All The Rage

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Wardrobe time warp: Gov. Jerry Brown circa 1980 [updated]

November 8, 2010 |  4:14 pm

While gathering string for a look at Governor-elect Jerry Brown's style over the years, I stumbled across a report from a nearly 31-year-old* issue of the Los Angeles Times that was worth sharing.

In addition to revealing that 1980 was a leap year -- and that the paper's style coverage at the time appeared in a series of pages dubbed "Fashion80" -- Richard B. Marks' "Wearing the News" column from Feb. 29, 1980, managed not only to provide a snapshot of how the once and future Rage_Brown governor dressed at the time, it also provided a forecast of what '80s fashion was going to be.

First, here's Marks' description of the governor:

"... the other night I spotted Jerry Brown at a Los Angeles gallery opening wearing beige flare-leg trousers and a double-breasted blue blazer with lapels so large and pointed he could impale his enemies on them."

But the real gems are the quotes about '80s fashion he uses (and honestly it's hard to tell if he's quoting himself or someone else) to make his argument that the best place to get a bead on economic and political trends is the fashion page -- not the business or opinion pages.

Among them:

"'We will see a resurgence of optimistic primary colors in the 80's.' A sure sign of a depression. Corner the market on Rit dye while you can still afford it."

'Yves Saint Laurent is emphasizing the peasant look again.' Be careful. These might be uniforms for on-the-job training."

And my personal favorite:

"'Once again fashion is coming from the streets, not from the decisions of Paris designers.' Sunset [Boulevard] people are doing it right, night after night, and waiting in line at the Hollywood unemployment office is a fashion world away from the city on the Seine."

Even though the swing of the great fashion pendulum makes some of those same observations fit as squarely with today's prevailing trends as they did three decades ago, it's safe to assume the once and future governor won't be bringing the beige bell-bottoms and double-breasted blazers back to Sacramento.

-- Adam Tschorn

Photo: Governor-elect Jerry Brown, on  Nov. 1, will be returning to the governorship in January, but his '80s-era wardrobe will not. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

*[UPDATED 11/8/10 8:35 PM: An earlier version of this post incorrectly described a Los Angeles Times article about Jerry Brown. It was written nearly 31 years ago -- not 21.]