Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Beauty of Just Because

This was going to be a "just style" post, but I'm not very good at that. Instead, I've included some fashion history from the 1940s, and the 1970s into the early 1980s. But, mostly, it's just style, no filter, no cropping.

I'm having a hard time sticking to my resolution to do more "just style" posts. They feel vain, trite, and materialistic. My Quaker, hippie, feminist upbringing fostered such feelings about femininity.  So did the lefty, counter-culture, queer community that continues to be my cultural home in my adult life. When I think more about it, I know that this attitude toward femininity isn't healthy, but it's a hard one to shed.

None of this is helped by the fact that people read my "just style" posts less then they read my "heavier" posts. That might be my fault, though, since I can't bring myself to promote my style posts as much. It's a kind of internalized misogyny, I think, or, if not that exactly, at least an internalized hatred of my femininity. That self-hatred alone is a good enough reason to push myself to write posts about beauty, and to promote them just as much as I promote any of my other posts. After all, my love of beauty helped to keep me alive in a level of child abuse that can and does kill - often. Whatever helped me to survive is something to celebrate!

So, here we go with the pretty stuff, just because.

Dress: ModCloth; Blazer: INC; Shoes: Cobb Hill; Sunglasses: Reitmans; Earrings, brooch, and ring: vintage
This dress feels pretty and grown-up at the same time.

It's soft and fluttery, and looks especially beautiful in motion. Granted, I'm seldom able to be in motion, but there is the wind. It can flutter my dress for me.

With its hem-length, colour scheme, and tailoring, it gives me a 1940s vibe ...

... which I think you can see.

My footwear choice kind of clinches the 1940s feel.

Note the similarity between my dress, and the dress worn by the woman in the bottom right of this 1940s, shoe advertisement. See what I mean?

Photo by Charles W. Chushman
You can see that this woman is wearing similar shoes and a similar hem-length too. 

Mostly, though, I just wanted to show you this great photo of what I think is the lower east side of Manhattan, where much of my Jewish family lived when they first arrived here as refugees from the pogroms. I don't know if any of them were still living there in the 1940s, but I know a lot of them lived there between about 1890 to about 1920.

But I digress. It's hard to stick to this "just fashion" thing!

I think that part of what makes my dress more 1970s and early 80s than 1940s is lightness of the fabric, the darting, and the puffy sleeves ...

... like these blouses from the 1982 Sears catalogue ...

Isabel Sanford in The Jeffersons
... or like Louise Jefferson's dress here. 

See? Not the same but, but definitely similar. 

It's hard to be sure, though, since 1940s style ... 

... was so heavily copied through the 1970s and 1980s, as evidenced in the 1978 Sears catalogue.

Women's blazers were also the rage in both periods.

About 1942.

About 1972? See what I mean? It's redic! (For more on the similarities between the fashions of the two decades, check out The 70s Do the 40s: Fashion History Repeating Itself.)

My blazer isn't as fitted, but it is still tailored for the female body. I'm all for women wearing menswear styles, and sometimes wearing men's clothes works, but, often, clothes tailored for women's frames are more flattering to our figures

Though I think my dress ...

... looks more like office wear, than like dance-hall wear ...

... and the whole, collar-out thing was popular in both the 40s and the 70s ...

... doing this with my collar always makes me think of disco ...

... and polyester leisure suits. Don't you just love this photo? This is yet another batch of long-lost, Jewish relatives I've discovered - in Alabama! From left to right, I'm related to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th people in this photo: three sisters and their brother. And I'm pretty sure I own a pendant just like the one the woman on the far right is wearing. 

But all these historical, fashion allusions aside, what knocked me out most about this dress was the colour scheme.

I like the colour contrasts in the buttons, collar, and waist. And I like the way the wispy purple leaves kind of echo the wispiness of the dress itself. I played up these colours in my lipstick and eye-shadow choices.

Eve Arden and Otto Kruger
The palette of the outfit (and my makeup) is yet another thing that was popular in the 1944s. Feast your eyes on this set from the 1942 movie, Cover Girl. Doesn't it just slay you?

Otto Kruger and Eve Arden again, in Cover Girl, 1944
Here it is again! If I added a pop of teal, and a little beige to my outfit, I'd fit right in.

But I'd say I'm pretty well-coordinated nonetheless. Yes, my bra straps do match my dress. And, yes, my dress does match the flowers. A lot of my friends thinks it's odd or even miraculous that I notice and put energy into things like that. To me, it's natural, easy, and fun, not work. It's as natural as drinking water when I'm thirsty. It's just a thing I do because it's who I am. 

So, while we're sort-of on the topic, let's talk about my accessories. 

The sunglasses? Well, duh! Not only do they match my blazer and the trim on my dress, but they're also in a style that was popular in the 40s. 

As a kid, my grandmother taught me that purples clash with reds, and various reds clash with each other. Sure, this can be true, if, for example, I were to wear a tomato red with a wine red, but, in general, I worry about my grandmother's rule less and less. 

These warm, rich reds, pinks, and purples seem to me to harmonize very nicely. Just for fun, I'm trying to branch out and wear more greens and bold colour combinations, but I do wear this warm combination a lot. I guess I think it's flattering on me.

So, it was my garnet and gold earrings ...

... with my ruby, diamond, and gold ring. Notice that rubies can be much pinker than garnets, which have a browner undertone to them. I do prefer the rubies, but my wallet does not!

I don't think that the difference is that noticeable unless you look at the two pieces side-by-side, and, even then, I wouldn't say they exactly clash. What do you think?

When my no-goodnik father died, and left me an entirely unexpected inheritance, I bought this ring as a bit of an "F You" to the man who abandoned me to abuse so heinous, I'm crippled for life. I knew he would have hated the ring. And I knew I loved it. Petty? Not as much as it is healing, and I wear it a lot, not for revenge, but just because it's so pretty and matches so much of what I wear.

I really don't know much about this vintage brooch. I just liked it so I bought it. I think it's poured resin, but I'm not sure. It's pinker than it looks here.

This gives you a better sense of its colours. 

Personally, I think a brooch is always a classy touch, and a nice homage to the women who came before us. 

My Quaker grandmother, in a dress similar to mine, wearing one of her beloved brooches. I'm thrilled that I've managed to find the same brooch in both gold-tone and silver-tone. 
My Quaker and Jewish grandmothers were very different, but they both loved their brooches.

Incidentally, and even further off topic, I love this spot love for its unexpected contrast between lovely, green, domesticity, and inner city grit. Just a few steps away, there's a very popular, noisy pub. On the corner, you'll find what Beau and I call "The Mall," where local folks, many of them street people and/or drug addicts, sell this and that, including stuff they've found in the trash. A lot of drug deals go down nearby. That bridge you can see is part of one of the largest transit hubs in the city, and the intersection of several bus lines, and two major elevated (above-ground subway) lines. The street intersection itself is also one of the busiest in the city. Thousands of people pass through this area every day.

And yet, here I am, a literal stone's throw away, peaceful and quiet, in a residential neighbourhood drenched with flowers and neighbourly feeling. I know; Beau used to live a few houses down from here.

That is Canada for you. Our cities, even our biggest cities, have real neighbourhoods, yards, parks, local shops... even in their cores, especially in their cores. When I lived in New York City, I thought I'd die just to see a blade of grass, even in a schoolyard! 

By contrast, here, there's a local raven who often sits right on the top of the elevated station, crowing about how this land is still his. By golly, it is!

It's good for the soul ...

... even when the body has had enough. This was a high pain day for me.

On days like these, it's a victory if I get out of the house at all, let alone manage to pose for photos, and get out of the car and walk around a little to pose for them. 

But these flowers! And my dress! Together!

For me, it was worth it. Is that mere vanity? Mere materialism? Mere feminine frivolity? 

So f*cking what if it is! It got me out of the house, didn't it? 

It got me moving! And that is not easy for me!

Applause, please?

Thank you.

And then I return to my quiet little home, as beautifully decorated...

... as I am! Just because.


  1. You should definitely share your "just style" posts too! It's not just style. It's beauty and hope.

    I am deeply envious of your oxfords! They're so cute and there's nothing like a good pair of oxfords to help frame a vintage look.