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Me leaving the stage carrying my riding boots, Longchamp bag, wearing fishnet tights, statement jewelry, Very Fine Dance shoes, a cover-up (all own) and a formal dress c/o JJsHouse

In this post, I want to give you a peek at the highlights of the show and a short travel back in time fashion-wise. All clothes presented and/or worn by the models are items from Alaska closets. It’s amazing what great clothes you can find in Fairbanks’ closets.

  1. A historic fashion show
  2. When only Marlene Dietrich was allowed to wear pants
  3. Nothing is new, velvet and statement sleeves in the 50s and today
  4. Ethnic prints: It for 60s days and nights
  5. Vinyl skirts and neckerchiefs
  6. Dynasty and Denver Clan – Golden Girls style of the 80s
  7. All black clothes uniform of the 90s
  8. The fashion of the Millennium

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

A historic fashion show

On Monday last week, my husband and I attended a fashion show here in Fairbanks. No, it was not Alaska fashion week showing next year’s It items. On the contrary, it was about women fashion thru the decades and how life of women has changed over time. The show was arranged by the Fairbanks branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). This grass root organization has been been empowering women as individuals and as a community since 1881.

mature couple in formal dance clothes
My husband and I modeling the 2010s formal wear. I am featuring a vintage thrifted cover-up, Very Fine Dance Shoes, statement jewelry (all own) and a knee-length formal dress c/o JJsHouse. My husband presents a tail suit with white vest and bow tie, patent leather shoes, and a tuxedo shirt.


When only Marlene Dietrich was allowed to wear pants

During WWII women took jobs that were left open by the men who were at war. Universities had many female students as the young men were at war. In Alaska, some of the women were doing field work wearing men’s gear. Many American women flew aircraft to Alaska from the Lower 48s wearing Arctic pilots’ gear. There the planes were fueled and flown to Russia. Yes, you can see Russia from Alaska on a clear day. Big Diomede belongs to Russia, while Little Diomede belongs to Alaska.  Both are in the Bering Strait that is only 55 miles (~88 km) wide. See this link for more  Alaska fun facts.


young Alaska college women modeling outfit of the 40s
Backstage photo of the 40s outfit of a men’s plaid wool jacket, men’s riding pants, and wool hat that young college women wore when doing field work in the University of Alaska Fairbanks area in the 40s


The fashion of the 40s was presented in an outfit that the model’s mother and her aunt wore back then when in college. The pants were the riding pants of their brother, i.e. a hand-me down. The plaid wool shirt in its bold colors looks still modern today as does the red wool hat.

Nothing is new, velvet and statement sleeves in the 50s and today

This cold season velvet is a big trend as are statement sleeves. Margret, an over 80 model, modeled the 50s. Her long velvet coat is a great cover up for her black full length evening gown with statement black and white lace sleeves look stunning. She could wear these items with a square patent leather clutch and strappy heels to a formal event today and would be full in trend. Fashion elements repeat themselves over time, but are styled differently. The black and white trend is an eternal classic.

80 year old model in long velvet coat with hat all from the 50s
Backstage sneak peek. The 80+ model Margret waiting for her turn to walk the runway in a long velvet coat from the 50s with hat, velvet bucket evening bag, diamond bracelet and long evening gloves


evening look from the 50s modeled by 80+ woman
Black and white formal gown with statement lace sleeves, sweetheart neck, classic pearl necklace, long evening gloves, diamond bracelets and diamond watch, suede booties with block heels and tulle and feather trimmed hat modeled by 80+ model Margret

Ethnic prints: It for 60s days and nights

In the 60s, the hem lines went up or North. Remember the rule that the hems should be at least 2 inch (5 cm) longer than your finger tips with arms down? Miss Twiggy was my style icon and I wanted to look like her. Flat with barely there breasts, great legs, lean, long hair. The only thing I didn’t like about her was the blond hair. The only thing I didn’t like about her style were the flat shoes. I loved the block heels and the plateau sandals of the late 60s.

young women modeling ethnic print dresses from the 60s
Millennia waiting backstage for their call to walk down the catwalk. Left: Ethnic print dress with high slit and shorts underneath, classic pumps, and pearl embroidered clutch. Right: Ethnic print dress styled with multiple long plastic bead necklaces that pick up the colors of the print and high boots. Both models worked long to straighten their long hair. They both wear nude pantyhose.


At the fashion show, the 60s were presented by two Millennia, one donning an ethnic print dress for day and one doing an ethnic print dress for night. The slit of the long dress went so high that shorts in the same prints were worn underneath. Check the link, when you are interested in more information on the flower power fashion of the late 1960s, early 1970s.

Vinyl skirts and neckerchiefs

Yes, the neckerchiefs of the 1970s are back. Again the styling differs. Today it’s the classic white Tee with dark denim with statement sneakers, sandals, mules or classic pumps. Yesterday, it was a mini skirt even made of shiny vinyl A-line mini skirts, white button shirt with long statement collars and tan, black or red knee high boots. Back then, I loved my red boots with my sleeveless tan vinyl dress and blue turtleneck sweater underneath.

Do you remember how we sweat like pigs in these vinyl pieces?

The model complained the entire time. Her pantyhose and underwear were wet from sweat when she changed after the show.

Models wearing outfits from the 70s, 80s, and Millennium
From left to right: Models wearing outfits from Fairbanks closets from the 70s, 80s, and the Millennium. The floral A-line skirt is made of vinyl.

Dynasty and Denver Clan – Golden Girls style of the 80s

Remember Linda Evans with her big hair? The teasing of the hair including the damage and the money we spent on hair spray in the 1980s? It took me forever to figure out that

The trick to big hair is dirty hair. #hairstyle Click To Tweet
mature woman donning the Dynasty style of the 80s
Pink-black floral print dress from the 80s with wide black belt, black dress pumps, long statement earrings, and big hair


Remember the big It color combination of pink and black, the wide belts, the hem lines going south, i.e. midi? The bold costume jewelry with earrings of the size of key chain hangers and necklaces with pearls the size of small Christmas tree glitter balls? The silk camisoles under wide v-neck dresses (see photo of the four models above) and instead of a top or blouse under blazers? The 80s were represented by these key elements with a bright pink black floral print sleek dress with wide belt, camisole, dress shoes, bold gold colored necklace  and big loob earrings. I would have worn that look and dress back then. Today I would shorten the dress to above the knee and would go for delicate jewelry. Midi was never my length.

All black clothes uniform of the 90s

It wouldn’t be AAUW if the 90s outfit wouldn’t celebrate that women were finally allowed to do Arctic and Antarctic fieldwork. When I studied meteorlogoy as a women in the 80s, I wasn’t allowed to do an experimental thesis. “Equipment is too heavy for women”, “It’s dangerous in the field”, “Women can’t pee in the wild, but men can”. Remember that in Europe, men can pee outside as long as they go away from the trail and hide behind a wall, tree, bush, you get the idea. Only when a guy is a VIP, he may get into trouble when a paparazzi catches them in the doing.

power woman in Arctic research winter gear
Kate modeling what she wore when doing field work in remote Arctic villages. Down pants, Bunny boots with multiple sets of wool socks for fit (they were only available as military surplus for men), down jacket with down hood head lamp, army rucksack for clothing and sleep bag on the back, small backpack without frame for laptop, and other scientific equipment on the front, seal mittens bought from Natives, red stretch bags, large backpack with food for twice the time of the intended stay.


Kate modeled how she did Arctic field work in remote villages back then. Still today the back packs for field work in Alaska can’t have a comfortable rucksack with metal frame. All flights to remote villages use small aircraft that store baggage in the small wings. Air stripes are often far away from the villages and she had to schlep food for 2 weeks even when she intended to stay only for a week, all equipment, sleeping bags, clothes thru the snow to the school house. Note that there are no hotels in the villages and visiting scientists sleep on the floor in the gym of the school house, if there is a gym, in the classroom otherwise. Why the extra food? Often in winter, the weather doesn’t permit flights and there is no supply in the villages for extra people. You can learn more about the Bush grocery shopping in the post at the link.

The fashion of the Millennium

The 00s were modeled by the mother-daughter team (see photo with the four models). The little girl felt so hot in the spot light that she threw off her denim jacket and hat to her dad before even entering the stage.

Alaskan couple dressed up in winter gear to attend a formal event
My husband and I in Alaska modern formal winter look and Kate waiting back stage for our presentation. I am wearing a Pavlova Russian floral wool print scarf with a Calvin Klein belt over a long shearling coat with hood, long pearl statement earrings, Adidas pants under my knee-length formal dress, riding boots, and LeatherCoatsEtc green leather gloves with lining, and a Longchamp pliage for dance shoes, clutch and cover-up. My husband wears a tail suit under s loden coat and LeatherCoatsEtc gloves with lining


My husband and I modeled 2010s formal wear. I wore a cover-up over a knee-length formal dress. My husband presented a tail suit with white vest and bow tie, patent leather shoes, and a tuxedo shirt. While these outfits would well fit what is the Fairbanks Formal dress code, it is the upper range of what is still acceptable. 😉

Guess what the audience of the time travel fashion show wore? Fairbanks Formal.

Focus Alaska is a series here on High Latitude Style featuring Alaska curiosa, lifestyle, wildlife, street style, weather, and insider travel tips.

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