“Breakfast cereals that come in the same colors as polyester leisure suits make oversleeping a virtue.” -Fran Lebowitz
Memories of men dressed in colorful synthetics, strutting like peacocks. Instead of spreading their tail feathers they wore paisley or geometric patterns, platform shoes, and flare-legged trousers with large plaids in mismatched colors. You shouldn’t wear plaids with stripes? Welcome to the Seventies where everything went together if it was accessorized with a white belt.
I entered the 1970s at age nineteen and exited it a lifetime later it seems. It is as if I slept walked through most of the decade or just locked certain memories away to maintain my sanity. There was much to like about the Seventies I suppose. I just don’t remember what. There were good movies and good television, but the music was dubious, and fashion? Read on my children.
It is easier for me to hate the Seventies than love those years. Politically Viet Nam, Nixon, Watergate, and Disco. Economically, the Gas Embargo and Disco. Personally, a marriage, a divorce, clinical depression, and Disco…by now you probably get the idea I’m not a fan of Disco. I had a challenging time mastering the basic moves of the “Twist” in the Sixties, no way I was going to try Disco. Thank goodness for the “Bump” and KC and the Sunshine Band singing, ”Get Down Tonight….”
I don’t know if I should be proud or embarrassed to say this. I’ve never seen “Saturday Night Fever,” ever. Oh, I’ve seen clips on YouTube or dare I admit it, MTV. “Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive”, but I’ve never seen the movie in its entirety. I listened to the music; “Disco Inferno” is still on my exercise play list.
Okay, I’ll admit it. I just went to YouTube and watched clips of John Travolta dancing. Simply research mind you.
I had beltless flared pants or white belted flared pants and a long-collared shirt or two, but never did I ever wear a leisure suit or a solid white three piece. The white belt for pants with belt loops? Forgive me Fashion Father, I did. Thirty Hail Travoltas in front of a Disco ball as penance.
Travolta could dance…I couldn’t, and he looked better in his flared polyester. Tall, slender, and athletic as opposed to short, chunky, and challenged. Liked him better with Debra Winger in “Urban Cowboy” wearing denim but I’ve never owned two toned cowboy boots or a big cowboy hat with a feathered hat band. I have tried the Texas Two-Step and even rode a mechanical bull. Tequila brings out the worst in me.
In addition to the Disco dance craze, there was the fashion revolution. Some fashion statements were quite appealing…especially if it was on the female form. Minis and Middies, grannie dresses, patterned hose or without, bell bottom jeans, halter tops and halter jumpsuits, peasant blouses and I must admit the female fashions from the Disco age were quite appealing. Ethereal fabrics swirling around spinning hips…yes quite appealing. Just thought about Charlie’s Angels and a promotional picture of Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, in a halter dress. Sorry ladies, I didn’t know what objectifying was in the 1970s.
Men…what were we thinking. Lime green leisure suits featuring long collared “catch me, f*** me” shirts unbuttoned to show off our chest hair accessorized with gold chains. All above two-toned platform shoes. Fish belly white kids running around with blown out Afros added to the insanity.
We were brightly clothed for a change…peacocks in synthetic polyester.
Please understand, this is not the breathable, water wicking athletic wear of today. No, no. This was like wearing plastic food wrap. It trapped every bit of perspiration between your body and your colorful, polyester nylon, paisley print shirt and your synthetic bold plaid trousers. Your platform shoes? They became a vessel for the perspiration that poured south of your underwear. I sloshed walking off the dance floor.
I remember taking a young lady to The Cellar in Charlotte, a dance venue transitioning from Beach Music to “Do the Hustle.” After dancing the night away, I led her back to my car, opening the door for her like the Southern gentleman I am. Returning to the driver’s side I slid across the Naugahyde seat with my still damp synthetic polyester trousers. Do you know the sound wet polyester makes sliding across fake leather seats? Remember the campfire scene from “Blazing Saddles” or the sounds made a few hours after eating tacos with a side of refried beans. Embarrassing.
Saying I hate Seventies polyester is not strong enough. Hot and stinky in the summertime and offering zero protection from the elements in the winter. Nope, nope, nope.
Seventies polyester was also a fire hazard. It had to do with the fact they were wrinkle free, a major selling point…until you accidentally dried them on high. Your colorful nylon long-collared shirt turned into a colorful wad of plastic. If you happened to be close to an open flame, it didn’t flare up, it melted…into you.
A female friend of mine pointed out that this was the beginning of the polyester pant suits as professional wear for women too. Still, I’m sure it looked better on you even if it was brown “earth toned” plaid and wrinkle free.
I’m a natural fiber guy or at the very least a blend kind of guy. I know cotton doesn’t wick moisture away like the “new” unnatural fibers but then I’m not running marathons anymore. Cotton gets heavy with perspiration, but I don’t care. Cotton, linen, or bamboo…yes bamboo, I have several bamboo fiber shirts. Can’t tell them from linen or cotton…or hemp. Don’t try to smoke your clothes Cheech and Chong.
To be honest, since my retirement, I’ve become a blue jean, cotton tee shirt wearing hippie in my seventies…not from the Seventies. I still listen to The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt more than Cool and the Gang and KC and the Sunshine Band…but I don’t turn them off when they come up.
I have a dress suit for funerals…someone else’s…not mine. The suit is a polyester blend…of course it is. I will not wear my suit as I make my heavenly transition. I will leave this world the way I came into it. I hope that visual doesn’t stay in your mind for too long…but it still beats synthetic polyester.
Enjoy a little blast from the Seventies, a dance mashup. Can you name all the programs or movies?
Note: I do realize that polyester fabric is synthetic. Saying synthetic polyester is redundant. I just like the way synthetic polyester rolled off my tongue.
Blog image from Peacock Blues – © Xanda O’Peagrim
“Pig Trails and Rabbit Holes” The best things in life are friends, family, Jack Daniels, and a good cigar. Maybe a good yarn or two with pulled pork BBQ or ribs. Humorous nonfiction from Don Miller https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09GQSNYL2