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Girl In 1980s Calvin Kleins, Big Comb Back Pocket

Calvin Klein Jeans 1981

A big comb sticking out of your back pocket is one of the great cultural icons of Generation X. Transport yourself back to the early 1980s and the local roller rink, and you’d surely witness a sea of feathered hair and lots of colorful Ace and Goody combs.

As an artifact of the early 1980s, pictures of colorful plastic combs fill nostalgia boards on Pinterest; however, it’s hard to come by an actual picture of a young Gen-Xer sporting the trend. I was amazed to find the images below of Gen-Xers on a playground in 1981. The girl in the middle has a comb sticking out of the pocket of her 1980s Calvin Klein jeans.

1980s Calvin Klein Jeans

This 35mm slide of junior high students in 1981 was taken on a school playground in Massachusetts.
The girl in the middle sports two major trends of the day: Calvin Klein Jeans and a big comb in her back pocket.

Know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.

Raise your hand if you wore Calvin Klein jeans in the 1980s! My mom bought me a pair and I was so proud of them. They cost about $40, which was a lot of money in 1981. Also, does anyone remember the controversial Brooke Shields ads featuring the memorable line, “Know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” Ah, Brooke. She is still gorgeous.

Designer jeans were trendy in the early 1980s. They were so popular that knockoffs were a problem. Around 1982, I discovered some fake Calvin Kleins at the J. Brannam store in Oklahoma City. The rivets on the pockets were not stamped with the designer’s name. They also had red or green topstitching that was low quality.

I loved J. Brannam, by the way. I loved going there with my sisters. It was an off-price chain owned by Woolco. It was a great store where you could buy great designer clothes for a fraction of the price.

Vintage Calvin Klein Makeup

Another thing I remember is ordering a Calvin Klein makeup special with a coupon I cut out of some teen magazine. For $1, you could get three stackable trays of Calvin Klein makeup, including trays of earth-tone eyeshadows, lip glosses, and blushes. The only catch was you had to sign up for a makeup membership, which you could cancel anytime. My mom and I ordered the $1 special for everyone in our family. She figured out some way to get multiple sets for us, too. I think if you let six months pass, you could join again or something like that. My mom was always open to a great deal! I miss her so much. I miss you, Mom.

Anyway, the lid to the plastic trays had letters cut into it that read “Calvin Klein.” All my junior high friends were very impressed when I showed up at church camp with designer makeup. That was also the best makeup, too. I’m still looking for that shade of lipgloss.

I hope you enjoy these beautiful images of young Gen-Xers. Did you ever wear a big comb in your back pocket?

Creative Commons license applies. Photographer: Unknown.


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. SS

    This photo is great. Thanks. I grew up in Massachusetts and had the same jeans and had the back pocket comb.. Another popular thing at this time was preppy Nantucket wooden handle canvas bags with whales and your monogram. You could change the bags cover which was attached by little pearly buttons. I realize now that Brook was completely sexualized. A now deceased friend whom I met in San Francisco grew up with “Calvin Klein”, they went to school together, this friend was also very famous in his own right. Both grew up in NYC in working class families and boy, did he have stories of their sexual escapades as adolescents. I told him about the comb in the pocket and he said it meant “come and get me, let me groom you!” and chuckled. It made me unbelievably uncomfortable when he said that! It makes me sad because I was innocent, but recall older junior high and high school boys trying to take the comb and hence, touching/feeling my buttocks. I feel very badly for Brook, as I can only imagine she had pretty rotten experiences as a sexualized child? I don’t know. I just imagine!

    • Jennifer

      Thanks for adding those very interesting anecdotes! I followed Brooke Shields on Instagram for a bit. She was so normal! Not at all what you’d expect after movies like Pretty Baby. She was only 15 when she did the provocative CK ads. They would never get away with that today. Thanks for stopping by! I also remember the purses. I had one that was blue and white check / reversible to blue. =) Loved ’em!

  2. Sheila

    I loved that Calvin Klein set of three stackable makeup trays. To this day, I have never found a
    better red lipgloss. Just looking at it in the packaging, it looked very dark. I did not have high
    hopes….but it was sheer and beautiful. The pinks were great too, but OH….that red!!!

    Tried looking for these trays on Pinterest and different sites, but so far you are the only person
    who knows they ever existed. Besides me….:)

    • Jennifer

      I’ve looked everywhere for them, too. That lipgloss was the best. I can still see it in my mind. The red was perfect. Not too orange, not too pink. Maybe they’ll have a comeback someday! They better hurry up. I’m not getting any younger. LOL.


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