Friday 20 June 2014

What to Wear III

A fur coat - with a swimsuit?
Posh Caro Stow Crat always dresses appropriately – she would never wear a fur coat in Florida, or over a swimsuit, or appear on breakfast television in a gold lamé dress, like JK Rowling. Here’s her guide to necklaces (also not to be worn with a swimsuit):

An evening necklace is loosely round your neck (double or triple strand).
Matinee length reaches the first couple of ribs below the collar bone.
Opera length reaches your bust.
A riviere is more fancy, with dangly bits.
Rope length is longer than opera.

“Dangly earrings should never be longer than your hair; only wear hoops in the summer, and enormous hoops are vulgar at any time. furthermore, we are all too good to wear fake diamond studs: either we get the real thing, or we choose another, cheaper option.”
Hilary Rose, Times June 2014

In the 60s and 70s, only lower-middle-class Teale men wore practical items of dress like plastic pocket protectors, sleeve restraints (elasticated armbands) and tie clips (in stainless steel and fake abalone). Upwards were supposed to wear gold and jewelled tie pins left over from the Edwardian age, but these too have disappeared.

In the 50s, ballet shoes were black, never pink or bronze. Plimsolls were white, never black. And middle-class Upwards never wore bronze party shoes. (Party shoes were white, black - but never patent leather - or coloured to match your outfit.) Those who let their daughters wear bronze party shoes would have shuddered with horror at silver or gold party shoes.

Virginia Woolf notes in her diary that Lady Abingdon described Princess Mary “dressed like the upper housemaid in peacock blue”. Vivid blue and green were common. If Woolf and her set wanted to put somebody down, they said they had “the mind of a housemaid”. (Mrs Woolf and the Servants, Alison Light)

There was a recent flap about a clothing trend called “normcore”: young people wearing generic downmarket clothing. Of course it’s shocking to Americans, because they are used to being able to tell who has “class”, ie money, and who hasn’t. They wear very conservative clothes, but of the right (expensive) brand. If middle class kids start dressing like common baseball fans, what are they to do? (In the 60s, people used to say “You can’t tell what class anyone is any more, because the young all wear jeans.”) The real snobbery of normcore is to source the perfect generic plain grey jersey from the hard-to-find, word-of-mouth, well-kept-secret prep school clothing catalogue (as we used to do in the 70s).

More here, and links to the rest.

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