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People Don’t Dress Up Anymore, All They Do Is This…

I just read an awesome article from the Huffington Post titled, “7 Ways Your Grandmother Dressed Better Than You.” It was so freaking on point and so true.

The list basically talks about how our foremothers were serious about the proper undergarments and proper fit of their clothing. It also discussed how because clothes were so expensive for everyone, knowing how to sew was a must among most American women of that generation. (Do they even have home economics anymore?)

That is totally a thing of the past unless a child has the fashion bug, and wants to be a designer and seeks out their very first sewing machine on their own. As an 80s baby, I had an Easy Bake Oven and I had a for real operational kid’s sewing machine. I feel like my generation was the last to be made to go to home economics, but honestly, when I can hem my pants or sew buttons for a boyfriend, it makes me feel like a hot commodity.

I actually want to take sewing lessons and learn how to make some things myself. It wasn’t uncommon back in the day for the older women of the neighborhood or some older person in your family to make a new baby a blanket, a christening outfit, prom dress or wedding dress.

The way things are now, I bet for most young women the first time they’ve ever worn tailored clothing is if they are a bride’s maid in someone’s wedding. There was a friend of mine a short thang who said she always had to get her pants and jeans tailored.

Tailoring! I had forgotten all about it. So when my jeans that fit right everyplace else but were too long and dragging on the ground, I realized, stupid, you can get these tailored!!!

It doesn’t even cross one’s mind and that’s sad. But as the article points out, what is the point of a good tailoring job if the fabrics are cheap and practically disposable anyway?

I didn’t realize how much we as a society, in America don’t dress up until a few years ago, my dad, who is quite stylish, visited me and we went out to dinner. He had on a button up shirt, slacks and blazer. I wore a dress. But all around us, people were wearing jeans.

My dad shook his head. To him dining out was an experience, therefore you dress up. I agree with him, although I eat out with my friends ALOT and I tend to be a jeans wearer, a lot of times, I do like to turn it up a notch and look like it’s a special occasion.

Then the last few times I’ve gone to the Kennedy Center for performances, I noticed that there were old school folks who dressed to the nines, like myself and others in….jeans.

In my opinion, the Kennedy Center is too beautiful to not show up looking your best. It’s one of my favorite places to go, because it feels so grand. But I guess the general consensus is you are sitting in the dark and no one will see you any way or you aren’t the one on stage.

We’ve gotten way too casual and it’s sad. I do think people feel better about themselves and hold themselves to a higher standard when they dress up for certain events and are expected to. There’s an increased level of civility. I know I walk with my head higher, I have better posture. What’s even worse is when you do go out for an event and everyone says, “Wow, you’re really dressed up.”

Actually, you’re way too casual. I love looking at blogs with street style in Europe and seeing how people in Milan and Paris turn everyday places into runways with a certain style and sophistication.

But here in the land of the free, home of the hamburger, we’ve gotten sloppy and slutty.

I’ll admit, I have moments I pull out a freakum dress or short shorts, but every occasion doesn’t call for that. I’ve been to weddings where people wore flip-flops (they are acceptable and smart during the reception only) and funerals where people wore jeans and tee shirts. (At hood funerals if said tee-shirt has a photo of the deceased, I’ll allow it).

Why can’t we even honor those moments with being well-dressed. We’ve gotten lazy as a society. “Clothes don’t represent who I am.” “I shouldn’t be judged by what I wear.” “People should accept me for who I am.”

I’m old school. I think people should dress nicely for church and I rarely wear pants to church, and if I do they are dress slacks, because that’s how I was raised. It’s not about showing off, or acting like wearing the best clothes is a status symbol or I want to be seen, but I want to respect myself and the occasion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that or it makes me a dinosaur.

So hell yes, our grandparents dressed better. People may have been poorer or had less education, but they had way more class and self-respect. They had expectations and because they knew how to stretch pennies and make things happen, they knew how to cook and sew and fix things, we benefitted greatly, but it made us lazy.

Eartha Kitt photographed by Gordon Parks as she was being fitted for a dress by a woman who I am 99.9% sure is none other than the pioneering fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes in 1952.

Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com The amazing Eartha Kitt and her almighty seamstress.

Percy Verwayne (1895-1968) was the original Sportin’ Life in the 1927 Broadway DuBose and Dorothy Heyward play, “Porgy,” the precursor to the iconic 1935 George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess.” Mr. Verwayne was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) and appeared on Broadway, on radio and in several films for at least thirty years, but he was best known in his day for originating the role of Sportin’ Life. He was also a former athlete and that came in handy in 1941 when he was robbed of 75 cents by a very unwise 18-year-old within two blocks of his Harlem home at 400 West 128th street. The incident was gleefully reported in the New York Amsterdam News on August 9, 1941 under the headline, “Mugger Gets Wrong Victim.” According to the paper, when the mugger tried to run away, “Verwayne chased him for a block, grabbed him by the seat of his trousers and socked him into submission. When the cops arrived, Verwayne was in complete control of the situation.” I’ll bet he was… haha! Photo: New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theater Collection.

Now that’s bespoke. Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com

And now this is what we have today…

Rihanna Getty Images via Huffington Post.

So, I think deep down we want to dress awesomely. Aside from the storylines, people LIVE for the fashion of shows like “Mad Men,” “Sex and the City,” and most recently, “Scandal” because of the clothes, and the fit of the clothes. I am among a whole lot of people who created pinterest boards based on the fabulous Olivia Pope.

Folks aren’t just salivating over her steamy love scenes, but whilst live tweeting, you see folks going crazy over her coats, and amazingly chic clothing she wears sitting on the couch with her red wine.

http://scandalmoments.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/oliviapopefashionallsaintsepisode5scandalseason2.png?w=620

Photo from scandalmoments.com Please see the wonder that is Olivia Pope in all of her fashionable glory. God, this show.

One of my personal faves. Grandmother would be proud, Liv.

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Photo: Scandalmoments.com

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Bonus Post: Depression-Era Grandmothers Can Fix the Economy

I was reading a very interesting article today in the Huffington Post’s Women’s section.

I was initially interested in it because the headline hinted at the amazing Meryl Streep one day playing the role of the also amazing U.S. Secretary of State, former Democratic Presidential candidate, and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

That’s not really going to happen in the immediate future, but that was the running joke at a recent event both ladies participated in at the Women in the World summit.

All of these powerful females gathered from all parts of the world to discuss progress and leadership and all of that great stuff. They also discussed the national uproar over birth control (which is really pissing me off for a number of reasons, and I’ll save that for another post- in short, controlling our own reproductive organs is best for everyone in the end). The timing of this gathering of about 2,000 global female powerhouses is fitting as March is Women’s History Month.

The one quote that stuck out above all others to me was one from the International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. “She suggested that the financial crisis might have been averted, or at least been much less serious, if more women had been at the helm of financial institutions.”

“If Lehman Brothers had been a bit more Lehman Sisters … we would not have had the degree of tragedy that we had as a result of what happened,” Lagarde said.

She added that recent studies have shown “what the level of testosterone in a given room can produce when you do trading.”

As one of my boys would declare upon hearing something profound, “That’s a headcrack.”

It is. What would it have been like if more women were a major part of the final decision-making in these financial institutions?

I do think anyone and everyone has the capacity to be greedy and underhanded under the right circumstances, but I do think women have an advantage over men in terms of getting the bills paid and prioritizing on behalf of others.

Yes, we will splurge, but we are going to handle the important stuff, somehow, someway.

Here’s my theory.

Men are historically and genetically hunters and gatherers, while women organize and distribute. Women have to plan and make sure that whatever is hunted and gathered is going to last and will be enough for everyone to survive. She figures out how to store the extra, recycle the extra into something useful, or sell it or give it to someone else for use.

Ask anyone’s grandmother who was a pretty young thang during the Great Depression, and they are going to tell you what miracles they worked for a family of five with just nickles.

I’m not knocking men. I know guys who are far better budgeters than some women I know, but overall, in countless households, I see it over and over. Women handle the day-to-day bill payment and household organization, while the men don’t give it much thought. They hand over their share and it all just gets done.

Would the financial crisis have been averted if women were at the helm? I’m not too sure of that, but I do agree that things could have possibly not been as disastrous.

I think women do think about the future more than men, I think women also think more deeply about the effects of their decisions on the greater good and try to deliver the lightest blow possible if there is a negative result.

Send Depression-Era grannies to Congress to work on our budget. We all may be eating cabbage soup everyday and wearing patches in our clothes and shoes for the next five years, but I bet you we’d have a surplus by the end.

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