Tuesday, 1 June 2010

What We Covet, Then and Now

After raving about women's ability to choose what they want to wear at a given time despite economic (or other) trends, I grabbed the latest Harper's Bazaar yesterday and couldn't help but wonder where trends come from. I have been looking at 1950s shapes for a while now, and bought a second hand leather circle skirt back in November last year. Little did I know then that 1950s was one of the trends for this coming fall, but there I was, months ago, grabbing stuff similar to what Louis Vuitton would be showing on the runways in February this year.

Trends are confusing. I have stopped following them aggressively ages ago, but I notice that they slowly but surely slip their way into my wardrobe anyway, sometimes even before they become trends, as the 1950s stuff would indicate. I have also been crazy about prints and colours for a while now. I'd like to think that my fascination with them has come from my fellow bloggers and Chris (who truly is the master of mixing stripes and plaid). Even though I haven't set my foot in a "proper" clothing store for a while, I have seen tons of prints in Salvation Army. I have seen them on other people, and in current fashion magazines. I have seen 1950s shapes in old books and magazines I have browsed.

In Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lecter tells Agent Starling that we begin to covet the things we see every day. I think there is a lot of truth to this, but it doesn't mean that we don't have a choice in the matter. I see that kitten heels and pointy shoes are an up-and-coming trend alongside minimalism, but at least for now, I don't see myself getting into them even if I was exposed to them more - I am done squishing my toes into pointy shoes for the sake of my feet, and there are only so many things one's eyes can find pleasing at one time. I guess the key is to wear what one falls in love with, trendy or not.

This is what Life Magazine had us covet in 1952 (and after having seen this photo a few days ago, I desperately want a ponytail):

In 1953:

In 1958:

And this is Harper's Bazaar today:

As you can tell, I am not exactly looking fashionable today. I opted for comfort instead. I bought the blouse yesterday at Salvation Army since I was in desperate need of summer tops.

Blouse: second hand / Salvation Army
Shorts: Benetton sample sale
Necklace: JBL


Sal said...

Leave it to you to work a "Silence of the Lambs" quote into a post about trends! But you're right: Trends seep into our consciousness silently, and we suddenly want the strangest things.

Shallow Mallow said...

Well said :-)

I don't make any effort to keep up with trends but they still seep their way into my consumerist brains (usually I wear it just before it is fashionable or if I take a while to warm up to the idea a little while after. Hell, I just got a boater a year late!) So much for media saturation.

Modesty is Pretty said...

Kitten hills are coming back? well I was just thinking about getting rid of one pair but I guess I'll keep it just to see. I used to buy magazines by the tons and bought tons of clothes inspired by the looks in the magazines,however I seldom wear those clothes, they are cute but they are not me. Just yesterday I tried to clean up my closet and took out stuff that I don't love,I have decided I will only wear clothes that make me feel happy and try not to follow trends that don't, maybe I'll try some trends as long as I can make them mine. 50's won't be hard because that's my favorite decade so I'm excited and looking forward to wearing my usual clothes and being "in" hehe =)

Anonymous said...

I don't keep up with trends (well, except for makeup-- I don't know why, but I'm much more aware of color trends in makeup.) But anyway, although I do a lot of thrifting and sewing, I do every now and then go shopping for new clothes. Even in "classic" or plain styles, I often notice subtle changes in the silhouettes. For example, t-shirts will get just slightly longer or shorter, closer fitted or less fitted, fabrics will get slightly thicker or thinner, etc. Those are the trends that I try to be aware of, because I think they can make the difference between modern or dowdy.

Charlotte said...

This explains why I have a certain craving for a pair of ankle boots with the toes cut out....which I would not in a million years wear because the 4-inch heels would cripple me for life.

Eyeliah said...

lol, I was reflecting on the SotL quote as well :-) I'm trying to stop pattern mixing now that it is so trendy, I am sure I initially picked it up from bloggers.

tigerteacher said...

Sometimes I wonder if the the opposite can also be true, or becomes true eventually as our eyes tire of the same things. It sometimes seems as if the Next Big Thing is like a reaction to fatigue from the Last Big Thing.