When I was growing up, Easter and Christmas were two times of the year, I was guaranteed to have a new outfit to wear. When I was very young, it was my grandma who did the sewing of my clothing. Sometimes, to economize, fabric from a used garment would be recycled into children’s clothing. For example, grandma used fabric from my mother’s older pale blue suit, to construct a coat and tam for me when I was a toddler.
As I got older, I remember my mom also sewing clothes for me. Easter Sunday was usually the first time of the year that white shoes would be worn and they would be put away come September. The rest of the year shoes were dark in color and mine were always black. I distinctly remember one spring when the style was to wear a dress with a color-coordinated coat with the coat lining the same fabric as the dress. That style must have been very popular because I have photos of several girlfriends and myself — we were all wearing dresses with matching coats.
In those days, as soon as I got home from school or church, the first thing I had to do was go to my room and change into “at home” clothes. There were 3 types of clothes in my wardrobe – “church clothes & shoes”, “school clothes & shoes”, and “at home clothes & shoes” and mom made sure that I was dressing appropriately at all times. It was a lesson well learned and that habit has carried over into the years that I was in the workforce, and even into retirement.
What is really interesting to me is the fact that, when I was a teenager, I always wanted different colored shoes – meaning different from the white or bone color for the summer, and black, brown, or navy for the winter! I would tell mom, “When I go to work and get my pay cheque, I’m going to buy colored shoes”. And it happened – oh my goodness – every payday for the first little while, I would go shoe shopping. I don’t remember which color I bought first, but I had pink, red, orange, navy, gold, tan, cream, gray, and most of the time I’d find a handbag to match. I had a great time shopping for shoes – some were high heels, some chunky heels, some sandals, some flats, round toes, pointy toes, square toes! Funny how times change – I’ve reverted back to the basics and now shop for shoes that are comfortable and not so much stylish!
When I think about my early days of sewing, especially when I was in high school, it brings to mind so many memories of the various styles of clothing back then. Some of the more interesting styles during the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s were A-line dresses, empire-waist dresses, shifts & sheaths, mini skirts, crop tops, hot pants, bell bottoms, palazzo pants, and jumpsuits. Sportswear grew drastically in popularity during this time for both men and women. Two piece suits or leisure suits, consisting of matching tops and bottoms were very popular, as were one-piece jumpsuits.
Dresses were called A-line when the garment flared out from under the arm at the side seam, to wider at the hemline. Empire-waist dresses had the bodice attached to the skirt at just under the bust line rather than at the waist line. The best way to remember the difference between shifts & sheaths is that a shift dress actually shifts – with the bottom having a wider skirt than the top; meanwhile, a sheath dress is narrower, with pretty much identical measurements at the bust and the knees.
While I remember “mini skirts”, I decided to do a bit of research. Google is a wonderful thing! I found some interesting facts which I’ll share here.
“In the 21st century, it’s easy to associate all 1960s fashion with short skirts, but the short skirt was not really worn by many until 1966 and not nationwide until 1967.”
“By 1966, Mary Quant was producing short waist skimming mini dresses and skirts that were set 6 or 7 inches above the knee.”
“The length of a typical late sixties short mini skirt.”
“The fashion trend took off because it was so different and to wear it well you had to be youthful to get away with an outfit that was so controversial, particularly among adults.”
The link to read the whole original fashion article is www.fashion-era.com
I can attest to the controversy over the length of those mini-skirts. Many a good conversation took place between my mom and I before I was allowed to sew a mini-skirt. I don’t remember my skirt being quite as short as the above picture either!! To be honest, mini-skirts weren’t very practical — but when you are a teenager, practicality isn’t really in the forefront of your mind. It’s all about style at that age!
Thoughts of mini-skirts has brought to mind thoughts of “hot pants” – but that is a whole other story which I’ll leave for my next article.
Sew Perfect Stitches