Since I’ve mostly pared myself down to T-shirts and blue jeans, I’ve been thinking about how this sloppiness happened and where it all came from. (Warning: This column is mostly for women because I’m not much of an authority on men’s fashions.)

If I had kept all the clothing I wore down through the years, what would that be? Assuming I had a warehouse instead of an apartment.

I would begin with Kate Greenaway dresses in sizes 8 and 10, and plenty of pinafores. Remember?

Next would come some ballerina skirts, worn with blouses that had Peter Pan collars, buttoning down the front and worn tucked into those long skirts.

That’s the outfits we wore, for instance, when we sang in the girls’ sextet at Sherman High School.

I’m trying in vain to remember the name of those shirts.

As I aged into college from high school, the skirts got skinnier and shorter, pencil skirts that hit just below the knees. I never did wear miniskirts.

The shirts were still button down and still tucked in. Many times, the skirts had matching jackets. That was my first encounter with business suits, long, long before pantsuits like Hillary Clinton wears.

In fact, in all this time, grade school through college, pants were a no-no, except when the weather got below 40 degrees. Then, in grade school, we could wear pants under our dresses. In college, we could wear pants by themselves, along with warm jackets or sweaters.

During the time when we were picking out wedding dresses, several of us opted for ballerina length outfits. I was one of those ballerina brides, with a white summer dress of embroidered organdy. It’s one of the things I gave away when I moved out of my house into my apartment.

When I began working as a reporter, I showed up for work in dresses, or skirts and blouses. But one fateful day pretty much put an end to that, and I suspect many of us working different kinds of jobs began the pants-wearing regimen that grew and grew and exists today.

I’ll never forget. I had on a green dress with ruffled sleeves. Black dress shoes. Not spike heels, but fairly high ones.

I ended up out interviewing the people on a barge that was dredging the Hitchcock Diversionary Canal. I waded through mud to get to my destination. That was the end of dresses at work.

I guess in different forms that happened for many of us. I know a few women who wear dresses all the time. They look lovely. Feminine. But they’re a minority.

I blame all kinds of work and tours with the military and with law enforcement. Women dress like their male counterparts in what’s still a man’s world.

I told somebody I didn’t have any dresses left in my closet, but that wasn’t quite true. In the back are a Hawaiian muumuu and what they called a “patio” dress.

The articles of clothing I’m happiest to have thrown out are pantyhose.

I had them in beige and even in black and white. Every grocery store had a rack of them.

Goodbye pantyhose and good riddance.

Cathy Gillentine is a Daily News columnist. She may be reached at


Recommended for you

(1) comment

Walter Dannenmaier

Here's an easy guide to men's fashion on the island. 90% of the time, you are good to go in shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops. A clean t-shirt is needed for dress occasions.

Welcome to the discussion.

Real Names required. No pseudonyms or partial names allowed. Stand behind what you post.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.