The “Project Runway” episode tonight was about 1970s-inspired clothes. The episode last week was about a rock band that wanted clothes that were inspired by–what else–the 1970s. Next week, Project Runway presents the all M*A*S*H show, or maybe the Archie Bunker collection. Or perhaps looks inspired by Mary Richards?
Take it from a child of the disco decade: What a bad idea. Not much that is “inspired” by the 1970s really should be a part of our culture. That was the decade when polyester was formal wear, men (including me) wore heels and hair—well, hair was just totally out of control.
In the fall of 1973, I joined the debate team at Muscatine High School, which meant, among other things, that my mom had to buy me a blue suit blazer with rather wide lapels, two large gold-colored plastic buttons and a variety of ugly wide ties to go with my garish dress pants. My shirts, thankfully, were at least usually solid colors, although I would sometimes wear stripes.
Thus sartorially clad, I sallied forth, usually with my partner Rod, to do rhetorical battle.
It often seemed like the weather was cold. Debate season covered the winter months. It took us to such jewels of the prairie as Fairfield High School, a smaller school obviously built with a few leftover bricks by the company that assembled the 1930s three story prison that we called “Muscatine High School.” Seriously—it was the exact same bricks, doors, floors—just in miniature.
I think my coat was orange. I know, for a while, my shoes were.
We would have the radio on during those debate tirps, and not to the alternative Muscatine FM station, but some top hit station. Fortunately, at least in 1973, it was too early for Disco, but sadly, in 1973, there was always John Denver or Bread.
It was a decade of fashion and music disasters. It was a decade when denim was chic. It was the decade of my awkward, somber, sad younger self. Lighten up, dude. Seriously, adulthood is so much better than adolescence—your primary job as a teenager is just to hold it together, to not totally lose the bubble, until the raging storms of hormones die down and you can start to think again.
I don’t hate everything 1970s. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a cool movie, and Star Wars came out at the end of the decade (the first one, before George L. got all preachy and boring.) American Graffiti was a bit of a plodding movie, but it launched some important careers and it had it moments. It totally marks me as a nerd, but darn it, Carol Burnett was pretty funny. And I still listen to my Yes albums now and then.
Still, 1970s inspired? Please. Pick another decade.