Thursday, November 24, 2016

Darkness Descends: Life Under Trump

I have a reputation as someone who speaks out against injustice and prejudice. In the wake of Trump's election in the States, my regular readers probably expect me to speak out loudly, assuredly, and clearly. I'm going to disappoint you. I'm too upset. All the fight has drained out of me.

I have fallen into a deep depression, and an even deeper fear. Because I am white and invisibly disabled, I have generally felt that it would be self-indulgent to dwell upon or even fully acknowledge the ways in which I am oppressed. But it's no longer possible for me to ignore them. I am Jewish, queer, and disabled. I am a woman, a woman over 30. I am a child sex trafficking survivor. 

In the eyes of Trump's regime, I am worse than worthless; I am the enemy. 
Never have I felt more unwelcome in the world. Never has it been more clear to me that most people want me to shut up -- and disappear.
When Trump won, a light went off inside me and it has not gone back on.

Me, lying on six ice-packs before bed, hoping it will reduce my pain enough that I can sleep. I do this every night.
The day before the election, Beau and I were both banned from our favourite cafĂ© because, as one of the owners yelled at me, over and over again, "You talk about your disability too much! I'm sick of it!" I've been going there, faithfully, for eight years. I met Beau there. I proposed to him there. I thought I was welcome there. I am not. 

This man's message was clear: "Shut up! Don't make me uncomfortable. Don't ever show or talk about your pain. Disappear." His attitude toward the disabled -- "Be cheerful or don't be at all" -- is not unusual. Many, maybe even most, able bodied people feel the same way. If you're disabled, you already know this.

I was upset by the reactions of many people I consider friends, which boiled down to, "I never liked their coffee anyway." It's about a tad more than that. It's a civil rights issue. It was very disappointing to me that many people couldn't grasp this fact.

It's a family run business and this man's brother and father quickly contacted us to tell us that they disagree with him. (If they had not, I would have gone to the press about it.) But how can I go back? 

And where will I go now? I am disabled, and my world is therefore a small one. I can't work. Many places I'd like to visit are too far away or not accessible enough for me. I had created this small routine for myself: on days when my physical pain (and PTSD) permitted, I took myself out for a little coffee. I wrote. I chatted with friends.

Now what?

So I already felt like my world had changed for the worse. I felt like it had shrunk, and that I was not welcome in it. 

And, of course, I was already very upset about Trump. The things he said about women shocked and disgusted me, as they would any decent human being. After those tapes of him bragging about sexually assaulting women were released, I was naively sure he would not win the election. I stupidly thought that people would care about women, and refuse to vote for him. 

I was wrong. My first reaction when I realized that he was winning was to be overcome by terror. This was not an abstract or intellectual terror about the political repercussions of his leadership. This was the visceral, full-body terror of a rape victim who was about to be raped again. This was the terror of a child sex trafficking victim who has just learned that a child rapist is about to rule her world.

I had to remind myself, my child selves, over and over again, that Trump was not going to come for me and rape me. He was not going to lock me up in a child brothel. He was not going to send his friends to rape me either.

I kept seeing his repulsive, flabby body, on top of that 13 year old, enslaved girl he ("allegedly") raped in the home of convicted child rapist and child trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein. You know Epstein, Trump's buddy, whom he calls a "terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side ... Jeffrey enjoys his social life." 

Social life. Is that what they call it?

Trump's victim filed a civil suit against him, but got so many death threats and bomb threats from his supporters, that she dropped the suit just days before the election. They got what they wanted: She shut up and disappeared.

The almost universal reaction from the media? "See? She was lying all along." 

Any of you have ever been raped know that disbelief is common. You know this story. It's an integral part of rape culture.

I believe her.

Paris Hilton, about age 12
Let me say it again. I believe her.

Why wouldn't I? We all heard Trump on tape talking about dating a 10 year old girl in a few years.

He's on record rating the attractiveness of his infant daughter's legs and chest. He's on record saying that his own daughter is "hot" and a "piece of ass" who could pose for Playboy.

He's on record as saying that the 12 year old Paris Hilton was beautiful and that he was bowled over when he saw her. 

Fifteen year old, Katherine Haik, Miss Teen USA, 2015
In those tapes that were released a few weeks before the election, he bragged about walking into the change rooms at the Miss Teen USA contest, rooms in which he knew he would see naked girls as young as fourteen, just one year older than the child he "allegedly" raped at Epstein's home. 

Katherine Haik, 15
This is what a 15 year old beauty queen looks like without all that makeup.

We also know he bragged about sexually assaulting women and being able to get away with it, because he's famous and powerful. 

And we know he talks about women like we're objects with expiry dates, our sole value being in whether or not he would like to fuck us.

So why exactly would we not believe that he had raped an enslaved 13 year old girl?

I believe her.

Me, around 13
It could have been me. In a way, it was me. By the time I was thirteen, I'd been bought and sold -- raped -- hundreds of times, and for years. Trump's heavy, flabby, repellent body is very much like the repulsive bodies of any number of businessmen who paid to rape me.

When I realized that he was winning the election, I remembered those men -- and I became violently ill. I had to run back and forth to the washroom with gut cramps and terrible diarrhoea. Within two hours, I was dangerously dehydrated.

How could this be happening? Knowing everything they did about his treatment of women and girls, how could Americans vote for this man?

The message was clear: They didn't care. They didn't care about women. They didn't care about rape victims. They didn't care about trafficked children.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I felt disregarded, valueless, degraded. I felt like I was invisible.

Of course I wasn't the only one. My therapist, who works exclusively with victims of childhood trauma, said that every single one of her patients talked to her about Trump. Every one of her patients is re-traumatized. This is global.

I like to think I'm a formidable force to be reckoned with. I like to think that nobody messes with Charlotte! But now that attitude feels like a lie I like to tell myself to make myself feel better. Nobody really cares. I have no real power.

I've already learned that if someone wants to hurt me, they can. That's why I'm disabled. They've done it before. They could do again.

They can also disregard me. Easily. After all, what am I really? Just an old, fat, disabled Jew who had some bad things happen to her, and has a chip on her shoulder because she can't get over. Any decent person would just get over it -- and shut up. I don't believe that, not really, and you don't believe that, but most people do.

The day after the election, I went to parent/teacher day at the high school my stepson had been attending for nearly three years. Yet again, they had made no provisions for disabled parents. Nobody knew where the keys to the elevators were. Nobody knew where the lift to the gym was, and, when they found it, it was broken. They wanted me to wait in the doorway, while they found someone to repair it! When I said that might take too long, they made me wait in that freezing, echoing doorway while they went and found my stepson's teachers, who then had to try to gather up all their paperwork and come to us.

The principal of the school smiled a lot, and repeatedly rubbed my back like I was some kind of pet, and showed nothing but false regard for my situation. She showed even less regard for the many other disabled parents who have, I assume, long since given up on taking part in their children's school lives. 

When I asked her what disabled students at her school do, she said they don't have any. Disabled students are advised not to attend the best high school in the region and to instead be bussed elsewhere, away from their friends and away from their neighbourhood. She told me all this with a happy smile.

I gave her a lecture, sure, but I know she wasn't listening. I know she didn't care. She just kept touching me without my permission, and grinning like... a politician -- and waiting for me to shut up and disappear.

My voice isn't as loud as I think it is. In fact, does anyone hear it at all. And, if they do, do they care?

Why bother? That's what keeps repeating over and over again in my head: Why bother?

In the days following the election, I did take some comfort in finding that, even as I'd lost my fight entirely, others were just finding theirs. Relatively apolitical style bloggers were in a rage. Rape survivors were too. 

And, of course, so were people of colour. In fact, when you think about it, it's easier to list the one group not negatively affected by the election -- straight, white, able-bodied men -- than it is to list the many groups of people whose rage and fear is entirely reasonable with Trump as president.

My favourite magazine, The New Yorker
I'm not the only one who's upset. Not by a long shot. 

You saw the huge protest marches all over the country, right? Some people care. Just not enough people. If enough people had cared, Trump would not have won. 

The implications of his win have been hitting me in waves. On the night of the election, I kept thinking of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and wondering if it was prescient. It's a sharply dystopian novel about what might happen if the Christian religious right got absolute control of a portion of America. Women are quickly enslaved, valued primarily for their reproductive value alone. Atwood's story no longer feels so very far fetched, here, now.

Listening to all the people who claimed that no-one need fear a Trump presidency, I also kept thinking about the words of Martin Niemoller, the Protestant pastor who was a vocal opponent of the Nazis and spent seven years in a concentration camp:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did 
not speak out - 
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I
did not speak out -
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not
speak out - 
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me - and there was no one
left to speak for me.

Why is it so hard for people to speak out for and help others? Why don't they care? I don't understand.

Yes, I thought about Hitler. I thought about the Nazis. The similarities between that time and this one are bone chilling. 

Trump has the firm support of the "alt right." "Alt-right" means "white supremacist," and "white nationalist," and don't you forget it. Immediately following Trump's win, hate crimes rose, including those against Jews and people of colour. Swastikas sprang up on walls. The KKK planned a march to celebrate Trump's win. 

Then Trump appointed Steve Bannon, a known racist, as the White House's chief strategist. This is a man who did not want his children going to school with Jews. Yes, this is a matter of record. 

I have never felt more frightened as a Jew than I do now.

Women forced to register, and wear yellow stars marking them as Jews under the Nazi regime
The last I heard, Trump had not backed down on his plan to force all Muslims, including those born in America, to register with the government. We've been here before. If this doesn't remind you of the Nazis, it should.

Jews and Muslims - and all oppressed groups - are in this together. We must be.

Because we know where this leads.

Never before have a felt that my mere Jewishness is so dangerous. Never before have been afraid because I look Jewish. But I am afraid now.

My Jewishness is in the shape of my eyes.

It's in the colour and texture of my hair.

It's in what Beau lovingly calls my "brownie" looks.

And, for the record, if those who hate Jews claim to be Christian, they might do well to remember that Jesus was a Jew and never renounced his religion.

An idea of what Jesus looked like, based on anthropological information. I can never get over how much he looks like my father.
And all anthropological evidence suggests that he looked like a Jew too. 

Like me. 

How can people hate me for that, any more than they can hate blacks for the colour of their skin? 

How can people pretend that opposition to Trump is a mere matter of political opinion? What is wrong with them?

How dare they belittle us that way? 

The ability to do so comes from a position of great privilege.
It's cruel, uncaring, and delusional. 

This is one of Beau's main concerns. How fortunate for some who are in a position to be unafraid, but they can only be unafraid if they don't care about those who are different from themselves.

How fortunate for some who can claim that those of us who are afraid are being overly emotional, irrational, and reactionary. They can only believe this if they don't care about others. 

Any decent person would be upset on our behalf.

Beau gets it. Thank God for Beau. The other day, I woke to find this note from him on our kitchen table. Far from thinking I should shut up and disappear, he values me for speaking out, even when I feel I have no voice left.

He is a white, straight, able-bodied man. But he is not one to rest in the comfort of his privilege. He does not let it blind him to the plight of others, or his responsibility toward them. Nor will he let his children be blinded by their privilege. The other day, he told them that being white and male, as they are, is like having the easiest setting on a video game. The rest of us have it harder, and they need to know that -- and help us when they can.

I'm amazed by how many women are saying that their husbands don't get this simple truth. I'm amazed by how many women are saying that their husbands can't understand why they're so upset about Trump's win. That's not any kind of marriage I would want.

As we've watched Trump's inexplicable rise in popularity, Beau and I have both been very very down.We remind each other that we're in this together, that we understand each other's feelings about it, that we're not alone. 

But we've still found ourselves bickering sometimes, not about politics -- we know we're in agreement on that -- but about stupid little things. We're both so beleaguered and upset, we're bound to take it out on each other sometimes. But we're trying.

Everyday problems have been harder. I just have so few emotional resources left. I took this selfie the other day after I'd escorted Beau downtown when he had to go on a scary trip to the doctor. Every moment of that trip had been made harder for me by the fact the world is not set up for the disabled. Ramps are poorly placed, sidewalks are bumpy, elevators are tiny, people ignore me. By the time we got back to our neighbourhood, I was crying in public. 

Would I have reacted this way if world politics weren't as they are these days? I think I might at least have been able to hold back my tears till we got home.

An alert hummingbird, warily watching me watching him. 
What do we do now? Honestly, I don't know. People are saying we must be alert to the immoral and even illegal acts of Trump and his followers.

Still watching me. Hummingbirds are incredibly feisty creatures, despite being so tiny as to seem unreal.
We must monitor his every move and speak out and act whenever necessary. 

But speak out how? Act how? Do what?

I feel unheard and powerless in a way I never have before.

I've been trying hard to find metaphors for hope to make me feel better but the pickings are slim and they feel very false.

The best people have been able to come up with are things like, "The sun will rise tomorrow." As John Oliver said, that's a pretty sad form of hope: the earth is still turning on its axis. The sun rose over Auschwitz as well. Did it give hope to the people there? If it did, wasn't it false hope?

Actually, around here, we don't even know if the sun will rise tomorrow, not in any visible sense, anyway. This is what passes for a sunny day at this time of year. It's not much, just a brief respite from the rain, a slight lightening of the darkness. 

I fear that is what the next four years under Trump will be: a great deal of darkness, with only brief patches of dim light that I'll try to call hope.

It's not enough!

When my mirror cast a rainbow the other day, I posed with it on my face, but it looked more like a knife's cut to me than anything hopeful. Besides, where's the real hope in a rainbow? It is supposed to have been God's promise never again to drown the world. But he'd already wiped out all of humanity. Such vindictive cruelty! Where's the hope in that?

So, if I can't find hope, what about small beauties and pleasures? 

Even that's not working well. I don't even see much point in dressing well. You know I'm very depressed when I don't care about style!

I try to get the hummingbirds to feed from my hand.

I love my deaf and partly blind old cat.

I watch Murder She Wrote at night, while sipping a martini, which might be a little stiffer than usual.

I notice that the male hummingbirds are maturing and I like the flash of their red throats. 

But all feels forced, false. It feels like whistling into a gale: a brave but futile effort. I can't lift the heavy weight that sits in my chest, snuffing out my light.

I don't know what comes next, in this darkness. I really don't. But let's remember one thing: we're in this darkness together. We must not turn away from it, no matter how much we might want to. We must not turn away from each other. It's a matter of life and death.

(I'm sharing this with Not Dressed as Lamb.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ration Fashion: A Wartime Dress

I love this Hell Bunny dress. I bought it on sale from Canada's Blame Betty, and was so sure I'd love it that I ordered it without trying it on, even though I couldn't return sale items. I've worn it many times since, but I'm only just now getting to writing a post about it.

Hell Bunny clothing is wonderful for accurate, retro wear. (I've just ordered a 1940s style coat from them that is making me heart sing with anticipation.) Though the stretchy fabric is modern, this dress would have looked just right in the late 1930s, through to the mid 1940s. In other words, it makes me look like I'm from one my very favourite fashion eras.

Of course, historically, this is one my least favourite periods. I'm Jewish and once wrote a post about what it would have been like for me in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. I don't want to write about that right now, but not because it's irrelevant.

Instead, I'm avoiding writing about it because, these days, anti-Semitism is more relevant to me than it ever has been before. In the last several months, as Trump's power has risen more than I ever thought it would, I have been on the receiving end of the worst, most hateful anti-Semitism I've ever faced in my 46 years. The people attacking me this way are openly racist and also very openly pro-Trump.

It's another example of what I'm calling The Trump Effect. My 84 year old, Portuguese friend, who was in Europe during World War II, says of Trump's rhetoric: "I've heard it all before, but not for a very long time."

It's bone-chilling.

And that's all I'm going to say about it for now. Let's use this post to just enjoy the fashions of the 40s. I think we all deserve that right now.

Virtually everything about my dress, and the style it emulates, is influenced by World War II. The shorter hem ...

Dress: Hell Bunny; Shoes: Munro; Sunglasses: Aldo; Ring, earrings, and dress clips: vintage
... and narrower skirt use less fabric than other styles, and were thus in compliance with the cloth rations imposed during the war. This cut was also more practical than longer, more cumbersome styles, making it easier for women to contribute to the war effort without being hampered by their outfits.

It's widely assumed that the padded shoulders so popular for women during the war were influenced by men's military uniforms and that seems entirely plausible to me too.

Having lived through the 80s, I was and am understandably leery of padded shoulders. My arms and shoulders are pretty powerful now that I'm disabled: they do a lot of the work my back can no longer do. I wasn't keen on adding to my already substantial shoulders.

But, really, you just can't do an early 1940s look without shoulder pads. It just wouldn't work.

Besides, with a few notable exceptions like Joan Crawford, most women's shoulder pads were not insanely huge until the 1980s.

Light shoulder pads do have the benefit of making the waist look smaller and I do like that.

As I was doing some research for this post, I looked at a lot of modern women posing for photos in their retro garb. I decided to copy some of their poses and, wow, they really do flatter the figure!

Between the dress and the poses, I felt I looked pretty good, both from the front...

... and from the back. 

I'll write more about the dress in a bit but I'd like to talk about the hair first. Most people associate the early 1940s with elaborate pompadours and "victory curls." Those hairstyles certainly were popular, but so were simple, looser, curly ones, like this centre-part style. It's an extremely easy one for me to achieve, since my hair is already curly. When my hair is wet, I just put a little product in it, part it in the middle, and plait two tight braids starting above each ear. I make sure to comb the ends into curls, so as to avoid the spiky ends of 1980s crimped hair.

(Incidentally, this hair style works wonderfully well for a 1970s look as well, especially if you're wanting a more mature, sophisticated 70s look. I wrote a post about 1970s feminists in which this hairstyle figured prominently.)

Sara Montiel
No matter how it was styled, curly hair was almost mandatory in the 1940s, so perms were back in style. We often saw those perms swept over to one side, a la Rita Hayworth (to whom my hair is most often compared) but the centre part was another option that most stars tried at some point.

Either way, the curls create quite the halo effect when backlit. In these days of hair straighteners and blow-outs, such a halo effect is associated with a lack of sophistication but, to be frank, I find that a bit racist.

Many "ethnic" groups, like Jews, are likely to have very curly hair, and I don't think we should have to straighten it to be considered chic or professional.

Virtually every popular hairstyle, then and now, has required black women to straighten their hair or wear weaves, a fact that has always bothered me. I think we'd all have to be blind not to notice racism in our culture's beauty standards. It behoves us all to fight this sort of nonsense. I do it in my own, tiny little way, by wearing my Jewish hair in its natural, "ethnic" state.

Probably the most famous centre-part of the 1940s was that sported by Hedy Lamarr.

She wore it with casual dresses ...

... similar to mine ...

... and with very glamorous looks too. Tell me these curls aren't sophisticated! Just try.

Do also note her dark red lips, another staple of the 1940s.

I tried to really darken my lips, but my lipstick wasn't the best quality. The colour is good but it's blotchy and smeary so looks uneven in this photo. Still, not too bad, I'd say.

Marilyn Monroe
It was really pretty much imperative to wear dark red lipstick throughout most of the 1940s. Everyone did it.

Shirley Temple
Everyone, from child stars trying to look grown up ...

... to average gals at their loveliest. (Because her hair is shorter, my guess is that this photo is from the late 1930s.)

So, that's the hair and lipstick. Back to the dress itself.

As I said before, it has the inevitable shoulder pads ...

... often paired with gently puffed sleeves.

In the days of cloth rationing, puffed sleeves required only a little fabric to add a feminine effect to dresses with fairly severe lines.

Note the exaggerated nipped waist here on Katharine Hepburn's dress.

Another added feminine effect was the tight waist, extending down to the hips and up to just below the breasts.

Without using much fabric, this immediately emphasized the female shape.

This is probably a wedding photo. Wedding dresses were in scarce supply during World War II and, even if a woman could access and afford one, wearing it might be considered in poor taste in the those days of deprivation.
Such dresses very often included pleats at the hips and shoulders to add a sense of fullness to the breasts and hips.

I wonder if wartime dresses were designed to exaggerate curves because so many women were underweight during the war, particularly in Europe and Britain, and most especially in the USSR and Nazi occupied countries. (I'm trying not to make this post a downer, but if you want to learn more about starvation during the war, start by reading about the siege of Leningrad in the winter of 1941 and 1942.)

It is ironic, then, that this style is so flattering on curvier figures like mine.

I assume it is because they were so sexy that such styles were exaggerated still further in the glamorous dresses of the stars.

Some of the sillier iterations of this style make its lines easy to see. Rita Hayworth (here with her famous, side-swept curls) had one of the most beautiful bodies in Hollywood, but you really can't tell with this dress. Every fashion trend has its limits.


I think one of the silliest, most entertaining iterations of this style is Katharine Hepburn's wedding dress in the superb comedy, The Philadelphia Story.

Hepburn's character was extremely rich and American, so apparently untouched by cloth rationing. Generally, though, dresses and skirts saved on cloth during World War II by being knee length. This is about as short as women's clothes could go at the time without being considered inappropriate. (It wasn't until the 1960s that really mini miniskirts came into being.) I'm pretty short, so I'm guessing my dress would have been a bit too long at the time.

Even after the war, as the world economy slowly recovered ... 

... moderation was not only prudent; it was the law.

Still, I have seen a few examples of longer dresses and skirts from the period. My guess is that they're American.

Interestingly, as I gathered vintage photos to illustrate this post, I spent quite a while trying to find dresses that fit just like mine. I found many that were very similar ...

... but most were looser than mine.

Eventually, I realized that my dress would have been considered a little racy at the time. I first found similarly tight ones in photos of swing dancers.

In other words, these would have been the dancing dresses of the day, the equivalent of the sexy dresses young women now wear to go clubbing. The ones most similar to mine were the slightly daring dresses of youth.

Gloria Grahame as Violet Bick in It's a Wonderful Life
They were also the dresses of fallen women, floozies, women of questionable morals (ie, unmarried women who were obviously not virgins).

These were gangsters molls, film noir femme fatales, and prostitutes. To my mind, they are played to most heart-wrenching effect by Gloria Grahame, whose haunted face imbued a humanity in this frankly sexist movie staple.

As an aside, her haunted face reminds me a lot Meg Tilly, who recently returned to acting in the wonderful, Canadian drama, Bomb Girls, set during World War II. I've seen this same look on many sexual abuse survivors. Tilly, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a writer's party, has written quite openly about child abuse, including child sexual abuse. I wonder if this haunted look is particular to those of us who have been through hell.

In other words, I feel a blog post on this topic brewing, but I'll leave it at that for now.

Guess where else I found dresses most like mine?

Here's a hint.

Yup. I found them in pinups, with all their "oopsy, my underwear are showing all by accident" crap.

Such poses and looks are fun to recreate and there are lots of women who get a huge kick out of doing so.

But, you know, when you really contemplate them, they're pretty irritating. Give this one a look, for example. She's exchanging a peep at her stockings and undies... for a break on a parking ticket.

Such jokes are common today too, but, for me, with my history as a trafficked child, this bartering of the female body for goods, services, favours, and money... is not my idea of empowerment, even if the woman herself is the one doing the bartering. I'd rather find my power in more lasting ways, thanks.

The racism implicit here is so obvious, I'm not going to bother to explain it. You can see it as well as I can.
At any rate, the flip side to this female trope of the 40s (and today) is that such women are not to be trusted. They are seen as sexually rebellious and therefore dangerous, likely to use and abuse men, rather than love them.

This was the stuff of film noir movies and thousands of pulp novels, with their salacious covers and formulaic plots (though the lesbian pulps of the late 50s and early 60s are great fun to read now).

Such women, then, are likely to be punished in 1940s movies, magazines, and pulp novels. The terrified woman in sexual peril was and is a staple of thrillers and murder mysteries (and fashion shoots). She's sexy -- apparently. Either, she's a "bad girl" and getting what she deserves ...

... or a blameless virginal victim, a "good girl."

One guess which one is likely to die and which is likely to be saved.

I wasn't thinking of any of this when I was posing for these photos. I was just thinking about how I love my pretty dress and how fun it is to feel like I really looked like I was from the 1940s.

When I posed in front of this teensy little waterfall, I was also thinking of that popular, 1940s, honeymoon destination.

Niagara Falls. Doesn't this dress remind you of mine?

But, when I looked at the photos, I was reminded of Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 movie, Niagara.

Guess what she plays in the movie? One guess. You got it: an untrustworthy, overly sexual woman who uses and abuses men. Yawn.

Let's get back to the outfit, puleeze!

Let's talk shoes.

I love these Munro shoes because they seem so perfect for 1930s and 40s outfits. With my disability, I have a lot of restrictions in what I can wear on my feet without causing my pain to escalate quickly and terribly. I love that these shoes have a little heel but somehow still don't hurt my back. It's just a very little heel, but it's a big deal to me. I keep checking Munro's website to see if they're making any new ones in different colours but, so far, no luck. Last time I checked, though, they were still selling these ones, if you're interested.

A Foncie's Photo
As with all genuinely comfortable and practical shoe styles that are actually pretty, this one seems to have been enthusiastically adopted by women of all ages.

Such shoes could be found with dressier, higher heels ...

... but this was a time when practicality was important for women -- key actors in the war effort -- and lower heels just made more sense.

Lucky for me!

Now, the sunglasses.

There wasn't actually that much variety in sunglasses in the 1930s and 1940s (and there was even less variety before that).

They were almost all round ...

... so I generally wear this Aldo pair when wearing a 1930s or 1940s inspired outfit.

They're great for covering signs of age, fatigue, and chronic pain. Plus, you know, then you can go without makup and still look well pulled together.

And, of course, they're also actually practical ...

... against the cruel sun, especially for someone like me, who hates the sun.

Did you notice my dress clips?

Let's take a closer look at these beauties.

Angela Lansbury
For instant period detail, I adore dress clips.

Because they could be used in so many creative ways, including on shoes, they were great companions to the "make do and mend" ethos of World War II. While some clips were obviously made for a single purpose, like these shoe clips, many could be used in pretty much any way a woman could imagine.

Some dress and fur clips were made of real gems and precious metals. Most though, were a relatively cheap way to update the neckline of an out-dated dress or blouse during the Depression and the war. Notice how the fabric around these clips is puckered, revealing that she has used the clips to pull down the fabric into a popular square shape. I've done this with some of my own outfits and it works like a charm.

Obviously, they're also an easy way to add a little glitz to a plain outfit.

There's no particular down side to dress clips, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm curious about this particular pair though.

I have seen some that obviously date from the 1930s and 40s and have a similar, grape-cluster look as mine.

But I'm not sure if mine are authentic to the period. I found one of these in a charity store for a few dollars. A very quick Etsy search turned up several matching ones, making me wonder if they were made more recently than the 1940s. If they were that old, I'd expect them to be a bit more scarce. If you know anything about their origins, do please let me know.

I'm sure that my Avon ring and earrings are of relatively recent origin but I think they go nicely with the dress clips. I got the earrings at the same charity store where I found the dress clip. I found them so versatile that I slowly found the rest of the full parure on Etsy. 

The purse, a gift from a dear friend, is wonderfully authentic to the late 1940s. 

It always makes me feel like the real deal when I'm in a 40s inspired outfit. Plus, it matches my hair, shoes, and cane.

Finally, to add to the period specificity of this post, I did as I often do: posed on a block where the houses would have existed when my outfit was in style.

This house is a particular favourite. I love the lines of its front doorway. I also thought the pale green would go well with my pink dress. 

This house has a real Arts and Crafts appeal.

These houses aren't so great for the period but I like the photo itself and it's a good one to use to bid you adieu.

So ta ta from the 1940s. Have no fear: I'm sure you'll be seeing the 40s right here again. Stay tuned.