The Exquisite and the Everyday – Fashion in History

I love, love, love the history of clothing. There’s nothing more fascinating to me than poring over the many reprints of catalogs and “history of X fashions” books I have in my personal library. And to go to a museum or exhibit of that type of thing? Well, you might as well leave me and come back in a few days, when I will no doubt still be standing in front of that dress and trying to imprint every last detail of that lace yoke or that embroidered sleeve detail in my brain.

Which is really funny, when you realize that I flunked home ec (yes, that IS possible–the jumper that I sewed was so out of proportion it could have been its own movie monster, and we won’t even talk about the cooking part of the class) and I can’t even sew a button onto a shirt without messing it up.

But it’s not the construction of the clothes that fascinates me (beyond the unstinting respect and envy I have for someone who can whip up such gorgeous creations), as much as the idea that here is a genuine piece of another era, something that a real person, just like me (well, except thinner–it’s nearly impossible to find plus-size vintage clothing, darn it all) wore 40, or 75, or 100 years ago. It’s a tangible window into the past worlds I would give anything to be able to visit (someone, invent that time machine, stat!).

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s an exquisite 19th century confection from The House of Worth or a house dress from Sears and Roebuck. All the people who inhabited these garments, and the lives they lived, are fascinating to me.

You know, I’m so in love with the past that it occurred to me as I’m writing this–why don’t I write historical fiction? Maybe because I’m just learning, and contemporary stories are easier for me at the moment. But who knows? Maybe that’s coming down the line.

But until my historical sagas choose to appear on my laptop screen, enjoy the fascinating videos at the link below. From mode.com, they show 100 years of women’s fashion, men’s fashion, wedding dresses, lingerie, and men’s swimsuits.

And maybe do a little fun musing of your own about the lives of the women and men who would have worn these lovely, dapper, and (I’m looking at you, 1965 and 1975) funky creations.

100 Years of Fashion — Times Five

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