It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was a time of desperation, poverty and drug abuse. It was a time of job cuts, coming of age and violence. It was a time of discrimination, family pride and big dreams. Whenever anything worked out for the Evans family, those were the good times.
The only girl child in the Evans family, Thelma Evans, from the hit 70’s sitcom, Good Times, kept it real and kept it stylish. Her character projected grace, beauty, intelligence, compassion and toughness when needed. She wasn’t rich in her pocketbook but she was certainly rich in spirit. Living on the south side of Chicago in the projects, she wore whatever she could afford and it worked. Not only was she a major fashion icon to her female audience but to the male viewers she was a knockout. Everyone adored her big brother J.J. but the male viewers were in love with Miss. Thelma, she represented what’s known as the ‘homegirl beauty’.
Although it’s something you rarely hear about or is easily identified in prominent fashion or hair/skin and makeup magazines, homegirl beauty exists worldwide – she influences the industry from afar without ever leaving her hood (hometown).
The term ‘homegirl’ was established in a not so ritzy neighborhood amongst a linguistically creative group of friends also considered family. The homegirl zip code is a long ways from the Hamptons. Actually, her place of residence is nestled between a liquor store, park and dilapidated buildings. Homegirls stand out and are set apart from the rest. They are in a league of their own. Why? Because they are edgy, radiant, street smart, artistically misunderstood and drop dead gorgeous without trying to be. Their living environment doesn’t make or break them, they’re not too flashy or provocative, they don’t look like anyone else or attempt to. It probably takes them no more than ten minutes to assemble a killer wardrobe fit for a queen, they are trendsetters whom rarely get the credit, they have a relaxed personality and tend to interact more with boys than girls. Homegirls are hip, sexy and beautiful in a raw yet innocent way.
Some might find it odd that a fictitious person is one of my greatest fashion inspirations.
Red light: Santa Claus leaves gifts under the tree every year, the Tooth Fairy promises a monetary reward for loosing teeth, the Boogie Man is mentioned so much there’s a plate for him at the family dinner table? Green light: certainly Miss. Thelma Evans played by BernNadette Stanis, is a fashionably-fly-fierce-fictitious-friend of mine.
Something about Thelma’s character was not only lovable but also relatable. None of the many family mishaps and there were a multitude of them could extinguish Miss. Thelma’s internal fire. BernNadette’s head-strong character lived in the moment, she was unafraid of new things and, like the dancer she portrayed on Good Times, she danced her way right into her fans’ hearts. She embraced every aspect of being a woman, daughter, sister and wife. She loved the idea of love, she embraced her African- American culture and others, she had a positive outlook on life and wore a smile that could light up any room. No matter the circumstance, Miss. Thelma always said things were going to be all right and her predictions rang true.
Some of Thelma’s basement bargains featured on Good Times can be seen today in stores such as: Urban Outfitter’s, United Colors of Benetton, Anthropologie, Armani and J.LO Designs by Jennifer Lopez. See Thelma’s style was a pinch hippie, a dash of disco, a sprinkle of the ’60s and ’70s funk all the way. The estimated cost to style Miss. Thelma present day would be anywhere between $5,000-$15,000. To style Miss. Thelma back then, would cost anywhere between $300-$500. What a difference a day makes.
Check out her style:
Miss. Thelma’s most classic look was an A-line wool skirt, a knit turtleneck sweater, leather boots, huge gold hoop ear rings and gold bangle bracelets, lip gloss that never lost it’s shine and one neatly combed afro puff to top it all off.
Whatever the Chicago event or forecast, Miss. Thelma was always well put together. I can honestly say polyester never looked so good. Merci Beaucoup Bernnadette Stanis! Dynomite Miss. Thelma!