Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vintage dressing

Yesterday writing my other blog I was drawn up short when I realized the bathing suit I had on in a picture ten years ago was the one I had worn the day before. I do save things I like. I have a few cashmere sweaters that I have had for ten years and may have for another twenty. Some things don't go out of style and, as the current fall fashion magazines show, some things come back in style with remarkable rapidity -- like those incredible shoulder padded jackets and coats from the '80s.

What I've been pondering, however, is the "older" women in the NYC building I used to live in. I'm thinking of a couple specifically that I did not know but saw in the elevator and said hello to. Both were single ladies, had had careers in which they dressed in suits and "Office formal" clothing. They still wore that clothing. It was not fashionable, but it was good quality and not in any way ridiculous or unattractive. They had become timeless even as I watched over the years as one grew thinner and thinner and more frail and went for straight backed to a bit bent as she moved hesitantly with her cane. I wondered often if they were timeless or stuck in a certain time. I suppose both had a limited income and that to buy new clothes when they had good quality ones would have been a ridiculous extravagance.

Whether they or any older women eschew modern fashion of necessity or with a conscious choice, knowing they feel good in their familiar clothe, long ago having mastered that art that young women are told by their fashion magazines to acquire, the art of knowing your personal style, I suppose makes no difference. These women have dignity; more dignity than the ones who pull on plus-size blue jeans and attempt to look like younger women.

I've always loved clothes because I love fabric, texture, line, which is why I love quilting too. I've always been fascinated how a flat length of a fabric can become a skirt or a coat. And I've always been fascinated by how women chose to attire themselves. I've just seen the movie Julie and Juila which was full of '50 and '60s clothing, especially in Paris where Julia and her female friends always wore suits. The ladies I was thinking about above were of that era and believed in a certain elegance. I look around and I see the women in their 80s here wearing "nice" dresses with a certain elegance. Everyone younger has a more casual way of dressing. That is pleasing too. This is a subject I will continue to ponder. And I will not throw away clothing without a good reason.

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