Over the years, we have had many fashion changes. Clothing went from long skirts to mini-skirts, and back again. Jeans went from straight legs, to bell bottoms, to skinny jeans, and everything in between. Furniture went through some of the same changes. Victorian, modern, contemporary, rustic, and every other type of furniture have been the furniture of choice over the years too. Even cars have gone through “fashion” changes over the years…some were so drastic that we don’t even recognize the car anymore, like the Mustang.
When we think of fashion trends, we seldom focus on tires, but maybe we should. Tires have changed so much over the years, and I’m not really talking about quality. I’m talking about style. I suppose that since I’m married to a mechanic, these things might stand out to me more than other people, but I remember the different styles that my husband, Bob likes over the years, and when he would go out of his way to change the way his current tires looked. He had cars with the small white stripe around them, and he had “raised white letters” on his tires, which I must say were probably his, and my favorites. It was a cool look. In the early 1900s, the companies came out with Whitewall tires or white sidewall (WSW) tires. These tires had a stripe or entire sidewall of white rubber. These tires were most commonly used to around the mid 1970s. To me, these were not a good looking tire, especially if it was the entire sidewall, but they were a trend I suppose.
The use of whitewall rubber for tires was started by a small tire company in Chicago called Vogue Tyre and Rubber Company. They made the tires for their horse and chauffeur drawn carriages in 1914. Early automobile tires were made of pure natural rubber. To make the tread wear better, they mixed in various chemicals mixed into the tread compounds. Apparently, zinc oxide, a pure white substance that increased traction and also made the entire tire white, worked the best. In the end, white rubber did not have the endurance that was needed. They used carbon black only in the tread, and that with the white rubber produced tires with inner and outer sidewalls of white rubber. Eventually, entirely black tires became available, but since they were still made of rubber, a scrape against the curb would reveal the white rubber inside. That was actually how they finally arrived at the raised white letters that Bob and I liked so much.
Tires, like any other “fashion trend,” have changed over the years. If it wasn’t the sidewall, it was the tread design. As the manufacturers figured out better ways to make the tire grip the road better, they made the roads a safer place to drive. While their ideas weren’t always about the way a tire looked, that was a big part of the tire’s design, because if it didn’t look good, people wouldn’t buy it, even if it was a good tread design.
When my sisters and I were teenagers, the mini skirt and hot pants were all the rage…much to my mother’s dismay. She always felt like they were a little bit too risqué. Of course, we completely disagreed with her, and in fact, thought she was just being very old fashioned, and really a bit ridiculous. Everyone was wearing these new styles, and we didn’t want to be thought of as the nerds of the school…not to mention the fact that they were cute styles, and we wanted to look as cute as the other girls did. It was about this time in my life, that I began to see the value of skirts, over dresses. You simply couldn’t roll a dress up to turn it into a mini dress, but you could do that with a skirt. So to appease Mom, the skirt was knee length at home, but soon became a serious mini skirt…and before I went into school too. The old saying, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that” definitely applied when it came to knee length or longer skirts…until the maxi skirt came out that is. The problem is that once a child leaves the house, parents just don’t have total control anymore, and most teenagers will go a long way toward avoiding conflict, if it’s possible. I wasn’t the only girl rolling my skirt either. Every girl whose mother said no, was doing it. Of course, shorts were a little easier to get away with, but Mom still thought they should be a little longer. Her problem was that longer shorts were harder to find…thankfully!!!
We weren’t the first generation to wear the mini skirt, short shorts, and other risqué clothing choices, but to hear my mother talk, we were. In fact, Mom went through a period of time in her own life when she wanted to wear the things the other girls were wearing. Her friends were wearing two piece bathing suits, which were considered very risqué at the time…little did they know that the string bikini was on it’s way and it would make their two piece bathing suit, that covered most of the midriff, look very conservative indeed. Nevertheless, my mom was in a little bit different position than we were, because it is hard to hide the way a bathing suit looks, and it isn’t an item you wear to school, so changing its looks was much harder. Still, she told me that the other girls were wearing a two piece, and she sure wanted to, but was not allowed. The two piece bathing suit was just too risqué…according to my grandmother. Poor Mom…there seemed no way out of her dilemma, and there’s no way to roll a one piece bathing suit to make it a two piece suit.
Bathing suits for women used to be almost like swimming in a dress, and even when they were allowed to be a little shorter, there was always someone who wanted to push the envelope a little…bringing on the need for a different kind of beach patrol. Their job was to measure the distance from the suit to the knee. It is was their job to enforce the dress code for women…even at the beach. Boy, talk about restriction!! You pretty much had no chance of pulling off such a big feat of deception, so there she was in her old fashioned one piece bathing suit while her friends wore the, so much more fashionable, two piece bathing suit.
When the maxi skirt came out, I’m sure many a parent breathed a deep sigh of relief, as had their parents before them, and secretly hope that horrible mini skirt craze would never come back again, and if it did, I’m sure they hoped that it would wait until they had their daughters grown up and married off. Then it would be their children’s problem. Of course, there really is nothing new under the sun, and they had somehow forgotten just how risqué their own parents thought their styles were…or maybe they hadn’t, and they just hoped their children would never know just how risqué they were, because somehow that was different, or maybe it was just that these were their kids, and they suddenly knew just how their parents had felt all those years ago, and they weren’t sure they liked it either.