When cu­lottes were re­ally very c-o-o-l

The Hamilton Spectator - - LIVING - LORI BORGMAN

Once again I find my­self mak­ing fash­ion his­tory and not nec­es­sar­ily in a good way.

One of our daugh­ters texted me a pic­ture of a short dress with wide legs and asked what I thought. “Cu­lottes! The ul­ti­mate in cool!” “So you’ve seen them?” she asked. Seen them? I cre­ated them! I sewed cu­lottes in home eco­nom­ics class in ninth grade. When I wore my home­made cu­lottes I felt like the epit­ome of cool. It makes for a dif­fi­cult life when you reach your fash­ion crest at age 15, but for some of us, that’s life.

In any case, I loved my cu­lottes and I wasn’t even good at sewing. The in­ner fac­ings around the arm holes some­times bunched up be­cause I hadn’t both­ered to “tack stitch” them. Girls talked about things like tack stitch­ing, side-placket zip­pers and blind hems in high school be­cause we didn’t have Face­book, In­sta­gram or Stitch Witch.

The main rea­son I felt so con­fi­dent in my cu­lottes was be­cause Miss Grove, our home eco­nom­ics teacher approved of cu­lottes and she was the def­i­ni­tion of cool. She was young and pretty and wore her long brown hair in a per­fect Mary Tyler Moore flip. If that wasn’t enough, she was the first per­son any of us had ever known to wear con­tact lenses. You could tell some­one had con­tacts be­cause they con­stantly bat­ted their eyes.

Cu­lottes and con­tacts — it was a to­tal win-win. Oh yes, and Miss Grove could walk with a book on her head, some­thing we girls were en­cour­aged to prac­tice at home. To­day, it might seem strange sus­tain­ing eye con­tact with a fe­male wear­ing a dress with baggy legs, bal­anc­ing a book on her head and fu­ri­ously blink­ing as though a piece of saw­dust, or even an en­tire 2x4, just flew into her eyes, but there was a time when it was cool.

We were full of cool back then. We were full of a lot of things back then.

Bat­ting your eyes was nearly a sta­tus sym­bol. “Wow, look at her blink.” “So you think she —““I heard she did. And get this — they’re tinted!”

Our cool fac­tor was not lim­ited to cu­lottes and con­tacts; we also teetered at dan­ger­ous heights on plat­form shoes and swished about in long maxi dresses (both hav­ing made a come­back).

It’s not fine-line wrin­kles that make a woman feel old; it’s see­ing the fash­ions of her youth re­cy­cle. Even our 30-some­thing daugh­ters must be feel­ing old, as hair scrunchies and jel­lies they wore as girls poise for a come­back.

It’s en­ter­tain­ing watch­ing the fash­ion gu­rus re­cy­cle old trends, but I do have one ur­gent re­quest — please, no shoul­der pads.

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