I’m not sure when I saw them for the first time. I must have been 12 years old. I believe Mick Jagger was on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, so it must have been soon after that I saw pictures of Jagger wearing really bold stripped pants. Iconic image, right?
For me, those pants became the foundation of a self-analyzing psychology. I was hooked on the music, the look, the whole free artistic lifestyle. Sex, drugs and stripped pants! In my young mind, that one article of clothing signified all those things.
But I couldn’t afford them. I was just a wannabe hippie kid with no desire to join the ranks of the money-making establishment. And surely, stripped pants were reserved exclusively for skinny, English rock stars, right? Surely I would never be skinny, English or a rock star.
More than all that, I was painfully shy. And my Russian immigrant parents were painfully conservative in their old world values and tastes. I was being groomed to be a debutante and nothing as cool as a musician. Classical music ? Yes! “Paint It Black?” Heavens no!
Thus chastened, I tried to put the idea of ever owning a pair of sexy, groovy, rock and roll, hippie pants out of my (socialist) mind.
But every time I passed a pair in a department store, I wanted them. Longed for them. Pined for them.
This went on for years.
Forty-nine years, actually.
Nearly a half-century later, I am older, wiser, and tougher. I’m finally able not to care what others think (20% of the time – that’s way up from the first 50 years of my life when I didn’t care only 1% of the time).
The time had come for my pants.
At 59 years old, I finally saw a pair that was close to my fantasy. They were on sale for $12.88! If there was ever a time, it was now. Even though they were being sold at a very preppy store (so ironic), I did it, I bought them!
They’re jeans, slightly and oh so stylishly ripped in strategic places, and the stripes are thin, light blue and white. I put them on and imagined myself with rippled, long, blonde hair, beads around my neck and round, rose-colored, hippie sunglasses
Funny, no one noticed me. No one said “wow, look at the mod striped outfit on that lady!” I wasn’t the center of attention; no one whispered behind my back that I was too old or looked silly or anything. Could I have worn these all along, all those many years?
Why did I wait half a freaking century?!
As benign an experience as it was, it was enough to make me want go back in time and join the Merry Pranksters! I could now take the next step in my sluggish development and go for the big bold stripes and wear them to demonstrations on the national mall or sit ins! Flag burning, hitchhiking across the states and being all non-conformist (query to self: if I buy the pants like everyone else, then aren’t I conforming? Shit). Okay, smoke pot and…wait, pot is legal in quite a few states now isn’t it? Damn it, now where’s the fun in that!? Okay forget the weed. No more thin, barely noticeable stripes. I’m going all out for the bold look. I want the Jagger special! The old lady (that’s me) is going for it!!
I scoured the internet in search of the item that was sure to break me out of my proper upbringing and free me from the ways of the “old country” my parents raised me to value. It would free me to become the musician I know is trapped inside. I scoured some more…and some more…and of course came up empty.
Go ahead, Google “bold, stripped pants” and all you get are black and white leggings that look like an awning. Color on pants is apparently out this season.
I’d gotten so close.
From my tale of sartorial woe comes at least one thin stripe of a silver lining: A cautionary tale.
Kids, don’t wait 50 years to chase your rock-n-roll dream.
Buy the damn pants.