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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: We’re at risk of repeating fashion at its bell-bottom worst

Don’t thank me, but I’d like to warn all of you Washingtonians about the unparalleled disaster facing the state.

And no, I don’t mean that recent prediction concerning a huge Northwest earthquake. You know, the one where a federal emergency geek claimed that, when it occurs, “everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

To be honest, I’ve thought about the West Side in that way for years.

As for a coming quake, however, I’ve never put much faith in stuff like this considering Spokane’s TV weathercasters barely bat past the Mendoza Line when it comes to simply getting the next day’s forecast right.

Besides, not everyone is shaking in his boots about the quake. Word has it that savvy developers are already drawing up plans for a Wenatchee submarine port.

No, the threat to Washington that has me shivering is far more devastating than anything a few nutty seismologists can conjure up.

And here it is: A majority of Washington kids will go back to school this year wearing ’70s-style garb.

I know. I’m horrified, too.

This devastating news came via press release from a public relations firm that apparently monitors threats to national wardrobe security.

These experts found that “the top overall decade purchases made in WA was … ’70s.”

I call on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to establish a non-’70s dress code just as soon as he gets back from his summer indolence schedule.

As a ’70s survivor, I feel queasy imagining Washington’s fresh-faced youth going to school looking like Donny and Marie. Or worse.

I came of age in the 1970s. I tried (and failed) to grow a moustache in the 1970s. I wore bell-bottom jeans in the 1970s. My sideburns blossomed into muttonchops in the 1970s.

I’m thoroughly mortified to admit that I even got my already-retreating hair “permed” in the 1970s.

Only did it once. And thank God no photographic evidence exists of my utter dorkiness. Trust me when I say that my “look” was beyond brutal.

The point is that we can’t let our unsuspecting youth repeat the sartorial faux pas of the ’70s.

One decade of it was enough.

This was not one of America’s greatest fashion ages, and I think I’ve got an old Cher album somewhere to prove it.

It’s probably gathering dust with the old flop-brimmed leather hat that I bought from a hippie California artisan in 1973. Ditto the denim work shirt my lovely wife, Sherry, spent hours adorning with embroidered bright rainbows, flowers, palm trees and such.

Those were also the days of white belts and silk disco shirts, polyester sport coats with white piping, floral peasant dresses and blouses and hot colors and checkerboard pants and macramé belts and quilt patchwork handbags.

I almost forgot about tire tread sandals and those striped Mexican serapes that I only saw white weirdos wearing.

Maxi coats. Maxi dresses.

Leather jackets with fringe sleeves.

And, dare I say, the four scariest words ever strung together in the English language: “powder blue leisure suit.”

Never owned one, I’m proud to report. But my brother, Dave, confessed to me he actually wore a leisure suit in “burnt orange.”

Oh, the calamity.

I’m normally not a supporter of wasteful, ridiculous governmental programs, but I’m willing to make an exception here.

A National Youth Dress Council could educate our children on the emotional problems that can arise from looking as ridiculous as their grandparents once did.

Hey, the ’70s were a blast for a lot of reasons.

We had great movies like “Jaws,” “The Godfather” (Parts 1&2), “Rocky” and “Star Wars,” plus my all-time favorite, “Chinatown.”

Music wasn’t nearly as bad as a lot of people claim. Well, if you don’t count disco, that is.

This was the Golden Age of Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor and Roberta Flack and Carol King and Chicago and Three Dog Night and Al Green and Paul McCartney & Wings, and …

But while I’ll always listen to Badfinger, I’d never put ’70s clothing as something that needs a replay.

Sure, you may disagree. And if you do, I’d love to interest you in some really cheap post-quake, ocean-view resort property that I have for sale.

In Ritzville.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@

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