The past weekend was a game weekend in Green Bay, and so is the next one. I wish I could be there to see the whole town dressed up in green and gold.

I got to thinking about the differences between today’s Packer game crowds and the ones in my youth. People actually used to dress up for football games, and I don’t mean in costumes.

From Hugh Morton Collection, University of North Carolina. Taken at UNC game, 1952. Note the men’s ties and the ladies’ skirts and hats.

I started attending Packer games in 1959, when people could still recall raccoon coats and chrysanthemums. In those unenlightened times, fur coats were considered appropriate cold-weather wear. Vince Lombardi even gave mink coats to the players’ wives after one championship season.

My parents managed a clothing store, Newman’s, on Washington Street in Green Bay. Back then, the Packers always opened their season at home versus the Chicago Bears. The Packer-Bear game was the big occasion for ladies to show off their new fall wardrobes. My folks’ store always did good business the week before that game.
We heard horror stories about Texas women showing up in short skirts and high heels at the NFL championship game between the Packers and the Dallas Cowboys on December 31, 1967. They faced a danger of hypothermia when it hit thirteen below zero at kickoff. (That game became known as the “Ice Bowl.”) But that was what they normally wore to games back home in Dallas.

I never wore high heels to a game, but I generally put on a nice sweater and tailored wool trousers. I remember one game when I was about fourteen. I wore a new cable-knit sweater and matching slacks in a soft gold color, and I had finally mastered curling my hair in a pageboy. My parents’ friend Marcia Deutsch pulled me aside and told me someone had asked her who that pretty little girl was. That was the first time anyone outside of my immediate family had ever told me I was pretty. I’ll always be grateful to Marcia for passing on the compliment.

My friends and I got a gift in the mid-sixties when the Dr. Zhivago movie came out. The film featured Julie Christie as Lara, traipsing around Russia in fur-trimmed coats and big fur hats. Copies of her costumes soon appeared on store racks. We could wear them to games, look trendy, and stay warm.

Perhaps taking their cue from the dress code, the crowds of the ‘50s and ‘60s seemed more sedate than the crowds of today. Sure, there were drunks, and occasionally fights broke out, with the perpetrators soon escorted away by police. But we never did The Wave, and I never saw a whole crowd standing, yelling, “Bu@#sh*t,” the way they did at the game I attended earlier this year. (I must confess, I was yelling, too. The refs made an atrocious call.) You could smoke in the stadium then, and sure enough, there was always some guy with a cigar nearby. By the fourth quarter, the whole stadium would be under a little pall of smoke, tinged with cigar and a hint of popcorn.

Today at Lambeau Field, you’re unlikely to see high heels and cigarettes and more likely to see something like this:








Costumed characters are popular.  We see Mean Gene and Christopher the Fence Painter year after year.


Fur coats are out. Some fans don’t bother with clothes at all.


But why should I be surprised? The players don’t look the same anymore, either.

Example: This is a linebacker.

Ray Nitschke 1958-72


Clay Matthews 2009-present. Image from The Oakland Press 10/2/10






See what I mean?



2 thoughts on “FOOTBALL FASHION

  1. Whoa ! Great picture of Clay !! It sure was fun to go to all the home games, see our friends, goof off in general and sometimes pay attention to what was going on on the field.

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