(Okay, daughter Eleni has issued a challenge and I have accepted it. If 100 people vote on my facebook page or on this blog post for me to wear the extremely ugly palazzo pajamas shown below to the party tomorrow, I’ll do it, but my husband is threatening that he won’t been seen with me if I do.)
Tomorrow night, Saturday, the Worcester Art Museum is launching an exhibition of photos from the nineteen sixties called “Kennedy to Kent State—Images of a Generation.” And they’re celebrating the opening with a party. The invitation says “Go Mad with Motown, martinis and more” and ends with “Mad Men-inspired attire encouraged.”
For a compulsive hoarder like myself, this is a piece of cake. (I guess that would be refrigerator cake if we’re evoking the sixties.) I went to the back of my “out of season” closet where I keep “souvenir clothes.” Then I started taking photos and trying on outfits (the ones that I could still zip up) and quizzing my husband, Nick, on what I should wear.
I was 19 and in college when the sixties began. By 1963 I was in New York in graduate school and in 1964 started my first job in public relations (next came magazine journalism) in Manhattan.
As I wrote last March in “Remembering Mad Men Days” there were two dramatically different periods of fashion and lifestyle in the sixties. Above are photos of me in 1965 (check out the hat and gloves!) and in1968—(what was I thinking?). Between those two photos came the tsunami that washed away the hats and gloves and washed in mini skirts, Vidal Sassoon bobs, Twiggy, Mary Quant and the Beatles. The TV series Mad Men has been portraying both sides of that watershed as the program moves through the decade, so there’s a lot of leeway in what to wear to tomorrow’s party.
Sadly I no longer have either of those outfits I’m wearing above, but here’s what came out of my closet.
This is the jacket to a matching dress making an outfit that I call my “Bob Hope suit.” The Ladies Home Journal had sent a woman reporter to Los Angeles to interview Bob Hope for an article and she arrived at his house wearing blue jeans. The comedian threw her out and informed the magazine that he would not speak to a woman reporter dressed like that. So the editor told me to go out and buy a “nice Republican suit” and this is what I bought. Bob Hope seemed to like it, because he gave me a good interview. But now the dress part of it is in the hands of my daughter Eleni who wore it recently to HER job at a New York magazine. She also wore an ultra-mini dress of mine that was once worn by Twiggy in a fashion spread. Neither dress would fit me any more. (Eleni weighs about 100 pounds.)
This sequined jacket and glittery blouse are both more eighties than sixties, as Eleni pointed out.
This orange dress is brand new, but it has the sixties look that’s been brought back by Mad Men fans, including the fabric that turns into paisley at the bottom.
Both this black jacket and dress and the shocking pink one have really big shoulder pads, very short skirts and lots of glitz on the buttons or the gold trim.
This dress has the right sixties look—very small waist and full skirt—but now I can’t begin to close the belt.
This is the dark blue jumpsuit that I wore to the Oscars when Nick was executive producer for Godfather III, which was nominated for best picture. But that was in 1991 as I wrote in “Famous Oscar Flubs and Moments” and everyone was watching Madonna channeling Marilyn Monroe in all- white and Michael Jackson, sitting next to her, in a drum majorette’s outfit.
Now these incredibly ugly Palazzo Pajamas are perfect for a Sixties party. And no, I’ve never had the nerve to wear them anywhere. I bought this outfit at one of the vintage clothing shows that happens in Sturbridge, MA on the Monday before Brimfield opens, three times a year.
The pajamas, coincidently, were designed by Anne Fogarty who happened to be the sister of my first magazine-editor boss, Poppy Cannon, but they’ve both passed on to their rewards long ago. Daughter Eleni e-mailed me “I really vote hard for the palazzo pants. You’d be the belle of the ball.”
I know she’s right, but I still can’t muster up the nerve to be seen in public in that monstrosity, authentic as it may be.
So with the help of my husband, this is the outfit I chose for tomorrow’s party. It may be more “Dallas” than Mary Quant (I shopped at Biba Boutique the whole two years I lived in London—why didn’t I keep the stuff?) but at least I can still get into it.
And I think I’m going to pair it with these Beverly Feldman shoes.
I suspect there will be a lot of (old) people like myself tomorrow night reliving their salad days. I hear there will be devilled eggs and Jello…how about onion dip and Ritz crackers…and refrigerator cake?