At some point over the weekend, when I was not willing to face whatever it was I was supposed to be working on and I was frittering away a few moments on the internet, I came across this photo of an outfit from the fall/winter 2014 Marc Jacobs collection.
I was transported back to the fall of 1972. I was in the 9th grade. Tunics over flared pants were in. Wave patterns were in too, although I couldn't have afforded, or gotten away with, such a fancy fabric. That year I made a tunic with matching bell-bottom pants from a fine wale corduroy print in HomeEc, which was required for all 9th grade girls. But I also had an outfit more like this one, in a matching gray and maroon swirl pattern knit. Just like the model on the Marc Jacobs runway, my pants were long enough to drag on the ground, which was oh so cool in 1972; only now I respect how difficult it was for my mom to make those pants long enough that I could destroy perfectly good fabric by dragging it around in the dirt.
At any rate, I think I'll pass this time around although I appreciate the brief trip down memory lane.
Of course there are other differences between the 2014 version and the 1972 versions. Aside from fabric (my outfit was polyester knit) my tunic did not have a wide boat neckline. I don't actually remember if boat necklines were fashionable at that time; I only remember ovals and scoops. My tunic had a rounded neckline and raglan sleeves. I loved the outfit, but even then I hated raglan sleeves. I hated the way they pulled when I moved and the way the garment seemed to shift in odd ways, but I also remember that my mom told me I should always wear raglan sleeves, told me they would look better with the shape of my shoulders and upper chest, told me they would be easier to fit. Perhaps they were easier for her to sew for me, especially when I wore the Milwaukee Brace, but I never liked the way they felt on, and still don't like the way raglan sleeves look on me.
Perhaps I started thinking about those sleeves because I was also looking at this coat from Mary Katrantzou over the weekend, virtually looking that is, and with no serious intent. I love the color palette. I love the digintal print. I love the idea of the coat more than the actual coat however. I don't like the line across the bustline, whether that is part of the print or a seam; it would only be flattering on the most boyish of figures. Most of all I don't like the raglan sleeves, even as I can appreciate that the raglan cut may have been easier, from both a design and manufacturing perspective, in maintainign the continuity of the print. I would think the raglan sleeves would make the coat more difficult to wear for anyone who wants to move around in their coat, but perhaps that is just because I have never bothered to make the effort to try and learn to properly fit a raglan sleeve.
When I think back to the 70's, to my swirly tunic outfit, I think how cool wearing it made me feel but also how I would fidget over the way my clothes would scrunch about when I moved in ways I didn't see happening with the cool girls. I think back to those early raglan sleeves, especially in jackets and coats. I think about the way I would allow my shoulders to roll forward, perhaps even more than was natural, to avoid the pulling of the seams against my shoulders and the back of my neck. I would think about how the shoulder straps of my handbags always slipped off and I thought it was something about me. I remember how, when I bought my first coat with fitted sleeves, I stood straighter, with my shoulders back and down, how the strap to my handbag stayed up without slipping. What a revelation this was to me. For the first time I started thinking about not just what I liked but why I liked it, and started questioning the idea of what I was supposed to like. I started to recognize that if one was not comfortable with oneself, one could never be cool. Not that I can claim to be cool, or whatever the modern equivalent is, to this day. I can at least claim coming far closer to my true self, and if not caring less about the idea of fashion itself, caring less about being in fashion.
Mark Jacobs pantsuit, here.
Mary Katrantzou coat, here.