Monday, February 18, 2008

Changing Styles

Every morning in the 1930s, my mother put on her stockings as she got out of bed, securing them with roll garters. Next came her leather shoes with Cuban heels and string ties. And so she was shod till bedtime. Mother was, like most ladies at the time, a stay-at-home mom. She wore calf-length dresses with a collar and long or elbow-length sleeves, and when she got to the kitchen to fix breakfast, she put on a full length apron, which also became part of her daytime ensemble. She had long hair, knotted at the back of the neck until I was about five years old when she defied my father and had it cut very daringly in a short straight style--longer on the sides than in the back--very much like young women wear today. I sometimes think of her discomfort when I slip into my slides (sans stockings), pull on a pair of shorts or Capri pants and a sleeveless top and begin my day. Forget the apron; I don't even own one.
Yet everything old is new again. Capri pants have come and gone in style at least twice in my lifetime. Short, straight hairdoes were popular in the 1920s, again in the 1950s, and today, as they say, anything goes. Ladies would not have thought of wearing long pants for daytime casual garb in the 1930s unless they were Jean Harlow or Kathryn Hepburn. But at least they were out of stays by then, and their feet didn't hurt at night. And if they were warm with no AC or window fans, they sat on the porch with a big palmetto fan and passed the time of day with neighbors.

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