The Long and the Short of It

By Kim Seeley

The Long and the Short of It

I realize that there is no way to tell this story without revealing to the world that I am over the hill, older than dirt, whatever you wish to call it. But when I see the super short skirts the women in Hollywood and New York City are wearing on television today, inwardly I smile. As they attempt to tug their skirts down over their behinds, they think they have invented a new style. Ha! My generation knows that we owned the mini-skirt many decades ago.

The awakening of my fashion sense occurred during the mini-skirt revolution, the era of Twiggy. I attended high school in the days when assistant principals scoured the halls with rulers, and if your skirt was not the correct number of inches above the knee, you were sent to the office, and your mother was called to take you home or bring you a longer skirt. Some of my friends flouted the rule just as kids today push the boundaries of their generation’s rules. Being sent home was practically a badge of honor. I never was sent home, probably because my parents were stricter than the principal. I had mini-skirts and mini-dresses, but my grandmother made most of mine so they passed my parents’ inspection.

But the biggest fashion statement in my high school days was not the mini-skirt. We females won the right to wear pants to school. During my junior and senior years of high school, we were finally awarded the right to wear pants, not just any pants, of course, but pantsuits. This meant you had to have a jacket and coordinated slacks outfit. We were ecstatic! We could wear pantsuits to school! We no longer had to wear hose every day. This was a major breakthrough in female rights of my era. The right to wear slacks, in our estimation, should have been in the Constitution. The fight for regular pants, t-shirts and jeans was still many years off, but we felt we had broken through the shackles of female fashion oppression.

Then, during my college years, the fashion designers reversed the trends. Mini was out; maxi was in. I owned several of the maxi-dresses, reveling once again in a new-found freedom – no hose, no socks, just platform shoes or sandals, maxi-dress and underwear. I still have one of my maxi-dresses in the closet. It is the one I wore when I met my future husband at the back-to-school teachers’ bash at the headmaster’s house. I was one of the new faculty members, fresh from college in my halter-top maxi-dress. My husband still recalls it fondly, and it must have worked some magic. Less than one year later, we were married.

Throughout my married and professional life, hemlines have changed, longer and shorter, up and down. Once I became the mother of two girls, I found most of my fashion instincts became focused on their clothes, more than my own. As a product of the ’60s and ’70s, I was probably a bit more relaxed when it came to my daughters’ fashion choices. I had already lived through the long and the short of it. My oldest daughter went through a Punky Brewster period in which all of her clothes were shockingly bright and wild-patterned. I did not raise an eyebrow.

My youngest daughter longed for a pair of Lucky Jeans, when the Lucky brand was first becoming popular in our part of the country. Of course, I discovered that the real reason she wanted them was that she had seen them on a trip to France, they were terribly expensive, and they were quite possibly the lowest-cut jeans I had ever witnessed. Did I buy them for her? Of course I did. Somewhere in this mama’s body still beats the heart of that young girl who flouted her mini-skirts, celebrated her pantsuits and slipped rather daringly into her halter top maxi.

Whether long or short, I embraced the fashions of my teen years, and in my closet, next to my maxi-dress, hangs one of my handmade-by-Grandma mini-dresses. If there is anything I have learned about fashion, it is that it is fleeting. If a particular style does not suit you, just be patient, a new designer is waiting in the wings to dazzle you. And just when you think you have seen it all, you realize you haven’t. And that, my fellow banner-carriers of the ’60s and ’70s, is the long and the short of it.

About this writer

  • Kim Seeley Kim Seeley, a former librarian and English teacher, lives with her husband, Wayne, in Wakefield, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to Sasee and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her most recent story, “Amanda’s Jonquils,” can be found in Chicken Soup: Messages from Heaven. She loves to read, play the piano, travel and spend time with her grandson, Evan.

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One Response to “The Long and the Short of It”

  1. Brenda Faison says:

    Great article. It all sounds so familiar to me and brings back days gone by of mini skirts and knee boots!!

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