Readers of a certain age, do you remember the Gap? I don't mean Gap, Inc., the once popular, now stuggling clothing chain, though there is a connection (keep reading). I'm talking about The Generation Gap, and its impact on style.
Anyone who grew up in the mid-to-late Sixties or early Seventies, as I did, knows the term. It defined the wide gulf in values and taste between the generation that grew up during The Great Depression and before, and the generation that was born during the relatively prosperous Postwar period, often termed The Baby Boom.
The concept of The Generation Gap was everywhere in American popular culture. No self-respecting teenager or young adult in the late Sixties wanted to (or was supposed to want to) think or dress like their parents, and probably vice versa. The older and younger generations really did seem to live on different planets, at least on the surface.
1969 was a pivotal year. Remember Woodstock? Believe it or not, I was taken to see the film version of that rock concert as a kid. Of course, my musical tastes tended more toward Jerry Herman...
Young people of both sexes were wearing caftans and jeans, love beads and granny glasses -- unless you worked in the Nixon administration. Am I over-generalizing?
Even Ken got mod and joined a rock band, just like Desi Arnaz, Jr.
But "Fashion" would have none of this bohemian way of dressing -- or very little. I'd argue that this is when home sewing lost its way. When everybody was wearing Levi's, what was there to sew?
Recently I found this fantastic copy of Vogue Patterns (then called Vogue Pattern Book) from February/March 1969 at the flea market. And leafing through it, you can see how radically different "official" fashion was from the way many, if not most, young people were choosing to dress back then. While lovely, these clothes seem all wrong for the times.
Here's elegant model Maud Adams on the cover. Cheryl Tiegs is featured prominently inside. These were like real fashion magazines and not just pattern catalogs.
These clothes make me think of chic Faye Dunaway in The Thomas Crown Affair or Doris Day in her TV series. Did anyone under 30 other than Julie Nixon (remember her?) ever wear them in real life?
Don't think this was only a female thing either. Here I am in 1968 looking like a young David Eisenhower.
By 1971, I'd gone groovy, à la Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family. I tuned in but I didn't turn on and I certainly didn't drop out. I was only nine.
As far as Gap, Inc., they were formerly The Gap, which was a reference to The Generation Gap. They removed the The because it ceased having meaning. You probably knew that already.
Today, in fashion, there is no longer a Generation Gap. Twenties, Fifties, Sixties, most everybody dresses the same -- like they're eighteen or so. Even my eighty-one-year-old mother wears stretch leggings. Forever 21 isn't just a store, it's a state of mind, and it speaks volumes about fashion today.
|Lindsay and Mom|
|Christina Aguilera and Cher|
In conclusion, friends, did you live through the Generation Gap years? Do you remember how fashion changed -- or didn't it change as radically where you lived?
What do you think of the ladylike 1969 couture fashions from Vogue? Were you -- or anyone you knew -- still wearing white gloves in 1969?
When do you think the generations started to dress the same again -- and why?
More great pics from my 1969 Vogue Pattern Book here.