Tag Archives: fashion

For ‘Lit Undressed: Fashion In Literature’…My Favorite Bellbottoms

Gentle Readers and Friends of Flesh and Republished Blogs,

We have been tied up in many projects of late and the Fall performance by the Lit Undressed group of Omaha, NE, looms large in our headlights. The Omaha Lit Fest, a wonderful event and one of the many cultural offerings to be found in the ‘NoDo’ (Northern Downtown) area of Omaha, is partly funded by the Nebraska Council for the Arts, as well as many other community-minded organizations. Omaha seems like a great place to live. The more we hear about it, the more we find to like.

The event takes place October 13-15 and rehearsals started this week. Here is a brief summary of the event, this go-round:

The focus of this year’s (downtown) Omaha lit fest is Silk & Sawdust, the heart and mechanics and literature. Authors will participate in panels, readings and discussions to lift the corner of the curtain on their methods and processes, and look at the literal tools of production—including book-making and design, and our curious nostalgia for the typewriter.

Included in this theme are fashions of famous literary characters—from the Tin Woodman’s heart of silk and sawdust in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to Jay Gatsby’s pink rag of a suit in The Great Gatsby, to Jane Eyre’s grey and black gowns and Virginia Woolf’s explanation of fashion in Orlando, fashion plays a major role in many characters’ roles and sometimes the storyline.

When presented with ‘fashion’ as a subject, we immediately blogged about old shoes…a more recent blog which can be found by searching on this page. This time, we decided to write about…well, you can read the title….

My Favorite Bellbottoms

Getting my money’s worth out of the Nehru shirt I purchased was no easy feat. It could not be worn to catholic school because it would not work with a tie. Too nice to wear while out playing in the fields, there was no way my parents would let it see the inside of a church. If the flag of rebellious dress was to be foisted, the bellbottom jeans became the banner to wear.
There were many styles to choose from. Colored denim, red with black patch pockets, for example, were becoming passe’ as the low-riding, button fly, hip-hugger style with the slit pockets and wide flare took top wrung on the fashion ladder. I stuck with the zipping fly, being more practical than trendy. ‘Landlubbers’ was the brand of choice for the hip. Headshops and other counterculture stores sold them, while you could buy Wrangler, Lee and other popular brands, not near as cool, at Sears and other ‘straight’ stores.

Landlubber Jeans also advertised in Rolling Stone, so they had to be good. Dylan, Robert Plant, the Allman Brothers, the Rolling Stones…they all wore Landlubbers.
Eventually, the company expanded from jeans to corduroy offerings.
Worn correctly, they had to be long enough…preferrably, slightly too long. The ideal pair had the heels worn away at the back bottom seam from being tread under bare feet, platform shoes or a pair of Dingo boots with a metal ring on the side, as advertised in Rolling Stone!
Being well over six feet tall, I preferred Dingos and often enjoyed the sight of a friend caught in mud in the middle of a cornfield, trapped by thick sole and heels which had settled into plowed Earth as we stood in a circle and puffed. Enough said about The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys!
At first, bells were available in denim only, which presented a quandry in that denim jeans were ‘play clothes’. For school wear, we had the loud plaid pants with the wide cuffs which fell across the top of our platform shoes. Play clothes stuck around until replaced when worn out. School clothes needed to be new each year. This led many to cut straight-legged jeans up the inseam to the knee and insert a triangle of fabric to make the leg ‘flare’ into a ‘bell’. My mom was not going in for this. It was by skipping lunch and saving bus money by hitch-hiking to school that cash to get a store-bought pair became available.
At the headshop, stacked in neat piles between the vintage WWII gear, which was also en vogue, the slacks beaconed. The wide-wale corduroy, low-rise, slit-pocket with the little flowers, known as ‘Keith Richards pants’ due to a popular photo of him wearing them, proved the perfect ticket to trendiness. Not denim, the nuns could not say a word about them being jeans, just like they could not argue that the black ‘tails’ I kept hanging in my locker for daily wear was not a ‘jacket’. In retrospect, certainly I looked like an ass. This was done purposely to rile the ‘squares’ and the nuns, especially. They had dominated what we wore for all of grammar school and now, in high school, we could fight back. Brandishing the only tattoo on a student – a homemade starfish on my left hand – I had already trumped authority at 16 years of age. With hair to my shoulders, they didn’t even notice the earring. This was 1973.
The Nehru sold at a garage sale but those cords wore down to a frazzle. They attracted attention. Every non-polite epithet for ‘homosexual’ was hurled at me while hitch-hiking in such style…but when you are young, you like the attention! Now, everybody has tattoos and earrings. The starfish was surgically removed around 1990 and the earring came out long before. Both became too popular among the same group they used to annoy. Too old to wear three pairs of boxer shorts, and the tops of my jeans at mid-thigh to reveal them, soon I begin my 55th year…that may sound old to some but I would not be young again, if given the chance…I would miss growing up in the 1960s… things were much more fun.
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Spring is Here, With All Good Cheer. Birds Chirp. Frogs Burp.

     Bargainhunters, Runts and Punters,

     If the title of this post sounds familiar to you, it is because it was lifted from a book by the late Bennett Cerf, called Write Me A Poem, Baby.  This was a favourite book from my youth, in which Cerf asked children to write poems and collected them into a book, maybe even a second volume.

     What does that have to do with ratty, old shoes?  What?  Do you think we start these blogs without a solid purpose in mind for each and every one? Of course we don’t!  We write these by the seat of our pants for a few lovely people who look forward to them.  The shoes, by the by, have seen more wildlife than many children who live in the city.  They have been thrown at rabbits, squirrels, dogs and a few other small mammals. 

     Purchased in December of 2002, while picking up a pair of black oxfords to wear to my dad’s funeral, these became my ‘going to the office shoes’ until we were downsized in 2004.  They had an easy life for a year after that, until they were no longer fit for casual wear in public.  At that point, a new pair of dock shoes were purchased and these became the ‘lawnmowing/snowshoveling’ shoes.  They have weathered feet of snow, countless walks through my lawn, which by any definition is not actually a lawn.  At this time, it is mostly pretty, blue violets, as you can see…

     This sort of thing drives my neighbors crazy, as they think lawns should be green and comprised of grass.  We do not have a lawn so much as some grass mixed with violets, strawberries, dandelions and whatever the birds drop there.  The birds come for the flowers, we think.  We also believe that the creator puts those blue flowers there to sooth us and get us through the days of Spring Fever.  We enjoy sitting on the porch and letting our eyes relax to a blur and letting the colours sink in while we listen to the laboured grunts of all the neighbors who are on hands and knees on their lawns, digging and poisoning these little gifts of the season.  These people wear big boots and use noisy equipment in the maintenance of their yards, protecting their tootsies from mower blades, slips from ladders, icy patches and all those thing we ignore while shovelling and mowing barefoot in worn-out dock shoes.  These people have a work costume for each season.  It is the only funny thing about living here.

     The birds do enjoy my yard, as the returning families of robins, bluejays, cardinals and doves attest.  Plants are put in for their benefit, so that they swoop in and expose themselves to my cats, who sit in the window and think about what they would do to them.  This year, we may build a small chicken-wire-and-wood house for the kitties, so they can be outside on nice days.  Up until now, they have had to settle for the fresh catnip which grows out back and is already about eight inches tall, as you can see…

      If you have cats and do not grow catnip for them, shame on you.  You need to be a better pet owner and that is the fact, jack.  It is pleasant to see the catnip up so early and our pals, Inkie and Budderz, are quite happy with the fact.  What does worry us a bit is the early bloom of the lilacs.  We love the smell.  Some are put in a bedroom vase to evoke dream images from Springs Gone By.  It seems that they usually do not bloom until late May or early June but it is time, as you can see…

     That smell sure brings back the memories.  It reminds me of Mother’s Day and the hope of Summer.  The lilacs are nice and we are proud of them, even though they were here when we bought the house.  Prouder still are we of the fern, which we planted along the whole North side of the house and the tendrils of which are just pushing through the soil and reaching to the sky, like so…

     If you were to see the neighborhood the house is situated in, a white trash hell where Nascar is King and the proof is in the trucks parked on the lawns, you might understand why plants and pollen are so important.  Most of these plants upset those boot-people near me, since they cannot cut them to a height of one inch nor be sure all the blades of grass point in the same direction.  Birds appreciate what humans do not.

     As we started this rambling tome with a poem, allow us to end it with a piece of primordial literature, mined from the files and spilled from the skull of a nine-year-old Michael Hendrick, who in the Fifth Grade showed great slyness in using words to waste space in order to avoid being ruler-whipped by a nun who was easily enraged by blank spots on sheets of paper.  This may be one of the earliest works of art by the young Poet, as he learned words were to become his salvation.  Please enjoy ‘Spring’s Charms’.

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