing anything away. Like my mother[1] before me, I save for rainy days because “you never know when this torn pair of plaid knickers might come in handy. Maybe they’ll come back in fashion. What if it’s the perfect costume for a theme party? It might fit my daughter, if I give birth to a daughter. I could cut it in squares and make a quilt.”  Any reason will suffice to hang onto a purple polyester pantsuit I’ve never worn – but maybe someday. If I lose ten pounds.

Mary Bennett and Jack de Nove
Mary Bennett and Jack Denove

If the world runs out of polyester, I’ll be sitting on a gold mine. It could happen.

Cool Cat host John Rowell
Cool Cat host John Rowell

The other cause of my cluttered closet of fashion disasters is – as I’ve discussed in prior diary-blogs – sometimes I forget who I am. I’ve bought tennis outfits that would flatter me on the court –  only to recall, too late, I don’t play tennis, never have, never will.  I’ve purchased jodhpurs without a horse, sky high heels as stable and comfy as strolling on stilts.

Sky High Heels
Sky High Heels

I don’t wear heels. Why, then, did I whip out my Visa and buy two pairs, one black, one taupe?

In all probability, the tipping points were magic words like FINAL SALE, DEEP DISCOUNT, BARGAIN, LAST CHANCE.

Jim Nelson and Janice
Jim Nelson and Janice

I buried these ridiculous outfits deep in my closet for decades. The time has come to expose these shameful secrets. Next week, I’ll open a fashion victim gallery featuring sartorial disasters starting with my own faux pas but hopefully incorporating contributions from others. I can’t be the only one with this problem!

It’s easy to participate. Model your worst, shoot a selfie, email to me. You might be too late to save yourself, but at least you can serve as a warning to others.

Robert Lovenheim wasn't into costumes - seen here with Denise Gail Williams (from back)
Robert Lovenheim wasn’t into costumes – seen here with Denise Gail Williams (from back)

With any luck, the abominations “coming out of my closet”  will inspire me to go where I’ve never gone before. My new mantra is TOSS IT NOW. So what if it still bears original price tags? Ebay buyers don’t want lime green  jackets with gigantic shoulder pads – and, trust me, that look won’t be back in vogue in my lifetime (I can only hope).

A smoldering Joyce Knutsen (Salter)
A smoldering Joyce Knutsen (Salter)

But just in case –

Your hostess with the ever--fashionable toddler fashion accessory
Your hostess with the ever–fashionable toddler fashion accessory

[1] My mother suffered a Depression era childhood – that’s her excuse. I did not.

October 10, 2014

october-10-2014

the-trouble-with-trouble My absolute all-time favorite game growing up was dress-up (today, it’s called role-play but it’s the same thing.)  I was up for a part in any fantasy – princess, boarding school, teen-ager, Rapunzel and Bonanza were perennial favorites. The only role I couldn’t relate to was horsy. Then as now, the appeal of prancing around pretending to be a palomino eluded me. For starters, playing horsy pretty much precludes costumes unless you count tucking a fake tail in the rear of your pedal-pushers (I don’t).these-bitches-need-some-class

I have only two requirements for a good game of dress-up.

  1. I play a human (no horsys!)
  2. I wear a costume – and hopefully a wig.

Beyond that, anything goes.

shopping-for-more-useless-stuffIt’s a shame that dress-up tends to be cast aside before adolescence. It’s all but forgotten by the time we’re adults. IMHO, this is a real shame. Luckily, like riding a bike, the requisite skills reside inside you, ready to resume active duty if called. If you can get past your self-consciousness for a  trip into fun and silliness, dress up is even more fun to play as a grown-up.

now-i-take-a-pill-for-that

Technically, each of us gets only one life to live. Dress up role play lets you dabble in as many lives as you can make up. If – like me – sometimes you get sick of being yourself, take a break. Cut loose and be somebody else – someone without a mortgage, congested kids, or pets pooping on the rug. All you’ve got to lose is your dignity. Isn’t it about time?

ANY GIRL CAN BE GLAMOUROUS. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STAND STILL AND LOOK STUPID.
ANY GIRL CAN BE GLAMOUROUS. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STAND STILL AND LOOK STUPID.

If you’re over 18 or past the age of consent: Dress-up role-play is unlikely to be hazardous to your sex life, if you get my drift. Enough said.

 

September 30, 1965

September 30, 1965

 

CASTE SYSTEM

 

To my mind, the Wilcox High cafeteria operated like a caste system. The highest caste – cheerleaders, athletes, homecoming queens and student government honchos – held court on the kidney-shaped Senior Lawn, an area so sacrosanct even their fellow seniors dared not sidle onto the hallowed grass unless expressly invited.

 

Vague memories of how I envisioned the Senior lawn
Vague memory of how I envisioned the Senior lawn.

 

Descending castes fanned out from the metal tables under the cafeteria’s fluorescent lights to the picnic tables and benches surrounding the snack bar in the quad.

 

Recalling a normal day on the Wilcox Quad
Recalling a normal day on the Wilcox Quad.

 

Inside the cafeteria, you could spot the brains by the books piled beside their trays. The low-riders laughed louder and indulged in more food fights. The hippies preferred the lesser lawn outside where they could skip in circles and blow bubbles. The surfers sunned themselves at the picnic tables.

 

Sandra re-enacts buying a sandwich in the snack bar line.
Sandra re-enacts buying a sandwich in the snack bar line.

 

The Untouchables were marooned between the Special Needs table and the line of trash cans between the boys and girls bathrooms. They were the lowest caste, miserable souls yoked together by nothing more than the fact no one else wanted them.

 

Sandra finds a sign suggesting life will improve after high school.
Sandra finds a sign suggesting life will improve after high school.

 

Anybody and everybody could gauge your caste in a glance based on where you ate lunch. Once assigned to a caste, it was almost impossible to move up. Moving down was not such a problem.

Kathy re-enacts the loneliness of the Untouchables
Kathy re-enacts the loneliness of the Untouchables

Sandy and I flirted with the fringes of various castes without adhering to any for long. Something about the group dynamic just didn’t work for us. This was surprising, since my Scandinavian forebears are famous for their community-minded  club and choir culture. A chorus of perfectly blended voices, none of which stand out or call undue attention to themselves, is the Danish ideal. Their sense of group unity is one of the reasons Denmark is ranked the happiest country on earth.

The Scandinavian joiner gene lies dormant in me. I’m acutely uncomfortable in any group larger than three and I far prefer one-on-one.  That said, it’s easier to be an outsider if you’re lucky enough to find a fellow solitary soul with a huge imagination and quirky sense of humor – someone like Sandy. The truth is, we had a blast being outsiders together.

Brilliant Decision

Changing my schedule in my sophomore year was a brilliant decision I’ve never regretted.

Besides, I was a dunce in geometry.

 

September 18, 1971

 

September 18, 1971

 

The universe as charted in Lloyd's mind.
The universe as charted in Lloyd’s mind.

Road trip to Ensenada

 

Ensenada 1

Lloyd (not his real name) told me he had psychiatric problems when we met. Because of this, he claimed he could never have a romantic or sexual relationship with any girl. I didn’t want one with him so that came as a relief. Even though we didn’t live far apart, we started our friendship as pen pals.


Montalvo_edited-1

His voluminous letters were the first warning sign. Ten hand-written pages a day were typical. A tiny warning light flicked on when he pointed out that the stamps on the envelopes his letters arrived in were never cancelled. In other words, he drove them to my mailbox himself late at night.

He drove them to my mail box at night
He drove them to my mail box himself late at night

He loved photography and wanted me to model for him. He took the photos featured here on one of our two photo sessions.  As a vain, shallow adolescent, I lapped this up – but not for long. His criticisms of me were scathing and increasingly frequent. In retrospect, I think one of the reasons I hung around was to win his admiration back. The desire to recapture something I thought lost kept me in a lot of relationships in those days. For that matter, it’s one of the reasons I kept a diary.


Ensenada 3

That’s why I can’t deny I saw Lloyd’s red flags long before our trip to Ensenada; I just didn’t heed them. There was that trip to San Francisco, when he threatened to swerve into oncoming traffic and kill us both. The fact that he didn’t follow through on that threat doesn’t negate it as a red flag.

Red Flags_edited-1

I’d be crazed with fear if my daughter was dating a guy who displayed Lloyd’s character traits but for some reason I failed to fear for myself.  Like other young, dumb adolescents, I believed I’d live forever. I didn’t end the relationship with Lloyd because I was afraid but because I was exasperated.

I didn't focus on fear for myself.
I didn’t focus on fear for myself.

 

 

May 10, 1969





May 10 1969

 

S&K_edited-2K&S_edited-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure if I’m revealing myself (and – guilting my best friend Sandy Hegwood Walker by association) as a typical high-spirited high-school girl or a pathological liar. In our defense, we didn’t distort the truth for an unfair advantage – we just couldn’t resist any opportunity to try on a new identity. An only child, Sandy’s fantasy life and active imagination meshed perfectly with mine. We were naturals when it came to playing off each other and improvising.  We had our own secret language for awhile, but that was kids stuff. When we matured, so to speak, pretending to be aspiring rock stars was one of our favorite gambits. When we really got it going, we could go into elaborate detail about our set list and who sang lead on what song. I’m surprised we never got around to printing up band cards. (But what if somebody wanted to book us?)

This fantasy sounded so cool Sandy and I struggled through a few guitar lessons  before we realized our talents were better suited to shopping for dramatic stage costumes, not learning to play an instrument. Years of piano lessons, during which I fell progressively further behind my younger sisters, had alerted me keyboards might not be my forte. My next hint I might be musically challenged came when our church choir director eliminated my half of an upcoming duet with the lame excuse a Natalie Nilsen solo served the music better. I told myself she just didn’t want to show preferential treatment to the pastor’s daughter but I was devastated. While I didn’t want to “toot my own horn,” I didn’t want to hide my light under a bushel either.

I took my case to my father. “I have a beautiful voice, don’t I?” I asked.

He paused and said, “Kathleen, we all have different gifts.”

Even I couldn’t spin this response. So what if I’d never be a real life rock’n’roll icon? Thanks to Sandy’s and my living theater, I knew how it felt to strut the stage and blast away on my Stratocaster. Just to prove that sometimes fantasies do come true, Sandy’s parents bought her a drum kit which she housed in a black light room. It didn’t get much better than that.

If you’re worried about all the gullible people we deceived, rest easy – I don’t think we fooled anyone.

 

May 8, 1968

IMG_20160504_0001

May 8 1968

Girls Swimming

I’m not sure today’s millennials could survive the sixties high school experience. While searching for a photo of the frigid Wilcox High swimming pool, I unearthed an impressive array of “Mermen” shots – but this was the sole illustration of girls in the water. (I’m so disappointed I couldn’t show you the hideous dark green maillots we wore.)  In fact, this was the only photo I found depicting girls in any athletic endeavor. Based on my Wilcox yearbooks, athletics and team sports were a “Men Only” preserve – not that my consciousness was high enough to perceive this slight at the time. Until I sought a photo for this blog, I never noticed the omission. Although Friedan’s Feminine Mystique was  published in 1963, feminism wasn’t on my radar.

In addition to an outdoor pool in the dead of winter, the class of ’69 was the last to be subjected to a dress code – which meant girls wore dresses every day. If your hem failed to skim the floor when a teacher ordered you to kneel, you were sent home to change. Once a year – on “Grub Day” – girls were allowed to wear pants to school. The top photo of me with the rest of the Literary Magazine staff illustrates typical Wilcox style. For the epitome of high school fashion, see the photo below of the pair my class voted “Best Dressed”.

Best Dressed

High school has loomed large in my writing career and I will revisit aspects of my experience in future diary-blogs. If you recognize yourself in a photo, please tag it!

Class Picture

 

Feeling Fat? Don a Poncho!

Kathy in Poncho

Sadly, I felt fat A LOT because this brown and white poncho is featured in numerous photos from the mid-sixties (b/w photos) until the mid-seventies (the sole color photograph, with college boyfriend Tom, in suede jacket.) Truth is, I might still have that old wool poncho, although I haven’t worn it in a decade (which is not to say that I haven’t felt fat. Just not fat enough to don the poncho.) As you can see, it conveniently conceals the entire mid-section and – at the time – I truly believed it epitomized hip.  Is the poncho due for a fashion comeback?


Kathy-Tom-Poncho

It’s Not Too Late to be a Model in my Sixties Fashion Gallery!

krapr157

 

As part of a reference/research project for my novel, I’m assembling a gallery of sixties fashions. Rather than reproduce the same old iconic sixties fashion shots we’ve all seen a million times, I want to feature real life baby boomers in the real sixties ensembles we all actually wore. I’m not too proud to post my own humiliating fashion faux pas, so why not join me? I’ll post your name and any comments you offer with your photo if you like, or you can be anonymous. You can send sixties photos of yourself to me at my domain – kathleenrowell.com (where you can also view the galleries as they grow) or you can email them to kathleenkrowell@aol.com.  MALE AND FEMALE FASHION PHOTOS WANTED!!!

 

I’ve broken the gallery into three sections – early sixties (roughly up until the Beatles), mid-sixties (Beatlemania until ’68-69), and late sixties, which in my opinion extends until 1973 fashion-wise, so please note where you think your fashion photo should fall (if you don’t, I’ll take my best guess). Right now, almost all the photos in the gallery are of yours truly, so please save me from my narcissism and send some of yourself in your sixties glory. (And truthfully, is there a baby boomer alive who doesn’t wish that you looked as good now as you did then? Show off your former self! Release your inner model!) Thanks in advance to any and all responders.


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