Thursday, 10 January 2013

How some silly fashions last

There have been some snide remarks regarding the rise of skinny pants, some of which I must add to. Not that skinny pants are ugly, I do think they make a shapely leg look good, but it sometimes makes me chortle because with skinny pants comes also the rise of leggings, akin to Shakespearean times. It seems almost nude, except for the fact they're opaque, because really you are showing off some leg. Well, a lot of leg. Imagine a bunch of dignified old men walking round in tights. That is what I imagine when I see  people wearing bare leggings. I must confess to having worn some, only it was rather inconvenient as I always had to make sure my blouse was extra-long or I had a skirt or dress above it. What looks ridiculous are people who wear skinny pants with short tops. They look like exercise addicts. I have seen many elegant young ladies walking round with long cardigans and skinny pants who look elegant, no doubt, but it almost seems indecent apart from the long cardigan. Fashion makes fools of us all.

Speaking of Shakespearean costume, I recently saw on this website a pair of shorts not dissimilar to those puffed breeches. By the way this is a mainstream fashion website, meant for ordinary consumption. On the other hand it's a Japanese brand, and we know what Bohemians these Japanese are ...

"Tweed pumpkin pants." Pumpkin is the word.
I couldn't help thinking, what a waste of good fabric! No doubt if you have exceptionally slender legs it will do, but not for the mainstream.

The Regency women passed down to us some of their clothing ideas. For example, have you noticed the rise in one of those sweaters with shirt-collars attached to them? They're supposed to give the impression you're wearing a shirt underneath a sweater when it's just some bits of fabric stitched on, no doubt due to the recession and high cost of cotton.  Or those cardigans with shirt fabric stitched on? Well, the Regency women had detachable sleeves and chemisettes. Instead of wearing a blouse inside a dress they had these small items with a collar.

Regency chemisette
The Victorians are a harder bunch to characterise, being strait-laced and covered up (except for evening dress). But their collars are probably closer to our modern collars - in fact their design is still seen today. The Peter pan collar, for example, was common enough in 1840's dress. Collars are not a modern feminist movement statement worn in the office. I notice though that collars are now less common than they were in the 20th century among females for casual wear. Those days they did have mainstream casual collars. Nowadays casual collars are considered a little dressy and classy and everybody wants to have boring old blouses with the same cut. Urgh.

It's also weird how things concerning modesty have changed. For instance it was all right to expose decolletege in Victorian evening dress, but a little leg, and - oh! shock! horror! Now we are a leggy society where a woman is judged by the sexiness of her leg. That is all right. But mention her bosom and you end up sounding like a pervert. I know novels are now very liberated and whatnot nowadays, but if a man is mentioned to be appraising a woman's bust size it is so obviously sexual. A Victorian novel, which was hard on censorship was fine with novelists praising ladies' snowy bosoms. Which means mentioning bosoms was within the bounds of decency those days. It is acceptable now, not because it is decent, but because indecency is permitted, nay encouraged, everywhere. But why oh why has the bosom become more indecent compared to the Victorians? By the way while on holiday in Cornwall I visited this old house and there was a picture of a woman with her breast exposed. It looked 17th or 18th century. Not just a little decolletege, because 18th century dresses were full of those, but the entire organ itself. I was surprised, having no idea it was mainstream so I did a little googling and it seems in the 17th century it was the fashion to have very low-cut dresses which left very little to the imagination. Since ladies employed wet nurses it would have less unsightly I suppose. It would have been an adornment. Whereas Victorian mothers tended to suckle their own babies hence the sight would have been unsightly. I know celebrities show a lot of stuff nowadays, but that's considered extreme now. But this thing would have been normal back in those days.

The Victorians were shocked with the morality of their ancestors and sought to cover many things up. Certainly even the low-necked gowns are nothing compared to that of previous centuries. And they're evening, not daywear. Some people will go further and say the low-necked gowns showed absolutely no cleavage or else be charged with indecency. this is not true. While not as far gone as the 18th century, illustrations from Dickens' novels show the opposite. And not meant for slutty women either, they were drawn on middle-class, virtuous, respectable heroines.

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