Monday, October 2, 2023 Oct 2, 2023
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Hemlines rise and fall, but teen boards are forever.

I was a teenage fashion victim in the Sixties. A dedicated groupie, I saved up and subscribed to Harper’s Bazaar and papered my room with pages of Veruschka and Penelope Tree cavorting for Norman Parkinson. I haunted Paraphernalia, Dallas’s most avant-garde fashion emporium and the only store in town that had the nerve to stock plastic, see-through, Betsey Johnson micro-minis and the entire realm of Yardley Slicker Sticks, the cosmetic line boosted by Twiggy and her lash-look. My mother renewed my subscriptions to Ingenue and Seventeen and encouraged the Dallas Look by shopping along with me at Neiman’s, where I had been brought up to recognize the right stuff (and know better); at Lilly Dodson, where she was offered a glass of sherry and 1 had Dr Pepper in a Waterford tumbler; and at Sanger Harris, where the price tags agreed most often with the familial budget. I was dutiful, but I had seen pictures of Edie and Viva and Andy at The Factory, and the times they were a-changin’. Fashion designers became personal icons. Eschewing the global socio-political-environmental issues that lay before me as a Senior ’68,1 raised my fashion consciousness, and ever true to my Dallas roots, lived to shop and dressed to kill, or at least attempted same.

There was not much my mother and I agreed upon when it came to fashion. I remember major skirmishes over skirt styles (shorter! tighter!) and battles about false eyelashes and cosmetics in general. But this would be the norm in mother-daughter deals. One thing we did agree upon was that I should do my best to become a member of a teen board, an establishment idea in an anti-establishment era, granted, but one that met her “supposed to” standards and my own desire to slink down a runway wearing something cool and glamorous. I spent a couple of Saturdays learning to pivot and smile (this was before the vacant, angry stare became requisite for les mannequins) and joined the elite cadre of young women on Sanger Harris’s teen board. Each of us represented a Dallas high school, each of us thought we were it, and we all had fun. We learned how to do real makeup and starred in in-store fashion shows, we got to shake it in the spotlights as guest dancers on “Sump’n Else,” and three of us made a video that involved bounding over the grassy Trinity River levee at sunset wearing Bobbie Brooks bathing suits. My mother was proud. I showed off and loved it. And though my fashion addiction continued undaunted, I acquired a somewhat more realistic nuts-and-bolts view of the fashion scene that was timely, not to mention a smile-for-the-camera self-image that still comes in handy.

That was then. Now I have a thirteen-year-old daughter whose bedroom is papered with posters of INXS and the pages of Elle and Vogue, and one of the things we agree upon is that she would probably enjoy being on a teen board, an institution that has withstood the iconoclastic Sixties, the psychedelic Seventies, and the socio-retail squeeze of the Eighties, with only a few outward and visible signs of change. During the Seventies, the addition of boys made teen boards a unisex proposition and broadened the scope of the visuals considerably. And in the last couple of years, teen boards have embraced the ideals of community service, staging fashion events that benefit local teen charities and self-help groups, a trend that my mother and Ronald Reagan can both applaud.

At present, several stores in the Metroplex sponsor teen boards and report that the interest level remains high and competition for new members is tough. Should your teen feel the urge to merge, the following is a guide to the ins and outs of getting on board.

Be willing to make a time commitment. Teen board activities are somewhat seasonal (heaviest in the spring and fall when the fashion calendar says buy new clothes), but meetings can continue all year long, and teen board time should be considered and accounted for as seriously as soccer season or guitar lessons.

Be attractive. This requirement adds to the ifdon’t-make-it-I’ll-just-die complication that teen types deal with every day anyway. So at least the beginnings of a tough exterior are helpful in getting through the tryout and screening process, along with the kind of self-image that can take a turndown.

Be willing to work. Volunteerism, good attitude and attendance, and esprit de corps are mandatory. In addition to the community service/charity activities, some retailers add limited hours of working in the store to the merchandising and education portion of their program.

Still interested? The following is a partial list of Dallas/Fort Worth stores with teen boards. Good luck!

Foley’s has a teen board in Dallas, another in Fort Worth. Recruitment begins in the spring, and any student, sophomore through senior, enrolled in an area high school is eligible. Watch for ads in local newspapers and pick up an application in the Junior or Young Men’s departments at area Foley’s stores. The current teen board will kick off activities with a fall fashion show.

The Gazebo’s group is called Pretty Young Things. Last year’s activities included a Just Say No fashion show at the Hard Rock Cafe benefiting the teenage drug and alcohol abuse program at Parkland Hospital. The program includes in-store merchandising, a seminar with professional models, a fitness seminar with Jenny Ferguson, and a professional makeup seminar by members of The Salon at The Gazebo. Activities of the present board (membership stands at thirty girls) begin in September, and a new PYT board will form in the spring. For more information, call Susie Bagwell at The Gazebo at 373-6661.

Saks Fifth Avenue’s teen board is Viva Moda, and male and female members are recruited in the spring via meetings that are held at area private and public schools for ninth- through twelfth-graders. A back to school show by board members on August 12 will benefit Teen Contact, a local troubled teen contact and referral service that’s part of Contact Dallas. For more information about that event call 233-Teen in Dallas. The current program includes a six- to eight-week training program that includes segments on hair and makeup, wardrobing, runway modeling, fitness, fashion merchandising and retailing, and community service. For more information about Viva Moda, call Nancy Woolfolk at 458-7000.

Dillard’s has Fashion Boards in all of itsstores, which are made up of ten to thirty-fivemembers, depending on the size of the store.The board is open to all juniors and seniors,and tryouts are in April or May. Dates for thetryouts are advertised in the newspapers.Members receive training in modeling,makeup, and on Dillard’s computer terminals. The board meets once a month, andmembers participate in community activitiesand work in the stores as well. Activities include a “Back to School” fashion show forjuniors and young men and various forms ofmodeling. For information, call GailHolloway, (817) 831-5480.

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