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Archive for the ‘Vintage’ Category

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Edwardian ladies in lace. 

Society tottered through the last of the pre-War parties, waved tiny lace handkerchiefs, and carried elaborate parasols until the War came with its sweeping changes. 

Lucile, Lady Duff Gordon (1863-1935), British fashion designer.

World War I (1914-1918) brought about many changes in fashion, particularly for women. Long lacy gowns were replace by shorter skirts and jackets in sturdy fabrics. No more excessively large hats but instead close fitted hats with little to no embellishments. Women were now on the move and their clothes had to move with them.

With this Covid-19 pandemic,  we might see our own changes in fashion. Or will we? Truth be told, we really can’t get any more casual. Perhaps we will flip to the other side and want to dress up, but I doubt it. For starters, most people don’t even know how to do that anymore.

One added accessory will be masks. Perhaps more people will want to wear hats, as added protection. Also, gloves. Matching sets! I see a potential for additional pockets in clothing to make things like hand sanitizer quickly accessible. Otherwise, with the distraction of the virus and wanting to keep distant and stay safe, people, now more than ever, are going to want to be comfortable.

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Another one of my go-to movies is Miss Potter.

This 2006 film tells the bittersweet story of Beatrix Potter (played by Renee Zellweger) and the challenges she faces getting her children’s books (Peter Rabbit et al!) published  at the turn of the last century, when women just didn’t do such things.

No indeed, women instead must get married and despite Mrs. Potter’s best efforts to introduce her daughter to the right sort of suitor, Miss Potter says, ” I didn’t want to be marrying a man simply because he was rich enough to take care of me!” Then she met Norman Warne a publisher, and someone who connects with and appreciates Miss Potter. Warne is played by Mr. McGregor … a little Peter Rabbit inside joke … that would be Ewan McGregor.

Zellweger’s charming vulnerability is always a pleasure to watch and she does not disappoint in balancing the tenacity with the loneliness of her character, who easily wins our hearts. The costumes, by three-time Academy Award winner Anthony Powell, are an array of Edwardian treats: gored skirts paired with shirtwaists (button down blouses), high collars, belts, and small hats. Tailor-mades too, which were women’s suits made by tailors not seamstresses, who until the 1890s had made all women’s clothing. The men don three piece suits, detachable collars, and ties! I very much enjoy the London street scenes of the early 20th century as well as some beautiful countryside scenes.

There’s a bit of sadness in Miss Potter, but nothing dark and of course it ends on a hopeful note. “Pleasant and unadventurous” is what one reviewer said about this film and funny enough, that’s just my cup of tea right now.

 

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Florence Nightingale is credited for raising the profile of nurses during the Crimean War, 1853-1856.  

 

Today is the last day of National Nurses Week and Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

 

Thank you to all nurses who work so hard offering care, compassion, and comfort. 

 

I have an interest in nurse uniforms. Just for fun, below are some uniform styles of the past.

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From afar we wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day.

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Patti Smith in 1977 sporting a Giorgio Armani jacket. Image: Lynn Goldsmith

Even as a kid, what I was wearing was always very important to me. I very much identified with my clothing. 

Patti Smith, American musician.

I never thought of Patti Smith as someone who would be interested in fashion. But in this article (Harper’s Bazaar, April 2020) Smith discusses just how much she liked fashion and once she got to NYC she even tried to get onto the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

With a taste for high fashion, but not the budget, she shopped Philadelphia thrift stores where she found treasures by Dior and Balenciaga and donned them in her own way.

I love everything about Smith’s style in this photo. In particular the scarf around her wrist, which is something I do with ribbon, and her rings. She’s wearing one big one with a black stone that might be antique and several bands in front. Stunning in its uniqueness.

Click here and check out her outfit in a live performance of Because the Night. 

 

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Excessive dress vs. toned-down attire. Left image from Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume & Style. Right image from Survey of Historic Costume.

Just now English clothing is all the wear. Rich man’s son, sprig of nobility, counter-jumper – you see them dressed all alike in the long coat, cut close, thick stockings, puffed stock; with hats on their heads and a riding-switch in their hands. Not one of the gentlemen thus attired, however, has ever crossed the Channel or can speak one word of English … No, no, my young friend. Dress French again, wear your laces, your embroidered waistcoats, your laced coats; powder your hair to the newest tune; keep your hat under your arm, in that place which nature, in Paris at any rate, designed for it, and wear your two watches, with concomitant fobs, both at once. 

Louis-Sebastien Mercier (1740-1814), French dramatist and writer. This quote is from The Waiting City: Paris, 1782-1788.

In the last 25 years of the eighteenth-century, Anglomania was all the rage in French fashion. Both men and women had grown tired of the French excessive look and turned to the simpler styles of the British. Frenchmen appreciated in particular the excellence in British tailoring and except for appearances at court, they adopted a more casual mode of dress.

 

 

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Figure left: Early 18th century three piece suits made of the same fabric were called Ditto Suits. Figure right: Three different style banyans in the late 18th century. Both images from Survey of Historic Costume by Phyllis Tortora, 5th ed., Fairchild Books.

I never thought I’d say this, but while studying fashion history I have been just as, if not more, interested in men’s fashions as women’s. Men’s fashions from the 15th through the 18th centuries are fascinating for their silhouettes, layers, and extensive decoration.

In the 18th century men were sporting a shirt with breeches, a waistcoat (vest), and a narrow coat –  all in beautiful sometimes embroidered fabrics. But at home the coat was hung away and replaced with the banyan. This loosely fit garment was what we might think of as a robe or dressing gown.

Called “undress at home” the look was more relaxed yet still fit for company and portraits. Some fabrics used for banyans included Indian cotton, silk, velvet, or brocade and often gentlemen topped the ensemble with a nightcap and perhaps toasted the evening with the other kind of nightcap.

How are we doing out there? Holding on OK? I hope so.

Remember to Keep Calm and Keep Your Distance.

 

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