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Turtleneck and The Dickies

David McCallum

David McCallum

When this military brat moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire in January 1966 my wardrobe took a major change. The t-shirts, blue jeans and sneakers I wore to school in Texas we not allowed at Portsmouth Junior High School.

The t-shirts had to be replaced with shirts with collars. The jeans were switched to slack pants (dress pants). Sneakers were exiled for gym class only footwear and were replaced with wingtips or Sunday shoes.

I found myself cold in the snowy New England weather. I quickly noticed the cool kids dressed like beatniks (this was before the hippies) with an exception. The school did not allow you to wear turtlenecks as your shirt. A shirt was required over them. The character “Illya Kuryakin,” played by David McCallum on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. looked cool wearing turtlenecks. He is who all the guys wanted to be. Later that year Michael Nesmith of The Monkees work a turtleneck in the TV show “The Monkees.” Again, the turtleneck added to the cool factor.

The first month I lived in New Hampshire I started wearing turtleneck dickies and turtlenecks. I wore them everyday to school. I wanted to look cool. I wore them as part of my uniform as a member of the folk rock band “The Younger Generation” where I was a rhythm guitarist. We were cool.

Did wearing turtlenecks make me a cool kid? No. Did it help me to fit in? Maybe. I think the value was it helped my self-esteem. Plus, my mom liked them and my dad didn’t. I still like to wear a black turtleneck. It still makes me feel cool.

Did you have a favorite dress, jacket or outfit you wore in middle school, junior high or high school that made you feel cool or accepted? Maybe it was a hair style that  helped you fit in or belong. I’d love to hear about it.

Maybe like me you had television shows that influenced you. Shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Laugh-In, The Monkees, and The Johnny Cash Show and  Glen Campbell Good Time Hour were shows that helped me have a fashion sense in the late 1960’s.  What were your programs?


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