Friday, April 5, 2019

OOTD: On Dress Clips, 1940s Fashion, and my Bubbe Body

Again, dear readers, a "just fashion" post. Just a simple dress, and a magnificent, vintage, dress clip. Okay, not just that. Also: some little flights of fancy, a diamond or two, and a bit of 1940s, fashin history. 

That's all.

Dress: Old Navy; Shoes: Ecco; Dress clip and earrings: vintage; Pinkie ring: heirloom
This simple, Old Navy dress appeals to me because it's a very comfortable, jersey knit that doesn't pinch, grab, or tug anywhere. But I also like it because it has a slightly retro vibe to it.

Guests at a wedding, 1947
Specifically, its shape reminds me of "ration fashion." During and after World War II, many things were rationed, including cloth. People had less fabric with which to make clothing, and this led to cleaner lines, shorter hems, and simpler designs.

The resulting fashion trends were, in my opinion, some of the best and most flattering of the 20th Century.

Though made of knit fabric, rather than woven fabric, I think my dress is reminiscent of those 1940s fashions. I added to that retro feel by wearing my hair in a twisted bun. 

Me, at about 32. From What I Won't Wear, and What I Will Wear Instead
If I'd really wanted to emulate the 40s, I would have had a big, curly pompadour too, and my hair can do that, but it's such a bother. I'd rather allude to fashions past, than kill myself in my efforts to perfectly copy them.

But my dress clip? It's the real deal, straight out of the 1940s, and I love it. To be honest, I wore this dress just to show off my clip. I planned the outfit around the clip. That's not unusual for me.

I made this photo black and white because all my colour photos of the clip make it look yellow, which it isn't in real life.

You can see its actual colour (or lack thereof) in this little side view. 

My clip is a perfect example of what is now called Retro jewelry. It arrived on the scene in the late 1930s, at the tail end of Art Deco's reign, and is characterized by chunky loops, juxtaposed with moments of angularity. 

I think you can see both in my clip. Beau bought it for me on the spur of the moment. It was a pretty good deal: $40. Dress clips usually came in pairs, and collectors want to find them in pairs today, but they're hard to find. As a result, they're much cheaper if they've lost their mate and are sold singularly. If you want the dress clip pain in the Coro ad above, complete with the original bar that turns them into a single clip...

You can find these here.
You'll have to shell out over $200. 

Carole Lombard, 1940s
To me, part of why dress clips are so wonderful is that they're so versatile. They were probably most often worn as Carole Lombard is wearing her Retro, dress clips here. 

From Ration Fashion: A Wartime Dress
And I've worn them this way often. It immediately adds a level of authenticity to any 1930s or 40s inspired outfit.

From Healing from Sexual Abuse: 26 Things that Work for Me
But I've also worn them like this, holding up a skirt that I was wearing as a dress on a very hot day. This dress clip pair are by Trifari, circa 1930s, and I'm very proud of them.

Bette Davis
But wait, there's more! A good, retro clip can also be worn at the point of a v-neck. 

It's a grand decoration for a woman's decolletage. It's also a great way to hold a neckline together so you're not showing too much bra, or too much cleavage. 

I really struggled with whether or not to show you this photo of me. I'll be honest: I hate my chin. My chin and my belly are my two, low self-esteem obsessions lately.

My own great bubbe (great-grandmother), Golda, with two grandchildren. From Self-Respect, Gold, and Golda
I feel that, together, they erase me as a sexy, young thing, and turn me into a comfortable old bubbe, the kind who gives great, full-bosomed hugs to grandchildren, but can no longer be called beautiful in anyone's mind. 

This vision of myself may or may not be accurate, but it's how I feel about myself. I tell you this mostly so you know that, if you have insecurities about your body and appearance, you're not the only one, not by a long shot.

The other thing I think when I see this photo is: "My God, I look so much like my father!"

My father, somewhere around 75
I think I got my chin from him (while, in turn, he got it from his bubbe Golda). Unlike him, I can't hide it under a beard. 

I got my hair from him too, but he lost it. He hated that as much as I hate my chin. Life happens. Aging happens.

Bette Davis stealing the scene in Perry Mason, 1963
While we're on the subjects of aging, and Bette Davis (remember her? a few photos up with the dress clip accenting her decolletage), late one recent night, I watched her absolutely steal the show in a 1963 episode of Perry Mason. Her acting, her power, her very presence were all so riveting that I completely forgot to follow the plot. Ask me about who did it, and I can't tell you. Ask me about her side-eye, and I could write an ode. 

I guess getting older has its benefits.

Back to my outfit. Since I was alluding to the 1940s, and since my outfit was based in cool tones, I decided to wear my grandmother's platinum and diamond engagement ring, from 1936. It's simple, but very typical of Art Deco design. I love it. 

I wonder how my grandmother felt about aging. She never talked about it. She did often tell me that I was pretty and that it was important that I not get a "swell head" about it. Quaker lady that she was, she felt that vanity was to be avoided. 

My grandma, back row, centre, and her brothers and sisters, in the 1920s. My great-grandmother is the grey haired woman on the right. Note that she too has my chin.
Even so, my grandmother permitted herself the vanity of caring about her height: She was 5'10" in the 1920s, and she hated it. That's her, wearing the string of pearls in the back. My grandfather was 5'8", and Grandma always bent her knees in her photos with him, so she'd look shorter and he'd look taller. Yes, she even did this in wedding photos! 

We all have our insecurities about our appearance, don't we? Grandma always envied my petite frame. I still envy her tall, slender elegance.

Grandma's diamond was the first diamond I ever owned. I was hooked! But, of course, it means far more to me than a "mere" diamond. When I wear it, I think of her, and of my grandfather, and of their love story. In a childhood filled with abuse and neglect, these two were the only steady, loving adults in my life.

And that's the end of my post, my rambling ruminations on an outfit ...

... except for this curl. I saved this curl for the end just because it's cute. I like it. Something I like about my appearance! We should cherish such things instead of dwelling on the things we don't like. Such is my unoriginal wisdom for the day. 

Over and out.

(I'm sharing this with Not Dressed As Lamb, Style Nudgeand Not Dead Yet Style.)


  1. I recently discovered your blogs and I'm enjoying them!

  2. Dear Charlotte, I am once again so moved by your story and honesty, thank you very much. I always read your blog since many years and if there was not an ocean between us (I live in Germany) I would like to meet you "in real life". Your writing and your pictures touch my heart. Juliane