|Linda Ronstadt onstage, 1977. (Photo: Ralph Hulett)|
At five-feet-two inches tall, Linda Ronstadt’s proportions were right for boys’ clothes. She wore the Cub Scout uniform with strappy flesh tone wedgie sandals and her usual hair and makeup, which took any androgyny out of the outfit. This made it completely non-threatening at a time when, as a woman in a business full of men who weren’t used to working with women, some people might have felt...unsettled, let's say. The outfit was a smashing success: guys thought it was sexy, and girls wanted to be like her, or to be her best friend.
In later radio interviews, Ronstadt would say she just bought the Cub Scout uniform because she thought it might look cute. She couldn’t have picked a better time:
Whether Linda Ronstadt realized it or not, during the height of the feminist movement of the 1970’s, in the boys’ club atmosphere that was prevalent in the music business at that time, wearing boys’ clothes onstage made quite a statement. It was also an acknowledgment of the sentiment expressed by most of the male musicians who knew her: she was one of them. It may have been subconscious on her part, but that’s the message that was sent and received.
|Linda Ronstadt with her band, Simple Dreams tour, 1977 (Photo: Ralph Hulett via http://waddywachtelinfo.com)|
And everybody who saw it thought she looked damn cute.
Even now, decades later, looking at the photos, it still works. There has been no shortage of female performers paying homage: not long ago, Madonna sported a Cub Scout uniform on a red carpet. It’s also reminiscent of something Katy Perry might have done earlier in her career.
But remember, Ronstadt wore it first.
|How cool is she? (Photo: Corbis Images. Orig. Photographer Harry Diltz?*)|
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*Finding correct photo credits for this post was particularly difficult, as many photographers captured images during this period, and some archives were purchased by other photographers. One was incorrectly dated 1985. I suspect that date reflects the date of a new copyright by a new owner. If you're the copyright owner and I've credited the wrong photographer, please let me know and I'll correct it.