Last night, my friend Chiara and I gushed over how much we like clothes on our way home from a dinner party. She and I both agreed that playing dress-up as a grown woman is one of our favorite things, yet it’s also hard to pull off sometimes. She has several vintage Chanel suits that she would love to don with her vintage white gloves, (so popular in the 50’s and a necessity for any woman going to Manhattan for the day from Brooklyn, like her mother did), but she can’t quite bring herself to do it. Perhaps it’s the somewhat extinct convention of dressing up for going out everyday that is no longer exactly embraced on say, the Manhattan-bound F train from Brooklyn. With ample stares from her fellow travelers, I could imagine Chiara appearing to be a fish out of water in the seas of black peacoats from Macy’s and denim jeans.
I know that there are scores of brave men, women, and children who do go beyond the vernacular and have a really wonderful style (the Sartorialist has proven this), but it’s still, tough.
I am one of those people who tends to have lost her filter as to what looks normal versus kinda nutty, but even still, I would love to go bigger and more over-the-top when it comes to dressing. I had an ex-boyfriend who once claimed that he was embarrassed by the way I dressed and that I was just doing it “for attention”. This marked the end of my feelings for him because he obviously didn’t get me. I don’t dress up for attention, I dress up because I freaking love clothes! I love costumes and color relationships and sculptural clothing and fantastic details and incredible fabrics and costumes and period clothing and architecture and “putting together a look”. Like Chiara, I wish the times when all women took extreme pride in the way they dressed, when fashion wasn’t just for movie stars and the cultural elite, the art fringes or off-kilter subcultures were still here. Everyone participated. People in 1940’s Upper East Side might not mirror those of say, 1940’s Wisconsin stock car racers, but they all sure as hell avoided wearing pajamas to the mall (happens in my hometown in PA).
Things fit better, clothing wasn’t manufactured for quick sale and even quicker disposal. Clothing was often handmade, careworn, cherished, and flaunted.
Even on television shows like, I Love Lucy, the characters were always dressed, even when cleaning at home. Culture has changed and I shouldn’t bash it, but leaving a cocktail dress for a fancy event instead of just cocktails, well that’s no fun. I have SO MANY dresses and outfits in my clothing arsenal, but I can’t seem to find too many occasions to flaunt them. My roommate has spent thousands of dollars on beautiful independent designer pieces that she views as art, but they decorate her closet complete with original tags. She never finds a reason to actually wear them and resorts to jeans and tshirts every day. What a shame! I always implore her to go for it and swathe herself in her beautiful things, but she feels too shy, they aren’t what everybody else wears. She should bite the bullet and showcase these wonderful and just slightly unconventional wares. I think she should. I think I should. I think we all should.
Here are some belts to bring you back to the days of corsets and fitted waists: