Per my reckoning, blue denim jeans came onto the local fashion scene some time in the late 1960s. Soon it became the universal below-waist cover-up for every Ah Beng, Arun and Ali. The supposedly casual wear began turning up at every occasion, location and function.
The ladies were not spared this viral apparel infection too.
At my workplaces, even the managers and the managing directors wore denim jeans. Yes, everyone, with one notable exception – ie., this writer himself.
I have NEVER worn a pair of denim jeans in my entire life! “Don’t ask me why…how come I did not try…”
Perhaps, the thought of putting on some thick, canvas-like fabric, with a rugged weather-beaten appearance did not jive well with my personal grooming habits. More correctly, the thought never entered my mind.
Lately, I came across one nostalgic “primeval-looking” gadget at a barber’s shop – I believe the proper name is “Wave Clip”.
I remember hairdressers of old-time perm parlours used these to clip on bunches of hair on their customers’ heads, as part of the process to create wavy forms. Oh yes, my late Mum also had half-a-dozen of these in a drawer of her dressing table.
It seems that these awesome (and fearsome-looking) grippers have fallen out of fashion these days, and no modern lady wants to be even seen in possession of the GrabHair thingy.
By the way, when I was much younger, my barber too used such a clip to grab a chunk of my hair at the sides of my head, so that he could do a clean trim. Maybe that was due to my “back-comb” style.
Disclaimer : This is not about flaunting of private assets in public.
In the late 70s through to the late 80s, it was fashionable to affix a thick strip of rubber, called “side molding” to both sides of one’s car doors. These supposedly protected the sides of the vehicle against accidental knocks by the doors of other cars parked adjacent to one’s mobility pride.
More importantly, I suspect that these side moldings endowed the stripped cars with a perception of added strength and a touch of machismo.
Thus, when I got my first ‘proper’ car in the form of a second-hand, first-gen Mazda 323, the first thing I did was to drive it to an accessories shop for a stripping job. It looked great afterwards.
I think these days such side moldings are no longer cool or chic.
These snappy fasteners had already attained a star-studded status way way before Maggi Mee made its debut as a mainstream staple.
In my baby years and teenage era, when my late mum and many other aunties and kakaks were expert seamstresses, Press-Stud buttons were a common sight, found in the needle boxes and drawers of Singer sewing machines.
They were favoured for their ease of use – just press to close and pull apart (the clothes) to open. I remember all our pyjamas had these fasteners. So were a lot of ladies’ blouses.
I think these days, a lot of these buttons have been superseded by zippers (I could be wrong) – as the latter seem to provide a better insurance against “wardrobe malfunctions” (intended or otherwise). Labour-wise, attaching zippers lends itself much more readily to automation.
* Pun on Maggi Mee’s tagline : “Cepat Dimasak Sedap Dimakan”
Does it matter ? Yes, I mean in the old days, the shape of the bottom of your shirt (called “hem”, right?) determined whether or not your shirt should be tucked in.
If the shirt was a long-sleeved one, it came with a nice rounded hem, which must be tucked into the pants. For courtesy, modesty or formality, or all three, having an exposed rounded bottom was a frowned-upon “No-No”. But it was OK, if the shirt, especially a short-sleeve “hawaiian” type which always came with a straight bottom.
But times have changed. These days, we see our young men strutting smugly around town in shirts with exposed, untucked rounded hem (worse still, with a half-done tie, and shorts) going arm-in-arm with girlfriends dressed to the nines.
Tastes have changed too. Ironically, anything goes, just tuck it in.
I first encountered neckties in 1963. Didn’t like those “kiddy” types at all – one which came with an elastic band, and another with a Y-shaped plastic catch (this one made my skin sore).
I wanted to have those which adults wore.
But getting the knot “right” with the correct lengths to be left dangling was quite tricky. In those days, the prevailing style seemed to resemble a scalene triangle, which I called the “ketupat”. I hated that shape because it was asymmetrical.
I spent many hours perfecting the twists and turns to get that ultimate symmetrical “samosa” knot, along the way inadvertently producing some “bak chang”, and “kuih abok abok” as well. Quite stressful, just to put a tight noose around our necks !
Do you have a knotty story to tell ?
Remember Y-suspenders ? These accessories for men seemed to be fashionable in most of the Westerns – the menfolk appeared to be wearing these all the time.
When I was a kid, I used to wear these too. But it was less of being a hipster of the day and more of upholding a down-to-earth need. I was growing quickly in size, and being relatively poor, we could not afford to buy new clothes frequently.
So my mum found a solution – she bought pants for me that were 2 sizes larger. When new, those were really loose and thus the Y-suspenders came in handy. By the second year, I probably did not need those anymore. (But by the third year, the pants were rather tight)
You may want to call it Stitch – any which way, it was an art that required huge Passion, Patience plus creative Imagination. Embroidery by hand ; which ladies of the old days – including many of my senior relatives – loved to indulge and excel in.
I remember that sometimes they also used sewing machines to do the stitching.
Haiz, it has been donkey (maybe for 2016 just call it Monkey) years since I last saw any lady, especially a younger one, doing it. Perhaps it simply does not jive well with the fast pace of modern life. Also, these days, with computer-aided machines, even extremely complex patterns can be sewn and reproduced by the millions in perfection.
The Kerongsang Kebaya Peranakan, that is. (I think some call it Kerongsang Rantai)
The ladies who donned the Kebaya Peranakan would need to garnish the front with a three-piece brooch that was intra-linked with a chain (usually of gold or silver). The brooches came in a huge variety of intricate and exquisite designs and were often adorned with precious stones of various colors too.
This fashion accessory-cum-pin fastener was an essential item to complete the Kebaya outfit. But as these were expensive pieces of jewelry, the ladies in less well-off families could only afford a set in their lifetimes – often the relatives would mutually exchange among themselves for different festive occasions (usually weddings).
Unlike 7-Up, the difference is not so clear
Since young, I had always prided on having perfect eagle-eye vision, that could spot spelling mistakes on a signboard 20 miles down the highway, and see font size #1 used in sneaky Disclaimer Notes on my insurance policies. The thought of I having to wear ugly spectacles never crossed my mind.
That pride shattered acrimoniously in 1977, when I started to find difficulty in reading my university lecturers’ writings on the board. A reluctant visit to an optical shop confirmed my worst fears — I had developed myopia and,……astigmatism !
That started my financial ruin, as prices of prescription glasses rocketed over the years and,……
…..the distinction between Clarity and Vanity blurred…..as these days I look a lot better with glasses – at least the lovebags under my eyes are not so conspicuous. Kakaka !