Feeling back to school

52

Here we have the August 1977 Back to School issue of Seventeen magazine with Jayne Modean—my second favorite Seventeen model after Phoebe Cates—on the cover. I have such seriously acute memories of receiving this in the mailbox at the end of my family’s long dirt driveway in Houston—and poring and obsessing over it for weeks at the tail end of summer vacation. School started in August in Texas, but that didn’t stop us from wearing our new fall tweeds and sweaters on the first day of classes, sweating as gracefully as possible in the 100-degree heat.  It’d be months before it would actually be cool enough to properly wear these clothes, but such was the pull of the Back to School issue.

I still find myself wanting to look like Seventeen’s stylishly preppy covers come fall, and this Alex Mill sweater jacket seems like an excellent place to start.

I also like the idea of this cashmere crewneck, which is such a good heather grey and rings in at just under $150. It also comes in some other good colors.

I’m pretty sure I showed you the white iteration of this shirt jacket recently, but now I’m debating whether to get it in the blue instead.

Such a chic and slouchy houndstooth blazer.

I love the retroish look of this crossbody saddle bag, but it’s kind of pricey, so here’s something similar but cheaper.

Here I am surprising myself by liking brown again—I just think this plaid skirt is great.

I am so intrigued by all the vests I’m seeing lately, and this corduroy specimen is just so cool. Its olive green iteration is maybe even cooler, though.

It seems like everyone I know wants loafers, me included. This pair has a chunky-but-not-too-chunky sole, and is pretty well-priced.

I’d take a seam ripper to that big ugly Acne Studios label and wear the hell out of this fun, multicolored scarf.

 

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52 Thoughts on Feeling back to school
    MARGARET
    7 Sep 2022
    7:18am

    The scrumptious fall issues of 70’s magazines made me want a career in magazines (which I ended up having, though not in fashion THANK GOD). Seventeen’s were good but Mademoiselle’s were even better. I remember a (1977?) checklist of who was wearing what all around the country. Tweed jackets in Boston! Clogs in Chicago! A preppy scarf everywhere! I was devastated when they stopped doing the student Guest Editor program my freshman year in college, the first year I would have been eligible. I wanted to be Sylvia Plath and live in the Barbizon Hotel.

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      Lenie
      7 Sep 2022
      7:42am

      I remember this for the impact- Jayne was my neighbor when growing up. This was the height of success to my young eyes!

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      Patty
      7 Sep 2022
      11:03am

      My book club just read The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free by Paulina Bren. The guest editors at Mademoiselle were featured heavily. I bet you’d enjoy that book.

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      Linda Boardman Kerr
      7 Sep 2022
      8:50am

      Yes! The Guest Editors in Mademoiselle’s September issue! Loved it!

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    Karin
    6 Sep 2022
    10:44pm

    I remember that exact issue! Thanks for the trip back to high school!

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      Karen
      7 Sep 2022
      8:34am

      I also remember this exact edition, it was the ultimate back to school issue for me. I remember it came just before i left for summer camp and i studied this issue at camp like there was going to be a test when i got back.
      Thanks for the memories

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    Shelly
    7 Sep 2022
    12:39am

    Wow, this post really takes me back. Not just beach use of Seventeen, but also because I had pretty much that exact haircut 🙂

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      Mamavalveeta03
      7 Sep 2022
      11:41am

      Didn’t we all?

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    Cola
    11 Sep 2022
    10:03pm

    Peak back to school issues: Seventeen August ‘77, ‘78 and ‘79. Wish I still had them.

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    Dianne
    8 Sep 2022
    8:12am

    I remember ‘Seventeen’ from the early 80s, and how “white” it was. I felt double removed from it as I was a black girl who was not American. But it was all we had. I remember model Kersti Bowser and also Whitney Houston! This was before she became a star. I also recall an essay by a woman named Marcie who went to Willamette University and had lost a substantial amount of weight. And I passed out when they featured Jennifer Beals, who had become an obsession.

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      Alyssa
      8 Sep 2022
      11:24am

      Wow, I remember LOVING Whitney in Seventeen, and when she became a “singer” I thought, oh boy, why do models just assume they can do other things…like sing. OMG what a fool I was! But because of growing up with her via Seventeen I always felt like I was one of her earliest, loyal fans.

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    Viajera
    6 Sep 2022
    2:41pm

    What a pleasant interlude – thank you, Kim! – halfway through a heat wave. (And I don’t even have it that bad.) Moved as liiiiittle as possible over the weekend, but, now I know what “Yellowstone” is. If I were from there, I’d be careful about letting people put it on telly. It is well-made and the scenery is amazing. Not sure if I like it yet – I tend to favor escapism in my entertainment choices!! – but, I still have the last episode from last season to watch. I already had the park on my list. … … … Oh yeah but we were talking about clothing. I am fond of houndstooth and many tartan patterns, and of corduroy, once the temps drop.

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      ceejAY
      6 Sep 2022
      5:22pm

      My husband and I always laugh about how Yellowstone shows the 4-8 weeks of the year in Montana when the weather is beautiful and skips over the bitter cold and snow in the winter, mud season, fly season, etc. It is beautiful country but not for anyone who does not tolerate bad weather! And as much as I am not a Kevin Costner fan, he is so perfect in that role. Very entertaining show 🙂

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        Liz
        6 Sep 2022
        9:22pm

        I grew up in Rhode Island surrounded by preppy kids, so we rebelled against the look until Twin Peaks came out. Then we all dyed our hair black, pencilled in thick brows and started wearing Gap twin sets and plaid skirts from the Salvation Army. But mostly my style icon at the time was Sassy’s cover of Juliana Hatfield. We basically all lived in black dresses, black chunky shoes, black tights, asymmetrical bobs, and huge dad sweaters. I kind of still want to dress like that. Are black tights weird on middle aged women? I feel like you never see them anymore.

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          Jen
          7 Sep 2022
          11:54am

          I still wear black tights all winter! Oh no—is this a fashion faux pas?

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            Jen
            7 Sep 2022
            11:57am

            Plus—couldn’t agree more about the Back to School issues. I was totally obsessed. I have a vivid memory of one from around that same era which had a page for “loden,” one for “plum,” one for “teal,” one for I think rust? It was probably the first time I had ever heard of most of these colors. It’s hard not to think about how “adult” the supposed high school looks of that era were, compared to what a Seventeen (does it still exist?) or Teen Vogue would show now.

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              Viajera
              7 Sep 2022
              12:22pm

              I’ll have to go look at a newstand – the youngsters I know don’t seem to refer to magazines at all – it is all stuff on their phones. At any rate, pre-covid, when I used to walk down crowded streets, it seemed to me that young people weren’t even wearing bright colors at the beach. To me this is kind of sad. Swimwear used to come in happy colors. … … … I am sorry to say, I am still seeing the super short denim which is not at all flattering. My friend says they know it looks bad and don’t care. I am not convinced they know, though. … … … I have never heard of any issue with black tights on anyone over the age of 4. And I don’t know why there should be one. (Though, I am tired of wearing dark colors, for myself. But tights are fine.)

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    Betsy P
    6 Sep 2022
    2:44pm

    I was 19 in 1977 and pretty sure I had moved on to Cosmo by then except for the back to school fashions. Ditto on wearing Fall clothes in August in SC and sweating to death, especially at footfall games. Thank God preppy clothes were breathable. Great look back. I would love to see the inside of the issue.

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      Kelly W
      6 Sep 2022
      4:23pm

      I would love to see the inside too!

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      Anne
      6 Sep 2022
      6:08pm

      So funny you mentioned that model (Jayne Modean) because I liked her too back then- she had a different look!

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    Alannah
    6 Sep 2022
    3:16pm

    You’re not trolling Jenn with that cashmere crewneck are you? 😉

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      Kim France
      6 Sep 2022
      4:01pm

      Haha, not intentionally!

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    Jen
    6 Sep 2022
    4:29pm

    I would stalk the mailbox for the August issue starting on the 1st. And of course I had to wear the black leather mini skirt I’d convinced my mom to get me in the blazing heat of late September in PA…anything for fashion?

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    Heather
    6 Sep 2022
    4:31pm

    I DREAMED of the Seventeen fall looks even though I lived in Arkansas where there was nowhere to buy such things and it was a million degrees. I fantasized about living somewhere – I knew not where, but perhaps Vermont? anything north of Virginia was a mystery to me – where one could actually wear such things in September and not die of heat exhaustion.

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      Melynda
      7 Sep 2022
      11:20am

      The same! I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas — a beach town south of Houston — and there were about 5 days a year when it would be comfortable to wear cashmere or tweed. (And those days we were mostly huddled in the house because we thought it was freeeeeeeezing!!!). But I got those Seventeen magazines and dreamed that there was a place in the world where people wore blazers instead of rainbow-colored flip flops.

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    Rachel in Portland
    6 Sep 2022
    3:10pm

    I loved this issue so much–I saved all my babysitting/strawberry-picking money and bought the whole cover. Loved Jane Modean!

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    Elisabeth
    6 Sep 2022
    2:47pm

    I love this post, whooo what a nostalgia rush! I dog eared the Back to School issue of Seventeen, hauled it everywhere with me, pored over every feature and every ad…and yeah, I remember wearing a plaid wool kilt on the first day of, hm, maybe 8th grade? Even though it was 90 out! That kilt HAD to have a big silver metal pin, too.

    Love that houndstooth blazer to pieces! Am also vest curious, but idk if I can pull it off.

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    Gablesgirl
    6 Sep 2022
    8:58pm

    Seventeen did a full fall Back-to-School spread at the University of Alabama in the 80s and guess where I ended up going to college? Roll Tide:)

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    Lisa
    6 Sep 2022
    9:36pm

    I am certain I recognize this issue, and I also LOVED Jane Modean (had forgotten her name of course, but never the face). There is no current equivalent to the joy of those back to school issue magazines…all that hope. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

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    maryse
    7 Sep 2022
    11:54am

    My family and I were living in Tehran, Iran in 1977 and I used to get my dad to drive me to the Hilton Hotel to shop their newstand for my magazines. They would be months behind but this exact issue was one of my links to home. I’m sure I have a copy somewhere.

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    Elizabeth
    7 Sep 2022
    9:30am

    I was 21 in 1977, so had moved on from Seventeen (still tried to make my hair into that exact style though). My mom got Vogue Magazine – the fall issue pretty much required a hand truck to get it into the house from the mailbox. It was always a gorgeous issue!

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    LeighTX
    7 Sep 2022
    10:11am

    The high in Houston today is only 92–I think I could manage that blazer if I paired it with shorts, LOL. Love that plaid skirt, you so rarely see anything in brown anymore.

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    kj
    7 Sep 2022
    10:16am

    I was a late 80s / early 90s teen, and I distinctly remember the August 1988 Seventeen cover. A short-haired Renee Jeffus wearing a beret, sweater and tweed blazer. And the Sassy “Twin Peaks” fashion spread was an Autumn delight. Back to school fashion was the BEST.

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    Corinne Rayne
    7 Sep 2022
    11:14am

    Long live Happy Face cold cream and Organically Grown landscape sweaters!

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    Meg
    7 Sep 2022
    11:19am

    What an excellent post Kim!! I was a high school Junior in 1977 and our Northeast uniform wearing rebellion included fierce footwear – handbags and coats!! The new semester coat was key. Thrifted from your grandmother or father -even better. I do love that JCrew jacket..

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    Susie Q
    7 Sep 2022
    11:23am

    “Jayne Modean” I said immediately on seeing this picture. Some names and faces you never forget from your youth.

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    joannawnyc
    7 Sep 2022
    11:29am

    I am sure I read that issue but in my NE preppy high school we were not into preppy fashion , it was everyday wear. We were into 70s high waisted wide leg polyester trousers with coordinating printed blouses for flex. Plaid, corduroy, denim, fair isle sweaters and Frye boots or clogs were just everyday wear. We knew about Patti Smith but didn’t emulate her, despite being 90 minutes from NYC. It was another world!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    7 Sep 2022
    11:40am

    I remember those covers so well! I was 17 in 1977 and it felt like that magazine was made just for me. Great memories (but I’d never go back there in a million years!).

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    JB
    7 Sep 2022
    7:50am

    Seventeen was my bible and the august issue epic. Nothing beat the end of summer activity of putting on some bonne bell lip smacker and hunkering down in my room to plan back to school outfits. I have been collecting old issues off eBay. So fun to flip thru again.

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    Dawn
    7 Sep 2022
    12:43pm

    I had just turned 18 when the August 1977 issue of Seventeen came out and I was getting ready to leave for college as a freshman. I remember the pang of I’m-technically-too-old-for-Seventeen-magazine-already as I devoured this issue — and, admittedly, I read Seventeen for another couple of years because it was just the BEST for feeding one’s fashion addiction. Now, fall clothing and magazines hold no thrill for me. I have many, many very nice coats, jackets, and sweaters and no place to wear anything “nice” (about which I have crazy mixed feelings).

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      Dawn
      7 Sep 2022
      2:02pm

      Thinking about it more, I think I loved Seventeen most because it was the last girls magazine that wasn’t all about getting a man in my lifetime.

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      Viajera
      7 Sep 2022
      2:30pm

      Maybe a place can becommmme nice, if you are in it?!

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        Dawn
        7 Sep 2022
        5:44pm

        An excellent sentiment, Viajera! Thx.

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    Mary Alice McLoughlin
    7 Sep 2022
    12:57pm

    August of 1977 I was a freshman in college, and I can guarantee that I pored over this issue – along with Glamour and Mademoiselle – and lusted after the woolens and tweeds. September in Southern California is always the hottest time of year, so for us, the cool fall clothes would have to wait another 6 weeks or so.

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    D.Morgendorffer
    7 Sep 2022
    12:58pm

    It was super late in the year before we could think of any form of wool in Baton Rouge. Still, the above items reminded me of wearing a scratchy wool skirt made by my mother (with penny loafers, thank you) on my way to Wednesday chapel where we sat boy-girl, boy-girl to prevent chattering with friends.

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      ADCarey
      8 Sep 2022
      9:16am

      Yes! ! Got those penny loafers at Godchaux’s…

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        D.Morgendorffer
        8 Sep 2022
        10:37am

        Oh-my-gosh, the original campus for my parochial school was across the street from downtown Godchaux’s! Godchaux! So fancy! Also, Godchaux’s hosted the spelling bee the years I competed.

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          ADCarey
          9 Sep 2022
          6:14pm

          I was fiercely devoted to that Clinque counter. And terrified of the animatronic parking lot Santa.

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    Lisa H
    7 Sep 2022
    1:25pm

    Just last week, I was trying to interest my 16 year old son in shopping for some new clothes for ‘back-to-school’ and he said, “It’s not like I need an entirely new outfit for the first day”. Like the cranky old GenX mom that I am, I explained how – WHEN I WAS YOUR AGE – I spent the last two weeks of August working on my tan on the shores of Shuswap Lake, while poring over Seventeen magazine and planning ALL my outfits for the new school year. Sigh.

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    elise
    7 Sep 2022
    3:16pm

    Love this trip down memory lane! I absolutely remember this cover – that hair! all those plaids! I too stalked the mailbox for the each issue and memorized every photo, beauty tip, etc!

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    cw
    7 Sep 2022
    4:07pm

    From age 13 to 18 I received on my birthday a subscription to Seventeen magazine. The September issue would arrive about the same time as my mother’s September issue of Vogue. Mother would sit on one end of our couch––I’d sit at the other end and for one lazy sweltering afternoon each August the only sounds you’d hear were the almost silent almost reverential turning of pages and the charming chime of ice in our glasses of Coke.

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About

Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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