Sometimes I get to feelin’
I was back in the old days – long ago
When we were kids, when we were young
Things seemed so perfect – you know?
The days were endless, we were crazy – we were young
The sun was always shinin’ – we just lived for fun
Sometimes it seems like lately – I just don’t know
The rest of my life’s been – just a show.
From Queen: These are the days of our lives
This lyric is from one of my all-time favourite songs, from my all-time favourite band. I had the absolutely amazing opportunity to see Queen play in what was to be their final concert ever. Along with 120,000 of my closest friends we rocked the afternoon of 9 August, 1986 at Knebworth Park. We were treated to the spectacular show that was ‘The Magic Tour’, from the album ‘Kind of Magic’ that provided the soundtrack to that other eighties classic, Highlander.
Oh yes, those were the days my friends, we thought they’d never end (to quote from another classic, from the only other decade that can hold a candle to the Awesome Eighties).
When we were kids, when we were young
For me, Queen just hits the nail right smack dab on the head. When we were kids, when we were young, things seemed so perfect. The first half of the eighties saw me through the years from 17 to 23. A golden age for youth, if we only knew then what we know now. Through these heydays I was a slave to the temples of fashion. In the UK this era was the time of New Romantics, military jackets, shiny suits, trilby hats and David Bowie (no, wait – ever era from the 1960’s to today has been the era of David Bowie). Indeed, our Mr Jones could be said to have launched the whole concept with his presciently named 1980s hit ‘Fashion’. So many of my personal cues came from his look at that time.
One of my fondest memories from this time was of a first date with Julie – the girl who became my first love (and my first heartbreak, but that’s for another day). Our date was set for a smart new Wine Bar, and she had asked if I minded her wearing her trilby. She cut a dash in a green corduroy suit with a snug, fitted jacket and pedal pusher pants, topped off with a green trilby. Clearly my literary skills here need work, because I appear to have described a leprechaun, but my 18 year old self saw a vision of style and sophistication. I was SO fashionable myself too, of course, with my shiny pinstripe suit, narrow lapels and a thin leather tie, capped, of course, with a classic grey felt trilby.
Our romance blossomed along with our shirts
Our romance blossomed along with our shirts. As the New Romantic style became ever more flamboyant (yes, I’m talking to you Adam Ant), so did our personal fashion statement. Julie and I outdid each other with flair and flounced hair. My clubbing attire included a dress shirt with pleated front and tight ankled baggy pants. Daily, I wore a Royal Air Force surplus tunic, or one of my super-stylish wrap over shirts. A Phil Oakley haircut set me off a tee, and caused me to be constantly flicking my hair out of my eyes. Oh how I miss it. Hair, I mean. The gravity of the ages has pulled the hair down through my head, and so now it sprouts from my nose, back, toes – everywhere but my head. Give it another couple of decades and I won’t have a need for slippers – when the hair reaches rock bottom and grows from the soles of my feet.
Army surplus was definitely de rigeur back then. At least it was in the middle England mining area where I grew up. I’ve no idea about the rest of the world because we didn’t have the interweb back then to know better. From who knows where, I had got my hands on a French Navy Great Coat that was huge – reaching almost to the ground, and heavy too – most coat hangers succumbed so I was invariably picking the thing up off the floor. My fashion sense knew no bounds – taste, patriotism, gender, none.
You know you are old though, when the styles of your youth come back into fashion. Today my daughter wears the loose scarves just like the girls back then. Old is the new New and we must look back to look forwards. Retro chic is everywhere, from kitchen blenders to lava lamps. The car industry jumped firmly on this particular bandwagon, and now the style icons of old are the must-have wheels today (think Mini, Beetle, Camaro and more). Same goes for clothing. The cross-over shirt, with the diagonal flap running from roughly mid-point to the left shoulder – yes, it’s back. Trilbys are ubiquitous (but more so for the girls this time around). It’s like we’ve gone full circle, but in an alternate-universe-kind-of-slightly-skewed way.
So Steam Punk is a niche genre in clothing and all else, tipping a hat to the Madonna’s punk look in Desperately Seeking Susan, but more refined, with the edges polished by the sands of time. Earrings for men can now be worn in both ears (I was never entirely sure whether it was right or left ear that signalled an interest in brotherly love. Humble apologies for any gay intent I may have implied). But as in all things, we can’t just recycle. We have to refresh too. Bringing out my old eighties gear today would just look sad.
This post is a response to the Daily Prompt writing challenge: New Sensation