Retro Knollwood Grad Fashion

Knollwood Class of '74 graduation fashionistas Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde (yours truly) and Wanda Becker. Photo/Sally Van Develde
Knollwood Class of ’74 graduation fashionistas Stephanie DeSesa, Elaine Van Develde (yours truly) and Wanda Becker.
Photo/Sally Van Develde

Eighth graders in the Rumson-Fair Haven area have graduated.

Photos are popping up all over social media. And these crews of grade school cronies seem to have a panache we eighth graders of the 1970s lacked. There they all are … posing, arms wrapped around one another, sporting stylish clothes, tans and toothy grins.

They’re beautiful. And they just seem to epitomize cool. We thought we were cool and wearing some of the most fashionable gowns of the era. Yet, looking back, we not only pale in the cool comparison here, we kind of go to a way-back dark side. Oh, our smiles were bright and there’s a lot of love emanating, but the fashion fizzled, rather than sizzled. Maybe it was our moms’ faults. They had more of a say in the outfit pickings, especially on a special occasion.

I know that when a Class of ’74 Knollwood grad, I seemed to think my yellow gown with little gold bodice beads and sheer sleeves was a gown fit for an Oscar ceremony — Oscar who? I don’t know. It definitely wasn’t de la Renta!

My best friend Steph was very begrudgingly dressed by her self-professed personal assistant to the stars and St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes — her insistent mother Nina, a/k/a The Grinch. Nina swore Steph would look like the beauteous blooming adolescent flower she was in this supposed designer dress. No. It made her look like a potted peasant plant with a bad hair day instead. Wanda, well, she just held her head down the entire time. Though, I think her Bo-Peepesque dress was the most passable. Her hair was very hip, though not quite Farrah Fawcett-ish enough for the times.

We were a motley, moldy crew, trying to spread graduation joy in bad gowns.

Not the students of this era! In every picture seen, they just exude self confidence, personal choice, great taste and a lot of love and comfort in their own stylish stride.

Who knows? One fine day, these teens of the may look back with a little cringe. Times, oh, they do change — thank God!

So, the Retro Pic of the Day — taken with a plastic instamatic camera with the cube flash on the top by my mom, who managed to not cut off our heads (something she did frequently) — honors three fashion failures of the 1970s and their friendship that endured from second grade all through RFH and into adulthood. The outfits are forgettable. Thank God. The kinship is not.

What did you wear to your eighth grade graduation? Did you think it was cool or did you hate it, but have to wear it ’cause Mom said so?

Congrats from the bad gown girls of the Knollwood Class of ’74 to the fashionistas of the Class of 2017! 

— Elaine Van Develde

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