I spent part of my Saturday afternoon sitting next to my husband watching a show featuring older folks reminiscing about life in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Don’t everyone clamber to hang out with us at once.
My husband has an affinity for listening to old folks, or “duffers” as he affectionately calls them, wax nostalgic about the old days. As he laughed at the stories of boys driving homemade orange crate cars at high speeds down the hilly streets of the Avenues, I looked at the footage of women in heels and dresses, with hats and pantyhose as everyday wear.
It dawned on me that I never would have made it, fashion-wise in the pre-war and WWII years.
I do love the glamorous hair styles of my grandmothers’ generation, and the bold lip colors they wore. But tailored skirts and blouses every day, with stockings and Sunday school shoes? I don’t think so, sister. Everyone thinks Katherine Hepburn was such a rogue of her era for favoring trousers and flat shoes. I think maybe she just wanted to be comfy, and to heck with conventionality.
I wear skirts plenty, especially in the summer when skirts are like wearable air conditioning. But lucky for me and my generation, maxi skirts are pajamas masquerading as actual clothes.
One of the ladies on the show talked about how coal dust used to coat everything. She said that curtains had to be washed once a month, and wallpaper scrubbed to clean off the black dust. “People today don’t know how good they have it, since they don’t have to do these things anymore, ” she said.
I agree with her. And I will add that contemporary women are lucky ducks because we can wear jeans, boots, and cardis every darn day if we please. Or yoga pants with stretchy tees and sneakers, no up-do or pantyhose required.