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Thursday, 05 July 2018 03:53

Bell-Bottomed Shirts

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Rae Sandra 1975I was listening to Billy Joel’s Piano Man on my truck stereo on the way into work this evening.

And whenever I hear the song, there’s one phrase that catches my attention every time, ‘when I wore a younger man’s clothes.’

Back in my college days, in the mid 70s, I considered myself dapper. I wouldn’t go as far to say dashing though, nor likely would anybody else.

Bell-bottomed and elephant pants were the style of the day. I owned three pair of bell-bottomed pants, two of which boasted bold plaid patterns. One in a red-green-yellow pattern reminiscent of a Scottish tartan and the other in a green-blue-yellow pattern. Perhaps that of a rival clan.


The old saying went ‘blue and green should never be seen except together in a washing machine!’ Apparently the exception to the rule was in men’s fashion in the 70s.

Two pair of colourful elephant pants added to my wardrobe.

To complete my fashion ensemble, I had a dozen or so, long-sleeve dress shirts, in various pastel colours. The colour palette of the shirts allowed me to mix and match with my pants in a seemingly endless collection of combinations.

Yes, I was a well turned out first year nursing student.

I was 21 years old, 139 pounds and boasting a 28-inch waist. I was running seven miles a day.

Yes, college changed my life. Homework and studying for endless tests and exams got in the way of my daily running. Daily evolved into a few times a week which became twice on the weekend. Then my running eventually petered out.

Petered being the operative word. I and my girlfriend, later to be my wife of 140 years, sorry … 40 years … lived in an apartment over a convenience store on Peter Street, in Orillia, Ontario.

This is where a couple of life-changing events occurred. I discovered the rapture of ice cold egg nog and shortbread cookies. They became a welcome fix to offset the pressure of the workload of being a first year nursing student. Then came the awareness of new doughnut shop in the neighborhood … Tim Hortons. It took a while for the novelty of having fresh pastry within a few minutes walking distance to wear off. The novelty that is, not the calories from the flavour morsels.

The 70s passed as I did from college and the 80s followed along in time. Bell bottom pants and elephant pants went out of fashion and secured a place of honour in my shared bedroom closet.

Fashions seem to be cyclic. Many people say that there really aren’t any new fashion ideas. They have all been recycled. What was once old … is new again. Retro is often the style of the day and I was ready to once again be a fashion example with my 70s wardrobe ready and eager to see the light of day.

Or so I thought!

I have found that there is a yet-to-be explained phenomena that occurs when you store clothes in your closet with the expectation that once again they will make a fashion statement. They shrink!

The lengths of the pants didn’t seem to be affected, just the waists. Pants that were once loose fitting, could barely get past my knees. How odd!

And the rainbow collection of dress shirts … Somehow, I had transformed from wearing bell bottom pants to needing bell bottomed shirts!

How could this possibly happen? Its been quite traumatizing to my fashion psyche. Shopping for new clothes has become stressful, to be avoided at all costs.

I buy a lot of my clothing at Mark’s, formerly Marks Work Wearhouse. My bright pastels of yesteryear have become dark, earth tones. My wife says I’m the ‘rugged’ type. I think she is being polite and really meaning that I’m like an old rug and should be walked on. She lovingly says that isn’t true. I’m not so sure.

I’m pretty sure that the men’s clothing stores that I have gone to have a sick sense of humour. I don’t see how they can legally get away with switching the mirrors in the change room over to carnival mirrors when ever I arrive in their store. Where do they get off with turning my reflection into a short, fat old man! What’s that all about?

None of their clothing fits anymore. They keep fooling around with the sizes. What used to be 36 inch waists, became 38s. Then the 38s turned into 40s and beyond. I wish they would keep some stability with their sizing.

And don’t get me going about pants leg length. The world must be populated with men with a 28-inch inseam, because somebody has been buying up every last pair in the stores that I go to. How is that even possible?

My default fashion is to wear shorts, year round. While it might be frigid outside requiring me to wear my ‘long shorts’, as soon as I am inside, on go the shorts.

I purchase two to three pair of shorts a year, for the past thirty years. That’s a lot of shorts now that I think of it. They are rugged and stand up to a lot of wear. I have a few pair that would look like dress shorts for Robinson Crusoe. I use them for painting and doing household maintenance jobs. I dare say that this style of shorts are my favorite clothing item.

I went to purchase some this spring at Marks, only to find that they have discontinued the product. Panic! Thirty years of short shopping had come to a sudden end.

Being the practical person that I am, I searched the internet for used shorts. I discovered that Marks had an on-line store and still carried my signature shorts. Hurray!

I ordered three pair in the old 38-inch size. Even better, they were on sale!

No bother with having to try shorts on, in a much too small store change room. Or having to deal with mirrors with an attitude. Shopping from home is the way to go.

I currently have over two dozen shirts hanging in my closet. They’ve all shrunk. Gremlins at work I suppose.

My wife plays with my psyche by saying ‘you know, if you lose some weight … a lot of weight, you’ll have lots of clothes to choose from.’ She means well. Now she has my doctor saying the same thing.

Sure, I could stand to lose some weight, okay a lot of weight. Yes, I would probably have lots of clothes that would fit me.

But where in the world can I can another pair of those red-green-yellow patterned bell bottoms? I know they’re going to come back in style. I need to be ready for that day.

I wonder how they will look with suspenders?

Onwards & upwards!

Rae Stonehouse

Read 3332 times Last modified on Thursday, 05 July 2018 16:46
Rae Stonehouse

Author Bio:

Rae A. Stonehouse is a Canadian born author & speaker. His professional career as a Registered Nurse working predominantly in psychiatry/mental health, has spanned four decades.

Rae has embraced the principal of CANI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement) as promoted by thought leaders such as Tony Robbins and brings that philosophy to each of his publications and presentations.

Rae has dedicated the latter segment of his journey through life to overcoming his personal inhibitions. As a 27+ year member of Toastmasters International he has systematically built his self-confidence and communicating ability. He is passionate about sharing his lessons with his readers and listeners. His publications thus far are of the personal/professional self-help, self-improvement genre and systematically offer valuable sage advice on a specific topic.

His writing style can be described as being conversational. As an author Rae strives to have a one-to-one conversation with each of his readers, very much like having your own personal self-development coach. Rae is known for having a wry sense of humour that features in his publications.


Author of Self-Help Downloadable E-Books, paperbacks and on-line courses:


Power Networking for Shy PeoplePower Networking for Shy People: How to Network Like a Pro

52 Power Networking Tips: How to Network Like a Pro

PROtect Yourself Now!PROtect Yourself Now! Violence Prevention for Healthcare Workers

The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies.

Power of Promotion: On-line Marketing for Toastmasters Club Growth

You're Hired! Job Search Strategies That Work: Available as an easily downloadable e-book or as an on-line e-course.

You're Hired! Resume Tactics: Job Search Strategies That Work

Job Interview Preparation: Job Search Strategies That Work

Leveraging Your Network: Job Search Strategies That Work

You're Hired! Power Tactics: Job Search Strategies That Work

You're Hired! Job Searching Success Tips List

Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations

Blow Your Own Horn! Personal Branding for Business Professionals

Make it Safe! A Family Caregiver's Home Safety Assessment Guide for Supporting Elders@Home


Phone Rae 250-451-6564 or

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Copyright 2018- 2021 Rae A. Stonehouse.

The above document may be freely copied and distributed as long as the author’s name and contact info remain attached.


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