I think this was around my birthday in 1986. I wore this outfit A LOT:
Guess jeans (the tapered ones with the zippers at the hem)
Bass Weejuns (the most perfect classic loafer IMO)
I’m perplexed by the white stockings/socks – I guess they must have been a thing…
We were in Atlanta over the weekend for my nephew’s bris (welcome Joshua Reiter!!) and as you may have noticed, I didn’t “work” while we were there. I just enjoyed being around my family for a few days.
We stayed with my mom, and for some reason I ended up going through photo albums one night and my step-son, who was very impressed by my previous ability to wear color, suggested that I should share some photos and discuss my “style over the years.” So here you go.
I don’t know that I can say anything meaningful about the “evolution” of my style over the years, but I can remember a few things about my wardrobe and shopping that have stayed with me through the years:
- My mother made quite a lot of my “special” clothes up until high school. While my parents were married, she was a seamstress, as she used to be called, for a local clothing shop part-time. I remember picking out patterns and fabrics and was really excited about the new outfit.
- My mother was also very brand-aware, we would shop at Jacobsen’s, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Loehman’s,etc., but for specific brands. Hers was Liz Claiborne petites. I wore Esprit primarily, I think.
- I don’t remember wearing black much at all until I started working at Starbucks during graduate school and then in an office. I don’t exactly remember when or how my wardrobe transitioned to mostly black. I think it was within the last five years?
- I didn’t ever have a lot of clothes growing up: I had two pair of Guess jeans, this pair I’m wearing above, and a black pair, a few tops, and wore one or two pairs of shoes into the ground. We didn’t shop very often, and I was never taken in by chain stores like the Gap or Forever21, etc. As I said, my mother always shopped with us at department stores, or discount stores that carry name brands. So we had very good quality clothing that we usually bought on sale, and it lasted for a long time.
- I honestly don’t remember thinking much about clothes for most of my life until I was in my 20’s. Interestingly, I think it was my sister’s moving to Dallas in the mid-90’s and my Aunt’s designer shopping influence that got me started on that. I probably owned everything Armani Exchange ever made for a few years straight, or whatever I could fit into, because from high school on, I was very heavy, with up and down periods up until 4 years ago.
- My father is also very brand-conscious, he has a pair of Versace jeans and some Gucci and Ralph Lauren loafers he’s had for decades that he still wears
So, if you were wondering where my brand loyalty comes from, there you go! As you can see, both my parents were heavy influences in that regard, and I’ve actually always appreciated that. I am a firm believer in finding a brand/designer who works for you, then purchasing mostly from that brand, adding in other pieces here and there. Obviously for me, that “main” brand is James Perse, and I would say the “other” brands are Elizabeth Suzann, Acne Studios, and 6397.
More photos for your entertainment:
my sister and I in 1978 or 1979? It’s one of my favorite pictures of us
1984 or 1985? color coordination FTW
(please notice my earrings match the stripes on my socks)
I think this was 1982 – I’m stunned by how long my legs look…
and yes, those shoes are basically rags
A better look at my mullet. OMG.
How has your style evolved, or completely changed since you were younger? What were your major influences?
We only shopped a few times per year when I was a kid… mostly because we never lived close to an “upscale” mall. I remember it was such an exciting trip, before the new school year, again during winter break, and sometimes we’d drive in to the city during spring break. I recall that my mother received a few catalogues from department stores, but pre-internet it was always a surprise what would be available each trip.
I remember my mother would set a little budget for each of us (my sister and myself) and we’d spend the entire day at the mall, first doing a preliminary check of favorite stores, then stopping for lunch, and heading back after eating in order to try on/decide/buy. My favorite department store was Macy’s; that’s where I would buy jeans (I also had those stupid Guess jeans with the ankle zippers). Benetton was my Favorite Favorite store; it seemed so expensive to me at the time and I would spend at least an hour in there, desperately combing the sale rack to try and get the absolute most for my money. I had a number of sweaters and skirts from that store.
I think I saw a Benetton at the North Park mall in DFW last time I was there – maybe a couple of years ago? I might be misremembering that. I still see print ads for the brand from time to time. I’m pretty sure they’re still in business. All that remains of my Benetton wardrobe, sadly, are a few scarves.
(I also have a vivid memory of a bright purple Esprit sweatshirt that said ESPRIT in equally bright green letters. Even as a teen, I wore mostly black/navy/gray clothes, but I loved that sweatshirt).
Honestly, clothing and fashion used to be a MUCH bigger part of my life. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress, and made most of my clothes until I was in high school (and even then, she made some “special” pieces that I couldn’t find or afford in stores–i.e. my silver lame shirt.) I had some very specific ideas about what I wanted to wear as a child, which resulted in things like a plum corduroy suit in 5th grade. 😉
In high school I was heavily into the “Pretty in Pink” aesthetic–vintage, men’s vests, but probably more black. (Whenever I wore something not black, my grandmother made a point of saying how “pretty” I looked in whatever color it was ;-)) All of which was not the mainstream style in my small town high school. I also would keep track of what I wore each day so I wouldn’t repeat outfits.
On the other hand, right now I have about three outfits I wear everyday, with no fear of being “caught” wearing the same thing. I’m also transitioning into a new climate, and basically working from home (and even in the office, it’s not the “corporate” office anymore, so even less formal than Northern California), so am trying to figure out what I want to wear. I’m feeling much more utilitarian these days in my style and moving toward a “uniform.”
You are too cute for words! I wish I looked this good at that age! As for me, I looked pretty dismal while under my mom’s fashion control (sorry mom, but there was no cohesion in items or colours whatsoever and no I did not look good in neon.) After I got a “clothing allowance” (age 14?) I made many of my own clothes to stretch it out but after I got my first full time paying summer job I stopped and just shopped. Criteria were cut and, far second, fabric (always liked textures and still do.) Didn’t give two hoots about brands, but cool factor of style. Not a lot of colour, mostly neutrals (black, brown, burgundy.) Also pretty big into vintage, but as a build-in to an outfit, not a style in itself. As I aged, and graduated into actual jobs, my sartorial choices became increasingly tailored, I moved more into prints and plaids, and fabrics became more important. Remote purchasing and packability and multi-purposing of clothing became more important. When I “retired”…from paid positions….I foolishly gave away all my “regular” work clothing and saved the especially elegant ones, because they were just too beautiful. But after a year of play, I found that my new unpaid positions required modest work clothes, of which I no longer had any. It was either official cocktail party level or leggings. So I have been re-purchasing an appropriate work wardrobe, which has been fun, if unexpected and costly, as I quite like current styles, colours and fabrics, although I do try to limit too many “of the moment” items. Unlike you (so far) I have been more bold colour-wise with age. I do buy by brands, but not by labels, if that makes sense. I would NEVER wear anything with an obvious label, which cuts off a lot of purses for me that I would otherwise love (sigh). It is more about having confidence in company practices, sizing and fabric quality as well as ease of purchasing.
Ah, growing up in the 80s. I vacillated between very preppy and a more John Hughes/men’s wear/thrift store look. I loved a slouchy oversized men’s sportscoat to cover my boobs! I was in boarding school 1986-1990 so – no jeans, no tank tops or tees. I know I’ve described the dozens of cotton turtlenecks I wore & held on to for too long (I don’t own a single turtleneck now)
Wish we could share photos. Oh, there is one – I had on lace bloomers (from a thrift store – I think they were intended to be worn under square dancing dresses?) with a sleeveless mock tee and a big belt and….Oh god, it hurts to think about!!
What I wore – not appropriate. But certainly more interesting than what I see young women wearing around campus today – it’s all pjs or exercise tights. Boring! 🙂
I had the same glasses! And I coveted those Guess jeans SO badly!! I was never allowed to wear jeans, one of my parents weird annoying rules.
Oh Grechen you were too cute!We could post some pics on Instagram to share-
I grew up in the 70’s wearing my brother’s hand me downs to play in after we changed from school clothes. We also did seasonal shopping at small boutiques in the neighborhood (Forest Hills, Queens NY) I remember going to a store called The Naked Grape for jeans and ribbed sweaters. It was Alexanders for a new Spring or Winter coat. I was a tee-shirt and jeans girl always. For dress up or picture day I wore a Hukapoo button down. I did have Versace, Calvins etc with the zippers on the back pockets and on the leg. I had to lay down on my bed to zip them up. I also wore sneakers; pro keds and pumas all the way. Marshmallow platforms in every color in the 70’s, White or black Capezios in the 80’s, clogs in the 90’s. Then when I got older and started buying my own clothes I shopped at Loehmans, and Canal Jeans. I was outrageous in HS wearing hot pink army pants and getting sent home for wearing ‘Hot FuckinTuna tee- shirts and ‘Hairdressers Give Better Blowdryer jobs! Oh so fun:) I was a jockette too and it wasnt until I was in my 40’s that I started making better money and wanted to dress more feminine. So my style is mostly a mash up of all American girl, Garconne. (still waiting for the book from the library) In my 20’s I loved Willie Wear and Norma Kamali , DKNY. In my 30’s it was mostly Gap and 40’s it was Levi’s jeans and Splendid tops. I also had a stack of turtlenecks and like MamaV said I haven’t been cold in 5 years! My designer for me now in my 50’s is Eileen Fisher, since I want to buy items that are made ethically and that have elegant lasting power. I also lean toward a more minimal aesthetic with pallette and shape. I like to add detail with texture and jewelry. Vince for pants, Citizens of Humanity & JBrand for jeans. I’d like to try Elisabeth Suzanne and JP for the Spring.
Mazel Tov on little Joshua’s Bris
Oh my goodness how could I forget the whole Punk Rock era and shopping at Trash and Vaudeville in the East Village for stovepipe jeans and safety pin tee-shirts!
I’m so glad you took the time to fully enjoy your family and your new little nephew! This post was hilarious and well worth waiting for! Brought back many memories of my teenage years and fashion choices: LOVED Esprit and also those Kangaroos sneakers with the little side pocket.
You are so freaking adorable! I love it.
I had the same haircut and glasses! Can’t remember any outfits though. Must chase down some old photographs. I do remember that around first, second grade I used to wear these long skirts that my grandmother had made for me from my mom’s old dresses. Everyone seems to remember me running around in those skirts.
We could be twins in that pic with you in the shorts and strip shirt with the haircut and glasses. Although my hair was more the Dorothy Hammill “bowl”.Its amazing to me how much worse we all looked than the girls of today with their gorgeous long hair. Short/feathered/mullets/bowls= unflattering 🙂
I also wore a lot of those terry shorts that were way too short and the collared shirts. A lot of mine were from Limited and I can’t remember the animal on them Also loved Esprit
Grechen Reiter says
haha! i never had the dorothy hammill cut, but my sister did!!
Grechen Reiter says
i can hardly remember wearing dresses or skirts when i was younger. i ran around outside and got into too much trouble for skirts i think. and i rebelled against being a “girl” sometimes too…
Grechen Reiter says
thank you 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
omg, you crack me up.
we should share photos on instagram. i’ll post one i didn’t post here today 😉
Grechen Reiter says
i know!! i don’t get the PJs actually. even grown people wear pajamas in public – at the airport – i do NOT understand…
I had the Hamill!!! I hated for my mom to wash and/or brush my hair, so she cut it. She was quite open & honest about that! Then when I was 8, she started giving me home perms and I looked like little orphan Annie. I started growing my hair in high school but it doesn’t look great long so I’ve always kept it between chin and collarbone length. And I haven’t had bangs since 1988. Or a perm since 1993.
Grechen Reiter says
lol i posted a photo on instagram today when i had an asymmetrical haircut in 1987 because of a bad home perm…my hair was totally fried, but only on one side, so our hair guy just cut everything off that one side. it was actually TOTALLY 80’s, but i didn’t like it LOL
sadly i don’t think i stopped getting perms until the 90’s either !
I kept hoping for that “perfect” perm, right? Where I’d have corkscrews or a beach wave or whatever is currently trendy. But nope. I think I got more realistic as I got older…..(the fact I know there are “beach wave” perms just shows I still WANT to be able to do it, though!)
Going to see your Instagram now – I’m not on that social media 😉
The excitement on your face in the last pic with the drawstring bag (A forerunner of Clare V’s “Henri,” I might add) is just a taste of things to come! Precious! 😉 (Did you call your cut a “Bi-level”? I think that’s what mine was…No mullet!)
You’ve got spunk! And unlike Lou Grant, I like spunk!!! 😉
Ditto to “The Hamill”…OMG…when I look back, how on earth could I not see it?!? Do you think we’ll feel the same way in 20/30 years, looking back at pics of ourselves now?