Five hilarious fashion rules from the 1950’s and 60’s. It is fabulous to live in a time of fashion freedoms. There are still “rules” that people in certain professions are expected to follow, and there are still social norms to be respected (no nudity at the Mall, e.g.). But for the most part, we are free to choose our wardrobes according to our tastes, whims, budgets, and creativity.
One of my hobbies is reading fashion and style books, both modern and vintage. Some of them do provide helpful ideas, like The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees, and How To Get Dressed by Alison Freer. Some are considered classics, like the little paperback style guide Simple Isn’t Easy by Olivia Goldsmith. It’s one of my favorites.
I’ve been reading (and laughing myself silly at times) a 1964 style book: A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antione Dariaux. Ms. Dariaux was the director of style for the haute couture house of Nina Ricci. She no doubt is among the most elegant women in France, and her little book encourages us to follow her example.
It’s a charming read, and I recommend it for enjoyment as well as a few useful style tips, such as what to wear to Black Tie/White Tie/Dinner Party events. The book is infused, however, with the non-feminist sensibilities of its time, and its very serious pronouncements sound hilarious today. There’s also an expectation of the lifestyle of the “upper” class and how that woman goes about daily life: morning tweed suits followed by an afternoon dress, then of course your dinner frock. And the ultimate goal of attracting a fine husband.
Here are a few tidbits of advice from the book, from the time of Father Knows Best and the Leave It To Beaver. Please let us know if you remember any similar “rules” from days gone by:
“Pastel accessories with a city outfit often seem rather insipid”
“The basic minimum coat wardrobe of a well dressed woman [includes] a silk evening coat – more chic than a fur coat, in my opinion, and far more elegant than a fur jacket.”
“After forty you should adopt a simple hairstyle: either short or pinned up in a French roll or a chignon; but never in any case long, glamorous tresses hanging down to your shoulder.”
“It is a good rule never to go shopping for clothes with a girlfriend. Since she is often an unwitting rival as well, she will unconsciously demolish everything that suits you best.”
“It is always good fashion to match: your raincoat, rain hat and umbrella; your dressing gown and bedroom slippers; and your suit blouse and jacket lining.”
Do you remember when the Elegant Woman would never wear white after Labor Day? Are you a committed rule breaker now? 😊
Keep joy in your heart, and stay fabulous, xo,
Here’s some fun pieces to browse, as you make your own rules:
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