Thursday, June 25, 2009

Set the Wayback Machine to Polyester: J.C. Penney's 1977 Catalog

My sister gave sent me this collection of photos a while ago. It came from a friend of hers. Here’s how he came across them:

“Last weekend I put an exhaust fan in the ceiling for my wife’s grandfather. While my wife’s brother and I were fitting the fan in between the joists, we found something under the insulation. What we found was…a J.C. Penney catalog from 1977. It’s not often that blog fodder just falls in my lap, but holy hell this was two solid inches of it, right there for the taking.”

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves (mostly), but before I do, I’d just like to make a few observations, especially for the younger generation of readers:

*Please keep in mind that back in the day, long before your Gap’s and your Dress Barn’s and your Abercrombie & Fitch’s dominated retail, J.C. Penney was the big dog in the mid-range fashion game, especially in the Midwest. So it wasn’t like they were offering these clothes on a lark, just having a laugh, if you will. They expected to move a serious amount of this merchandise, and they did.

*If you had ever gone to a ‘70s throwback party and dressed in a way you thought was way too over-the-top, rest assured, based on these pictures you pretty much nailed the look.

*Keep in mind, IT WAS THE 70s. The unnecessarily bright colors, the too-busy patterns, the open collars framing thickets of chest hair, the matching his-and-hers outfits – it’s all indicative of a nation making it’s way out of the purple-hazed, peace-and-love, turn-on-tune-in-drop-out, don’t-trust-anyone-over-30 menagerie of the 1960s and getting ready for the coke-fueled, me-first, greed-is-good consumerist slog that would be the 1980s.

*If anyone at JCPenny is sore that I posted these, too bad, you should have thought about that before your released these sartorial monstrosities on the world 30 years ago.


I can'l look at this picture without flashbacks of Garanimals and the "husky" section of the store where I got my pants. I thought I had long outrun those memories. I was wrong.

Walk into 95% of the nations high schools (in ANY ara) looking like this and you won't make it out. Anyone who wears this to school is just BEGGING to have his lunch money taken away and "kick me" signs plastered all over him, I don't care what year it is.

I once had a six-million-dollar man doll that had the exact same outfit. Now the look is more common on prison jumpsuits, although not nearly as form-fitting.


"That's right. I drive a Camero and I play accoustic guitar on the beach and I don't care what anyone thinks of the way I dress."

Would you buy a used car from this man? Me neither. He looks like he could withstand a blowtorch with that outfit.

Like I always say, if a color works, use it all over. They look characters in a B-movie - wealthy German industrialists intent on taking over America's disco ball supply with their stern looks and disorienting clothes.

Something a man with no fashion sense who just came out of the closet would wear to a Western-themed gay bar, eliciting stares and giggles all night long.

His-and-hers outfits made it so much easier to remember who your spouse was, what with all the heroin and smog around.

Are they going to kiss, or trade shirts? And whose turn is it to feather their hair?

If you're walking along the beach and see these two walking toward you, turn around and run the other way, because you don't want any part of whatever they're into.

Outfits that say, "Thanks to my raging Percoset addiction, I don't have to be sexually appealing to ANYONE!"

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