Crib Sheets: It's Back To School... Super '70s Style

Renae Brabham

Part of Grit's "Crib Sheets" series—Your totally local guide to getting through the back-to-school season. Also check out... 


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High school parking lot, 1970s/ Hemmings Daily
I was browsing through Spotify looking for new stuff, and realized a few minutes in that this would be comparable to a whale picking out one fish for dinner. Soon, I landed on the vast, but recognizable category of the '70s—that hangover decade that followed the '60s hippie-peace-and-love, sleep in and smoke out era. 
For the next hour, I sang every word to every song.  
Before I get to our version of back-to-school fashion, I should note that country girls didn't make very good hippies. First, not enough people knew what it was to be a hippie in our little town, so you couldn't really rebel against anything because no one knew what you were doing. Kind of defeats the purpose of a good healthy rebellion.
Second, There were only two channels that came in through the "antenna" at my house, one for the news and the other for "Gunsmoke" or "Hee Haw."  
Happy Raine was the closest thing to a hippie around there. 
Oh, we gave it a shot.  We colored peace signs on our book covers and wore bell bottoms, hip huggers, and halter tops to the dismay of the church ladies. We thought we were "far out" and knew it all, then a stray would move to town from California or somewhere off and show us something that we were missing. Maybe recite some Poe. 
Clothes shopping was pretty stress-free for our parents. The guys usually got two new pair of Levi's, which they scrubbed up as soon as they could to get the new blue out, a new pair of sneaks and a few silk shirts, but mostly they wore their coveted concert shirts until they were threadbare.
Renae Brabham photo, the high school years
Us girls were happy with some new clogs, earrings, and belts to accessorize the embroidered jeans we had been working on all summer. If our jeans were beyond repair, we made blue jean pocketbooks out of them.
Renae Brabham photo, the high school years
Basically, the style was to not look like you were wearing anything new.
Maxis, minis, embroidered and painted jeans, chevron shirts and dresses, floppy hats, bell bottoms, hip huggers, sizzler dresses (oh my) and clogs rounded out the apparel.
We didn't need to rehash our summer vacations or camps with friends because our summers were always spent together. I am going to guess that our generation coined the phrase "hanging out." And hang out we did... In parks, by the river banks, floating the Edisto, fishing in gator ponds until it got too hot to fish and then peeling off clothes and swimming when we could see the gator on the other side of pond. 
We drowned ourselves in baby oil and iodine and lay on shiny aluminum blankets to tan. For thrills we'd get hold of some Boone's Farm Strawberry Wine and play cow pattie bingo or cruise the town limit signs. 
Today, I crank the volume on the Spotify '70s radio station, Seals & Croft singing "Summer Breeze." 
No, I don't think I would go so far as to call the '70s "the good old days,"  but judging from the pinched faces of the parents I have seen in retail stores with grumpy kids and long list in hand... They weren't all that bad.