Kids drive parents nuts

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Kids love to drive their parents nuts with the clothes they wear. Julius Caesar, I’m sure, warned his daughter that she was not leaving the palace “wearing a toga that short.”

And I think William Shakespeare admonished his son, “forsooth, no principled lad bearing my name shall cast himself upon the streets displaying tights so ill-fitting as to invite dismay.”

One major fashion eruption hit my high school in 1953. The Zoot suit was a creation of the soul and blues corner of the music world in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Overnight, guys switched from blue jeans and loafers to Zoot suits: high-waisted baggy pants pegged at the ankles and held aloft by brightly colored suspenders. Long, knee-length jackets with super wide lapels, Mr. B rolled-collar shirts with loosely knotted knit ties, two-tone wingtip shoes, a pork pie hat or fedora cocked at a jaunty angle, and a gold watch chain that hung below the knees.

I didn’t have a Zoot suit, but only because I couldn’t afford it. A good set of threads back then was as pricy as it is today. I did manage a couple of Mr. B shirts, however, and I wore them with exaggerated pride.

The shirts were the creation of singer band leader Billy Eckstine, a powerful fashion plate of the day. The shirts had double-high collars that rolled out from the neck before dropping to button-down status. Add a narrow knit tie, and you were the man – cool beyond cool, definitely in charge.

The Zoot suit faded away, of course, followed by even more extreme fashions. Today it’s sagging pants with the crotch below the knees and offensive tee shirts.

But, lest I criticize, I need remember that I too once drove my parents nuts with what I wore.


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