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Help with old slang...
blaisepascal
I got a book out of the library entitled The Illustrated Hassle-Free Make Your Own Clothes Book, which was published in MCMLXXI, so it's about as old as I am. To get a flavor of the book, the first paragraph of the inside-flap text reads:
Men, Women, Brothers and Sisters, AC-DC, boys and girls, little kids, grannies and Aunt Lil too (you've been doing wrong for years)!&emdash;listen there's no need to lock yourselves into fickle trends of transient and exploitive plastic fashions. WEAR WHAT YOU WANT! Dress like a Queen Victoria, a wandering minstrel, a farmer boy, a factory worker, a biker, holy man, a nun, silent star siren, cuckoo clock, Aztec Indian ... a geisha, Hessian mercenary, bebop blue suede, Douglas Fairbanks .. Whatever you want, you're free to do it and not only that&emdash;MAKE YOUR OWN CLOTHES! No kidding: inexpensive, comfortable, groovy to wear, simple to do for humans of all ages, size, sex and affiliation.


I'll also note that the book does not, as far as I can tell, have patterns to allow you to dress like Douglas Fairbanks, a geisha, a Hessian, an Aztec, etc. I really wish it did show how to dress like a cuckoo clock; that would be neat.

But I'm uncertain about a few things. I'm not sure how one would dress like a Queen Victoria (I could see dressing like the Queen Victoria, but not from this book), for instance.

But the main point of confusion is "AC-DC". I'm uncertain in this context what it means. There is a section in the book for AC-DC clothes, but the only things discussed are kaftans (which look like hooded floor-length T-tunics to me) and ponchos.

I know some of my readers lived through that era, and perhaps even in or around that social group. Can anyone help out on what the term means?

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*blink*
*blink*
. . . you mean unisex?

Given what you said, and what acelightning said, and the text in the book, it appears that AC-DC meant both bisexual and unisex, depending on the context.


And here I thought they were talking about the musical group. I hadn't known AC/DC went that far back. :-)

Yep. People were accepting, but blurry around the categories.

i actually owned a copy of that book at one point!

in the parlance of the time, "AC/DC" did, indeed, mean "bisexual", "swings both ways".

the whole point of the book, IIRC, is that you don't have to have patterns per se to create clothing - it tells you how to use existing garments as a basis for creating new ones, and how to modify the construction to get different effects. for example, Queen Victoria was known for wearing, well, "Victorian" dresses - closely fitted bodice with a moderately wide neckline and puffy elbow-length sleeves, and a very full ankle-length skirt over multiple petticoats. so you'd look for various garments that had one or more of those features, then copy the way they were made and assemble them all into one garment. (then you'd also need the correct accessories, such as shawl, fan, head-veil, etc.) i'm not sure what Douglas Fairbanks, a Hessian, or an Aztec wore (a geisha would wear a formal kimono, which is very simple to sew but insanely complicated to wear), but i'm sure it could be deconstructed the same way.

"AC-DC" clothes were what soon became referred to as "unisex". kaftans (and related garments such as kurtas, djellabas, and dashikis) and ponchos were among the first items to be considered suitable for either sex to wear - this was long before women customarily wore jeans and t-shirts for anything but the most extremely casual wear, and even longer before men dared to be seen in public in skirts ("a kilt is not a skirt!").

and i could create an outfit for you that would make you look like a cuckoo clock, but it would probably involve either a very large cardboard box, and/or lots of upholstery foam...



The text reads "Men, Women, Brothers and Sisters, AC-DC, boys and girls, little kids, grannies and Aunt Lil too". It seems odd to throw bisexuals into that mix, unless one of the other categories is a euphemism for homosexuals as well.

there was some confusion between "bisexual" and "androgynous". one of the big objections to "hippies" was that with men wearing their hair long, and wearing colorful and imaginative clothing, "you can't tell whether they're boys or girls". (that was considered a bad thing.)


I only knew AD/DC as slang for bisexual. But I can see it being used to mean unisex clothing.

Since the things immediately before and after it are dualities, I'm going to guess that the intent is to suggest that the suggestions are for both the AC and the DC, which makes me think "queer and straight, in whichever order".

In this context, it seems to mean clothes for either sex or sexually ambiguous clothes. In other contexts that I encountered in the '70s and early '80s, it meant bisexual or transsexual.

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