Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on April 5, 2014
Why Don’t We Dress Up Anymore?
I love dressing up! I like to put time into my appearance and feel presentable when I go out of the house, but sadly most people today don’t agree with me. In fact, I finally stopped asking about dress codes last year because I was tired of being told, “Oh, you know, just wear whatever.” Well, my goodness – “whatever” sounds like a simply lovely thing to wear to that party! Or what about the time I was going to an important business meeting a while back and I was instructed that I should wear (and I quote) “jeans and a top” to be introduced to this important person? Whatever happened to trying to make a good impression? Whatever happened to showing people you care enough about them to dress up, or that you at least have enough respect for yourself to put on something that shows you care about your job, your position, or whatever it is you’re doing? I get rather tired of being the only girl at church who is wearing a dress, and I think it’s sad that this culture has lost so much dignity that we just honestly don’t care one bit what we look like. The pervading attitude seems to be, “Why should I get out of my sweatpants to go to a function when they are so comfortable?” (Yes, I’ve heard that reply before.) Well, I’m all for comfort, but is that really the number one priority when it comes to our lives? Are we all a bunch of grown-up little kids who need our clothing to feel like soft and cuddly teddy bears in order to not have an “uncomfortable” day?
Most of you know that I don’t believe in wearing “blah” sorts of clothes. You know, grey sweatpants, baggy t-shirts, flip flops…. No, those things are not my friends. I detest ugly clothing with a passion. It never ceases to astonish me that people actually pay money to own some of the threadbare garments of today, and that they still somehow think they’re being fashionable! The phrase “casual chic” is sometimes used as an excuse for hole-y jeans, unraveling fabrics, and moppy hairstyles. The sad thing is that frumpiness is so extremely common in our culture that in general we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. It has become a common occurrence to see a 40-something year old lady grocery shopping in her gym clothes, a mother of toddlers dashing about town in leggings and her husband’s t-shirt, and teenage girls walking down the street in such small amounts of fabric that I fear for their safety. – When I was a toddler, my mama taught me that big girls put clothes on before they leave the house, I don’t know about yours! LOL!
All kidding aside though, I feel sad when I see people who live their whole lives in such a hurry that they never take time to really dress up! One does not need a grand occasion or an invitation from the queen in order to put on a pretty dress and some lipstick before they leave the house. Simply waking up is a good enough reason to be in a happy mood every morning and let your attire reflect that mood by putting some effort into your appearance!
Merely being a lady is a good enough excuse to spend 15 minutes doing your makeup and a few minutes choosing a flattering outfit for the day. Every girl or woman is so special and precious, and you deserve the time it takes to feel pretty every day!
In days gone by, ladies spent a large amount of time in the morning at their dressing tables, whether it was the in beruffled days of Victorian times, or in the more glamorous decade of the 1950s. The early morning routine was a time to get ready for the day ahead ~ to apply makeup, coiuf the hair, and don lovely clothing and jewelry before you were “fit to be seen”.
I know that many people dress up only for rare occasions, but here are several thoughts I’ve had over the last few years:
(The dress shown above is what I’m wearing today as I write this post.)
When you look nice, you will FEEL nice!
- If your appearance looks terrible (no makeup, frumpy clothes, etc.), you are more likely to feel terrible! It’s just hard to think positive, happy thoughts when you look in the mirror and see something you don’t like.
- Dressing up is always a good idea!
- Dressing up makes people happier when they see you! I couldn’t possibly count all the times that the lady at the grocery store or someone at the post office has smiled and said, “Oh! I love your dress!” (Or lipstick, etc.)
- When you dress up, you are automatically treated with much more respect. Wearing something professional, classy, or fashionable and tasteful makes people think more highly of you than if you came to the store in, say, your pajamas for instance.
- If you *look* like an important person, people will usually treat you like an important person.
Wearing Classy Clothing
As a little girl, I remember sitting on the living floor in my grandparent’s house and playing with toys while my mom and grandma sat on the couch going through old family pictures from the last thirty odd years. Aside from the general remarks about, “Oh, how she’s grown” that you might expect, the majority of the comments were sprinkled with giggles and moans and remarks such as, “Oh, that DRESS! It’s hideous!” “I can’t believe we used to wear shorts like those.” “Can you believe that they thought that was pretty?”
And then my mother randomly made a comment that has stuck with me for the rest of my life. She said, “But you know, someday people will look back at the pictures of what we’re wearing today and probably think the same thing.“
And you know what? She was right! In the early 90s women’s wardrobes consisted of those dreadful stirrup leggings, oversized t-shirts, neon colors, frumpy flat loafer shoes with tassels, and lots and lots of jumpers. (Jumpers, by the way, are probably my least-favorite article of clothing EVER.) Just an FYI – LOL!
~ Elegance is Always in Style ~
But no matter how hideous an outfit was at any time in history, you can be pretty sure that the long haired hippie or the bobbed haired flapper who wore it thought she was awfully cool at the time when she wore it. So here’s my point – we must choose clothes that are BEAUTIFUL, and not just trendy! There HAVE been decades of clothing when no one could ever look back and say “That was ugly”, because nearly all of the clothing from that era was designed with class, taste, and elegance! No one could POSSIBLY say that Grace Kelly’s wedding dress was out-of-date, that Lily Elsie’s lace gowns were unbecoming, that Queen Victoria’s ball gowns were unflattering, or that Lucille Ball’s 1950s day dresses were ugly. Because you know what? All of these ladies’ outfits were designed in such gorgeous styles and fabrics, with such classiness and elegance in the cut and fit, that at no point in history could they ever be considered unattractive or overdone. It *IS* entirely possible to choose such lovely and timeless clothing for today that even in twenty years from now people won’t shudder and say, “That was SO 20-teens!” just like we say, “That was SO 1980s!” about perms and oversized pouffy sleeves nowadays.
So what styles can we choose to wear today that will always be as classy and beautiful as possible? My motto is: “Elegance is always in style!” Here are some observations I’ve made:
- As a general rule, romantic and feminine styles will always be beautiful, no matter the decade. Stick with truly beautiful and flattering styles whenever possible!
- Lace - Lace blouses, skirts and dresses are almost always beautiful. Yes, Gunne Sax dresses can still be dated to the 70s, but most of them are still gorgeous even if they aren’t the latest fashion. Lace is probably one of the most elegant fabrics of all time, so you really can’t go wrong with lace, as long as it’s not in a bizarre color.
- Ruffles – I have yet to see a ruffled blouse from any era that I didn’t absolutely adore! Many modern takes on the Edwardian shirtwaist (think Anne of Avonlea), have resulted in gorgeous, ladylike versions of office-attire blouses. Ruffles at the neck, down the center, and at the wrists are just dazzling, and when I look at all the ruffled blouse patterns from the last 40 years they are almost all still classy and gorgeous.
- Defined, natural waistlines – When in doubt, always choose a natural waistline over a dropped waist dress! The “hourglass” silhouette is SO much more becoming than “tent” shaped silhouette. The most beautiful decades of fashion history all had the same thing in common – the cinched waistline. Empire waistlines *can* be pretty when done right, but they oftentimes tend to suggest pregnancy so they are usually best avoided unless you’re wearing a Regency costume.
- Classy colors – White, Creams, ivories, golds, peach, soft pink, mauve, dusty rose, bright red, sapphire blue, periwinkle, aqua, silver, forest green, lavender, royal purple, chocolate brown, jet black, etc., are colors that *usually* stand the test of time and are often found in some of the most beautiful vintage clothing. However, some of the more abstract or “avant garde” colors are not going to be flattering on most people, unless that person wants to look like a clown – Neon yellows, bright orange, lime green, etc, will only be “in” for certain seasons and then will be “out” again in a hurry.
- Dainty prints – Polka dots and dainty floral prints have almost always been in fashion. Large oversized prints on fabrics are perhaps one of the biggest threats to clothing today. I see *so* many outfits pinned on Pinterest where I think, “Well, that maxi skirt would be fine if it wasn’t covered with the most horrible chevron print in teal blue and bright orange…”. Honestly, I have been shocked at the outfit pins that many girls I follow have pinned (even girls who are into vintage clothing!), and that they usually add these pins to “Beautiful Clothing” boards. Not to be unkind to anyone, but a sloppy mustard colored sweater over a red and aqua chevron striped dress is not pretty today, nor will it ever be pretty in the future! We must make sure that we are choosing clothes that are truly lovely and tasteful, and not just because “It looks like the outfit that such-and-so wore on the front of a magazine.”
- Tasteful, modest styles – I believe that dresses look prettier when skirts are not above the knees, when necklines are high enough to not show off things that should be kept private, and when dresses have cap sleeves or at least very wide straps to ensure they will stay on. Today’s mindset seems to be, “The less fabric you wear, the more attention you will get.” But honestly, there are a lot of dangerous people out there nowadays (believe me!), and it is just a lot safer and more appropriate to wear a beautiful outfit that doesn’t show cleavage or bare thighs. Think of the classy and fabulously elegant day dresses worn by Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Lucille Ball – did you know that *almost* all of those dresses were extremely modest? You don’t have to wear a low neckline or cinch your skirt up to look beautiful or attractive!
- Boleros – I LOVE boleros! They are so effortlessly elegant and flattering. You can wear a simple knit one over any a casual dress, or a sparkly one over an evening gown. The shorter cut of boleros makes them so much more becoming on most women than longer jackets.
- Circle skirts – Yes, I know these are very “1950s”, but they are some of the classiest articles of clothing ever. Toss on a sweater or a knit top with one, add some flats or high heels, and you’re likely to be the best-dressed lady in your town!
- Pearls! – Small or large, white or ivory, single or double strand, I doubt whether any decade passed without pearl necklaces and earrings making their mark. Pearls are really the ultimate go-to accessory to keep on hand.
- Hats – Some may argue that hats come and go (and this is true), but hats are still extremely elegant and beautiful. Don’t be too shy to don a hat for a wedding or even “just because”!
- Nylons/Tights! – I’m not as good at wearing tights as often as I should, but if you’re wearing a dress that isn’t super long it will look SO much classier and more polished if you wear tights. Nylons are for your feet and legs what foundation and powder is for your face. Keep several spare pairs on hand in case you get a run in them!
It *is* a lot harder than it should be to find classy, modest, and feminine clothes nowadays, but I have found lots of gorgeous options that are now on my Pinterest board called “Feminine Fashion for Today” which hopefully is a good collection of ideas for people who are trying to find things to wear.
So now that I’ve elaborated on what exactly I mean when I say “dressing up”, let me encourage you to dress up on a regular basis! Nowadays people usually only dress up for weddings and funerals, but it really shouldn’t take some life-shattering event to make people look respectable, right? Those of us who really take the time to dress up may find ourselves as the “odd ones out”, but if enough of us start taking a stand against frumpiness it will start becoming the norm, rather than the exception. So next time you plan on heading out somewhere, don’t even think of driving off in your workout clothes! Put on some lipstick (red, please), toss on a dress, pull out your pearls, and arrive at a look you can smile at when you see yourself in the mirror! Sooner or later you will find that the rewards of looking and feeling classy are far greater than those of feeling cozy!