Men’s Fashion Through The Years

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I was walking down the main street one afternoon and met three lovely young teenaged girls coming up from the devastation at the waterfront. (I know something had to be done down there but couldn’t the City have waited until after I was dead?)

As I was saying the girls were quite lovely but I couldn’t help noticing their jeans were so holey there was nothing left but strings. I was going to offer to buy them new pairs but I remembered two important things.

1) I am too cheap to buy a pair for myself let alone for three girls I don’t even know.

2) And probably more important, the girls were probably wearing the latest in feminine haute couture. Not only were they fashionable, all three had different coloured hair. I don’t mean blonde, brunette and a redhead, I mean purple, green and puce and I don’t even know what puce is.

I didn’t see any tattoos. Please God, don’t let me get me started on tattoos. Okay just one brief comment, ladies. A small rose on your left buttock may look quite cute and endearing when you are 17, but that petite little rose may cover half an acre when you are 65 and senior gardening is expensive.

You probably don’t realize that I am not noted for being too fashion-conscious and that my wardrobe, or what is left of it, is a decade or two out of date. Every time I pass Dapper Depot, Steve looks out the window and starts to cry. Even the staff at Value Village banned me from the store.

You will be surprised to learn that I was once a fashionable young gentleman. Perhaps that isn’t quite the way to describe me as a teenager. Dressed like a bag of dirt is probably more accurate, but (and this is important) I looked just like every other kid in the high school only shorter. A hole in your jeans in the 1950s was an embarrassment and two holes or more meant they were on their way to being cut up for dusters.

Once it snowed, out came the parkas and our moccasins were replaced by stylish skidoo boots that were never to be zipped up. We shuffled up and down the halls at ODCI with the tongues a-flapping like demented muskoxen, a picture that must have driven the young ladies mad with desire. Although they must have been able to control their passion since I don’t remember any of us being attacked.

The early 50s were the years of the strides, I think that is what those pants were called when they first came out. It doesn’t matter, they have been mercifully relegated to the ragbag of history along with doubloons and the jerkins of the 1600s. Strides were wide at the knees and tight at the cuffs. I think the style was eventually replaced by bell-bottoms. That, my friends, is how ridiculous styles were in the 50s and things went downhill after that. Remember the charcoal grey pants and the pink shirts? When was that? Never mind I don’t want to even think about it.

I had a friend, as stupid as this sounds, who bought a pair of powder-blue pants with a four-inch, three-button, waistband, 44 inch knees and 17 inch cuffs. He looked like a circus clown but we thought he was the epitome in men’s fashion and probably would have bought some too had he not paid 40 bucks for the monstrosities. Forty bucks was a king’s ransom back then.

I had a pair of strides made from some sort of weird polyester-type material that had pink and blue threads woven so tightly together that, depending on the way the light hit them, they were either blue or purple-mauve. I wore them with a red ball jacket and I had the nerve to say the guy with the 44 inch knees looked like a circus clown.

You would think by now I would have become more aware of what is stylish and what combination makes a man look like an unmade bed. Alas I never did. I rarely make it to the door without Mary saying, “You aren’t going out looking like that are you?” which I take it to mean, “If you are, you are going alone.”

A decade later, in my bachelor years, I had a pair of blue and white checked pants, I mean big checks. I asked a girl to go out with me and she yes, as long as I didn’t wear those g-d blue and white pants. She ended up marrying a guy who actually owned a suit.

(Photo by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)

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