“Sixties Fashion Returns”.
What Boomer could ignore that headline.
Of course, I knew right off the Birkin bag that they weren’t talking about what I was wearing in the sixties.
No, we’re talking about the other sixties entirely:
Its icons, from Jane Birkin to Catherine Deneuve, Ms. [Edie] Sedgwick to post-Camelot Jacqueline Onassis, are near-constant references for women who love fashion. Type "Jane Birkin" into Pinterest and marvel at the treasure trove of worshipful pins that unfurls on your screen. (Source: WSJ Online.)
Me, I didn’t have to type “Jane Birkin” into Pinterest, but I did need to Google her.
Sure, I figured that she had something to do with the Birkin bag, which I would definitely have one of if I were the type who had $40K to spend on a pocketbook. I was right about the bag – Jane Birkin inspired it - but, according to Wikipedia:
She is perhaps best known for her relationship with Serge Gainsbourg in the 1970s.
The Serge Gainsbourg. Well, that explains it.
Anyway, I guess we’re mostly talking being tall and slender, having great hair, never being seen without sunglasses, and sporting about in expensive casual pants with an expensive casual shirt tied at the waist.
Hey, take away the tall, the slender, the great hair, the expensive pants and shirt, and I could icon it up with the best of them.
I will admit that some of the retro-look clothing coming back looked familiar, even if the price tags weren’t.
Who didn’t have an A-line coat? A pea jacket?
Okay, my A-line coats were a Kelly green boucle wool with frog buttons, and my pea-coat was from Mickey Finn’s Surplus – or was it Spag’s?
While I was never into leather, I had plenty of friends with leather skirts, pants, and jackets. And that striped sweate? True confession: I still have shirts that look like that. (Thank you, Leon Leonwood Bean!)
As for the pocketbook. That looks kind of like a powder-smelling, snap-tight Mom purse to me. But I am delighted to think that sensible shoes are making a comeback, just in time to save those nit-wit twenty- and thirty-somethings who’ve been bringing on the bunions with their Manolo’s for the last decade or two.
Mostly, however, my sixties looked a bit different.
Admittedly, this was because from 1960-1967, I was mostly wearing a hunter green serge jumper and white blouse.
But on my off days, let’s see.
Much of my “civilian” clothing was made by my mother. It always looked stylin’ in the pattern catalog, but by the time I selected the hideous fabric I was typically drawn to, and my mother sewed it up so that it would be modest (i.e., at least two sizes too large), it looked really crappy.
Overall, here’s my sixties fashion run-down:
Shirtwaist or A-line dresses.
Madras shorts, skirts, and shirts.
Khaki A-line skirts, worn with pinstripe shirts.
Ski pants – very popular in early high school, an a pre-cursor of the black leggings movement of the eighties.
Sweaters. Sweaters. And more sweaters. (Some things don’t change. I remain a sweater girl.)
Denim shorts. Wheat jeans.
Anything with a Villager, Lady Bug, or John Meyer label that I could find for next to nothing – and stamped IRREGULAR – in Filene’s Basement.
The hideous knock-off Villager suit from Anderson-Little that I wore when I needed to play grown-up while in high school. Light green, worn with a white poor-boy sweater. And sensible shoes. Probably Weejuns.
Mini-skirts and min-dresses, for sure, barely covering my butt once I got to college and they had no control over what I was wearing.
Of course, by the time I got to college, most of what I was wearing was bell-bottom jeans, turtle-necks, work-boots, Army shirts, and that Mickey Finn’s (or Spag’s) pea coat.
I did get a navy blue dress (A-line, of course) – and sensible shoes – for my father’s funeral.
But, alas, I was never a style icon.
The style icons in my high school were the rich girls – you know, the ones whose fathers owned funeral parlors - not the scholarship girls. They drove Mustangs, wore Papagallo shoes – in lots of different colors, carried Bermuda bags.
In college, my roommate and best friend actually was a style icon. She still is, and next time we talk, I’ll be asking her about the sixties fashions she would have seen at Fashion Week – NYC, Paris, Milan, she hits them all, as her highly successful career has been in the fashion biz.
What a pair we must have made…
Anyway, I suspect that what’s coming up will not be for me:
This fall, Gucci designer Frida Giannini recast the British dolly-bird look with an Italian eye for luxury and a refreshed millennial color palette. Think a double-breasted mint-green angora martingale coat over sky-blue leather pegged pants and matching python Chelsea boots.
For one thing, I have never favored mint green, and had not realized that it was part of the refreshed millennial color palette. And I am sorrowfully – or mercifully – too long in the tooth and thick in the waist to don sky-blue leather pegged pants.
Ah, the sixties.
"It's the best fashion decade," said Barbara Atkin, fashion director at Canadian department store Holt Renfrew. "When we head into the '60s, everyone gets excited because there's a huge ROI [return on investment]. The trendy pieces become blue-chip investments in a way."
If only I’d hung on to that A-line coat…