Kellyanne Conway got some flak for this:
Kellyanne Conway is defending the red, white and blue military-style coat she sported during the inauguration after she was ruthless mocked on social media for the patriotic look.
In defending the $3,600 Gucci color block wool coat with metal feline buttons she sported during President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on Friday, Conway told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Sorry to offend the black-stretch-pants women of America with a little color.’
Well, I’m going to criticize Kellyanne.
But not for her outfit. For her statement.
Conway is 50 years old. In fact, she turned 50 on inauguration day. That means she was born in 1967. Too late—just a little too late—to understand what stretch pants were.
Now, I know what she meant. She meant those black tights or black leggings or black yoga pants thingees that are now the obligatory dreary and (mostly) unflattering uniform for women of all ages, sizes, shapes, styles, and at all occasions.
I cannot stand them. They are exercise wear. Believe me, I’m familiar with tights; I spent much of my life in them. But not walking around in the street, unless I also had a dress on.
Oh, I know, I know. If you Google “stretch pants” it will lead you to leggings and such. But those garments are not stretch pants. There is (was) only one “stretch pants,” and they had stirrups on the bottom and created an unbroken straight line that skimmed the leg but was neither leg-hugging nor leg-outlining. Stretch pants created the illusion of legs as tubes, cylinders that were slightly wider at the top and narrower at the bottom but were sort of schematic legs without clearly defined muscles.
Like today’s leggings, stretch pants were most commonly black, and they were one of the uniforms of the early 60s—although of course you could not wear them to school, because you weren’t allowed to wear slacks to school.
Considering their ubiquity at the time, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a good photo of a person wearing them. But here’s a perfect illustration (from a sewing pattern) of exactly what I mean, in the royal blue pants on the right. Note the tubular shape of the legs. Note, also, the hairdo, which was about as popular at the time as the stretch pants. You had to set it on rollers and tease it:
Here’s the site where I found the photo, and it has a lot of other tremendously evocative photos of pattern pictures that really capture that era of the early 60s— stylistically and psychologically the tail end of the 50s, right before the explosion of change that came to define the latter decade in people’s minds. It was the calm before the storm.
I was especially found of wearing my black stretch pants with a mohair sweater. Mohair sweaters were another popular fashion of the era, and I had several—some of which I had knitted myself. Something like these (in fact, as in the photo, I had a pink one and a coral one, and the pink was the one I’d knitted myself):
The nearest thing to stretch pants that survive today are stirrup pants for skiing. But they’re not quite the same; most of them look more like tights than the stretch pants of yore, although a few come close.