This week has been a crazy, but wonderful, time for Spirits of Fashion. With the Downton Abbey Season 6 in full swing, I have been conducting presentations on Fashions of Downton Abbey to quite a few public library audiences. I never tire of talking about any fashion period, but the fashions of Downton Abbey are particularly popular at present, since it is this fabulous program’s final season.
That said, we must not forget some of our old favorites, such as Mad Men. I am particularly enthralled with this era, partly due to the beautiful fashion but, also, because it reminds me of my childhood. I remember listening to my parents and their friends as they enjoyed cocktails and laughter in our small Cape Cod-style house. Although I was supposed to be sleeping, who could possibly doze off with all of the noise coming from the floor below? I wanted to be part of this fascinating, glamorous social scene but, alas, I was far too young. I think that is why, even today, I revel in the opportunity to wear clothing and accessories from the 1950s and early ’60s, especially when it involves enjoying cocktails with friends and family. There simply was something so elegant about wearing a brocade dress, silky stockings, heels, and carrying a sparkly clutch. Wearing vintage jewelry of the period, such as a glittery brooch, necklace, earrings, or all three just adds to the glamour of the occasion. I know that I have better posture when wearing clothing from this period, especially when wearing a modern day version of the “girdle.” Many of these older fabrics require foundation garments to form the desired silhouette. Fabrics did not have the “give” that modern fabrics sometimes have, so we may need assistance in order to achieve the appropriate fit.
In a recent presentation on “Cocktail Culture: The Mad Men Era” at Tiverton Public Library, I did wear a brocade dress, a sweater, and a hat from the period. I enjoy dressing the part for these presentations, because it helps me to connect with that time period, and the audience seems to enjoy the fashion. However, I am well aware that most people do not wish to appear as if they are in “costume” on a daily basis. For those of you who would love to include vintage clothing and accessories into your wardrobe, but are afraid of looking like a walking anachronism, I suggest that you start with one piece of clothing or an accessory and incorporate that piece into a modern ensemble. For example, the cashmere sweater with fur collar that I am wearing here could be worn over a modern dress or with a t-shirt and jeans.
Another option is simply to begin with a vintage accessory, such as a beautiful handbag from the 1950s, which will add glamour to any modern outfit, no matter how casual. The best part is that no one will have the same bag, as it now is “one of a kind.” Everyone will ask you where you got that fabulous piece!
All in all, it comes down to personal taste, but do experiment with fashion in a new and fun way in 2016. It will take your personal style to a new level and may even teach you a thing or two about yourself. Getting dressed should be fun, so plan to add a little zing to your wardrobe and reinvent yourself. Life is too short to play it safe!