My husband is almost 57. His background is Scottish and he grew up in the 1950's over there for the first six or so years of his life before the family emigrated to Australia.
He is a product of the 1950's in that his parents set the standards for how he was to dress and have his hair until he turned 18 and then he rebelled by wearing flared jeans, growing his hair long and sporting a moustache.
Prior to that he spent a lot of time in shorts or short pants as they were called. If they went out he wore a shirt and tie with those short pants. Added to that would be a neat jumper and smart shoes and socks. This was topped off with a hair cut that was called a "college cut".
Neither of his parents ever wore jeans. His father always wore trousers and a collared shirt. In his later years he dispensed with the tie. His mother was always beautifully groomed wearing dresses, pantyhose and very nice shoes which were always stored in the wardrobe in their original boxes. Until she developed Alzheimer's there was rarely a day that she did not wear make up.
Part of his upbringing meant that my husband had fixed ideas about how one should dress and when we first got married this caused great discord between us because he thought I should be more "feminine". However, that issue has long been sorted and he likes me just the way I am now. Also, I do dress better now so that helps. Believe me, I have worn some weird clothes in my time. The 1980's have a lot to answer for.
Despite my father being a mean prick, he never told me what to wear really. As long as I was not dressed in a slatternly manner he did not care what I wore so I was free to express myself. I just want to say how much loved cheesecloth tops, corduroy pants and roman sandals. Oh, and pirate shirts. Wonderful Doc Marten shoes and boots.
Now, move forward to the 2000's. My son's era of clothing. Well, it's a free for all really isn't it? Kids wear what they want most of the time and are fairly resistant to any fashion tips from their parents.
Now, that does not bother me because I believe that people can wear what they want. And that young people need to express themselves through the way they dress. That whole tribal thing.
I may not like what they wear and think that many clothes look down right stupid. In particular, I think that girls dress poorly for their shape and size. Too tight clothes for big girls. Too short skirts for very big legs. Or very sexualised clothing for girls that are sexual beings but not ready for the attention that goes with the package.
But, that is part of growing up. Most people find their way as they get older because society requires a certain level of mainstream conformity to function reasonably well. Plus, it is a bad look to be thirty and be dressing like a fifteen year old. In other words, we move on.
So, with that in mind, I let my son wear what he likes. I let him grow his hair how he likes. He likes stuff a bit grungy and embraces the whole funky t-shirt thing. I draw the line when he is out with me and, being too lazy to put shoes and socks on, wants to wear shorts and flip flops in the middle of winter. And he is not allowed to wear tracksuit pants except for sport. There is a difference between standards and personal expression and I am not negotiable on that.
Besides, I asked him if he would like it if I went down the street with him wearing sloppy track pants, grungy t-shirt, unwashed hair and no make up. And then completed the outfit with flip flops. He sees my point so is accepting of a few rules. As for the prospect of a tattoo, well, I have told him if he gets a tattoo then I will frogmarch him down to the cosmetic surgeon to get it burnt off without any pain killers. When he leaves home he can do what he likes.
However, my husband hates the way my son dresses. The other night we were lying in bed and talking about a few things going on with S and after we had resolved most of it my husband had to tell me something that obviously bothered him greatly.
"I do not like the clothes you buy for S. I was so embarrassed by how he dressed overseas," he started with.
"What are you on about?" I answered while casting my mind back to what he wore. Cargo pants, t-shirt, hooded jacket and ski coat. Hiking boots. Hmmm, all seemed okay to me.
"Those pants. They were so untidy. And that hoody thing. Plus the t-shirts you let him where. That one with the monkey that has a cigarette hanging out of its mouth. He looked so shabby," husband gets into rant mode.
"You old fart. He looked fine. What do you want him to wear?" I asked.
"Well, in my day I was respectful of what my parents thought I should wear. What is wrong with looking smart?" he said.
"Nothing is wrong with looking smart at the right times. But teenagers need to be able to express themselves through their music, their clothing, their books, their rooms or their hairstyles. Whatever they need to do has to be respected. You had to wait until you were eighteen for that. Things are different now. As if he is going to wear short pants and a tie," I told him.
He mumbled some more and then went to sleep.
The next day I overheard my son say "Dad, this is 2010 and not 1959 you know". It was some talk about his attire.
I thought about that song on Hair called I Got Life. The guy at the start of the song says to the older woman something like "This is 1964 not 1934" (something like that) before he burst into his funky song about living his life as he chooses.
One day my son may hear the same words come back to him. "Hey dad, this is 2030 and not 2010 you know". Can't wait to see clothes then! And I shall remind my son of the same conversation he had with his father.
Some things never change.