Fashion Sensations of my Youth

Ah, fashion, you are a fickle muse

Why are we obsessed with fashion when we are young? And why do some of us never lose the obsession?

RedBallJetsI remember the first bit of clothing that I “had to have” in my youth, the first time that my little self-image stood up and said “I need to look like that!” I don’t suppose it was a “look” I was after as much as it was the sway of advertising aimed at young people. I had to have a pair of Red Ball Jets!

For those who may be too young to remember (and for those, like I’m becoming, who are too old to remember), Red Ball Jets were a type of sneaker, or tennis shoe. I spent my formative years in the early 1960’s, and by the time I was old enough to begin forming my own version of my self-image we were fortunate enough to have a television.

This was the era of broadcast television, and where we lived there were three local network channels (ABC, CBS and NBC) and a PBS channel. And the power of Madison Avenue fell upon me in a great wave, full in its fury, and convinced me that I too could “run faster and jump higher” if I only had a pair of Red Ball Jets!

And so I begged and cajoled and pleaded, and prevailed, and I had a pair of Red Ball Jets. I don’t remember any difference in running or jumping. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any.

But I do remember the sense of satisfaction that I felt, mixed with a little bit of pride, and a dose of  vanity, when I sported my new Red Ball Jets for the very first time. I do vaguely remember that Peter, who could always run faster and jump higher than me, promptly outran and out jumped me, thus tarnishing the luster of my new acquisitions.

I believe it’s that mixture of emotions, some satisfaction,  some pride, and most of all, vanity, that toxic “look at me” cocktail, that hooks us when we are young. It is a powerful drug, and later in life, when we mix in a dash of our self-image’s desire to identify with our “tribe”, it becomes the formula that hooks some of us for life.

I remember other new sensations. Converse All-Stars (they’re back, now called Chuck Taylor All-Stars, and in colors and patterns that would make old Chuck scratch his head), solid-colored, brushed denim leisure suits with loud polyester print shirts (stayin’ alive), patchwork denim bell-bottoms with platform shoes (yikes!), I tried them all.

And then, just as it had come, it went. I think I realized that, no matter how I tried, no matter how far ahead I tried to peer into the crystal ball, I was not really a member of that tribe, I was a follower. I have no idea who the leaders of that tribe were, I just remember they probably weren’t from the little Midwestern town where I lived.

But it was sure sensational while it lasted!

New Sensation

Author: rudyblues57

A fellow traveler in our journey around the neighborhood thermonuclear explosion. Full of random thoughts and esoteric observations about the human condition, how we treat each other, and other detritus of life.

10 thoughts on “Fashion Sensations of my Youth”

  1. My jaw dropped when I read that I was not the only kid still remembering that obsession with Red Ball Jets! Yes, I begged, and I was rewarded. I was one of the faster runners in my grade school class (born in 1951), but I really felt like those tennis shoes made me faster, higher. In high school, I graduated to Chuckie-T’s, and I still have 3 pair – black high-top, white low-top, AND the white high-tops that I played my last year of high school basketball in, which I still wear to my school reunions. Thanks for a great read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to worry, Gayle! Our world is what we experience, and mine happens to be Red Ball Jets. Yours is lawyers in leisure suits. It’s just different aspects of the same world. I recently worked with a guy in my company who wears track suits every day. A pair of sweat pants with a stripe down the outside of the leg and a matching jacket. It’s his leisure suit. Just another spin on fashion. Thanks so much for reading!


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