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 

Outfit Post: Sleek Black and White

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Silky button-down (70s) – Jet Rag
Pencil skirt – borrowed from my mom
Necklace – vintage, passed down from my grandmother

Also featuring my brand-new purchase, Coty L’Origan. I plan on doing a post on vintage perfume soon and I’ll tell you more about it then. So far, I’m in love. And I’ve gotten no complaints, which can be almost like a compliment when wearing perfume around my family.

Outfit Post: Jetset Pink and Green

I didn’t have anywhere to go yesterday but I reached my sweatpants limit and got dressed just to clean my room and read half of the internet.

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You’ve seen the dress before but not the scarf and I tell ya, I felt like a genius when I stumbled upon this combination.

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I called this jetset pink and green because a cute scarf around the neck reminds me of 60’s flight attendants. And look at my nails! They’re painted, but NOT red! I’m branching out! And I have on PINK lipstick (which I think I’ve only done once on the blog so far, hated, and apologized for).

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Love dat scarf. I also tried something different with my makeup which I ended up really liking. You may or may not know that I am very into the Titanic and other early 20th century maritime history – you probably don’t know, seeing as I haven’t told you – but I wanted to try a makeup look inspired by the early 1900’s – flushed, rosy, glowy, yet natural. I mixed a highlighter in with my foundation, put on powder and blush, then on my eyes I just put a little bit of champagne eyeshadow all over and some rose colored blush near the lashline. Topped off with mascara and rose-colored lipstick and it’s an extremely light makeup look but I really felt beautiful.

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Oh and that bracelet snagged my dress. Go to hell, bracelet.

I have something I simply MUST share with you. Do you watch Mad Men? Well, you should. But regardless, you should read the costume analysis on Tom and Lorenzo. They go through essentially every outfit on the show and analyze it based off of what it says about the character (in general and in the moment) and give them some historical context. It’s totally fascinating and I’ve spent hours catching up on the archives. Watching fashion change from the late 50’s to the point where you can see the 70’s around the corner is absolutely fascinating and if you care about historical fashion at all, you must read it. I can tell from their analysis, though, how little of a “modern” eye I have for fashion. They’ll talk about the clothes that still look good today versus those that were stylish in the 60s but appear dated now and I always seem to love those outfits. Whatever, it’s cool. Somebody’s gotta be your grandma, might as well be me.

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.

My Vintage Christmas and Birthday

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I celebrated Christmas early with my brother, step-dad, and mom on Saturday, and I got some wonderful vintage presents! I always have multiple Christmases because my mom and dad live in different states. My mom has lived in Indiana and my dad in Kansas since I was 7. Sometimes we all get together for Christmas but this year I’ll have to settle for two Christmases. Poor me.

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Here’s my brother and I with our stockings! Besides my fuzzy purple socks I am wearing a vintage outfit (my pink early 70’s dress and jacket) with pin curl waves.

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Us shaking hands after we both got gloves – Derek got texting gloves and I got blue mesh 1950’s gloves. They’re gorgeous.

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We went to lunch and when we came back, it was my birthday! My birthday’s actually the 30th, but my mom wanted to be able to celebrate with me.

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I got these shoes, which I think have such a nice 40’s look. And aren’t they reminiscent of the shoes Rachel McAdams wears in the bicycle scene in The Notebook?

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And this cute serving tray my mom bought me in France.

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And the most glamorous gift – the hat.

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I originally thought it looked very forties but when I researched the hatmaker I found 1) very little 2) that most of the hats made by that manufacturer are listed as 60’s, some 50s, but then one was described as late 30’s. So I cannot figure out when this hat manufacturer was in business!

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It can look black, but it’s actually a very dark navy.

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It didn’t have too far to go in life – born in Indianapolis and my mom bought it in Bloomington, an hour south.

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Though some of its parts had a more exotic provenance.

If you have any idea when this hat was made, please let me know!

Merry Christmas Eve and I hope you all have a wonderful time with your families, whether you celebrate a holiday this time of year or not (my whole family is nonreligious but we enjoy the Christmas decorations and the presents) and maybe even some vintage presents under the tree!

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?