Saturday 2 August 2014

What to Wear, Part 4

Working class young people will always create an over-the-top fashion, or version of the current fashion, and often look fabulous. (Which is why “advice to young people” always tells you to “avoid extremes”.)

Danielle Sheridan in the Times, 2 August, writes about tattoos almost entirely in terms of class:
"Tattoos were once the preserve of sailors, prostitutes and criminals: a warning as much as a decoration. Now they are most likely to be found daubed on to the skin of Britain’s middle class.
Over a quarter of the section of society once known for its love of pampas grass and teasmaids now sports some ink..." Tattoo parlours are now "stylish" rather than "dark and scary". Tattooist Mr Coppoletta says: "Coming through the door now is mainly professionals, aged between late 20s and 40s. They have careers."

Women’s magazines used to warn against baggy, grey, torn underwear. Were Upwards so poor that they couldn't afford new pants – or too miserly? Trouble was, sexy underwear in the 50s and early 60s was all made out of nylon (in red, trimmed with black lace), which the middle classes couldn't wear. And then Janet Reger happened (silk French knickers), and manmade fibres became more like silk. But in the 80s Upward women agonised over looking sexy – surely it was common?

Stow Crats say: "No rings during the day apart from wedding and engagement rings that you never take off." Presumably you can wear a “cocktail” ring at the cocktail hour – a large stone that can be either genuine and priceless or outrageously faux. In the 50s and 60s huge arty pottery rings were acceptable. (Presumably the women who wear all their valuable rings – engagement rings and eternity rings from several marriages – have nowhere safe to keep them.)

Hippies wore bells round their neck in 1967, sometimes attached to a string of beads. Indian traders immediately bought up all the budgie bells they could find (or are they temple bells?), attached them to beads, shipped them West and sold them to young people at a huge markup. They had been a spiritual aid. They became instant fashion and were sold off stalls in Oxford Street. They were bought by Teales in Pinner who wore them at a festival one weekend and then threw them away. They saturated the straight world almost immediately. And then you couldn’t giv’em awye.

From clogs to clogs... Shops like Fat Face take an ordinary jacket shape but make it in loose woven, unevenly dyed fabric and give it shell buttons. But then some cruisewear label does a knockoff with more polyester and fake coconut-shell buttons. And the topstitching creeps back.

Samantha Upward is amazed that Americans are still wearing plaid Bermuda shorts. (Americans have an admirable "if it ain't broke" attitude to clothes, and left their stylish 40s uniforms as they were while we Brits were creating frumpy 60s versions which then became fossilised.)

More here, and links to the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Fat Face apercu - there's surely a lot more to say about clothing chains like FF, and Mistral, and White Stuff and White Company (can never remember which is which).