The end of disco ruined American culture

I joked on Twitter the other day that a world that allowed disco to die is inherently evil. While “evil” might be a bit of a stretch, I really do believe that American culture (and not just American culture, but that’s the one I know best, being American) has suffered ever since disco’s demise in the early ’80s. Here are a couple things we know about disco:

1) It’s fun

2) It’s diverse.

Studio Portrait of the Village People

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Disco was created by people of all races, genders, and orientations. Women and men alike sang; blacks, whites, and Latinos danced in the same clubs. Women sang freely about their sexual desires. LGBT people not only found clubs they could dance in with each other, but also found mainstream success. I can’t think of a single popular band today as diverse as the Village People – both racially and based on sexual orientation. During the disco era, people really were hopeful that everything was getting better. Then Reagan and wolves of Wall Street came in, shat on everything, and set us back decades.

The “disco sucks” movement was tinged with homophobia and led to an era of rock music dominated by straight white men. Yes, I love KISS and Motley Crue, but get real – rock and roll since the ’80s has been almost exclusively the provenance of straight white men. The “disco sucks” movement told black and LGBT people and women to stop singing, stop dancing, stop having so much goddamned fun.

Ah yes, fun. Disco was all about fun. Clubs with extravagant light displays, musical groups that didn’t take themselves too seriously, costumes ranging from divine to ridiculous, and bold dancing were all mainstays of the ’70s disco movement. But then fun was frowned upon, and ironic detachment and a “too cool” attitude reigned supreme in American culture – and has ever since. Today, disco is derided as tacky and lame. Fashion has reached an all-time low point of creativity and color. Every man I know wears the same outfit, and almost nobody wears prints outside of your basic flannel. The “cool” music among my peers is still mopey indie rock (I guess? Sometimes I don’t know what people actually LIKE because disliking stuff is apparently cooler).

I love Nirvana, and yet I believe their influence has generally been harmful. The glamorization of depression and suicide is dangerous for impressionable teens and 20-somethings. The music you listen to DOES matter. When I was listening to a lot of Nirvana and The Mars Volta in high school, I started to realize that I became less happy, less social. A friend of mine who was extremely depressed in college was advised by her therapist to stop listening to Jeff Buckley. While I think there certainly is a time for sad music that you can identify with when you’re feeling low, there’s also a need for joyous music that helps you feel great. Dancing lifts your spirits. When you’re having a crummy day, put on a song that makes you want to move and 9 out of 10 times, you’ll feel better.

I’m dying to see a return to fun in America. I want to see America dance without derision, to dress differently without being labeled “tacky” or “trashy” (just classist terms invented by yuppies, anyhow). I’m sick of a culture that praises ironic detachment, where everyone’s in a battle for who can care less and the mark of coolness is is being the asshole in all black, sitting in the corner making fun of everyone dancing. Having fun is one of the greatest parts of being alive, and I’m gonna keep doing it – and looking great and dancing to disco ’til I die.

Outfit Post: Summer of ’77 forever 

lately I’ve been very inspired by disco and ’70s summer wear. I traveled for four months this year and absolutely loved it – but I’ve been thrilled to come back to my clothes and makeup. 

  

White tanktop – no idea any more. Wet seal? 

Blue high waist shorts – urban outfitters

Bra – target 

Hair – brushed-out pin curls 

Gold locket – vintage 

Lipstick – cherries in the snow by revlon 

Improv, Vintage Style

Improv is the passion of my life right now – I don’t think I’ve gone two days without seeing or being in a show since I started two years ago unless I was out of town. But vintage dressing and improv don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. In general, you’re not supposed to wear dresses and skirts while you do improv. You’re supposed to be free to do anything – lay on the ground, turn a cartwheel, act like a dog. Improv is also male-dominated, so it can be tempting to try and dress like a guy to fit in and be taken seriously. That’s definitely what I used to do:

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But now, I do improv pretty much every day. This week I have seven shows in six days. I don’t want to dress like a boy all the time. And you know what? Most of the time I don’t turn a cartwheel or act like a dog. You can still make choices you’re comfortable with, regardless of the situation. Although I’ve still had to fall down on the ground a few times but that just comes with the territory.

I had a couple shows last week that took pictures, so I thought I’d show you some pictures of me doing improv in pretty vintage outfits!

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This is my most improv-friendly vintage outfit. 70’s jeans, 70’s shirt (from my mom’s elementary school), and a beret to give it flavor.

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Here’s me wearing my new pink 60’s matching suit and shirt with my 50s sweater over it. Flyyy.

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This is that amazing brown dress I keep posting grainy pictures of. Isn’t it THE MOST DIVINE?

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I guess you can do improv in pincurls, a 40’s dress, stockings, and two-inch heels. Because even though I take part in probably the most casual art form, I can’t stop being my fancy self.

Vintage Rollerskating Photos

I went rollerskating with some of my good friends from high school, my brother, and my mom last night!

Although rollerskating had its heyday in the 70s, I found some cool vintage rollerskating photos from a wide variety of decades.
Youngsters Roller Skating at Izzy-Dorry's Roller Rink - New Ulm, Minnesota

Vintage Roller Skater

Back in action!
The pin-up artist Earl Moran on the job with a certain model named Norma Jean…
Skateland - Muncy, Pennsylvania
New Planet Roller Rink - Chicago, Illinois

 

And here are mine!

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And our whole blurry group, except for my mom, who was taking the picture. I was terrible (I’m terrible at every athletic endeavor – also I had to put my hair up because I got very sweaty) but it was a lot of fun.

Why I Can’t Pick an Era

Many (most?) vintage ladies have a specific era that they base their look around – a decade or two that catches their fancy. Sometimes I feel like it makes me less devoted to vintage if I can’t choose a decade – nobody has ever said that to me, but I’m a perfectionist and a weirdo. My two favorite decades are probably the 40s and the 70s, though I own a lot of 50s and 60s clothes that I absolutely love. I also really enjoy the fashions of the 30s, but I don’t own any and a lot of them seem so fragile and expensive these days (and often a bit narrow in the hip for me to physically be able to wear). So I suppose I love the 40s-70s the best. The 80s were generally horrifying (though Hot Tub Time Machine makes them look fun) and the 90s were a cesspool for fashion. So I’ll stick with my favorite 40 year span. 🙂

Here’s why I can’t choose.

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This early forties dress is to me the perfect dress. I love it so much and if I knew how to sew I would hunt down that pattern and sew it. Someday! (? I hope?)

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Ali MacGraw’s coat in the 1970 movie Love Story. (photo credit)

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Anne Holbrook in 1974. I feel like I see a throughline in what I like – can’t you see similar styles in the 40s and the 60s? (photo credit)

The 70s jumpsuit is one of the most fun, sexiest, and bravest of all fashions. The 40s utilitarian vibe is my favorite. Gloves. Hats. Peter pan collars.

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I can’t live without these 70s jeans.

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Or this 60s sweater.

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Or this fifties suit.

I can’t choose.

Outfit Post: Lady In Red & My New Vintage Hairbrush!

The pilot for Today Is History is shooting next weekend and I needed to buy a brightly-colored dress – my director requested yellow or cranberry. I went to Jet Rag, the only LA vintage store where I have ever actually found things I like – LA vintage stores seem very catered towards a hippie/hipster aesthetic with a lot of non-vintage clothes mixed in. And really high prices. I tried on a bunch of dresses and here’s the winner:

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I think it’s hilarious how miserable I look in that picture. That’s in their dressing room! I wore the dress the next day to make sure I wouldn’t hate it:

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It’s a pink/red 1970s shirtwaist dress with two pockets on the chest and button-up 3/4 sleeves.

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I look weird in this picture but I wanted to show you the length.

All in all my verdict is – it’s not necessarily what I would think of as “my style,” as it’s a bit more modern-looking than I prefer, but it was $22, it fits the bill for the show, and I like that it’s very easy to wear. I think it’s a perfect dress for a day when you don’t really have the energy to get all dolled up or wear anything constricting. I also love the length – it is SO hard to find a modern dress that length, everything is above-the-knee (which is generally too short in my opinion) or a maxi dress to the floor. And this dress swishes around so nicely that it makes you feel pretty and I think would be awesome to dance in.

It also matches my new hairbrush and comb:

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They’re deadstock from the 60s – I bought them on Etsy and she has two sets left! And best of all they only cost $5 with $2 shipping.

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I needed a new brush anyways and I just can’t buy something modern when I have the option of buying something vintage. It’s so much more fun.

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It has cute instructions on how to brush your hair 100 times a day. Which I have probably been doing just because I want to use my new hairbrush. Do you try and buy vintage items besides clothing? What about the stuff that you use every day, like my hairbrush?

Outfit Post: I Bought Pants!

The miraculous has happened. That’s right, I bought a pair of pants.

 

They have flowers on the butt. OH yeah.

 

I bought them off Etsy – the measurements said they would fit me and I can’t believe they actually do. And they only cost about $30. Amazing. Pants shopping is such a nightmare for me – I bet you can see why just by looking at these pictures. It’s the disease well-known as J. Lo Butt but unlike her, I don’t have millions of dollars to spend on custom-made jeans.

It sounds strange but I feel like these jeans make no apologies. They don’t cover your curves or change your shape. This is just what I look like. A pear shape if there ever was one.

 

When it got chillier I wore my new orange sweater that you’ve seen before!

 

It goes pretty perfectly with the flowers.

I also did a lot of work yesterday:

 

The sexiest accessory of all, headphones. I transcribe reality television and believe me it’s a real ROLLERCOASTER OF FUN. And fulfillment. So fun and fulfilling.

So anyhow, I hope you’re proud of me for buying pants. I need more pairs but this is a start!

Vintage 70’s jeans: Etsy $30

Vintage 70s’ button-down: Jet Rag (LA vintage store) $12

Vintage 60’s sweater: Jet Rag $18

Bracelet: Gift from my mom! I think from Kohl’s.

Shoes: Converse

P.S. I got the money for these jeans by selling these ones on Ebay for $33:

 

Size 27 True Religion jeans. Way too small for me now. It’s hard to accept that my body has changed and my style is changing. It’s not easy to let go of. But at least I like my new jeans?

My Clothes May Be Casual, But My Style Is Outrageous

Sometimes I can’t dress up completely for whatever reason and I’ve found it interesting how the smallest attention to detail will really class up your outfit and garner a lot of attention. I think the main lesson to be learned is that people generally don’t wear hats so if you wear one, their minds will explode.

 

This picture, taken in my natural habitat, is an epitome of my sooper c00l casual style. Thanksgiving morning I went to watch some friends play football in the park at 10 AM. I am not a morning person so I had no desire to get ready that early in the morning and it’s a bit weird to really get dressed up to go to the park, so I wore my jeans, one of my 70s button-downs, a red scarf tied around my neck, and my hat. It’s so interesting how those little details take a casual outfit and make it more fun. I felt better and prettier than if I’d worn a hoodie and a baseball cap. SUCK IT, HOODIES AND BASEBALL CAPS. I THROW DOWN.

 

A few days ago I went to see a show at 11 but I wanted to go to the gym first and go swimming. I didn’t want to really get ready all over again for the show, so I wore this old blue and white striped sweatshirt and black SWEATPANTS, but because I added a green scarf and my blue beret people kept acting like I was dressed up. In SWEATPANTS. Red lipstick also helps.

 

I tried the trick again when I was just at home working alone. Put on a beret = feel cooler.

 

Sometimes lipstick and a hairstyle is enough to make you feel gorgeous.

 

I always wear this robe at home (my mom bought it for me at Epcot Center!) after I get out of the shower, over my clothes because I’m cold, whatever. And if a friend comes over while I have this robe on, they always say how pretty it is because it is SO pretty!

 

So there you go. We can be cazh (that’s the abbreviation of casual, you guys) and SUPER at the SAME TIME!

Outfit Post: My Thanksgiving Ensemble

For our Thanksgiving dinner I wore my new pink 1970s Leslie Fay pink dress and jacket (I wore an apron while I was cooking and serving food).

 

I love this outfit! I felt so pretty all day long and got a lot of really nice compliments.

 

I wore my Beyond Skin shoes that I’ve owned for several years – they’re a great vegan shoe brand and these shoes have a definite retro look.

 

Here’s the dress without the jacket. Isn’t the matching belt so cute?

 

We also had a nice Thanksgiving dinner – I made Tofurkey sausages in buns, cornbread, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts and spinach in a vegan butter sauce, and chocolate chip cake. And there were no complaints from our meat-eating guests about the vegan meal. I wouldn’t have put up with any, but luckily no-one tried. I did warn everyone that I would forcibly eject them from my home if they complained, but as I said, nobody complained.

I reached a point after dinner where I felt quite done with talking to people (I’m like that – I can only socialize for so long before I need some alone time) and I snuck off to my room and took these pictures while my roommate and all our guests chatted in the living room. What a weirdo.

Outfit Post: I Could Like Totally Have an Office Job

I have some very exciting developments. One, I figured out if I take my pictures before the sun goes down, my pictures look better. How incredible. Also this way you get to see all my books! It’s a respectable collection. And two, I looked very nice today.

1970s Button-down – Jet Rag

Skirt – part of a 1950s suit I bought on Etsy (CranCove, more specifically)

Sweater tights – Target

Shoes (unpictured) are red moccasins I’ve had since 10th grade.

When it got a bit chillier at night I wore the suit jacket, as well. I’ve worn the suit before but I didn’t take pictures, so I’ll have to wear it again and stun you all!

I guess I can say that purse is vintage 90s now – it was my mom’s until she realized she hates purses.

Pretty sure that hair flower was part of a gift wrapping or something. Not intended to be worn. And the clip-on earrings were my grandmother’s. They also happen to be my most painful clip-ons but they’re so pretty!

Before I started wearing red lipstick regularly a couple months ago, I’d only ever worn it to prom. But now it feels so me and I really prefer red to any other color.

My roommate and I went shopping – I was looking for pants (total fail) and shoes I can walk in (also huge fail – it turns out LA vintage/thrift stores only carry six-foot-tall Lady Gaga heels). But I did buy this beret for $8 at Jet Rag – I had been wanting more hats so I now own three hats that are completely unrelated to sun protection (as opposed to all hats I owned previously, most of the “baseball” variety).

I took that picture while waiting for someone at a gas station. I was meeting her there because I needed to buy something from her (for work) and meeting someone at a darkened gas station to exchange money for goods is always a good, professional idea in Los Angeles. Anyhow, cool fucking beret, huh?

Even though my outfit was a tad fancy for Los Angeles, and especially for going shopping and then going and playing with a cat, which were my Sunday activities, I felt really nice in it all day.