Sunday, January 13, 2013

Whatever Happened to Little Dresses?

Photo credit goes to
though I didn't find the exact post in the vast collection of
patterns and catalogs of all kinds of vintage clothing.
 Today is my birthday.  And I'm feeling a little bit sentimental and looking back at my personal history...

This picture popped up in my perusal of Pinterest today and reminded me that when I started first grade at Dean Goodsell Elementary School in 1969, all of us little girls were required to wear a dress every day.  Me and my fellow female classmates brought our bright, shiny, smiling faces to the classroom in little dresses like these each day.  I remember all of us having some variation of this very dress.

Even in Idaho's cold winters we had to wear dresses.  Shelley, ID is one of those places that usually has an abundance of snow.  It's cold and slippery on those tiny Mary Janes and when it melts, the playground becomes a field of squishy mud that sucks on the soles of your shoes with every step.  There's usually a flash of warmer weather about this time of year called "the January thaw."  And then it freezes.  Hard.  As in days and days of sub-zero temperatures.  And that waterlogged field behind the school becomes a sheet of pure ice.  (I remember in Jr. High once when it froze the doors to the bus barn closed for a couple of unanticipated 'snow days' off from school.)

When I was little, we girls were permitted to wear pants on those horrifically cold days, but only under our dresses.  The dress was an ever present demand.

Even as a six-year-old, I hated dresses.  Play was limited because you didn't want everyone, especially the little boys, to see your underwear if you fell.  Or the wind, another ever present fact of life in Idaho, blew your skirt up.  So while the boys got to play kick ball and could jump from the playground's swings, girls were relegated to the more delicate activities like hopscotch and four-square.  I don't remember exactly why it was done, but I was one pretty darned happy kid when the school district changed the dress code to allow girls to wear pants outfits any day not long after my school career began.

I was so happy about it that I once went an entire school year without wearing a dress once.  Even those fashion nightmares of double-knit polyester and plaid wool for pants beat the heck out of dresses in my young mind!

But now I am wondering if easing the dress code was the beginning of the demise of the very idea that you should dress appropriately to be seen in public.  I'm thinking of the skimpy belly baring strappy tops and sagging over-size jeans that hug the bottoms of butt cheeks we see today's youth wearing.  You know... the fashions we 30-40-50-60-plus-year-old people deride and make fun of as hideous atrocities that violate humanity's sense of decency.

Did opening that door of choice more than 30 years ago lead to today's anything goes fashion mentality?  Is it why we all think it's ok to wear pajamas to Walmart?

And where are our fashion sensibilities today going to lead for the future?

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