Friday, September 16, 2022

Dressing up

One recent winter, we were in town on a chilly, windy day.  As we turned into a parking space, we noticed a young woman, hunched over against the cold wind from the north.  I don't recall the rest of her attire, but one garment stuck in my memory.  She was wearing flannel pajama bottoms.  That was the first, but not the last time, I saw someone wearing pajama bottoms as public attire.  Since then, I have become accustomed to seeing young people wearing light-weight athletic shorts in chilly weather, bundled up in a warm jacket but practically blue-legged from the cold on their bare legs.  I'm pretty sure that in these cases, the people I have seen didn't dress in the dark and overlooked that they had forgotten to put on their jeans!

I'll admit, when I look back at some of the fashion choices in my past, they look pretty stupid.  Probably the most ridiculous fashion trend for women in my lifetime was the extreme padded shoulders that were popular for a while.  I had a few of those in my closet, nicely tailored suits and dresses made of beautiful fabrics that made the wearer look like she had borrowed the shoulder pads of a professional linebacker.

Beck Family Picnic in Macksville Park in Early 1900s

 As for the generation before me, this photograph of my father's siblings having a picnic in the Macksville Park is charming in an overdressed way.  The men had shed their jackets and my father had even removed his tie, but the women still had on their hats, from church I am guessing.  Sunday picnics were common in the pre-home air conditioner years, but if that really was a picnic, they were a little overdressed.

But, getting back to the streetwear of younger people today, I did a little research.  Apparently, the influence of T-shirts has played a huge role in the fashion trend called 'streetwear,' which also included jeans, baseball caps and sneakers, and the influence of skateboarding.  In other words, the casual sportswear being worn because it was appropriate to some activity was adopted by others, even if they had never played baseball or tried skateboarding.

Manufacturers caught on to the trends and in the 2000s companies began to develop streetwear styles.  That was not always appreciated.  "Influencers" often objected to manufacturers horning in on the trend, quoting Eric Brunetti, "Big business corporations have infiltrated streetwear and are currently in the process of rewriting its history to fit their financial narrative."  

One observer wrote, "Streetwear is a culture, not just Product."  As author Bobby Hundreds described it, "Design-wise, streetwear boils down to baseball caps, sneakers, hoodies, and most of all, tees."  Adding, "a culture, not just product." 

However, as I type this, the definition of Streetwear is almost certainly changing.  It differs from region to region and from city to city, changes as quickly as whatever is happening at that time.  Today,  "Streetwear is an art movement."

Lyn at the 2021Kansas Book Festival University Press of Kansas tent
So, as my closet begins to drift toward grays and blacks and neutrals and white, with lower heels on my shoes, it begins to dawn on me that "what's happening" in my life is also trending toward "casual comfortable pieces" that reflect "my culture."  I had no idea I was so trendy!

P.S.  This coming Saturday, September 24, 2022, I will be in Topeka for the Kansas Book Festival on the campus of  Washburn University in Topeka. It is a wonderful celebration of books and art, with authors, poets, and artists present, and outdoor music performances throughout the day.  Admission is free and open to the general public, with children's activities, entertainments, and food trucks.

Last year I attended to receive recognition as the author of Prairie Bachelor, The Story of a Kansas Homesteader and the Populist Movement, a Kansas Notable Book for 2021.  This year I was invited back as a speaker with Moderator, Max McCoy and fellow author Steve Cox.  We will be discussing "Politics on the Prairie" in the Kansas Room of the Memorial Union, starting off the day at 10 a.m.  

Books will be available for purchase and authors will be signing.  If you already own Prairie Bachelor but would like to have it signed, bring your book and I will be glad to sign it.  There are wonderful speakers throughout the day, but our program is at 10 a.m. in the Memorial Union. 

To learn more you can visit   I hope to see at Washburn University in Topeka this coming Saturday, September 24, 2022! 

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