Memories Monday: In which I express strong feelings about 70s fashion and design and the color orange

I remember the 70s, having lived through its entirety. Looking back at the clothing, most of it was what I would call good and acceptable, except for that ghastly pair of red-black-yellow-and-white plaid stretch trousers my mother bought and forced me to wear in 8th grade. She’d gotten them brand-new from a Montgomery Ward mail-order grab bag. It worked like this: you told them your size, paid your TWO DOLLARS, and they sent you a pair of pants. This was a popular way for mail-order businesses to get rid of the clothes that were so appalling nobody who could actually see them would go for it. The only shirt I had to wear with these was a plain white blouse. I died inside a little, each time I had to wear that outfit.

Nearer to the front end of the decade, the palazzo pants that my sister and I were banned from wearing to school — by the school district, not by parents, who had purchased them, thinking them Perfectly Fine For School — stick out in my mind. They were what used to be called “loud” – a very brightly colored and flowery pattern. I didn’t care about the color or pattern – what I loved was how comfortable they were, and that they looked like you were wearing a skirt, without actually having to wear a skirt. They were extremely bell-bottomed, wherein the problem lay. It was deemed, by the school board I suppose, that this style of pants was Too Dangerous For Children. They feared we would get tangled up in the sheer quantity of flowing fabric and trip while entering or vacating the school bus. Wasn’t that swell of them? The pants were pushed to the back of the closet, relegated to the rare dress-up occasion not related to educational activities.

photo via

Orange Alert: 70s decor - via

Generally, I  liked 70s decor, except for the alarming overuse of orange. Avocado Green, Harvest Gold – I liked them.  Those colors still make me sentimental for the seventies. The Whatever-Adjective-They-Called-It Orange, not so much. To me, orange has always been and shall only ever be a color for pumpkins, oranges, and other foods, never to wear or to put in your living room.

My aunt had gotten an entire roomful of new living room furniture in the early 70s. Spanish American was what she called the style, and I liked the use of dark wood and velvet. I would have loved it but for the fact that it was predominantly ORANGE.

I was thankful her sister (my mom) didn’t seem to care quite so much for orange, so there wasn’t such a presence of it in our house. In the 70s, she and dad bought what I consider to have been the Best Sofa Ever Created – the one by which I judge all other sofas, both those before and those that have come after.

The Sofa was a low-backed crushed velvet wonder. Crushed velvet – the softest, most wondrous fabric ever in the history of upholstery – should be the only covering allowed for covering a sofa. But it wasn’t only the fabric – the padding in the cushions and the back and the arms was softly inviting, yet supportive. It was the only sofa ever that I could sit upon for hours and not end up with a backache.

While never stating it aloud, I considered that sofa to be Mine. It was much more comfortable than my bed for sleeping upon, and I could often be found dozing upon My Sofa for an after-school nap. I remember occasionally waking in the morning, having abandoned my twin-size bed & comforters for that cool, welcoming velvet and mom’s hand-crocheted afghan of harvest gold, avocado green and yes, alarming orange. The only orange I can remember in the decor was in that afghan – but mom made it by hand, and that fact negated the color choices in my mind.

During the 80s, it was decided that My Sofa, the crushed-velvet wonder, had seen better days. I wish they had just replaced it – that would have been less painful than what they did to it, but the frame was solid and sturdy, and it had been an expensive purchase. So, a Professional Upholsterer was decided upon, and a fabric chosen. It was velvet-ish, yes, but it was not crushed velvet. And the padding this professional used was entirely too firm. What came back to the house was no longer My Sofa. Oh, it had the familiar outline, the same overall shape, but it was no longer inviting, comforting. The fabric was rough upon the skin, rather than cooling and soothing.

I went back to taking naps on my bed.


Favorite Word of the Post: palazzo
Least Favorite Word of the Post:  stretch

About Bobbie Laughman

May vanish if startled. Professional Advice Dispenser. Amateur Human Being. Scam Detector. Christian. Grandma. Writer-ish. Artistic leanings. Anti-social. Old School Trekkie. Contains Nuts.
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6 Responses to Memories Monday: In which I express strong feelings about 70s fashion and design and the color orange

  1. yur bruthur says:

    Davenport is the halfway mark on the journey from Indianapolis to Omaha.

  2. your bruthur says:

    I loved the original crushed velvet couch…..too bad they replaced it with that yukky dark brown hard velvet….Can one still procure crushed velvet?

    • Bobbie Laughman says:

      Hello, baby brudder!

      I don’t know, but if crushed velvet is no longer made, it is a crime against comfort!

  3. Lovely memory-sharing. I don’t have such fond memories of the aqua sofa-monster of my childhood. Now, it would bring big bucks if it found its way to crowd of vintage-seekers.

    • Bobbie Laughman says:

      I have mixed memories of one my grandparents owned when I was really small. It was quite comfortable, EXCEPT for the fabric, which was very rough on the bare legs of a child in shorts. Grandma & Grandpa called it The Davenport. I’ve never heard anyone else in my life refer to a sofa as a davenport. Come to think of it now, I should go look up that word…thanks for the memory jogging!

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