I’m aware my last couple of posts have been a little introspective so, hell with it, let’s have a frock-obsessed post for a change.
I have a thing about Forties Fashion. There, said it. As a drab-monger I haven’t changed my look since 1983 (black jeans, black T-shirt, varying levels of swelling/shrinking as fad diet after fad diet either takes effect or causes the reverse in terms of man swellage), but for some reasons the dresses of the 40s have always stirred something deep in me.
As a writer (gratuitous hint that would make sense if I could reveal myself) I have somewhat of an imagination and for a long while I convinced myself that I was reincarnated from a 1940s housewife. It made sense, I had a warm fuzzy craving every time I saw a certain type of frock on film or TV, the way they would pinch in at the waist and flow out, the way the shoulders were pronounced, the sheer femininity and echo of a bygone time when women could be women without fear of attracting the wrong kind of idiot.
I saw BladeRunner as a 14 year old, about six years after discovering my love of female clothing, and I became unhealthily obsessed with the ‘Rachel’ character, played wonderfully robotically by Sean Young before she, err, went off the deep end psychologically. There was something about her look, the crafted hair, the delicate yet pronounced ruby red lipstick and the restrictive nature of her very stylish dress that reached deep inside me and pulled at the soft, pink core rapidly disappearing beneath (temporarily) an odd puberty. The whole look was, well, ravishing.
I craved it. At first I thought I was attracted to the actress but once I saw some other older movies and got a good look at the styles of the forties, well, it wasn’t the actresses.
And it’s stuck with me, the way a piece of music you hear as a child tends to transcend any measure of goodness and become epic. I feel that way about the good old fashioned (sic) look and feel of a proper 1940s tea-dress.
So when Sarah came out of the shadows properly a couple of years back I tended to go for the 1940s retro look a little too eagerly. And, regardless of what retro-lovers would love to be true, it’s not that popular nowadays. The images I put up on Flickr, carefully labelled so as to walk that thin line between titillation and attention-seeking-erotica, get the least interest, likes or comments compared to the modern or just plain slutty/sexy looks, but, to be honest, I love the 1940s looks more than any of the other looks I do.
And I still can’t really fathom why – the feeling is a lot different to the usual effect of whopping on a frock and a face-full of cosmetics. When Sarah goes back in time it feels, well, right. Most of the pictures I do when 1940-ing with Sarah I can’t keep a warm, broad, feminine smile from sticking to my face. It’s actually a genuine thrill when the zip is done up, when the buttons are buttoned, and I can look in the mirror and see a happy 1940s housewife.
And in my mind it is always a housewife, a domesticated goddess who loves her husband, kids, terrible terrace house. Who is happy to clean and cook, who likes nothing more than tying on an apron. All of the things that have become completely frowned upon in the post-feminist PC world we now inhabit.
And maybe that’s another reason for my love of it – I’m being feminine in a way that even women aren’t allowed to do nowadays without being seen as being behind the times, betraying the new freedoms and power they have after the sexual revolution.
Well, I can do it and not offend any post-feminist, other than those who have a beef against the entire T-Community (I’m looking at you Germaine Greer). I can dress and delight in the role of a subservient woman without actually being one, and, as long as I don’t go the full hog of getting the ultimate fashion accessory of a male lover, I’m not hurting anyone. My male ego, what there was of it, has thrown off the shackles of a 1970s upbringing and just goes with the flow nowadays, the old guilt and self-loathing which seemed to highlight the entire 80s and 90s is long dead, replaced by an occasional ‘meh’.
But back to the fashion – there are a few boutiques and fashion houses that do these kind of frocks, luckily catering for the larger ladies as well as those who are petite, so there’s a nice selection for someone who can squeeze into a 16 if they don’t eat for three days in advance, but comfortably fits an 18. British Retro, Viv of Holloway (I *will* do an entire blog-post on my on-going affair via purchase with Vivien Wilson and her amazing frocks), Hell Bunny, Lindy Bop, to name a few, but not many of them get it completely right.
Here’s what does it for me in a 1940s frock, and I can show you a more recent film that got it *absolutely* right. If you haven’t seen ‘Predestination’ stop reading and go watch it, I’d love to tell you how many boxes it ticks in terms of x, y, z but to say anything about the film spoils it. But anyway, part of the film takes place in 1945 and there’s one character, in the film for only two minutes or so, who has the ultimate frock in my opinion.
It’s button up the front, like my beloved green Hostess frock from British Retro, with the wide collar that seems to exaggerate the feminine neck, but combines in with a Bolero style jacket with the highly exaggerated shoulders. Add a floral pattern and, gasp, I’d give various dangly body parts for a frock like that (and, as a bonus, without those said dangly bits I expect the skirt would lie far better). Here’s a picture of it…
See? Oh, just me then….
And here’s me modelling a similar frock.
I *love* those frocks. Yet I still can’t work out why I love them more than any other type of feminine fashion. Maybe I was reincarnated…
Another one that ticks all my boxes in a way I can’t put my finger on is the utterly gorgeous frock that Kim Basinger wears in one scene – everything about it is perfect from my perspective. The Peter Pan collar, silk flowing sleeves, the satin look, just gorgeous. Now that is a frock style I just can’t find anywhere. So I have to stick to daydreaming what it would feel like to sashay across a room in it, maybe a pair of heeled sandals on underneath.
That picture just makes something stir deep in me and I have absolutely no idea why. And it’s a delicious thought to try and recreate it, and the other looks, as a 21st century person of the XY chromosomal variety….
So, I’m off for another session in a couple of weeks – unlike the usual ones I’m giving the amazing Cindy completely ‘dealer’s choice’ on outfits and look for the first day, but the second…. I have a gorgeous luxury taffeta Viv of Holloway tea dress and yes, I will be that 1940s housewife again for a brief, wonderful period.
Stay beautiful and true to yourselves, regardless of what others see as fashion.
One thought on “[Fashion] Fixated on Forties’ Frockage”
Sarah, this is a great insight into your *obsession * with 40“s fashion. 😉 I think that those styles are a type of hyper femininity that we yearn for as we have to spend so much of our time not being able to freely access that feminine side of ourselves. Which I think means that we push the envelope a bit when those opportunities arise. Don’t worry about the Flickrettes. Let them like what they like. And you stay true to your beautiful self.
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