Monday, January 26, 2015

Word of the Week - 47

Once it was all about petticoats.
Word of the Week:  HARKEN

Usually what we love has been what we loved since childhood, or nearly.  Pinterest allows me to harken back to fashion inspiration from the 1950s, particularly anything involving net or tulle.  Once we wore petticoats.

My influence is not just from, as they were sometimes called, crinolines, but also a lavender ballet dress my mother made for a recital.  Being one of the older and taller students at the Metcalf School of Ballet and Tap, my gown was "ballet" length, defined as mid-calf or just above the ankle.  I have no idea how many layers went into the skirt, only that they were multiple.  It floated, twirled and seemed the epitome of grace.  In contrast, petticoats had to be starched regularly.  Without starching they wouldn't have pouffed our skirts out to there but instead just hung inert from their elastic waists making us look bulky instead of cute. Cute was the bull's eye at which we all, boys and girls, aimed.

Until they went out of fashion, perhaps around 1960, I used to starch my petticoats in a galvanized wash tub on the driveway.  Once starched, each had to be dried, usually clipped to a skirt or pants hanger, suspended from something in the garage.  When dry, they could stand on their own.  I believe my usual number of them was three.  Eventually they grew too old to hold a starching so they either had to be replaced or added to.  I bought them with my allowance at the W. T. Grant dime store in downtown Pasadena.  They had the best prices.
Now we get to wear our lingerie on the outside.
Pinterest enlightened me about tulle skirts as appropriate outerwear.  The fact that I haven't yet joined this trend doesn't mean I won't.  With encouragement from ADVANCED STYLE, we women of a certain age find it possible to consider fashion choices to which, at times not so long past, no harkening would have been allowed.
That the skirts are often shown topped by what could have been the height of bad-girl style in the late 50s, a cardigan sweater buttoned up the back (!), makes it feel like deja vu, as though I'd left the house without a real skirt over the petticoats.
Those things which please or entice us most seem to be etched onto our hearts.  Anything from playing with puppets to keeping track of things in pocket-sized notebooks or hyperventilating over frothy yard goods gives us dimension, authenticity, and honors early passions.  It is not nostalgia, it is consistency.


Kathleen said...

LOVE the harkening here! And the sample fashion statements.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kathleen - Thank you. There seems to be quite a bit of harkening going on around here. Is it shallow to find net and tulle so enchanting? We are who we are. Good to see you. xo

Kass said...

I'm totally with you on this one. Love all items from my past (and beyond).

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - Yes, and beyond. My sister and I regularly sigh over the not-yet-operational time machine that would make all things possible. xo

Radish King said...

I love all of this. My petticoats were starched with sugar and I still have two skirt hangers!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Rebecca - The delight of frou-frou, thank you. What a knack you have for preservation, still having two skirt hangers. I remember them exactly (wooden) but that's as close as I get. xo