Back in my day: bras, Speedos, and naked gym class

Back in my day: bras, Speedos, and naked gym class

Fashion changes with the times: from poodle skirts to platform shoes to flannel shirts to porkpie hats… But fashion also reflects the times. Everything from the length of women’s skirts to the color of their nail polish has been used to predict economic fluctuations. Fashion trends say a lot about the attitudes of a culture.

I surfed past a 70s movie the other day, a courtroom drama, I believe. The lead actress was dressed in a sweater. Not a tight, Farrah sweater; it was smart and conservative, somewhat loose. It was obvious after a second or two that the actress wasn’t wearing a bra. I didn’t go all Beavis and Butthead; it was no big deal. Then I tried to remember the last time I saw that fashion “statement” in a movie or on the train or at the office.

There was a time when women routinely went braless (mainly during my formative years). It seemed normal, “natural.” Women burned bras to protest the male-dominated ideal of women’s roles and to free themselves. It was an open, honest time.

But the times, they were a-changin’… 21st century women wouldn’t dare be caught without a bra. Lack of that undergarment is big news today, making headlines when “American Hustle” came out last year, a movie set in the braless past.

Bras are formidable contraptions now, too. Like a flak jacket, heavily padded with wires running through them sometimes, to push up and out or hold down. They make the perfect companion to impossibly tight, skinny jeans and button-busting blouses in highlighter marker colors.

Bra straps are proudly on display. I can remember my mother and sisters going to great lengths to hide their bra straps, safety-pinning them to their top or wearing alternate strap configurations: crisscross or strapless. Now women don’t bother.

Guys’ fashions followed a parallel path. Just look at old footage of NBA games: Abdul-Jabbar or Bird going for a lay-up in their Daisy Dukes. Tighty-whities. Speedos. We swam naked in high school gym class!

Yeah, baby! We were so open-minded; we didn’t need the constrictions of swimsuits, man. Just us guys. My classmates and I let it all hang out, literally. We didn’t think there was anything, I don’t know… weird about it either.

I can’t imagine a nude gym class in 2014. (besides the lawsuits) My kids don’t even shower after P.E.; it’s not a requirement. At sleepovers, they sleep in their clothes so they don’t have to change. They wear boxers under their over-sized swim trunks and their “shorts” go well below their knees: like rappers and current NBA players.

Some experts believe you can tell a lot about society’s collective psyche by looking at their clothes. Today’s cultural wardrobe, with its over-sized, covered-up, strapped-in, sausage-casing fashions, fits perfectly.

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Filed under: Humor, Lifestyle

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