My husband said this to my daughter and I the other day, “Seventy-five years ago women didn’t worry as much about what they look like as much as they do now….women are much more focused on clothes now than they were before”. I mulled that over for a few seconds and then I said, “Women have always cared a lot about how they look. Women all through the years have wanted to look their best. The difference is that now there’s more a focus on being “in style” and trendy than ever before”.
Seventy five years ago was around 1935. Women in that era wanted to look just as good as women of our day. The difference is that there was limited media influence. They tended to emulate what they saw on the great Silver Screen and, of course, there were magazines that women flocked to to read articles on what the star of the moment was wearing. Celebrity influence, at the time, was certainly a reality. The story goes that when Clark Gable took off his shirt in It Happened One Night and revealed a naked chest, sales of undershirts plummeted the next day! When Gloria Swanson sported her short do sheened to her head, women everywhere began shearing their lovely locks and slicking the remains to their scalps. Without a doubt, celebrities sparked the trends.
Certainly celebrities spark trends today as well. But now, there’s a much broader definition of celebrity and those deemed famous are given a much louder voice than 75 years ago. Our fashion influence today is not only from film stars, but from television, music industry, models, a plethora of fashion magazines, blogs (burgeoning influence here….we now have blog celebrities), websites, entire channels devoted to style and fashion, reality television and I'm probably missing a few. Everywhere we turn the media-proclaimed fashionable tell us what to wear so that we can be fashionable too. We’re literally bombarded with ever changing styles and trends. And why wouldn’t they be ever changing? If styles stayed the same from one season to the next, why would we purchase new clothes? We purchase to keep up with “the latest” and get our sense of how attractive we look from how well and how often we wear the latest styles.
I took my daughter shopping at the mall the day after Christmas. That’s when it really hit me. There are racks and racks of cheap clothing. Seems the rule of thumb everywhere is “Trendy rules, trendy sells and trendy is disposable”. Quality’s not the name of the game. Who’s got time for that? Current trumps quality every time. Who cares how long the clothes last? If I can buy what Gwen Stefani was wearing in her last video, it’s the look that I’m purchasing, NOT the quality of the garment that we’re paying for. What sells today is what was seen in Glamour or on MTV last week. The message is, “Get it quick, because it’s going to change next week and it’s sooooo cheap (er...affordable..but actually cheap) to be in style today!”
Women of 1940 wanted just as much to look good as women of 2010. There’s nothing new about a woman’s vanity. They just weren’t as visually and socially bombarded as we are. They HAD to value quality as they didn’t replace their clothes every couple of months. In our rotating celebrity culture, it’s big business for an instant celebrity to set an instant trend for instant profit. Clothes are disposable, but so is the self esteem gained by keeping up with a passing trend. What are we producing today that will be tomorrow’s classics? Is there even such a thing as classic anymore? What’s being produced today for the average working person to buy that will stand the test of time, and that we’ll be thrifting as vintage ten years from now? Will the cheaply but rapidly manufactured fashions of today even last over the next few decades? I welcome your input!
Regarding today's ensemble....I LOVE THIS! This outfit really captures ME! I know. I know. Serene, really? Are you serious? Again with the black? Morticia called and said you're wearing too much black!!!!
I don't care! I love it!!! I can't give it up and I won't...what can I tell you? It SPEAKS to me.....to my inner mournful soul! or maybe it just makes me look thinner....hmmmmmm.....
JACKET: Vintage Doncaster Tanner, inherited from my mother (MAN! That woman had great taste!!)
SKIRT: White House Black Market , had for a few years