Mad Men & the 1960s
Don Draper and his crew reside in a fictional recreation of Madison Avenue in New York City. As you get into the groove with the characters, the swinging sixties in downtown Manhattan come alive in the backdrop of the show. The characters aren’t the only darkness that presides over the town - the city itself seems to have lost its way. But don’t be disheartened at having to sit through an ancient history lesson that has won countless Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, and even won a few of those awards along the way. This is a different kind of history lesson for the script is channelled through the aspect of sixties that is making waves today. You won’t expect to find everything about the dark days here, but those who love pop culture (and fashion), are in for a wild retreat with Mad Men.
Originally airing from the summer of 2007, both HBO and Showtime put the project on hold for seven years before AMC finally decided to go through with it after repeated consultations over the script. Envisioned at a time when the HBO original series “The Sopranos” was huge, the show set itself apart with its unique storyline, accurate historical representation, and witty characters. The final episodes of the show have been split into two parts: the first half aired early this year, while the second half is slated to air early in 2015. The Sterling Cooper advertising agency is a gamut of male power-play in the swanky edition of Madison Avenue a la 1960s. Although situated very close to the Time-Life Building in NYC, the crew working at Cooper couldn’t be any more different than those of Time-Life, although on most days, some like to pretend otherwise, or at least wish otherwise.
The storyline is mainly about business ventures, capitalism and the glamorous world of advertising that lures the characters away from their rather predictable American suburbia lives into a life entrapped with constant disappointment, heartbreak, obscure choices and the pressures of growing up in the aftermath of The Great Depression. The series touches on many controversial topics, as well as important events of the era, such as how ordinary New Yorkers were gravely affected by the death of JFK, how far women would go for their dream-job and out-of-loyalty to a company that gave women an equal footage alongside men in a world dominated by power-suits and the power-hungry, the dominance of Hilton Hotels in the landscape, and how the image behind Lucky Strike cigarettes were conjured in the advertising world.
Draper, played by Jon Hamm, is both the creative director and junior partner of the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. As the main protagonist of the show, coming from a rural American background, he serves as a sort of an anti-hero - he drinks liquor a lot, smokes constantly, cheats on his wife regularly and is a veteran of the Korean War. It’s not hard to imagine such an individual in sixties America, or even today as the show would like the audience to believe in, because smoking, drinking, sexism, infidelity, antisemitism, racism were widespread in the society at that time. The world of Mad Men, is very politically ambiguous - the characters are disenchanted by everything that does not concern them, but are quite afraid to talk about issues, much like American society today, that are the very foundations of the sorts of people they are.
It’s almost difficult to believe that fashion even had much of a role in such a booze-soaked environment. But it is there along with excessive drinking habits - in the diners, during lunches. Gracefully, all of the characters walk around tending to their daily lives dressed in sharp suits, shift dresses, courts, pointy shoes and a bouffant or a hat. Don Draper, for example, wears pricey pyjamas to bed in his wreck of a household, or considers narrow ties and high-collared trench coats as appropriate workwear. It’s very Brooks Brothers, even for the copy-editions paraded around by the other workers in the office, such as Pete Campbell. The squiggly Campbell is all about Brylcream, pinstripes, and appears to be in competition with Don on the pyjamas front - he probably has one for every day of the month, all matched to the T!
Then you have the awe-inspiring Roger Sterling, who doesn’t shy away, like Don or even Pete, for that matter, in opposing the rise of psychedelic ’70s fashion. He dresses as immaculately as Joan likes to dictate office matters, and oversee her many secretarial staff, and this time it actually adds more to his character, save the obsession he has for his head-secretary. Sterling likes to dress in three-piece suits, a double-breasted jacket in calming tones - like blue or grey, and always carries his trusty pair of sunglasses almost always - when not drinking in bars trying to drown his frustrations, or living the exciting life in pricey convertibles.
There is no room for prints, checked dining suits, except when it’s expensive Brit fashion, or anything loud, over-the-top, eccentricity-trying-to-belong, unruly cardigans, speaking a lingo you do not understand at all in the sixties, but some of the youngsters don’t seem to be interested in any of it. A couple of years later down the line, when the seventies roll in, as the least popular decade in the West is undoubtedly where individuals who practice these out-of-place behaviour actually belong, besides their very questionable wardrobe choices. The seventies is about lost identity for a tiny proportion of New Yorkers, as culture-wars descended on the streets of Manhattan. Nonetheless very unfairly you have to look really hard to find the pub-hopping days, or the impact of modern art, but it was there…especially, in the United Kingdom. Manhattan, like much of America, was opposite to this, when you can get your head out of the ‘typical peace-loving seventies crowd and their big speeches but hardly any important achievements’ - it must have been terribly relaxing to sit around in lawns, with crazy fashion on their heads, decked out in horribly clashing accessories and contemplate how different the world would be if there was peace everywhere?
Manhattan was still there, going on with its busy life, whilst all these apathetic youngsters and their “hip” - to them, lives took over the public’s consciousness, as they got up one day and found they had something to say about the state of world, perhaps spurned on by all of the activity going on in the city. It’s a behaviour, that perhaps cannot be explained because to explain the most-publicised aspect of the seventies would mean trying to make sense of considering a lack of awareness of the society they inhabit as something extraordinarily amazing, free-use of drugs, and the horrible impact it has had on a very conservative society. Sounds riotous? It was! As difficult as it is to imagine a traditional way of doing things for centuries in NYC could have this kind of an influence on youngsters, but perhaps this is what can be expected from an era who never had to witness the trauma of two world wars. Clashing suits is their definition of fun - an utterly bored group of misfits with a newfound desire to change things because they are very obviously, opposed to a male-controlled point of view in almost everything, and sometimes even alien to provocative dressing for women, the concept of secretaries being respectable folks, the idea of infidelity and even the ‘hush-hush’ nature of classy office dinners. They term this as a “fresh approach” because growing up entirely under the shadow of more accomplished seniors, who have a complete say in how everything is run, from homes to the offices, in their respective capacities, and how this outpours into the way society functions, must have been challenging, indeed!
NYC was rather soaked in Broadway, as ever, underground movies, rebellious movements in counterculture, such as creative expressions of paintings or sculptures, modern automobiles, or the absence of marketing products specifically addressed to African-Americans, perhaps out of racial prejudice or perhaps out of a lack of awareness over their ways of living, how they like things, or what they would like to see for brands interested in selling them products, even if it is staple foods, like a can of tomato soup or spaghetti. It doesn’t seem difficult to grasp the idea of indifference to greater knowledge about African-Americans because they do not appear in mainstream news media a lot, despite very few groundbreaking achievements of the era. There must have been a lot of room for topics of debate over selling products to the ethnic minority, because in one episode a crisis strikes the office scene when Reader’s Digest publishes an article over the dire effects that smoking can have on your health, including give you lung cancer. Many popular cultural icons appear in the series, as a result, trying to depict the rushes of the moment, like the American Cancer Society and the helpful support it provides, or Lucky Strike cigarettes being in the market once more for an effective advertisement idea to continue selling tobacco.
There is a contrast with politeness, and privately, sometimes as a couple, accepting infidelity as pro-choice to deal with difficult circumstances in life. There is no confusion raging on about the conflict of two drastically different cultures, no guilt, but a lot of defamation involved for subordinates, sometimes added to, by the snakecharming ideas that many chose to employ. Secretaries, were perceived in three ways you learn: you respected very few, thought a sizeable amount were talented enough to make a living, contribute positively to advertisement, although getting their ideas in the boardroom were very challenging on most days, and the third, seem to have been there only to put on a lot of face powder, try out different eye-makeup styles, take notes, answer phone calls, gossip, and attempt to snag the best men in the office.
One of the interesting aspects of the story is how women, many of them secretaries, are taught about the game of getting ahead in the sixties - an era where looking pretty seems to be the only plausible way to attain a respectable position in a company because looking pretty is how powerful patriarchal figures would often choose female workers. This isn’t for positions at the very top, just a simple manner of getting ahead professionally, reasonably well. How this contrasts with the society that women of the time lived in, from a housewife who needs to see a counsellor but has no say in matters in that aspect at all because the counsellor is instructed to report to her husband, to how men are allowed to drink alcohol freely but women are scrutinised for those exact same choices, is very apt in describing the interplay of gender and power in the whole retro world.
When coupled up with the perception that women of the sixties had an all-embracing observation that excessive drinking habits describes men as “masculine or macho or some bizarre fairytale concoction of a very caring man”, it shows you just how dark NYC was then. It is in all-likelihood, a condition that probably relates much closer to alcoholism, instead. Also, it doesn’t add to the change of point of view you are looking for in a patriarchal society already unable to deal with the concept of modernism, particularly how it applies to women. No matter how you look at it - Mad Men has turned the advertising age of the sixties as an icon in American culture. Sipping cocktails as you check out art is embedded into the fabrics of Americana, but who would reckon that it had a pride-of-place in an era of diners, too!
The Cult of Mandy!
Mandy Moore is one of those recording artists/actresses who reigned supreme during the nineties, even though she was just a teenager. Adored by millions of fans around the globe, she keeps on churning out great work even till today and time hasn’t made her into a McCaulkay Culkin, or a Different Strokes, gone horribly reimagined. Her latest role, that of voicing ‘Rapunzel’ in Tangled has earned her both critical acclaim and box-office success - this comes right at the heels of forever popping up on our television screens in the unlikeliest of ways - from cameos in Scrubs to getting an animated makeover in The Simpsons. She has come a long way from her obscure days, living under the shadow of much-more established stars of her generation, very few notable music albums to write home about, successfully carving out a very-own niche for herself.
Moore like the reigning ‘pop Queen’ of her decade, Gwen Stefani, has dabbled in fashion previously but it did not lead to a lot of acclaim, unlike Stefani, and her venture can be looked upon as something more in sync with how the LA society likes to perceive music stars’ approach to clothes and shoes - simply another way to capitalize on their newfound success. It’s difficult to contemplate why the bruises and the attacks against such a talented young woman, but perhaps achieving excellence at par with her chart-breaking ‘Candy’ or her performance as ‘Jamie Sullivan’ in the heart-breaking romance story A Walk to Remember is what many of her critics expected off her, but often had to turn away with disappointment at receiving a sordid ‘goodbye-kiss’ compilation album or a definite move away from the type of roles she likes to play in films, or songs she likes to sing, towards, yet another Christina Aguilera-style revamp - more albums that just attempt to breakfree from her previous well-received work.
Moore on the N*Sync:
"It was so cool. I really respect them and their music, but I kinda went in and didn’t necessarily expect really normal down to earth people. Then again, I didn’t expect them to be these big headed people! They were just so nice."
One of her latest songs ‘I See the Light’ from Tangled's OST, won a Grammy, but apart from that Mandy Moore has had quite a resurgence in the last few years, cementing her status as an 'It' girl in Hollywood. She currently stars in the animated edition of Tron, titled Tron: Uprising, as well as the lead character in Disney Junior’s Sherriff Callie’s Wild West. When you look at her previous albums, aside from hit singles, such as ‘I Wanna Be With You’ and ‘In My Pocket’, there has been a general downward spiral to how Moore crafts her songs - she has become the sugar-coated vocalist who suddenly discovers her Hampshire roots and begins to croon about life and love. It was startling to discover that Moore no longer likes her previous work, despite its RIAA Gold-certifying success, but what was even more surprising is how she is convinced that gaining complete freedom on her music means going the unconventional way. Commercialising music is often looked upon as a fad that never dies but it is precisely so because great music doesn’t really have a sell-by date.
Her roles in films have taken her far - the first breakthrough came for Moore in 2001 in an entirely anti-heroine part, as the school-girl no kid wants to be, ‘Lana Thomas’ in The Princess Diaries, opposite Anne Hathaway. The film was received positively both at the box office and from critics, and the song ‘Stupid Cupid’ by Mandy, played out on the beach where food-fights happen, was all over MTV for quite some time. She followed this up with an adaptation of the famous Nicholas Sparks novel A Walk to Remember and the film went onto become a success in Asia, particularly. The single from her third album ‘Cry’ was roped in as part of the OST, and it sort-of gravitated Moore more towards the kind of roles in music/films that her fans wanted to see her in.
Moore on her film A Walk to Remember:
"It was my first movie and I know people say it may be cliche and it’s a tearjerker or it’s cheesy, but for me, it’s the thing I’m most proud of."
After the success of Chasing Liberty, where Moore played the role of the President’s daughter, the British romantic-comedy, American Dreamz, opposite Hugh Grant, and License to Wed, where she co-starred with Robin Williams, there were major hiccups in the singer-songwriter’s career, musically. Numerous of her singles failed to perform to the standards hoped for, until Amanda Leigh came along in 2009, which did reasonably well on Billboard 200, premièring at 25. Mandy Moore embarked on a string of appearances on television shows, post her sixth studio album, such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, reduced her collaborations with prominent American-indie/folksy artists, like Chantal Kreviazuk, and began earning critical praise for venturing out of the traditional party-pop image, prevalent during the peak of her stardom, and writing her own music instead. She went farther from all the glitz, the glamour of the ‘bubblegum pop’ world, towards soulful solos, and her music has now emerged as classy, mature and well-thought-out.
Mandy Moore Scrapbook
Who influenced you as an artist?
Alanis Morissette, Joni Mitchell, Paul McCartney, Blondie, my grandmother, Janet Jackson, Madonna, Mariah Carey and Shania Twain.
(speaking about her childhood obsession with music) “My parents thought it was just a phase I’d grow out of. But I stuck to it and begged them for acting lessons, for voice lessons.” Her grandmother, as we find out later was a dancer at the West End!
Summer Camp or Girls Scout?
I attended the ‘Stagedoor Manor’ theatre camp. (Natalie Portman went there!)
….she was in a relationship with American tennis sensation, Andy Roddick, for a little longer than a year. The couple parted ways in 2004.
Mean Girls or The Princess…favourite lead?
Mandy was ranked on #96 of “100 Greatest Women in Music” by VH1.
The absorbing 70s.
Music or Films…which do you love most?
Marc Jacobs does Preppy!
Rising from the ashes, Marc Jacobs creates one collection after another on a subject rarely explored in couture these days - preppy fashion, and that also in America, the paradise of preppy fashion! Even though you know which floor in Bloomingdale’s to go to for GAP, or which alley in NYC Tommy Hillfiger is located in, closest to your subway station, you still don’t really get proper preppy fashion in the market anymore - it’s not about being the right age or the right trend, it’s more about the right vision and the correct ideas. Sexy is great like Tom Ford does because his kind of sexy can never be Roberto Cavalli-sexy, given the small matter of all of our roots is there, and that influences how we perceive things or different aspects of styling. But Marc Jacobs who famously pronounced that his fashion is anti-sexy and pro-flirty, is right at home in his own fashion line, even after departing from Louis Vuitton in October 2013, post his SS2014 fashion show.
It was a surprising move, given the high-profile nature of this particular collaboration - it spurned out various challenging concepts such as the infamous chequered frocks, the shinning runway filled with escalators, and sets-of-two gliding through it for SS2013, and partnership with American rapper, Kanye West, but never fear because Jacobs’ quirky moves are still there for everyone to see. He made headlines posing nude for his fragrance line, surrounded by golden sparkles, gold coins and all manners of richness, which was a very bold decision for a relatively young and up-and-coming fashion designer. Marc Jacobs produced his first ever fashion line for menswear, as early as 1994, followed by a second line in 2001, named Marc by Marc Jacobs. You can often see etches of legendary designers in how he moves, such as Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren, while still maintaining a strong individual sense of craftwork.
A NYC-born and bred, Jacobs grew up in difficult circumstances. His father, a former worker at William Morris died when he was only seven years old and his mother was diagnosed with an apparent incurable mental illness that led her to neglect the upbringing of all her children, for a very long time. She could not deal with the grief of losing her husband, so chose to embark dating a series of significant dominant figures in society, each of which ended in disappointment, and all these fiascos would then affect the children and displace them - Jacobs spent most of his childhood drifting from one city to the other, dabbling in both New Jersey and the gritty Bronx. Luck improved for Jacobs once he moved in with his grandmother in a Central Park West apartment, as a teenager, and before you know it he learns enough at the prestigious Parsons School of Design to win both the Perry Ellis Gold Thimble Award and the Design Student of the Year Award. He shares a very close-bond with his grandmother and considers her inputs on his creative designs and her love for aesthetically brilliant objects as valuable to the structure of his work. Early success didn’t come to him overnight though because whilst living with his grandmother, Jacobs got his first experience in fashion as a stockboy, as well as folding shirts and dressing mannequins at Charivari, a former upstate, over-the-top boutique. The staff there were fine-tuned with his talent enough to give him some good initial experience in designing a line of hand-knit sweaters, first, and later on using this experience to study at Parsons.
He launched the first ever collection for Reuben Thomas Inc., for Sketchbook, shortly after graduating from Parsons at 21, inspired by the rock-edge look of Purple Rain and the French-toned film, Amadeus. The signatory Marc Jacobs came a lot later however, in 1986, under the guidance of the American label Onward Kashiyama USA, Inc. when he created a couple of items denoted with the now, globally recognized Marc Jacobs label. After winning his first accolades from CFDA, a special relationship he seems to have carved out with the Council the last few years, he was appointed the vice-president of Perry Ellis, where he was eventually promoted to president of the brand, following the death of its founder. After toying around with the death-word in fashion - “grunge” for a Perry Ellis collection, he was dismissed from his position, which left Jacobs with no other professional capacity to showcase his work, save for the Marc Jacobs label. Following a successful showcase of menswear, he was anointed as the new creative director for LV, and it is whilst he was at this position when LV created their very first pret-a-porter line.
His perfume bottles are exclusive mostly to boutiques, titanic but quite reasonably priced, and centred around the “body-splash” concept. If you really want to grab a perfume bottle for yourself then you have to look very hard in Harrods, because even now the fragrance line is in an expansion-mode, rather than pose as a much-favourite with luxury retail stockists. Jacobs is quite the activist for gay marriage and equal rights - he once designed a shirt sold only at his stores, asking for gay marriage to be legalized. He has been the subject of a documentary film too, based on his collaboration with LV directed by French filmmaker Loïc Prigent in 1997, and went on to win the
Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres - it’s only fair and deserving, it’s not everyday an American fashion designer takes the creative helm of a premier French fashion house! Post-LV, Jacobs signed up as the creative director for Diet Coke, where he was selected to provide the brand with a much more fun/comic/silly-adventure theme, as opposed to the very brutish and serious image the drink has with all of the constant debate surrounding it for calorific value as a fizzy drink.
Marc Jacobs selection of muses are just as diverse as his choice of cartoonish perfume bottles - one moment he jumps on the Brit supermodel bandwagon, just like most fashion designers and counts Kate Moss, to be both an inspiration and a confidante, another moment he takes Jessica Lange out of obscurity, and selects her as the new face for Marc Jacobs Beauty. With Moss, he partnered up and co-hosted a themed gala in 2009, at the Met, titled “a model and muse”, while with Lange he chose to put her on the beauty advertising campaign for the latest SS2014 and AW2014, photographed by David Sims, as well as have her star in a campaign film directed by Jacobs, and voiceover a spoken-word edition of “Happy Days Are Here Again” for the SS2014 show. Sims, collaborated with Jacobs once more for the SS2014 fashion collection, photographing a much more edgy and rebellious Miley Cyrus for the print campaign. Apart from this he once funnily enough placed the former Spice Girl and fashion designer, Victoria Beckham in an oversized shopping bag, trying to conjure her image as a reserved fashionista, who has an undying love for sky-high heels, pencil dresses and ofcourse, the all-glamorous, sunglasses that shield her from her overbearing star-power.
Marc Jacobs is very different from a lot of the fashion society that is prevalent in his hometown - he detests the idea of creating fashion specifically with the idea of dressing any one individual. His fashion is very fluid, with their unique sense of identity and most of his clothes come-off whatever inspires him from gossip magazines, such as People or Hello! - something very random but not out of place with society today.
The NYC fashion designer’s second line is very popular in the Japanese market, which is interesting because off-late fashion there has seen a trend away from traditional attires, modernism tinted with creative spunk, and colourfully-vibrant minimalism towards more popularity for preppy and Brit fashion. Apart from having a record-breaking 285 stores across the globe, his street-smart attitude, coupled up with his posh background, means that his couture ideas are secretively self-indulgent - none of those loud and proud moments of Alexander McQueen. Jacobs has been able to explore his interest in Europe sufficiently in his own fashion lines, played around with mischievous placing of polka dots on perfume bottles, from a Minnie Mouse-style bow to a “I-want-to-be-a-fancy-ladybug-today!”, brought a much-needed revived interest in true American fashion, became one fashion designer who you can always count on for preppy style items - so whenever you are down in Madison Square Avenue, be sure to shop Marc Jacobs, he is the very definition of the arrondisment!
Marc Jacobs Mementos
When is your birthday?
Fashion Design School of Choice?
On his beloved grandmother?
"I always say I lived my life with my grandmother, She was emotionally stable, and she was very encouraging to me."
Isn’t that sweet? Any more fond memories from growing up in a posh suburb of NYC and as far away as possible from the puzzling and out-of-place glamour of Long Island?
I felt truly at home in Central Park West.
Menswear Designer of the Year (2002, CFDA)
Accessories Designer of the Year (2003, 2005, CFDA)
Fashion & the Class-Divide
The 1920s is often epitomised in flapper girls, rich adventurous folks, symbolised by The Great Depression and the roaring riches that led to the ruin of the glittering American societies that dominated the landscape, with the privileges that new money brought them. Although this society did influence Great Britain substantially, it was nothing much in comparison to the Industrial Revolution that was brewing in the Soviet Union. Industrialisation of the most prominent cities here actually took place before any city, way back in the 1800s, so this wasn’t the same sort of industrialisation - think favouring consumerism, knowledge of countries far-and-wide, trade, building of great and important machinery, architectural firsts, cultural breakthroughs. No, this particular revolution was about giving a much more precise shape to the class system in Great Britain. It was about discovering more than the bourgeoisie, or holding prejudice against the new rich, it was about the working class and their impoverished lives, as their country recovered from the ashes of the First World War.
Some interesting aspects of society leisure now was jazz music, Parisian couture, Oriental cuts, like the beautiful kimono, vintage dressmakers, films, rare objects from the East, while life was still tough for the working class because the textile business was booming - all of a sudden there were commercial sewing girls, Canadian film star and Hollywood pioneer, Mary Pickford, became a fashion icon, a wide array of knitting patterns influenced by the colourful world outside of the United Kingdom, which meant good money for the country, fancy living for the upper class, but hard work for the proletariat. Because fashion was simply moving on from being influenced primarily by social hierarchy, it gave more leeway to exotic additions in the wardrobe for many - harem pants became cool, can you imagine? Speaking of discovering exotic lands, sea-faring adventures now took on a new name in the onset of a life recovering under the shadow of a damaging war, not to mention the repercussions that being ill-prepared, poor, an ineffective or much-weaker-than-expected royal lineage on the throne could have on Europe, and indeed the world. So nautical fashion did start to emerge with the arrival of sailors back home and all the festivities that it brought to the lands every now and again, but it was still too-early-days.
Titled as the Roaring twenties, this was an era when simple opulence was preferred because it was important to have common sense around - none of those frills and bows, anymore. Freedom to dress in any manner desired, such as the rise of swimming costumes, utility fashion while helping out with War efforts, meant that corsetry took a back seat to convenience. Men’s tailoring began to appear in society gatherings in parties, lent out to women’s fashion, and this was big news in Great Britain because trips to Paris for the fashionable elite were becoming a regular thing for ladies, year after year. Paris was the fashion capital of the world during the twenties, perhaps cemented by its status as a powerful figure in the world post the Great War. Even the tide of profligate living couldn’t stop New Yorkers from joining them in the capital of France, much like all of the darkest days of the Tsar’s rule., and the resounding poverty across the Soviet Union landscape, did not prevent visitors from St. Petersburg to come and try out haute-couture.
Seamstresses, the wealthier, learned class of tailors tending to all these shoppers numerous demands, would still work in a less than ideal environment in overcrowded backrooms of prominent boutiques, but none of it came to any of the shoppers knowledge or care, because they were far too busy listening to their personal stylists, advising them on the latest purchases for their very in-season wardrobes. Busy chattering away over cups of tea, these women would pick well-tailored, morning gowns in fawn and a much-more figure-flattering shape, afternoon gowns in rose, apricot and blues, fancy umbrellas, fur, warm jackets for colder months ahead, aviator-style headgear, prints, lush Ascot clothes - their purse-strings were just as wide as their ambitions!
The couture houses of the time were pioneers of the craft and knew a thing or two about holding onto customers. So gossip over tea and extravagant purchases immersed in strict conversation about the society, meant that they would go onto retain their wealthy fans - a surefire way to get ahead, during intellectually challenging times! Gossips would centre mostly around the secrets of the fashion designers and how they made it so successfully in an age where revolutionary ideas were still very difficult for most of the elite to grapple with. And revolutionary it was because the Gulf propped up out of the history books and onto our streets in the form of the rising love for very ethnically designed harem pants, while all of this talk about rich wallets cannot be talked about without the mention of old money and where all of it was stashed - inside the wardrobes of the rich from the Soviet Union! From the super-cold atmosphere up there, we got more than just mink fur trimming our coats, and rabbit fur adorning our hats, we also got very pricey embroidered silk stockings, elaborate and soft-as-a-feather satin gowns, and seductive silk dresses.
The afternoon dresses became growingly less conservative as the age progressed: you had summer shift dresses, the chemise worn as outerwear - such stylistic dresses were growingly popular, and because more women were now working than ever before, cotton dresses for the summer, wool dresses for the winter took over from corsets for women with waif figures. Women from this decade began to be characterised by their boyish figures instead of the more busty/curvy figures of the decades previously. Their hairstyles were shorter, for example, the bob emerged as a favourite with the upstate tennis societies, just to make hats look all the more pretty and have them stand-out. Women with boyish figures needed a column-look for their dresses, hence the shift-dress minus the waistline and plus the fanfare.
Workwear for women took on a new approach with straight and stiff shirts, that had protruding collars, and were paired-up over knife-pleats skirts that sat just below the knee. For the working-class girls, who could not afford car rides and the crazy avant-garde living of the rich, the clothes the rich wore still captivated their imagination. Professionalism was the key word for women of all social classes, particularly the proletariat, in getting ahead, so they sort-of contributed a lot to workwear of the times, with simplistic, cheap clothes put together with the help of ideas borrowed from the rich. Most of these women worked as telephone operators or typists during the time, so it was important to adapt the morning dress concept into their lives, while keeping the odd luxury item, such as the very expensive silk purchases for the rare eveningwear when out with friends.
The class-divide in Great Britain at the time was starkly noticeable in how society chose to dress. Not only that, but it also gave new meaning to the aspirations these women had, and how different their lives were from their more glamorous cousins from across the Atlantic. Every day was divided into three separate categories: morning, afternoon and evening, and all three of them would dictate the choices of clothes for women. It defined how the fashionable from all classes dressed because morning gowns were, you guessed it - workwear, afternoon gowns might be more familiar with the term used to describe them now - “tea dresses” or “tea gowns”, mostly embroidered, and sometimes with long, billowing translucent sleeves, while evening gowns were long, in satin, velvet, silk, and sometimes adorned with embellishments, such as beads and rhinestones.