Unreliable History - Winter Beach Fashions - how to look cool at the beach when it's 8 degree's

Unreliable History - Winter Beach Fashions

(or How to Look Cool at the Beach When It's 8 Degrees)

In the 1950s and 1960s, winter beach fashions were pretty crude. Old army overcoats could be picked up cheaply from Army Surplus stores and they came with nice brass buttons. Old footy jumpers were popular, though they could not be purchased; there were no sports stores. You had to earn one. The only way to get one was to play for a club or get one of your dad's old jumpers. The Tate boys had access to dad Murray's international Rugby jumpers. It was not unusual to see one of the Tate kids playing touch footy in Reina Street wearing a green Springbok jumper. Ancient Easts Rugby and Bondi United jumpers were highly sought after.

Sloppy Joes became available in the 1960s, and things started to look up. If you could get hold of an SJ with Harvard or UCLA, so much the better. In later years, the SJ added a hood plus some new prints and reinvented itself as the 'Hoodie'. Track suits became popular, solving the problem of freezing legs in winter. 'Trackies', however, were generally worn only after sport, such as a session in the pool or after footy training. They certainly weren't worn around cafes as a fashion item.

Polar Fleece jackets popped up in the 1990s. At first they were hellishly expensive, worn only by rich skiers and early morning swimmers. Later, like everything else out of China, they got cheaper. Today, you can pick one up for 10 bucks. Polar Fleece has been the go for the last decade, dominating the walkers on the prom at Bondi. 

Lately though, the dominance of PF is waning, losing heaps of the winter crowd to the Black Puffer, filled with down available in both long sleeves and sleeveless. There are potential problems with the puffer. To look cool in your puffer, best be thin. A fat person in a puffer is not a pretty sight, a bit like that cartoon character in the Michelin Ad. At the moment,the battle between polar fleece and puffers is about even. However, fashion freaks seem to favour the puffer. 

Proving the old adage that everything old is new again is the return of the flanellette shirt . The wearer, in their colourful 'flannie', appears at the beach looking like a lumberjack who has strayed out of a British Columbian pine forest. 

There are winter fashion accessories. Winter at the beach is when the baseball caps are put in the cupboard and the Beanies come out. It's preferable to own a Sydney Swans or a Roosters beanie but even a Bondi Panelbeaters one is preferable to a plain beanie. Another one is Ugg Boots made from sheepskins. Warm as toast they tend to become, and unbearably smelly as they age. Some of the winter crowd persist with flip flops. These people can normally be noticed  by their blue toes. Our Bondi design team are currently working on a prototype for heated flip flops which will have a heat element powered by a lithium battery.

We now look at winter fashions in the water. Wet suits are now available in all sorts of colours and separate brands for ladies. Some winter swimmers refuse to contemplate 'wetties' and wear only 'sluggos' all winter. Those who wear steamers, full length wetties, often before entering the water perform the 'Wettie Warmer'. The WW is when one pees inside the wettie, experiencing a surge of warmth. Some surfers frown on this act; others are  enthusiastic about its benefits.

Winter beach fashions are constantly evolving. Lately, a kind of mix and match trend has appeared on the Promenade. That is combining your thick flannie with Hawaiian print board shorts. Reports are that Peter Ryan picked up this trend in Hawaii and introduced it to Bondi. 

Another fine example of the fashion was seen recently on the Prom. A gentleman seen wearing flip flops, Hawaiian print shorts below with a black Puffer and Beanie on top.

Remember, stay real cool this winter.

Al Scott ( who wears Crocs with socks )

Postscript: Jack Lang Translations

In my last Unreliable History, I appealled for readers to fill the urgent need for new J.L. phrases. Entries are still pouring in, with some interesting Jack Lang already received:

Steve from Manly:    
Sheila = Bulahdelah
Girl = Barossa Pearl

Leigh from Bellingen:
Ned Kelly = The later edition of the Grace Kelly
Fingers = Onkaparingas

Maarten from Toronto, Canada:
Smashed Avocado  = Prang the Prado

Leading Clovelly Hotel Barrister, Luke Morgan, complained that 'Brasco' refers to a dunny, not a bathroom. Luke, you are technically correct. However, there are lots of the Jack Lang to cover dunnies, but we could not find one to depict a bathroom. Ed.

Al's blog is a collection of fuzzy memories by Al Scott. All errors are the result of an ageing memory and are unintentional.  All members are welcome to submit their stories, recollections and tidbits. Please do email any entries to or