I've got it all figured out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It Came From The Suburban 80s!!!!

This is a tale of the darkest days of fashion. It takes place on the black tops of Frontenac Public School. The years 1986-1990 bore witness to some of the worst fashion atrocities the city of Burlington, ON, Canada ever saw. This may have gone on in suburban schools all over the country but as anyone that’s lived in such a community will know you are completely isolated from the rest of the world (plus all records and photographs showing kids wearing these clothes/styles were destroyed in the early 90s when they reached high school)so I couldn’t tell you.
It all began with the “Preppy look”.
We all remember the Preppy Look. This style epitomized the mid-80s. It was Ferris Bueller, it was Jake Ryan it was to a much more ridged extent Alex P. Keaton. Burlington’s Grade 5 & 6 Alumni happily forced their parents to drive out to Bronte and Oakville Place where they could purchase Vaurnet shirts and Bass Deck shoes .

I also remember Polo shirts being popular.

Around this time pants and jean tapering became popular. It started with a simple fold along the inside calf of the pants followed by rolling up the cuff to keep the fold tight. The resulting look was something akin to the billowy look of cargo pants with draw strings at the bottom. Folding was soon replaced with safety pins to get a tighter look. The pins got more plentiful and higher until the pants reached weird mixtures of tightness and looseness of M.C. Hammer Proportions .

Frontenac kids would strut around the school yard in these bizarre mangled jeans (the locker room floor was always littered with safety pins) commenting on one another’s choice of neon for their Vaurnet shirt or what colour the sweat from foot hockey was turning their Chip & Pepper Wet Wear shirt.*

In Grade 6-7 Hip Hop in all its late 80s blandness hit Burlington. The Preppy Look was surpassed or combined with the Fresh Prince/Dwayne Wayne style to create a look of absolute horror. This look can be epitomized by one student in particular that I will just refer to as Brad. Brad was at the forefront of Burlington’s non-existent hip-hop scene. On an average day Brad could be scene wearing the following (keep in mind that Brad was kind of heavy and white as a ghost):

-Giant pair of British Nights shoes or Troop shoes.

-Ridiculous pair of Levis with deliberately made holes in the knees that had about 50 safety pins in the calves and had been covered hap-hazard in bleach.

-Polka dot dress shirt (most likely purchased from Stitches).

-A leather Africa symbol (cringe) or a Mercedes symbol around his neck. He sometimeswore both at once.

- Those round flip-up Dwayne Wayne glasses (they sold those without prescription at the Appleby mall Hakim Optical for $5).

-And the hair. Now this was the best part. Brad desperately wanted one of those big Cameo style flat tops (my dad called them chimney heads) but his hair was straight and thin. So he would painstakingly comb/gel/spray it into a big high white-blonde cube that would wilt by the end of the day.

Thankfully by about 1989 I had discovered punk rock and could leave this tragic nightmare behind me. Though it was not to last much longer anyway as Frontenac’s youth moved on to grade 9 and were forced to be less outlandish. Anyone still had their Fresh Prince of Burl-air look by mid-1990 had it severely beaten out of them by the Lord Elgin High School shop skids or had it embarrassed out of them by the arrival of Vanilla Ice or the release of Kid N Play’s movie House Party.

Keep in mind, these are grown men.

· I was no stranger to Chip & Pepper. I had a very special C&P sweat shirt called Chip & Pepper Buck Shot. It was purple and had actually been shot with a shot gun. I wore it proudly with tapered jeans and a bright orange Ocean Pacific fanny pack.

No comments: