Sunday, 5 October 2014

Who says Seventies fashions were pants? Ah - that would be everybody, then.

At least, I think these advertisements are from the '70s. To be honest, I've forgotten where I downloaded them from, so have no way of checking. I'll admit - happily - to having almost no fashion sense, and by God I've worn some spectacularly dorky clothes in my time. For years, it's mainly bben short-sleeved lumberjack shirts (which my son assures me have just come back into fashion) and rugged knee-length shorts with lots of pointless pockets. My excuse is that I can't bothered and who cares anyway. Back in my twenties, the only clothes shop which even remotely catered for a wide, decidedly porky 6'5" bloke like me was High & Mighty, and it seemed to specialise mainly in leisure-wear for dumpy little middle-aged businessmen or impossibly willowy chaps like the ones in  the above photograph. How I managed to keep myself clothed in that era remains something of a mystery: if I ever came across anything which fitted me - no matter how awful - I had no choice but to buy it.

Anyway, looking at these photographs makes me feel almost relieved that my bulk debarred me from kitting myself out in the prevailing fashion. I know homosexuality had only been legalised relatively recently - but for God's sake!:

And I'm pretty sure this one counts as child abuse. I mean, would you ever have forgiven your parents for doing this to you?


  1. Yep, I was a High & Mighty customer too. Elsewhere, if I ever happened to find an item of clothing that fitted off the peg (an extremely rare occurrence), the general rule was to buy two of 'em, on the basis that you never knew if or when another would turn up.
    As for these photos....I feel I should apologise on behalf of everyone who was alive in the 1970s, for our crimes of fashion. This stuff is truly shocking.
    (Is that Will Ferrell in the top one?)

    1. Will Ferrell is 6' 3" and hefty, and I doubt if the chap with the caterpillar crawling under his nose is anywhere near that tall and looks as if he hasn't had a decent meal in a while - which is probably why he's looking so disgruntled .

      And it wasn't only fashion we should all apologise for - there was the black forest gateau and avocoado-colour bathrooms and all that orange and brown everywhere else. And the awful cars. And Ted Heath was the Conservative Party leader. And the unions ruled the country. As for the hair-styles, I feel I should probably go and confess to a priest just on my own behalf. What was I thinking??? Still, the music was much better than it's been since then.

  2. Being decidedly average I did not have the excuse of being unable to buy off the peg in those heady days of fashion hysteria. I certainly wore loons, laughably wide flared denim jeans and some extremely dodgy 'summer shirts' although I cannot recall ever owning anything floral or embellished with cascades of polyester 'lace'.
    I have very vivid memories of my sixties wardrobe however. Another contributor to this blog, Martin D, and I affected silk cravats as we pedalled along the avenues of leafy Wimblebum - we were in our early teens... oh, the innocence of youth...

    1. Sixties fashions were great - wearing a cravat while cycling sounds cool to me. And chelsea boots were fab. My granny, who had been a professional dressmaker, ran me up a blue linen suit, consisting of a regency jacket and flared trousers, worn with a blue paisley-patterned shirt and powder-blue suede chelsea boots. Wasted on me, unfortunately, but I did love that outfit. I will draw a discrete veil over my early '70s outfits.

  3. I watched this documentary about Mods the other day and there was an interesting comment about the connection between WWII and the idea of Men's fashion. Because they're were fewer men than women afterwards, the sociologists, predicted that men would try and set themselves apart with fashion...their clothes. conclusion, this is just one more thing to blame on the Natsies.

  4. The wedding photos of friends who married early are well worth getting them to dig out for exactly the same reason. As a style icon, I obviously never purchased anything remotely dodgy in the 70s. Oh alright then. The light blue corduroy suit probably counts as a lapse.

  5. I stopped wearing the turquoise nylon turtle-nech with crimson waistcoat and brass buttons when Richard Stoate told me I looked like a fairground dodgems attendant ...

    forswore the RAF tunic ...

    gave up the ankle-length scarf, gold rim glasses and bowler hat Marty Feldman look ...

    and took to wearing my school tie round university, long before punks had been invented.

    The kaftan never looked quite right with my cowboy boots, which never looked quite right with the wooden bead necklace.

    I wandered into the Catholic Truth Society on Buckingham Palace Rd one day and asked for a pair of monk's sandals. They didn't sell them, but Oxfam sold quite good sandals made by the Dutch Deformed Church.

    Then there was the floor-length beaver-lamb coat with 80 No.6 in the pockets.

    Even I didn't wear baseball caps.

    On the other hand, I did try to pioneer the use of opera scarves, particularly when dancing, as we called it.

    And I did wear my CCF boots to a formal dinner of the C___ C___ Debating Society. That was actually a nod to convention. I didn't have any other black footwear.

    Policemen's capes from the army surplus store figured for a while, but they're so damn heavy, especially if it's raining. And hot.

    Were the rest of you really so much more dignified?

    I suppose you could hardly have been less.

    1. Mr Gronmark please delete Mr Moss's post...and burn it.
      If anyone knows Mr Moss please got round his house and destroy all electronic devices...scratch that, just cut his electricity off.
      Maybe a few months to think about what he's done here...this blog is open to the public. Children could have read this!


    2. I must ask for one further offence to be taken into account before Judge Bartlam signs off on his excommunication sentence.

      Mr Bishop ran the best junk shop in Putney. He did house clearances and there was treasure in there on the Lower Richmond Rd if you only knew where to look. Top hats. Wind-up gramophones. And, one day, 1970 or thereabouts, a set of waiter's tails for 10/-.

      They didn't fit so I took them to a crummy backstreet tailors on Kensington Church St to have them altered. The proprietor was an unfortunate man, in my eyes – fancy being born with the surname Nutter. He had two tailors working for him, French André and a black chap, very quick with their hands, I was all measured up in no time and told to come back in a week.

      Which I did. £12. I was aghast. How much? Mr Nutter was polite but insistent. André had had to take the whole suit apart, buy a new pattern, cut the material and re-build the whole thing. How was I supposed to know that I was complaining about money to the hottest property in world fashion? My ignorance is my own and I guard it to this day.

      Anyway, while I was in the shop, there was this monumentally still chap there, a hugely tall black guy, immobile, a statue towering over me, wearing a full length leather coat, brown, polished, shaped, styled, waisted and probably costing a bit more than £12.

      André couldn't take his eyes off him, I swear to God he was shaking, maybe sweating, and he finally managed to ask hoarsely "where'd you get the coat". The answer was only retrievable from some of the higher harmonics that hadn't died in the walls, "DC". They just don't make notes that low on pianos. André went out into the street, hyperventilating.

      If that wasn't Mr Shaft himself, I'm a Dutchman's uncle.

      I took the tails with me to university, and bought braces, a shirt with a detachable collar and a bow tie. Nothing affected you understand. The man in the clothes shop handed me a white bow tie. "I want a black one", I said.

      – Is Sir a head waiter?
      – No of course I'm not.
      – Is Sir conducting an orchestra tonight?
      – No.
      – Then Sir wants white tie and tails.

      Judge Bartlam can try to put me down. But as I am still in agonies over the head waiter/conductor grilling, I won't feel it. I throw myself on the mercy of his court.

    3. have our mercy. No more. Please make it stop.

      You have obviously suffered traumatically for your offenses.

      Hahaha. That was hilarious.

    4. To be fair to David Moss, he makes up for his earlier lapses by wearing exremely sober clothing these days - I've even seen him in dark suits and ties! Mind you, it took years for me to forget sitting next to him in our college canteen at breakfast one morning tucking into bacon and eggs after we'd been up all night (no doubt discussing philosophy) with him dressed in the full tails, white tie and braces oiutfit described above, plus top hat. Needless to say, we were both very drunk at the time.

    5. I should admit I was probably wearing my military greatcoat + black felt sombrero + my father's fur-lined leather flying boots at the time.

  6. Alarming.
    I wore my father's vast, heavyweight Navy great coat with gleaming brass buttons when I was in my teens. It was a struggle to get the great brute onto my scrawny shoulders but it was a labour of love to walk the streets of Wimblebum under that weight. Goodness me - I felt cool even if rivulets of sweat ran down my temples. The coat has been ravaged by vermin but the buttons glisten on a wooden saucer on my desk. At that time I also affected cheesecloth shirts, a maroon, needle-cloth corduroy jacket and a rather racy trilby. Hardly top hat and tails....

    I bought, from Millets in Wimblebum Broadway, a pair of brown leather, lace-up boots to emulate Paul Simon on the cover of an LP photographed alongside Art Garfarkle - no I can't recollect the title (help please), but it was owned by my dearest friend Mary Parsons of Pepys Road. As the years unfolded the boots took on a fine burnished hue and I was sad to see them go after about a decade. They were not well made but I looked after them with great love and care.
    In the early autumn of 1976, I remember the moment clearly, I bought a very expensive pair of brown oxford brogues. I have polished and nurtured those shoes ever since and they are in fine fettle. Admired by many, cherished by me and worn almost reverentially.
    I was with D Moss Esq earlier this year and can confirm his sartorial sobriety - the heady days of those peacock Cambridge undergrads of the seventies have passed.
    Fashion changes but my brogues will outlive me.
    Hey ho.