Author: Nicole C. Maloy, W’95
At our Alumni Relations holiday party, we had an “ugliest holiday sweater” contest. I don’t have any “holiday sweaters” per se, but I do have an enormous, multicolored, plaid sweater, a relic from the early 1990’s. It was the obvious choice.
Heinous. My coworker and classmate said I looked like The Ghost of Cosby Past. One friend noted that the turtleneck was a nice touch. I thanked her, noting that, the beauty of these suckers was that you could pretty much pick a turtleneck at random, and it was bound to match some color in the sweater. Another friend told me she remembers this sweater from our study abroad trip to Lyon, France in the fall of 1993. Who would remember a sweater from nearly 20 years ago? Well, I suppose once your eyeballs are exposed to one of these, there’s a burning sensation, and you just can’t forget, no matter how hard you try.
Colors and patterns aside, why on earth did we walk around in sweaters this big? (To get a true understanding of the size of this thing, check out the group photo from our party – just look at my sleeves. Look at them. Again, I ask, WHY?)
I suppose the “why” doesn’t much matter since all of us walked around looking something like this at the time. I also remember wearing beautiful, long, floral dresses, and rounding out the look with boots. Big, clunky boots. So cute, right?
Of course, now I understand why my mother and grandmother would look at my feet in horror. “Why would you wear boots like that with such a pretty dress?” they would ask. “Why don’t you put on some nice sandals or something?” I would adjust my scrunchie, and calmly extol the fabulousness of my ensemble. They would throw their hands up and shake their heads. I suspect they have had that conversation before, only with one another. Fringe and bell bottoms may have been involved (and this would be a good time to re-read the title of this blog post).
Speaking of fringe and bell bottoms, one of the most entertaining parts of looking through the old yearbooks we have at the Sweeten Alumni House – and by “old” I mean from any time before I arrived at Penn – is seeing how the hair and clothing choices, both for men and women, scream out the era. When I was a student, I thought that I and my friends looked totally normal, and it was all those other people, in the past, who looked so funny in their ridiculous hair and clothes. We, on the other hand, looked timelessly fashionable in our dark, matte lipstick at the dawn of Revlon ColorStay, our leotards with baggy jeans and a plaid flannel shirt tied around the waist, and yes, our baby doll T’s underneath those elegant dresses we wore with boots. Perhaps the joke was on me.