Classic Children’s Looks From The 70’s And 80’s

In today’s Genforward free online genealogy website blog I thought I’d take a look at some of the fashion items that being back memories, a subject my son had been asking about recently since he has been given a bit of freedom in choosing his own clothes etc. now. Some of these items are from childhood, some from teenage life (when things really get messed up as far as any sense of style goes!). Anyway, hope some of these bring back a few memories for you:

Ok, so the 1970’s and 80’s weren’t exactly a hotbed of couture style. What with the punk era, new romantics and goths to contend with, dress sense could go a bit out of the window when left in the hands of impressionable children like us.

Let’s start with a classic from the days of school………

Yes, the cutting edge child’s athletic footwear of the 70’s the plimsoll. I’m not quite sure how these things were supposed to fit into a child’s active lifestyle. They were uncomfortable, impractical, provided no protection whatsoever as they were basically just cloth wraps with rubber soles. That being said, I’d still warrant that the person who invented this medieval torture device made millions because it was the must have piece of gym equipment along with your vest and shorts.


As with all items of school clothing, these ones had to have your name in them because every child had them. This led to a bizarre “custom” trend whereby parents would try to do things to their children’s plimsolls so they could find them more easily. Unfortunately as this was parent customising as opposed to anything we as children might like, most of it appeared to be done with a communal bottle of Tippex that the parents seemed to share.


The next thing I can clearly remember as a must have item was the correct school bag.

This, just for the record, was not it. This is what I recall being sent off to school with by my parents. It served ok for the first year or two, however it then became a liability. Carrying one of these was tantamount to walking around with a “kick me” sign on your back. Things had to be taken in hand and a long discussion with parents resulted in a correction of the bag situation.

With my trusty Adidas bag in tow, my chances of making it to high school improved immeasurably. In fairness to my parents, the satchel would probably have lasted longer. I went through several of these bags in my years. They seemed to always go at the corners, especially when slid across the floor at high speed in the direction of the unsuspecting child still wearing a satchel.


As far as outer wear, there was only one choice for the discerning child about town in the 1970’s.

Parents liked them because they were sensible and you could wrap up your little angel nice and warm. We liked them because you looked at the world through a tube. This did of course also have the side effect of leaving the wearer somewhat vulnerable to attack from the rear, or sides, or below, or above, or just about anywhere except face on at head height. But that’s what gangs were for. Like a wagon train under attack from Apaches, we could circle our parkas and defend on all fronts.


I think the next real thing I can remember forcing my parents to buy in order to fit in with the crowd was a pair of trousers, but not just ANY trousers.

They had to be two tones. Mine were a particular psychedelic combination of bright purple and an almost gold coloured brown (MUCH more “out there” than our model here is illustrating I promise).

The who vibe had gone a bit “Mod” so there were the classic Fred Perry T-shirts and Harrington Jacks to contend with as well. It was all most odd.


I seem to recall a few years after this a brief phase of what I guess was skin head inspired fashion.

Everyone took to wearing 14 hole Doctor Martin boots (I had it in my head it was 18 holer’s but they don’t seem to have existed :P) with trousers taken up to leave about 12 holes showing. Looking back, it may well not have been skin heads that inspired us as we looked more like a Star Trek away team gone wrong than a bunch of Jack Booted nasties.


Shortly after, or maybe even concurrent with (memories can get so fuzzy after this long), we had the fluorescent sock phase!

Yes when decked out with these babies we really were the talk of the town. The most important thing to remember however was that at no time must a matching pair be worn. I know. Don’t ask. I really can’t explain it any further than that.


As we got a little older, things then moved to the ubiquitous Farrah trousers.

These were coupled with a number of possible items. First off there was the Lyle and Scott Jumper


However about this time there was also a big surge in the track suit top wearing theme. Lots of brands about but not so many that made it to the millennial years. Sergio Tacchini was a big deal, then there was Diadora (their trainers were really good), Lacoste (they do still exist and it’s good quality stuff), then brands like Hummel (they used to make the Tottenham kits when Holsten Pils was the sponsor, best kits in football).


Looking at these photos it seems there was a bit of a blue and white theme going on. There was certainly a lot of white as a lot of this stuff was from the world of Tennis (not quite sure why but there ya go).

However all of the above paled into insignificance when compared to the big daddy of them all. IF you didn’t have one, you were a nobody.

There were track tops, tank tops, t-shirts, bags, shoes, you name it. Just slap on the Addidas Lendl design and it would sell in shedloads.


Obviously all of this was a mess. To be brutal it got worse when I went to 6th form and ended up wearing all sorts of mad variation from jeans that I had shredded from top to bottom so they were only held together by a few  cross threads, to stupid cartoon t shirts with the flintsones and stuff on, coupled with non matching brightly coloured cardigans. Next day I’d be all in black like some kind of bedraggled crow. Add in the LONG hair, almost waist long and naturally wavy………….well, lets just say I thank the lord this was before everyone had a camera on their phone………..or even a phone for that matter!


One last classic I’ll leave you with that jsut sprang to mind when I was talking about hair, the Farrahs/track top look always had to be topped of with onw of these little beauties!

To be fair, even this one isn’t’ quite as bad as I remember everyone having at school. The basic “do” was short at front with tightest possible perm put in on the ducks ass at the back.


Anyway, till next time……

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