Friday, March 12, 2010

Fashion Backward!

I think I’ve inadvertently started a collection of fashion/grooming/etiquette books from the 50s & 60s. I just love every one I see.

Even though it’s a lot of the same information and concepts, they’re all a little different and charming in their own ways. It reminds me of when I read every book in my elementary school library about Helen Keller and Harriet Tubman. I loved finding the small details unique to each version.

In these days when Home Economics classes are basically relics, I’m fascinated by a time (not that long ago) when our culture had such a regulated idea of attractiveness and hygiene. On one hand, as my readers will already know, I think we have paid a hefty price for taking these concepts out of curriculum and propriety. On the other hand, I’m not sure what I would have done in high school/college/now if I weren't able to dress/present myself the way I chose. In many ways, I wish that we retained more of the formality from days of yore, but I do enjoy the freedoms and individual expression/diversity we have now. At any rate, I love everything about these books.

My most recent acquisition: Dress: The Clothing Textbook (Third Edition).

Favorite quote so far: The joy of making something that expresses one’s own personality is radiated in this girl’s smile.”

Isn’t that just a mantra to live by?!

Every photo has a charming caption, some with pretty compelling questions!

Fun at the seashore! Which hats and dresses are fads? Which ones would you expect to be in style another year? Why?

Which of these blouse and skirt combinations would you select for a girl with prominent hips and a small bust? Which for a girl with a tiny waist, small hips and average bust? Which would be good for a large busted girl with small hips? Which would be suitable for most figures?

I love that there are obviously clearly correct answers to each of these questions in the mind of the authors.

This incarnation of vintage appearance laws has a great collection of vocabulary concerning garments of the day. With my education in costume history and design, I’m thrilled to find terms I’m unfamiliar with and thought I would share!

You just don’t hear anymore about necklines such as the “gumdrop” and the “ponderosa”, collars called the “middy” and “pointed club”, skirts called “pert”, as well as three different titles for pleated ones, not to mention shorts called “jam-kinis” (is that what “jams” is short for?!? I had no idea!). Also, there are pants styles and collar styles with the names “Jamaica” and “Bermuda”. We’ve presumably all heard of Bermuda shorts, but Jamaica? With coordinating collars? I think not, tater tot! (Note to readers: these oh-so-importantly differentiated collars and short pants are represented by virtually identical hand-drawn sketches. Love it!).

I’m just at the beginning of my exploration, but feel it’s noteworthy that page 66 has the question “Would you prefer sneakers, suede pumps, or satin sandals to wear with jeans to a picnic? Why?”

While page 67 has this one: Can You Explain These Terms?

Unity, balance, formal or symmetrical balance, informal or asymmetrical balance, proportion, emphasis, vertical line, horizontal line, diagonal line, form, texture, harmony, variety, structural design, decorative design, realistic design, stylized design, abstract design.

It doesn’t just ask for a definition for these terms, it asks for the student to explain them! With a college degree in a related field, I would balk at this task, yet it is given to high school students of the 50s in Chapter 2 of this textbook!

Ooooo! I just noticed a jumper pattern suggestion in the back of the book! Gotta go!

1 comment:

  1. This is delightful and full of some of the many reasons why I love you so much.