Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 27, 2013

Retro: everything old is new again

By Linda Hamer Kennett
Daily News

---- — Retro fashions from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s are seeing sales today that rival those from the decades of their origin.

If you fall into the over 50 crowd, you will remember exactly where these trends originated – and if you don’t, let me refresh your memory.

Undoubtedly the images on the ‘silver screen” have influenced the world of fashion heavily. The leather jacket, though quite tame by today’s standards, was once synonymous with rebellion and living on the edge. In 1953, “The Wild One” starring Marlon Brando as the leader of a biker gang set the standard for masculine dressing with his Perfecto black motorcycle jacket. It would continue to stand as the epitome of “cool” for years to come as it was worn by major Hollywood stars from Gary Cooper to Harrison Ford.

Often referred to as the “Fabulous ‘50s”, Americans seemed determined to leave the war years of the ‘40s behind and charge headlong into the new decade. Women were now juggling both work at home and a job, and this new surge into the work place required a new type of wardrobe. Skirts, both pencil straight and gathered at the waist, fitted dresses with Peter Pan collars and pointed top shoes filled closets of the ‘50s “working Mom.”

The controversial spaghetti strap dress, banned by some institutions for being immodest, was camouflaged for daytime with a cardigan sweater, only to be flaunted when the sun set. Teenage girls followed their mother’s need for fashion with two-piece sweater sets, cuffed jeans, Capri pants, poodle skirts, and the more crinolines the better.

To many the 1960s stand as one of the most influential fashion decades of the 20th century. The early part of the ‘60s found America captivated by the style and grace of First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Her designer pastel suits and pillbox hats for day wear and full skirted evening gowns for State affairs were quickly translated into affordable fashion for the masses. In the mid-’60s Stiletto heels {ouch!} replaced comfortable shoes, everywhere you looked was the color ORANGE, and men’s ties were wider than many of the bikinis tops on the beach.

In a decade flooded with fashion trends there would be one piece of clothing that would change the fashion world forever. It would surface as a garment with no social, financial or cultural boundaries. It was instantly embraced by women worldwide and from all walks of life. It came to us in 1964 and is considered, by many, to be the number 1 fashion statement of the 20th century. It was, and is, the mini-skirt.

After years of being bashed for her lack of style, Diane Keaton was an unlikely candidate to establish one of the the hottest looks of the 1970s. Renowned designer Ralph Lauren is credited for the “Annie Hall” look sported by Keaton in the 1977 box office hit by the same name. Bowlers, narrow ‘70s ties and stripped waist coats roll off the racks at retro shops still today, to create the look that established the ‘second hand shop’ as an acceptable fashion venue.

Uncomfortable, dangerous and the literal “downfall” of many, the platform shoe has to be one of the most unusual fashion statements of the 1900s. Worn by TV sitcom actor-turned-movie star John Travolta, the platform shoe is featured in the opening scene of the one of the most successful movies of all times, “Saturday Night Fever.” Just typing the name of that movie guarantees at least a day of having “Stayin’ Alive’ stuck in my head, and now yours.

Based on the story of a young Brooklyn man coming of age, this film introduced us to the world of “Disco,” an awareness that would alter the fields of dance, music and fashion for many years to come. In addition to the platform shoe, “Saturday Night Fever” also gave us, the white three-piece suit, the tie-less open collar shirt {with as many gold chains as possible}, the wrap around skirt and bell bottom pants.

As the audience of followers for the fashions of yesteryear increases, many of them many are turning away from shopping malls and finding their niche at thrift stores, resale shops and antique stores.

You ask why? Why not! Prices are affordable, shopping is an adventure and...everything old is new again!

Until next time,

Linda

Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional liquidation consultant specializing in senior downsizing and the liquidation of estates and may be reached at 317-429-7887 or lkennett@indy.rr.com.