Tag Archives: fashion after crisis

What Next?

cover of The Delineator, December, 1931
Delineator cover, Christmas 1931. Note the artificial tree!

Since I didn’t get around to posting this in time for Christmas, I’m going to ignore the unopened presents and pretend that these ladies are taking down the Christmas decorations (in their evening gowns….) You can read about the fashion for bustle dresses in 1931 by clicking here.

Meanwhile, speculation about the clothing choices we will make when we emerge from months of isolation is all over the place. Will we be so used to comfort that “business casual” becomes even more casual? Or will the pendulum swing toward change: a more dressed up look replacing our pajamas and sweatpants? Here are three articles speculating about post-Covid 19 fashion: from Good Morning America, Barrons.com, and The Washington Post.

Historically, there is a tendency for sportswear to gradually become acceptable in more formal situations, as when the man’s country riding coat with cut-away front…

… became business, and then, formal dress:


In our own time we have seen the skin-tight leggings which women first wore for dance rehearsals and gym workouts become acceptable street (and even formal) wear, and not just by women who are shaped like ballerinas….

So there’s a distinct possibility that comfort will win out.  On the other hand, after the rationing and shortages and clothing restrictions of World War II,  women’s blocky padded shoulders and knee length skirts were quickly replaced by tightly fitted, mid-calf, super-feminine designs.

Tiny waists, natural shoulders, long full skirts: Butterick Fashion News for August 1948.

Skimpy skirts from the War years : Sept. 1943, Butterick Fashion News

Long skirts, fitted waists, and no scrimping on fabric in these suits from Butterick Fashion News, February 1948.

The wonderful blog A la Recherche des Modes Perdues shared pages and pages of French fashions from L’Art de la Mode, December 1948.  (Do take a look! At top right is a “Translate” box which allows you to choose your preferred language. ) If there’s a theme, it’s the lavish waste of fabrics in long, full skirts, and draped skirts. These are super-feminine clothes for grown-up women (very rich ones!) Perhaps the relief of getting out of overalls and “shelter suits” (and having to pinch every penny) made the fashion pendulum swing to this extreme. It could happen again….

A Personal Note: For those who wonder where I’ve been, and why I no longer post twice a week,  the answer is that I’ve been waiting for a knee replacement for about two years. It took that long to get my blood test results into a favorable place (and my rheumatoid arthritis under control….) Once the first knee is healed, my other knee will need replacement, too. I haven’t been able to go for a walk since March of 2020, so the prospect of being able to walk outdoors again this summer is very exciting.

But one of the lessons I’ll pass on to those who think older people just “get crabby” and have trouble with ordinary tasks and conversations because of age is this: When you have to think consciously and focus your mind on every move you make — strategizing how to get out of a chair, how to carry things when you don’t have a free hand, thinking about washing a saucepan, using a toilet, making toast, carrying a coffee cup from the counter to the table, getting a fresh towel or a glass of water — you become exhausted. (And yes, crabby when interrupted!)  My friend Dr. James Agapoff wrote about the importance of habit, which allows us to perform routine tasks while thinking about something more interesting.  I wrote back to say that. although I used to be able to walk and talk at the same time, I can’t any more! I used to “write” (or at least plan) blogs in my head while doing dishes or walking up a steep hill. But when you have to think about how you can safely move from the sink to the stove using a walker, and about how heavy every piece of dishware is, [seriously, I had to memorize the relative weight of every pot and pan: “this one I can lift with my right hand, but not if it has a lid on it….”] — well, my brain was too busy to roam freely! Besides, there were months when I couldn’t lift a research book, or put it back on the shelf….

I did watch a lot of YouTube, and found some treasures which I’ll be sharing.


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