A Sparkling Vintage Life

What is style?


Style is not applying make-up in public, indulging in a passion for ornament, or rushing out to purchase the latest design in a fashion product. Nor is style the ignoring of social conventions, such as going without a hat or gloves on city streets or other places good taste indicates they should be worn. Style is not wearing slacks or shorts, or head scarves, or going without hose on these same city streets. Style is not wearing our evening finery during working hours. Style is not wearing hair curlers and unattractive garments among family members so that one can be a ravishing beauty for strangers.” (Grace Margaret Morton, The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance, 1943)

Some days I think thank goodness those days are over. Who wants to feel they have to wear hose to be decently dressed? Other days I think how far we have fallen. It will come as no surprise to readers of A Sparkling VIntage Life that much of modern life grates on my last nerve. I think tight yoga pants worn outside of the yoga studio without something draped over top are pretty much an abomination on most human shapes. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to vintage-style clothing and attitudes. And yet, my own wardrobe too often contains the drab, the unflattering, and the shabby, because I’m “too busy” to think about clothes or “too comfortable” to rouse myself to put on something with a proper zipper.

What are we saying out ourselves as a society when we not only give our own selves a pass on slovenliness, but admire it in others as some sort of virtue signaling?

I don’t have the answer. Just a question that’s been banging around in my head recently. Feel free to weigh in.

3 Responses to What is style?

  • Susie says:

    My opinion is that it lies in the 1960s. Something major changed then. Was it the drug influencing Beetles? Was it the Vietnam War? We became wasteful with the invention of throw away clothing accompanied by the invention of the pill and the coinciding careless recklessness. This new attitude encourages more choices for women, but also less caring about ourselves and others in favor of giving women more opportunities for equality. Was it a combination of all these 1960s events?

    One can see remnants here and there and they tried to return back to the beauty of the past in the 70s with the Edwardian inspired prairie revival look and family centric TV shows.

    The 70s and 80s also saw a 1940-50s revival. But, with the invention of comfortable low-maintenance polyester came laziness. This newly mass available fabric allowed for people to experiment with style again and 1940-59s trends became exaggerated. This 40-50s revival happily made thrifted clothing more socially acceptable.1940-50s styles were readily available in the thrift shops then. This also signaled the final end of classism as it once was and suddenly the masses were more valued than the elites.

    The 90s focused more on drugs and dressing sexy. We basically had a return to the 60s. This 60s revival continued in the 2000s. People were sleeping around more with more varieties of contraception available.

    I’m seeing a return to the feminine lately with trends very much in line with the 1930-40s right now.

  • Susie says:

    I also want to add that social media plays a role. It makes people selfish and favor individual experiences to impress others, rather than enjoying tome with others. You really can’t just enjoy another’s company as often as we once could because everyone is out having those experiences to impress social media. We are slowly becoming aware of the issue as a society though. Even without social media, we, as a society, were headed here anyway, just watch some old future predictions films. I think social media just rocketed the inevitable so fast that we had no time to react.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for these thoughtful comments, Susie. It does feel as if something precious has been lost, or at least badly damaged, in our social life. Simply visiting with each other is not as common as it once was. Everyone’s so busy doing, doing, doing (and snapping pictures of it, as you’ve pointed out) that sitting and having a conversation with another person is becoming a lost art.

    Regarding dress, I still remember my grandmother’s disappointment when she took me shopping for school clothes decades ago and all I wanted were jeans, to fit in with all the other girls. She loved pretty clothes and didn’t understand why I only wanted what, in her eyes, was work-in-the-garden wear. At some level I longed for something pretty, too, sighing over Laura Ashley dresses, but I wanted to fit in with my peers more. I’ve often wished I could rewind the reel (another archaic image, lol) and make a different choice. The thing is, today I CAN make a different choice. And yet too often I reach for the jeans out of laziness or convenience. They’re not even that comfortable anymore! *sigh* Again, you’ve given us much to think about.

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