I came across the 1970 dress code for my high school and it gave me pause. It’s not as I remembered, which is odd, since I recall with clarity the name of the boy who spit a chunk of bubble gum the size of a cantaloupe into my hair as I sat in the lower bleachers at a 7th grade basketball game. And, I remember exactly how I saved that wad of bubble gum, added to it and placed in on his seat in English class on the very day he was sporting a new pair of Docker khakis. Ah, the sweet stickiness of revenge.
But I digress. The dress code of that long ago day was established by an older generation who was deathly afraid of hippies, nuclear proliferation, bra burnings, Barry Goldwater and Reefer Madness, not necessarily in that order.
This is an actual excerpt from my high school handbook:
For Boys: No shorts of any kind. No pegged pants that are “extremely form-fitting.” Pants are to be worn at the waist, shirttails tucked in, coats may not be worn in school, and no “fad” shirts.” No “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles.
For Girls: No bermudas, slacks or shorts. No “pant-type” dresses. No tight skirts or sweaters, no “extreme” hairdos or clothing styles. Shirts and blouses must be tucked in. Skirt lengths are to be at the top of the knee when standing.
If you wonder why they used quotes on “extremely form-fitting”, “fad” and “extreme”, it’s because they were probably quoting my Dad.
Midwesterners were always at least ten years behind on the newest fashions being worn on on the West and East coasts. By the time Hoosier teens found out who the Beatles were and fell in love with the Fab Four, they were breaking up. So, it was ironic that the school outlawed extreme hair styles in 1970 when many of the girls were still sporting ’60s beehives that scaled the ceiling tiles.
I never did wear the “hive.” That hairdo frightened me more than the Apollo 13 landing. I’d heard tales of horror about bugs burrowing and nesting in the ratted and sprayed coiffures.
The skirt length relegated to the top of the knees certainly would have made me LOL, had that been a known acronym in 1970. In truth, the skirts were so short that we had to hire first-graders to tie our shoes and pick up any change we dropped.
I remember lots of girls getting sent to the principal’s office so he could check and see if their skirts were too short (they were). I always wondered if he also checked to see if their skirts and sweaters were too tight. All I’m saying is some of those girls didn’t come back to class for a long time.
Short hemlines were always a problem, but as you can see, the administration forbade girls to wear anything but dresses and skirts — no bermudas, slacks, shorts or “pant-type” dresses.
Bermudas would have been much more modest than the miniskirts that let everyone see for themselves if we were wearing the appropriate panties for that particular day of the week.
Bermudas, by the way, were not a type of onion or triangle, a self-governed British colony or a semi-permanent area of high pressure found in The Atlantic Ocean. They were longer, fitted shorts that actually did go all the way to the knees. Interesting sidenote: In 1970 we could not say “go all the way” without lots of snickering and raised eyebrows.
The ’70s is the reason I can’t get too worked up about any outlandish fashions, hairdos, body piercings or tattoos that younger people are sporting today.
I had my day. Let them have theirs. We were young, carefree and it was glorious.
Even more so in form-fitting pegged pants, tight sweaters and miniskirts.