In Xanadu

May 7, 2009 at 8:41 am (Random Thoughts)


Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me how, but the other morning I was feeling particularly nostalgic–but nostalgic not as much in a “Remember when” sort-of way, but more of a “I want to do this again” way. I wanted to wear Xanadu barrettes.

Xanadu barrettes, for those of you who missed it, forgot it, or weren’t even born, were these barrettes with multi-colored ribbons woven through the body of the barrette with the ends left to trail down, sending silky streams of color through your flowing hair like you were the lost tenth muse. (It makes sense if you’ve ever watched the movie.)

And for those of us whose family couldn’t afford these barrettes or the to-die-for satin baseball jacket, they also sold kits so you could make your own barrettes, or for the truly thrifty, you bought the barrettes (if you didn’t have a spare pair somewhere), bought ribbons at JoAnn Fabrics, and made your own Xanadu barrettes.

You may be asking why I was getting nostalgic for these barrettes. (Heck, knowing some of you, you’re getting a few pangs of sweetly innocent lust for them as well!) I think these barrettes were some of our first forays into young womanhood, that awful, painful, bittersweet and exciting time after playing tag with the boys at recess and before discovering Bonnie Bell 10-O-6 and Seventeen magazine. We were now getting dolled up for those same boys and these barrettes with their beautiful flowing ribbons in their girly colors made us feel pretty. They were pierced ears and prom dresses and pretty pink fingernails before we were allowed to have any of them, all braided up in satin ribbons.

I’m well past Seventeen magazine now, and know I am beautiful, both inside and out, so I can honestly say I wasn’t longing for these barrettes to make me feel pretty. I just think there’s always going to be a part of me that likes dressing up and wearing extra sparklies or touchable silks and velvets and recapturing that feel of wearing ribbons in my hair. I may not be royal by birth, but I can enjoy dressing up like a princess.

That, or Olivia Newton-John circa 1980.



  1. jeniferm said,

    I found some of these not too long ago looking through a box of old stuff with my mom. They were red and white and had pony beads at the bottoms of the ribbons. Some were fancy and had feathers, too, I remember. I’ve never heard the term Xanadu barrette (or seen the movie), but I was right there with you and all the girly hair accoutrements!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 🙂

  2. coffeegirl88 said,

    I remember making those, probably from a kit. Not that I could wear them. My hair is too thin and well, laughs at me any time I even THINK of putting a barrette or comb in it. You should have seen what it took to get a flowered barrette (don’t ask) in my hair a couple years ago for a wedding. *eyeroll*

    Of course I had no idea they were connected to the movie, since I still haven’t seen Xanadu. Perhaps I’m missing something?

  3. Marilyn Brant said,

    Like Jenifer, I had red and white ones, too–mine were knock-offs but they had heart beads at the bottom :). I loved ’em.

    As for the movie (which I watched at least twice), I saw the title of your post and started humming–first the “Xanadu” title track and, then, “Suddenly.” And now I’ve got this annoying desire ignore my edits and go rollerskating…

  4. Pamela Cayne said,

    Jenifer-ah, yes, the beads. Those were special barrettes. And I had the feathered ones (in Montana people wore them off their cowboy hats.) It wasn’t until much later in life I learned what I was wearing was a roach clip! 😀

    Coffee–oh, yes, you must get yourself to NetFlix and rent Xanadu. It’s where it all started. 🙂

  5. Hollie said,

    LOLOL.. oh the collection of those roach clips hanging from the rearview mirror of the chevy malibu!……..ahh….good times! 😀

  6. Melina said,

    OMG I used to adore those! Never made them myself though. Somewhere, my mom has a special box filled with all of my old hair stuff.

    Now you’ve got me feeling all nostalgic! 🙂

  7. Robin said,

    Okay, where the heck was I? I’ve never heard of these barrettes and never wore them as a young girl. I’m thinking it must be because I was a tomboy and very in to sports. Nothing too frilly for this girl. However, when you mentioned Olivia Newton John, I totally started singing the song “Physical.” I had and army green tank top that said ‘Physical’ in pink across the chest and I wore it all the time!

  8. Pamela Cayne said,

    Marilyn–mwah, haw, haw, my evil plan worked! My only problem was though I thought I could skate like ONJ, I really could not. I think the barrettes were the closest I got! 🙂

    Hollie–yup, those feathers were so pretty and with a convenient clip on the end! What teenage girl wouldn’t buy a few? 😉

  9. Pamela Cayne said,

    Melina–nostalgia is good, especially beauty nostalgia. I still can’t smell a fresh compact of Cover Girl powder without going straight back to junior high!

    Robin–and you’re a California girl, too? Wasn’t Xanadu required watching for you blonde beach babes? At least I got you singing “Physical”–hee hee!

  10. L.A. Mitchell said,

    I don’t remember them having such a glamorous name, but I did own a few–though I’m not as in-touch with my inner 80s diva as Marilyn to remember the color and bead tweak at the

    I actually saw ONJ’s Physical video on VH1 classics the other day and my gay-dar was totally going off. Apparently, it wasn’t as honed back then, as I remember them being much more visually appealing :O

  11. Pamela Cayne said,

    L.A.–okay, now you’ve got me curious enough to head over to YouTube. Is it going to be like watching judge Bruno from Dancing with the Stars as the lead dancer in Elton John’s I’m Still Standing Video? Beep, beep, beep… 😉

  12. Lainey Bancroft said,

    Flashback! lmao.

    I never had the frilly barrettes, just not a frilly gal, but I had those nifty feathered ‘clips.’ We either strategically placed them on the pockets of jean jackets to draw attention to boobs or clipped them in our hair so they fell like big, funky ear rings.

    I wanna go rollerskating. None of this outdoorsy, healthy roller blading with fresh air, helmets and elbow and knee pads. Gimme eight wheels, a disco ball, ’80’s tunes and a concession stand stocked with chips and chocolate and junky nachos served with day glow orange cheese goo. 🙂

  13. Karen said,

    I’ll admit to making them myself AND wearing them.

  14. Caryn Caldwell said,

    I think that’s what I like about historical romance – I love envisioning those beautiful dresses and the glittering ballrooms and the courtly manners of the gentlemen. In short, while I generally wear jeans whenever I can get away with it, I like to imagine myself looking gorgeous and exquisite and all dressed-up. Which is why I admit that those barrettes look a little tempting to me, too.

  15. Kyle said,

    This is the problem with having an RSS reader on my iPhone… I READ this when you first wrote it, but I guess I just never commented on it! EEP!

    Go for it, Pam! You should totally start a retro trend…!!!

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