Auntie Fashion

I’m the fashion world’s most-enduring muse.

Kids Just Don’t Understand: Part One

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Kids nowadays!

Honestly, I never say anything like that.  I’m more likely to tell you “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”  Still, I can understand how kids nowadays have no idea just how ubiquitous certain fashion trends were when those trends have virtually disappeared without a trace.

Take the Toni home perm, for example.  I remember the eye-watering chemical stench of these things like it was yesterday!  People would generally set up shop in their kitchen when they were about to give a home perm because it provided the space necessary for such a complicated operation; you needed 360° access to the victim and a well-ventilated room so that you didn’t choke on the fumes.  It wasn’t really that hard to give a home perm if you just bothered to read the box.  How many people actually do that, though?  People who claim that they can’t cook are simply those people who can’t bother to follow a recipe.  When the rules are spelled out for you, how difficult are they to follow?

Anyway, a lot of people had problems with home perms because they couldn’t bother to follow the instructions while working with the chemicals.  Hair would break.  Scalps would burn.  Children would die. Okay, maybe I’m making up that last part . . .

People who were good at giving home perms would practice rolling up the curls ahead of time so that the time-sensitive process would be completed in an efficient manner.  And the results were lovely.  Who wouldn’t want a head full of soft, pliable curls that virtually styled themselves?  But, like most fashion trends, the home perm began to go the way of the dinosaur after peaking in popularity in the 1970s.

It’s difficult for kids today to understand or appreciate a trend that seems so completely foreign to them.  But those kids of the seventies who grew up with home perms probably didn’t understand how ubiquitous falls, wigs and other hairpieces were during the sixties — those beehives didn’t get that high on their own!  Today’s kids who have grown up with hair extensions and other clip-on pieces available at every cheap accessories shop in the mall probably don’t even know what a perm is because perms haven’t been fashionable since the spiral perm gave the look it’s last gasp of stylishness in the mid-eighties.  Yet fashion is cyclical, and it’s been a long time since a head full of curls has been de rigueur.  That’s often all it takes to make a style come back: just point out how tired it is and all the cool kids jump on it like five-year-olds in a bouncy castle.

Perhaps a new era of home perms is right around the corner?  You just never know, and that’s the way that fashion works!


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April 15, 2013 at 3:51 pm

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