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The Slice: Fashions change; wardrobe jitters don’t

Fri., Aug. 30, 2013, midnight

Here’s what it was like to get dressed for the first day of school way back in the 20th century.

1. You wanted to look your absolute best. 2. But you did not want to appear to be trying. 3. The No. 1 statement you wanted your apparel to make was “I belong.” 4. If you had a special confidence-boosting shirt or blouse, this was the occasion to haul it out. 5. The weather forecast had less to do with your selections than your desire to emphasize that you had grown up over the summer and were no longer just some dopey kid. (It was not unheard of for youths in certain locales to almost pass out from wearing a turtleneck dickey on a hot day.)

6. If it was virtually mandatory that you wear, say, a paisley or madras shirt, you had a choice of doing what was expected or being a bold nonconformist. (Despite No. 3, the temptation to stand out from the crowd existed.) 7. Showing up in go-go boots and a miniskirt might get mixed reviews but would give girls something to laugh about decades later. 8. Same goes for boys arriving for the first day of the fifth grade in Beatle boots (ludicrous English accent optional). 9. Trying to do something dramatic with your hair at the last minute was usually a mistake. 10. Fashionable pants length, which fluctuated like the pork futures market, was crucial in a way no parent could comprehend.

11. White socks were OK until they were suddenly and emphatically deemed a stigmatizing sartorial gaffe. 12. There was a time when wearing socks of any kind was considered uncool. Parents did not understand. But it turned out that socks could be removed between home and school. 13. Those little loops on the back of shirts were incredibly important, though I cannot remember why. 14. Fantasy- addled lads wanting to be mistaken for dangerous delinquents could pound metal taps into their shoes. 15. Another option was to just grab some clothes out of the closet and not sweat it.

Today’s Slice question: Do you listen to music that reminds you of what was or to music that helps you envision what might be?

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