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Nov 6, 2011

Whatever Happened to...The Gap?

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 GapThey 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.

Jump in!


  1. 9 in 1971. Oh my, we're both from the same year....

    I don't remember the sixties very well though. Unthinkable: my parents taking me to anything smelling of Woodstock.

  2. The freedom to wear what you please is great but be careful - yesterday I overheard the following pointed remark "Don't you think 'x' dresses too young for her age?"
    And as for novelty clothing (hats with ears and the like) - looks sweet/cute/quirky on your teenage daughter but might just look daft on you.

  3. I read a very interesting editors letter in a fashion magazine recently. She was complaining that she and her staff had given the public many different options and trends inculing the "new lady like" trend, which made me giggle, but still all she saw on the streets were cut of jean shorts, flip flops and way to much naked flesh.

    Maybe thats what the fashion and pattern magazines in 1969 were trying to do

  4. My parents didn't get married until 1972. They didn't meet until late 1971, and my older sister wasn't born until 1973. That being said, they married fairly late--dad was 28 and mom was 29. I wasn't born until 1978, but technically, considering that my parents were in college (and dad in the Army) during the Woodstock years, I'm a generation earlier than the one I was born into! I was a child of the 80s and a teenager of the 90s.

  5. great post, I was a kid in the 60's as well. I had my share of hippie inspired outfits which I was thrilled with, including a fringed suede vest (cringe). But my mom was very stylish and dressed in a chic Jackie O style. Fashion wise I remember the 60's as much better than the 70's - that was a fashion vacuum. As for the generations all dressing alike, when I look at old 40's movies it seems that was the case and it flattered almost all, but now with stylists trying to make everyone look 20, not so much.

  6. Okay this made me really laugh...

    Of course, my musical tastes tended more toward Jerry Herman...

    I think I am a few years older than you, so I can certainly relate. My mom wore clothes like the Vogue photos, and I was in my Levi's, peasant shirt and Frye boots. I still have my mom's mink pillbox hat.

    I don't know what the answer is, back in the day you could tell how old someone was (or at least get close to an era) by the clothes they wore and their hairstyle. Today, it seems, everyone dresses as though they are in their 20's. I recently saw Diane Cannon doing an interview about Cary Grant and I thought she looked ridiculous.

    Here is a photo
    Dianne Cannon and Barbara Davis are only a few years apart in age. Davis looks her age...and in my opinion more appropriate.

  7. Sassy, I'm concerned that you are spending time on the New York Social Diary website.

    Do you have aspirations we don't know about?

  8. I was in college 1962-1966 and at UC Berkeley so I was smack dab in the middle of the rebellion. I started wearing the uniform which was brand new then - jeans and tees and, yes, some fringe. However I had sewn a lot of my clothes before that and still loved to look at the fashions in Vogue Pattern book. I was pretty busy in those days but whenever I got the time I would make up one of those ladylike outfits. And I wore them. Also my mother and all of her generation continued to dress as ladies. So there was still a market for the clothes in your magazine.

    Going into the 70's Vogue adapted with the times and featured granny dresses and other hippy attire. I made those too.

  9. This is a really thought provoking post. I was in high school in 1969. We still had a dress code in school. Jeans were strictly forbidden, and I don't think anyone would have considered wearing a t-shirt outside of gym class. BTW we had uniforms for gym, can you believe it? It's also important to remember that this was just on the cusp of the suburban mall. The concept of shopping as a teenage activity was foreign to me. Clothes were bought at the beginning of the school year. Most kids in my HS dressed from the local shops on Main St. or from Sears. If you were from a more "upwardly mobile" family, or if it was a really special occasion, you may have shopped at Jordan Marsh; which along with Filine's anchored the downtown Boston shopping district. Those days are long gone, along with school dress codes!

  10. It's evident that we're enabled to dress to however we want---there's sufficient access to all ranges of styles across the sizes (childrens, misses, womens, mens) and there's sufficient examples so whatever you choose you know you're not alone (unfortunately).

    What happened to the parental role of teaching appropriateness regarding fashion? I love the looks in the Vogue fashion book and I love the looks of Woodstock. Wearing the looks of Woodstock to a formal occasion and the Vogue fashion book looks to a picnic isn't appropriate. Fashion happens in a setting. Elementary children dressed like teenagers at a concert and 40 plus women dressed like teenagers at a concert doesn't make the fashion wrong. It's just makes the choice wrong.

    I have two tween boys so I have it fairly easy in this regard. That being said I still reinforce appropriateness. We attend public schools without a uniform requirement but I still don't allow sweats and activewear as clothing choices. A logo t-shirt is allowed only one day a week. I've only this year relented and allowed sneakers as shoes (and only because they were all black). After school and weekends allow more freedom of choice but still require appropriate choices dependent upon the activity.

    I love the free flowing style of Woodstock. I love print and color and wear tunics often paired with tailed jeans and appropriate shoes. I'm a young 47. I don't however wear this style while presenting to one or more of the Vice Presidents of the Fortune 50 company where I'm employed....

  11. I just found out recently that Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic are all branches of the same umbrella company. Thinking back on your Banana Republic (rolling my eyes at THAT name) and Mad Men trend post... Fashion's come full circle and the gap has truly closed.

  12. I was born in 1972, but my parents - esp. my dad were children of the depression and WWII era, so I did not grow up with Woodstock aesthetic in my house. My dad didn't start wearing jeans until 1977, but within 5 years he had ventured to some pretty inappropriate clothing choices and by 1990 was asking ME where I bought my leggings. Disturbing in many ways...

    I think the concept of fashion being appropriate to the setting is one that has stuck with me after seeing so many glaringly inappropriate examples in my teens. I also enjoy pretty clothes, so I enjoy dressing up for work. Many days I see my coworkers in their uniform of khakis and fairly plain knit tops (I am a teacher) and some days I dress like that, but it is just as easy to put on a lovely knit dress and look a lot more polished. Some days I really dislike business casual and what it has done for the concept of dressing for work.

  13. What a great find!! I never see any sewing magazines when I'm out junking, though I do have some vogue knitting magazines from the 50's & 60's which I love to look thru. Love all the fashions you showed especially the ones in plaid and tweed. The coat in green/peach tweed I would wear now if I had it.

    I was 10 in 1969-I think too young to notice (or think about) a difference in how people dressed. But my mom and aunts wore clothes like the pictures, sometimes with gloves and hats and always with jewelry & matching purses. We never dressed sloppy if it was a special occasion. I remember wearing tees but not jeans but that was for play. I do remember in the early 70's having a pair of bell bottoms that were pink & orange plaid and thought they were the bomb. And the summer between 6th & 7th grade (early 70's) my neighbor taught us girls how to crochet and I made myself a poncho in neon green. Wore it proudly to school all that fall.

    Thanks for sharing the magazine.

  14. I was in junior high in 1970 and the teachers mostly wore the fashions that the kids weren't wearing (I went to school in Southern California.) I remember my best friend's grandmother wearing some very stylish outfits and having a wonderful figure (compared to my grandmothers who wore housedresses and had figures like flour bags tied in the middle.) The last two months of the 8th grade, suddenly we lost the dress code, and I've been wearing jeans and cotton shirts ever since.

  15. Ah but think of all the things that didn't exist in those days. Cable TV. The Internet. Video games. Cell phones. Computers. iTunes. iPods. It was much easier for young people to be different than it is today I think.

  16. SeamsterEast@aol.comNovember 6, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    I was in high school in the early 60's, and I remember we (as what I then and now think of as a generation) started wearing jeans (work clothing at the time) and white dress shirts to piss off our parents. It worked.

    We were the very top of the Baby Boomers, which meant there were a lot of girls our age, and almost no boys/men older. Which meant an abrupt change in social interaction habits. Plain put, the girl HAD to share the men, or do without. The attractive ones shared, the unattractive did without.

    And the socials mores of our generation came unglued ("If it feels good, do it") as compared to our parents ("Save yourself for the one you love") and still is 45 years later. There is still a serious demarcation line regarding social interaction between BB's and their parents generation.

    Because the sharing of men was a social fact, young women of that era became expert at openly flaunting their womanliness and willingness for instant, if fleeting, gratification. Opportunity -- unlike the postman -- only rings once. "Grab life with gusto" because there may be nothing to grab tomorrow.

    That was also the start of "Equal work, equal pay".

  17. I love this topic and the photos you shared!
    A perfect example of the generation gap: My mom managed to stay on the straight and narrow fashion path in the 60s - she had plenty of structured shifts and above-the-knee pleated skirts that she wore with low-heeled pumps and a short, carefully coiffed hairstyle. Maybe as a PTA member she didn't feel it was appropriate to show up in tie-dye and beads, or maybe her fashion sense was solidified in the 50s and she would always be slightly on the conservative side. Born in 1960, I was delighted by the color and excitement of 70s bohemia and to this day my wardrobe is heavy on the caftans and bell bottoms. A flower child who never grew up.

  18. Oh, I remember it all! We are the same age, so we probably have the same memories of the clothing and how it evolved.
    I had the Barbie with the fringed vest, I think her name was Pj though, and she had groovy lavender glasses too. I must say I really loved her, and wanted an outfit just like hers!
    I have vivid memories of my mom going to holiday parties in very "Mad Men," looking dresses in the mid to late sixties. I love that show, because it takes me back to my childhood memories! They do such a terrific job with the set and props etc.
    I also remember reading over my "Seventeen" magazine, and wishing I lived near "The Gap." I grew up in a tiny town in Nor Cal, population 6,000, so there were no cool stores! It wasn't until I was in college, and made several trips to San Francisco, that I saw "The Gap!"

    I believe you should try and dress your age, but not look like a grandma/grandpa. There are ways of looking fresh as a mature person, and not look like you are trying to be 18 again. Some of these ladies that are trying to wear Forever 21 clothing, should really rethink it.

  19. The pictures in the Vogue magazine here remind me of Mrs. Robinson's wardrobe in "The Graduate." Even though in the movie no one was wearing flower child garb, people in the audience at the time sure were! That look sort of breathed "middle-aged, well-kept, unliberated woman." There was a real aspirational divide, fashionwise. In 1970, the public schools in our city started allowing girls to wear pants to school. I showed up for the first day of 8th grade in jeans, a smiley-face T-shirt, and John Lennon glasses, with my hair straight and parted in the middle, and one of my friends said, "You look like a hippie."

  20. The Gap actually scored their name as a reference to the size gap that they filled by carrying Levi's jeans sizes that were not carried by the major chains of the day. At the time, Levi's was making men's sizes 33 (waist), 35, and even 37 but The Gap was one of the few stores to actually stock the odd numbered sizes.

  21. I started high school in 1967. My all girls high school had dropped the school uniform infavor of their students learning how to dress like "young ladies." Boy, were those nuns surprised.
    it was a fight with someone everyday. We still wore those structured shifts (made from polyester double knit) for formal affairs and church but tended towards less dressy stuff for the high school social scene. I really didn't start to wear jeans all the time until college in the early 70's. Lucky for me, I certainly didn't have the money for an upscale college wardrobe. A couple of pairs of jeans and flannel shirts and your closet was set. My parents were also of the depression era. I don't think I ever saw my father in a pair of jeans and he was a blue collar worker. He looked at jeans as "hillbilly" and wouldn't hava a pair. My 84 year old mother wears them now and looks great in them, but didn't wear them until maybe 10 years ago. Maybe we are also the fashion melting pot.

  22. Neal, I got my info from Wikipedia, that the name was an homage to The Generation Gap. Perhaps the size thing was part of it too.

  23. I loved the couture fashion of the late Sixties. I never could stand all the smelly hippies. What can you do with jeans? It's like wearing pajama bottoms. It says to me the person in them is poor or lazy or simply an unimaginative slob. That's not the image I want to present to the world when I leave my house. One can't look classy in jeans. And now that I'm almost sixty, it's particularly important to me to make some sort of effort to look dignified or at least like I'm an interesting person.

    I don't want to look just like everyone else.

  24. I am far too young to have experienced that, but I have my father's story. Less extreme, but still telling.
    I'm Czech: officially, this distinction did not exist here, but of course it actually did. Father, born mid-50s, recalls that, as he was a child, he was appalled by the idea that he would have to wear a hat when he grew up. Then he did grow up and found out that everyone else had been appalled by the idea as well.

  25. Great post Peter.

    Glad someone mentioned Dianne Cannon. One can wear all the wispy bangs, mussed up hair, and eyeshadow in the world, and it doesn't fool anyone. There is no shame in smart dressing in an age/body appropriate manner.

    The gap was bridged when the now older set bought into prolonged youth through costumery. Patricia Neal, Dixie Carter, and others gracefully attired themselves later in their careers, and it paid dividends in credibility and displaying unmitigated self-confidence.

    Which brings me to your cousin. She's a classic, even a period piece of sorts, and strict adherence to a time past furthers her style statement, where a tossled 'doo muddies the message. A very defined page boy, parted neatly, and turned under with that knowing respectability suits Ms. Lane's personna. She has terrific bone structure and provinance in the fashion world. Please, don't make her over.


  26. Even Jane Wyman had a frizzy Eighties perm on Falcon Crest, Testosterone. One must change with the times a bit.

  27. I'm older than you + have sewn my + my family's clothing through every decade since the 50's.
    Vogue stuck with the lady like look for their patterns well into the 70's, meanwhile Simplicity and McCalls had groovier patterns - granny dresses, elephant bells, minis, etc.
    In the very early 70's, a wonderful book called, 'The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book' turned a lot of people onto sewing or just embellishing their clothes - tie dying your t-shirt, sewing trims onto your bell bottoms.
    In the 70's my sewing friends and I made clothing from Folkwear patterns. Sometimes we created the fabric first - we crushed velvet, overdyed print fabric, or wove fabric to use for ethnic inspired stuff.

    I wore artistic, interesting clothes on the weekend, but at work most of us still wore the ladylike stuff. I worked in NYC, we all wore gloves to ride the subway to work in the early-ish 60's. Usually not white (the subways weren't cleaner then) but a pastel or ivory.

    Like Mad Men during work hours, Janis Joplin/Cher on the weekend ......

  28. Interesting post! I graduated from college in 1970, in California, hippy central. There was an unarticulated understanding that serious activities called for serious clothes; my mother insisted when I started college in 1966 that I would need gloves, a girdle, stockings, and a skirted suit "for tea with the dean"! But by the time I graduated, there was a hippy connotation that also connected with Vietnam protests and anti-Nixon rallies. If you looked "straight," you could go more places and get more job interviews, even if you'd accidentally lost the girdle...

  29. Peter, perhaps a bit weightier than what you are after, but you should check out the book "The Disappearance of Childhood" by Neil Postman. He mentions fashion briefly, but the book is a (very McLuhan-esque) treatment of the closure/eradication of the "gap" -- and not a very favorable view of this. He does spend some time pointing out that in the 60's "juvenile" styles for adults (babydoll dresses, mini skirts, mary jane shoes etc) indicate the loss of a sociological concept of a line between child and adult. This is naturally accompanied by the (often unfortunate) prevalence of children's clothing that looks like adult clothing.

  30. I was was in grade school in the 60's and a teenager in the 70's. I sewed lots. The fashions were easy - a scarf converted to a halter, jeans into skirts, peasant blouses, smock tops. I embroidered like crazy - especially on my much beloved jeans - they were works of art and I spent hours and hours patching them and making them special. That's where I learned how to take something that everyone wore and make it uniquely mine.

    Far out and groovy, man!

  31. I love the ladylike fashions from the sixties- more Emma Peel than Momma Cass.
    Not to sure if the Baby Boomers actually changed the world that much- marijuana is still mostly illegal, we are still at war and bras are more popular than ever.

    As to the gap shrinking? No idea, but I would blame it on the 'Boomers' anyway.

    Plenty of kids are wearing 80's fashion now (my son included) Geez, get your own fashion. That's mine!

  32. My Mom still sewed and she dressed like the women in Vogue during the 70s. I don't remember a lot about fashion then...other than I was totally happy to make my own money, and not forced to wear clothes from Sears. ☺

  33. Born in 1965. My Mom was not wearing hippy type clothing until the 1970's after she filed for divorce. However she wore "dungarees" after school and on weekends while in high school from 1958-1962. Her family was poor, immigrants. The kids wore jeans in fall, cut them off for shorts in the summer, at school --mostly separates-- skirts, blouse, sweaters.

  34. I was in college in the early 70's at a large SEC school. Yes, I was a sorority chick. We did wear pants, but usually pants suits, not jeans, to class and tended to dress for most events, even football games. Lots of students still do.

    So now I'm recently retired, approaching 60 and I wear jeans a LOT. I'll be glad to dress my age if someone would just help me understand what 60 looks like! Could I really wear leggings? Gosh, I don't feel 60, how does 60 feel???

  35. Lovely pics Peter. I see what you mean about Vogue staying with official fashion through the 1960s, but I think in fact all the major companies did that. Really, in Australia at least, the 60s didn't happen till the '70s. I recall that I was sewing myself little shifts using patterns from all the big companies by the late 60s and around the same time I made a flat John Lennon style cap out of navy ticking (I think that was a Simplicity pattern). Such items were wishfully looking to Swinging London so were more or less 'official' fashion. More alternative items like the ticking vest to match the cap had to be invented. (I used a shift pattern and with my properly faded jeans, a white shirt of mums from the 1940s and the cap I felt very daring).

    By the early 70s, the pattern companies and I had both graduated to the hippy aesthetic (if you can call a caftan in burgundy upholstery jumbo cord aesthetic. It was a McCalls pattern ,but I accept sole responsibility for the tragic outcome). I recall from 1972 a Vogue tabard top in burgundy crushed velvet (yeah, my fault again, don't shoot the pattern company. Certainly don't blame them for pairing the tabard with mauve crushed velvet pants). Another Vogue caftan in cheesecloth with a V-shaped yoke that I embroidered with chain stitches is slightly less of a guilty memory. And I am keeping V8472,(bought in 1973)for an heirloom. The long version, in cheesecloth of muted grey-purple and sage checks looked positively dreamy. Alas, the seams ripped after only one summer of love...nothing remains but the memories. Thanks for a post that revived them!

  36. Well, see I love all those me they were the Audrey Hepburn look that I drooled over. They were also an alternative to the more loosely hippie/love child look AND all these styles were "all in the cut" which I loved dissecting and figuring out why and how it was all done just so. At one of the recent exhibits at my local museum, there was a fabulous outfit Audrey Hepburn wore and the cut was just that - the cat's meow! I love this sort of thing. (on the next in the stream, you can see a close up, but this one shows the detail in the back that made it so fabulous). Love your book - some of those styles you could easily wear today!

  37. Hi, Peter ~ ~ ~ Love your blog and have been totally impressed with a) your humor and particularly your grammar and punctuation knowledge; b) your sewing projects and sewist skills; c) your photography of your projects. It takes a lot of time to take pictures all along the way and then put it all together. I appreciate it and have read you almost from the beginning.

    Please please please share the Vogue pattern number for the white dress Cheryl Tiegs is modeling. The dress is timeless and stunning! I *must* find that pattern!!

  38. Thanks, Anonymous! Do you mean Vogue 7498 -- a jumpsuit?

    The dress (photo 10, that she wears with the hat) is Vogue 7509.

  39. I was born in 1968, and my parents were not exactly hippies, but they were completely bohemian: my father had long hair, side burns, a big moustache, and a great collection of psychedelic polyester shirts; my mother had an afro, wore her paint-covered bell bottoms and wedge sandals everywhere -- and I had mini-versions of all her signature pieces. When we moved from Brooklyn to (then WASPy, now highly multicultural) Toronto in 1973, my school friends and their mothers were apparently baffled by my parents (and probably by me too, although I didn't really tune into that for quite a long time). My grandparents -- my other fashion icons at the tender pre-school age -- were a different kind of bohemian (in the late 60s my grandfather wore a beret and a turquoise encrusted bolo tie; my grandmother wore big jewellery and had more than one poncho.) Nobody I knew and loved looked like the 1969 Vogue catalogue!

    Whether it invokes a set of memories of the past, as it does for some who have commented here, or is distinctly "other," as it is for me, the aesthetic immortalized by Vogue patterns c 1969 is NOW a kind of "alternative" style -- running counter to the dominant jeans and a fringe vest ONCE did.

    Thanks for a great post, Peter!

  40. First thank you so much for posting the photo of hippie Ken I had forgotten about that. I remember my Mom wearing some of the Vogue looking clothes to work but at home she wore jeans & leotards, eventually the pattern companies started putting out prairie dress patterns with the headbands, in self-defense I assume as they must have lost the teen sewing market otherwise
    I turned 18 in 1972 but lived near Harvard Sq, Cambridge,MA which was a mecca for the hippie movement, in my suburb schools at that time had dress codes girls were required to wear dresses except in the winter when we could wear pants but the rest of the time the teen fashions consisted of microminis which I mostly made myself and bellbottom jeans with t shirts on weekends everyone looked like a roadie for the Rolling Stones essentially
    Thank you for the terrific post and the memories

  41. The Generation Gap was before my time, but I've personally always dressed a little old for my age. When I was in fifth grade, my mom had me going to school in city shorts and tights (I hated it, btw!). Now that I'm in my twenties, I prefer classic pieces and vintage touches, even though my wardrobe probably resembles that of a 50-year-old compared to those of other twentysomethings...still I'd rather be dressing too old for my age than too young.

  42. I graduated in 66 from a high school in the Denver area. The clothing rules at high school were silly. No pants, not even culottes because they were too pant-like. But we could wear dresses or skirts as long as they were finger tipped length(!!!)....finger tipped length does not cover much and heaven help you if you dropped your pencil! There is no way to pick them up without showing the good china!

    The year after I graduated the high school kids were able to wear jeans, patched with glorious colored fabric. What a change!

    Side thought: there were 3 boys that had a band and around the hall you would hear hushed voices saying they were "on drugs". Don't know if that was true and really didn't know exactly what that meant. I asked but no one else really knew either. Then I went away to college and OMG! I knew!

    When I think of "high fashion" during that time and for my age, I think of Twiggy. Including the false eyelashes. Oh yes, I wore them.

    I think because of the idea of the BB that you couldn't trust anyone over 30, anyone above or below 30 wanted to dress younger so that they could still be hip. Today, it persists that old equals old-fashion, old-ideas. Today, 40 is the new 30, 50 is the new 40. Of course it is(!); who really feels their real age? I sure don't unless there is a damn mirror around! Now I have a choice to be 16 or 34 or 50 on any particular day. It's all in the mind....I just have to remember to avoid the mirrors.

  43. i love this topic & the comments are so enlightening!

    i definitely don't fall in this category, though - i was born in 1985 :) my mom was 9 in 1971, though, and she was definitely pretty groovy even at that early age - i still have some of her old clothes (and they fit!) and many of her LPs as well.

    the only "gap" i'm a part of these days is when i dress older than some of my (mom-age) coworkers. not to say they dress too young - we are in a pretty casual environment, so they will wear jeans or khakis and polos, and here i am in my little wool 60s suit with the brooch pinned the the lapel & matching high heels haha. of course, they have spent decades paying their dues of appropriate office-wear (and ladylike hose all summer long on the women), so you can't really fault them for wanting to be comfortable now that they can be.

    also, i want this coat:
    i want it more than anything i've ever wanted in a sewing pattern.

  44. That's Vogue 7193. Hunt around, I'm sure you'll find it eventually.

  45. Peter, you were such a cutie and you still are!

    I was in Junior High and High School in the late 60’s-early 70’s. Until Sophomore year, the schools had dress codes, so students dressed a little bit like the “Fashion” mags and my mom sewed most of my clothes.

    By my Junior year, dress codes went out the window and it was all jeans all the time for all students. My mom continued to dress like a lady and ladies dressed like Jackie Kennedy/Onassis and Audrey Hepburn. So yes, there was a huge style gap between the generations. My mom hated the way I dressed and wished she could still put me in the cute dresses I wore when I was little. But at that age, one must fit in.

    Tory mentioned embroidering and patching jeans into works of art. I did that too. While we all wore the uniform of jeans, we used those jeans as a canvas on which we expressed our individualism.

    I think sewing lost its way for a lot of reasons that all came together around the same time (perhaps this would be a separate blog post?), but the jeans trend did contribute to sewing’s demise.

    Regarding little white gloves, I only recall wearing those to church in the early sixties.

    Like RobbieK, I really don’t know what the over 50 woman is “supposed to” wear. I’ve ditched the sloppy, too casual look except for yard and housework and look to past decades for “classic” styles.

  46. I was in this (vinyl) record shop in Wellington NZ the other day - My mate Jeremy works there - he has his finger on the pulse and whatnot... and the other day, he said "Everything is cool now". "hip people are into Phil Collins. Everyone likes everything - and it's ok"

    If he's right (and I think he is) it's because we're into the Age of Atemporality. All fashions for all time are all mixed in together (ignoring anything over 100 years old etc)... and the reason for that is at least partly to do with The Internet, and digital expression generally.

    It's a cut-and-paste culture, the base-line effect of which is that everything is divorced fom context - and it was largely the context rather than the object that was uncool. Context is pretty much gone now - or can be instantly disgarded.

    So that's music, art etc etc... clothing is a little different... a little harder to de-contextualise (so I think maybe you're exaggerating the lack-of-generation-gap a bit)... but the drivers to look young are A LOT stronger, so we're seeing the effect here as well. For what it's worth, in my Grandparents generation (the people who were adults in the 30s) men seemed to actually want to dress older than they were. The whole youth-cult thing hadn't started yet.

    For me though, there is the slob-element. Although I have shirts made for me on occasion, most of the time I still dress the same as I did when I was 12 - and I'm 47.

  47. I do remember my mom sewing those Vogue patterns right through the 60's and thinking she was so chic. Meanwhile my cousins up the road were churning out super-mini skirts on their sewing machines. I'm not really sure that pattern companies are to blame for the decline of home sewing. I think a lot of it was women having wider interests and ready to wear becoming cheaper.

    Interestingly, I also see the lack of a gap in music. I thought the music of my parents' generation was terrible, but my kids love the 70's music I play for them.

  48. You always have very interesting posts, Peter. My favorite patterns are late 60s and early 70s, but it is interesting to think those fashions might not have been widely worn, except by the older generation, more refined celebrities and politicians. My mom is a BB and a teen in the mid to late 60s. She grew up sewing for herself and was a home ec major, so she fondly remembers sewing many of those fashions for herself when I pull from her old patterns. I am sure she also wore some of the casual, younger fashions of the day, but I don't think she preferred the looks.

  49. Yikes lots of posts. My Mom bought lots of Vogue patterns and I loved all of them from this time I even sewed a few. I was a Sr in 69. Because I was heavily influenced by my "groovy" Mom I was able to hang on to this couture fashion...Until college...then it all went out the window and welcome to the Hippie fashion world. Gratefully I still cherish this type of fashion with it's fine seam detailing over the bohemian look.
    BTW...if you decide to dispose of that Vogue mag I'll buy it from you if you need to "thin" your stuff. :)

  50. My Mum was one of ther last debs in the 60's and ALWAYS wore gloves, except for a few years when my sister and I were born. Bless her, she still wears gloves now....
    It had it's draw backs for us girls as we always had to wear dresses, never ever trousers and occassionally skirts and blouses. I owned my first pair of jeans at the age of 18 - honestly!!
    So for me this legacy leaves me naturally drawn to feminine, structured clothing. I really love the Vogue Patterns magazine you found. I'd make some of those dresses and wear them today!

  51. All I can say here is that I cannot WAIT for the return of some common sense, decency and beauty in fashion. I am so sick of looking at bedhead passing for a hairstyle, at seeing everyone's veiny, knobby-kneed, scaly legs without hose, at fetish shoes worn in business settings, at sandals worn on filthy city streets (how did THAT get to be "sexy"?), at "hooker chic" on teens, at T-shirts on grandmothers and at baggy jeans on anyone. It is positively RARE nowadays to see someone in well-selected, properly fitted, nicely accessorized clothes, with the grooming that goes along with all that. It is as if most people sit up all night figuring out what they should never, ever wear, and then rush out the next morning to buy it and strut down the street with it on.

    Sorry, folks, your cellulite, your yellow toenails, your scaly heels, your love handles, your unfortunate hips and your crepe-y upper arms are your own business. Please keep it that way!

  52. I believe fashion became a melting pot in the 90's when mega stores became popular and China took over all the manufacturing.

  53. Wow ! cool post! What about Twiggy? Jane Birkin? There was certainly much more going on in fashion than Jackie O. I think these patterns represent a certain class/type of people.
    ANd yes, I remember the gap. I think that is what the 60's were about, breaking down barriers of all kinds. I personally enjoy the accessible fashion of today.
    I grow so wearisome of the phrase age appropriate. Age is just a number.

  54. I believe the Gap was named because Don Fisher, the founder, couldn't find jeans in his size, as well as a reference to "the generation gap." I trained with a Fisher son at Bloomingdales in the 70s and asked this same question of him.

    I remember wearing structured shifts, which I sewed myself, together with Go-go boots up until the mid-60s; but by 1969, I was busy sewing "granny" dresses(calico peasant style long dresses), converting scarfs to skimpy halter tops, copying Janis Joplin style lace dresses using Quaker lace tablecloths and embellishing my jeans with all kinds of notions. It was nice to be able to have the latest hipster clothes and make them oneself.

    At the risk of alerting others to my ebay searches, I also LOVED the "Miss Vogue" patterns of the early 70s. These were Vogue's nod to a younger, hipper demographic. The stylish drawings for these patterns were done by a different artist and were accessorized with platform shoes and fringed purses that our mothers would not be caught dead in. I also developed a lifelong love of vintage at that time. I had a few 30s dresses and a 50s suit which I wore constantly. I was probably a little more extreme than most girls and a definite source of embarrassment to my brothers.

    Boundaries may have been broken then, but, believe me, there was still a lot of effort put into wearing the latest and the coolest.


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