Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dress Codes

I've been listening to a book by Jill Connor Browne. Jill is the founder of the Sweet Potato Queens in Jackson, Mississippi, and if you've never read one of her books they are a hoot and a half. She tells it like the Southern girl she is and she always makes me laugh.

She and I are almost the same age and she remembers a lot of the same things I do. This morning the topic of discussion was dress codes of the 1970s and she reminded me how times have changed.

Nowadays the kids would not believe that back in the dark ages of the late 60s and early 70s, girls were not permitted to wear pants to school. Up until I was in High School, it was dresses only, and the rule was relaxed only with the advent of polyester pant suits. Under fashion pressure, pant suits were deemed acceptable for some weird reason, but heaven forbid that you wear a combination of pants and a blouse that weren't of the same material and obviously intended to be a set.

Women my age will remember the continuous fight between the administration and the teen aged girls over the length of skirts during the miniskirt era. You were not permitted to have your dress more than 4 inches from the middle of your knee and, if there was a doubt you were in compliance, you had to kneel on the floor and have the distance from your skirt to the floor measured. I remember when we were Seniors and the class favorites photos were to be taken, the girls would wait until just before time for the photos to be made and then slip quickly into the restroom to change into their shorter skirts, dash back for the photo, and then return to change again before the principal spotted them. No one was the wiser until the yearbooks came out the next summer and by that time we were graduates and beyond the reach of the law.

I went on to a strict Baptist college where the rules were just as rigid. You dared not be seen on the front campus in shorts. Shorts were allowed only on the back campus where the athletic fields were located. If you were to relate that to the students there now, they would probably not believe you.

Jill includes a long discussion about girdles and had me remembering the days when you weren't properly dressed for church until you had your rigid girdle on, with the attached garters holding up your stockings and digging into your flesh. When you got home and broke free of your lycra prison, the garter marks in your thighs would last until you put the dratted thing back on for the evening service. It did not matter if you were thin as a rail, you wore the girdle or you weren't fully dressed. Girls today should thank their lucky stars that girdles have gone the way of the dodo. A more uncomfortable garment I can't imagine.

Times have certainly changed. Now kids wear shorts to class in warm weather. No one looks disapproving when folks show up at church in blue jeans. Nobody wears girdles and nobody misses them.

Especially me.



RMG said...

In the summer, I wear shorts and sandals to church...but then, I don't really care what folks think either. Probably wouldn't have flown at Newgulf Baptist though. Times have changed.

LSW said...

Personally I think it's a nice development that churches have lowered their stuffiness enough to realize that getting people there for worship is the idea and not the fancy clothes they wear. LSW