Thursday, December 11, 2008

All Puffed Up

Living here in the Bay Area, I have learned the wisdom of dressing in layers. My standard Fall through Winter ensemble includes a hooded sweatshirt worn underneath a wind shirt. This usually means that when I ride home in the late afternoon, I stuff the sweatshirt in my book bag and wear just the wind shirt. Wear one layer, carry the other. Sometimes it makes me long for the days of clear-cut seasons and weather in Colorado.
That's when my mind wandered off to the Rocky Mountains. When I was a kid, for a brief period of time, there was such a thing as down vests. During the late seventies and early eighties, they were as important a fashion statement as they were for staying warm. Michael J. Fox memorably wore one in "Back To The Future," and everyone he encounters in 1955 assumes he must have just fallen off a boat wearing his life jacket. The other cultural icon of that era who routinely appeared in his rainbow vest that covered his rainbow suspenders was Boulder's own Mork from Ork, Robin Williams. These were wonderful snapshots, but my favorite down vest moment was less Hollywood.
When I was a sophomore in high school, a couple of my friends who were juniors who had spent most of their days at Boulder High known as band geeks decided to go out for track. They did this for the singular purpose of earning a letter jacket. That Spring they were successful, and the next Fall they were proud to wear them wherever and whenever they could. And here's the connection: When they went out to sporting events and other public appearances, they wore their down vests underneath their flashy new letter jackets. They believed it made them look "more buff." In fact, they looked as if they had been inflated, and even on the warmest of Autumn days, they wore their armor out in the world to show just what they were made of: layers of nylon, feathers, and lots of air.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why the down vest? Why not a kicky Members Only jacket? They're back, you know...