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 Post subject: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 25 May 2018, 13:44 
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I've been re-reading Princess, and was amused by the line about Prince Cosimo being known as one of the best-dressed men in Europe, hanging around in Monte Carlo and Paris and Vienna during the 1920s. Shame about his unfortunate habit of kidnapping people: he sounds much more fun than most of the other CS men do :lol: . EBD really doesn't seem to've been keen on people who were fashionable: I think Mrs Carrick is described as being "fashionably-dressed". Presumably it was a sign of vanity and decadence :lol: .

Surely the CS people didn't all go around wearing Country Casuals type stuff, though? Or did they? "Trig" and "fresh" seem to be used a lot more than "elegant" or the dreaded "fashionable".

Or maybe it's better to be "trig" rather than fashionable, so you don't end up cringing when you look back 30 years later at the pictures of yourself with clothes and hairstyles that seemed brilliant at the time but look horrendous now :D?

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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 25 May 2018, 14:24 
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Interesting question. I wonder if it's down to the time and her audience.

In the first half of the 20th century, it was the younger adults who tended to be the fashionable ones. Once you were considered middle-aged, which I think tended to be younger than it is now, there was an unwritten dress code that it would have taken a very strong woman to flout. (When I look at what I wear, compared to what women of my age would have been wearing in the 1950s, there's a world of difference.)

The very nature of the books also meant that EBD was writing pretty much exclusively about children, teachers and married adults, so there was never really a place for writing about characters in that period between leaving school and settling down, when fashion would have played a much larger part in their lives.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 25 May 2018, 15:01 
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Annied wrote:
...there was an unwritten dress code that it would have taken a very strong woman to flout.


Or a moderately wealthy one! I think it was then as now a matter of social class, and the Vanderbilts or the Spencers would have been looking fashionable well into middle age - or what was then seen as middle age, as you say.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 25 May 2018, 22:38 
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Did Yseult want to be "fashionable" - can't remembervexactly but something similar


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 06:53 
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ivohenry wrote:
Did Yseult want to be "fashionable" - can't remembervexactly but something similar


I think she wanted the uniform to be 'picturesque'?


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 08:48 
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I find I get a very distinct idea of what EBD approves of in terms of personal style, even though I'm not all that familiar with fashions in the 30s-50s. I get an overall impression of solidly middle class respectability. Trig, fresh and dainty are definitely good things, being too sophisticated, fashionable or concerned with appearance is bad, but so is being untidy, sloppy or unconcerned with your appearance.

Approved fashion: Dainty frocks, either in solid colours or a floral patterns, ideally decorated with hand-embroidery. Skirts with either a simple blouse (and maybe blazer) or a twin-set. Big, shady hats that match your outfit. Very minimal jewelry, mostly of the dainty wristwatch or simple circlet of pearls variety. Short skirts appropriate only if gym tunics on school-girls. Slacks okay for rambling/gardening but not otherwise. Hair long and put up, or in a curly 'bubbles crop' bob.

Not approved: shiny fabrics, sequins, excessive lace or ornamentation, low necklines, strapless dresses, high skirts, anything particularly form fitting, flashy jewelry, makeup, perms, nail polish. Anything trendy, anything that makes a political statement, anything connected to popular music or movies.

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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 09:06 
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Also disapproved was the Yseult-style picturesque mentioned above, as also seen in Mr Denny, with floppy collar and long hair. EBD clearly didn't like that whole wafty, artsy scene. (I'd say "Bloomsbury" but I don't think she was against the intellectual side of it?)

Editing to say: Mr Denny himself is clearly a sympathetic character; it's his style that gets the authorial snubbing.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 10:23 
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jennifer wrote:


Not approved: shiny fabrics, sequins, excessive lace or ornamentation, low necklines, strapless dresses, high skirts, anything particularly form fitting, flashy jewelry, makeup, perms, nail polish. Anything trendy, anything that makes a political statement, anything connected to popular music or movies.


Not approved = Joan Baker.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 11:32 
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I think also thrift being important. Clothes to be worn until they are fit for dusters - experience of Make Do And Mend here. Everything must be 'scrupulously clean.' Jo once says that she is not comfortable in completely new clothes, so this too must be EBD's view and why one should not be too keen on clothes. The irony being that EBD often looked a mess, wore badly made clothes and held up torn underwear with safety pins - according to her acquaintances.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 12:44 
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And homemade / handmade is better than shop bought.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 26 May 2018, 17:04 
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"Fashionable" is frequently used (not just by EBD) as shorthand to indicate a number of undesirable traits.

It indicates a preoccupation with worldly things, specifically superficial matters over substance.
Fashion is inherently wasteful of resources.
The time and effort spent on being fashionable is taken from other, more important, things such as caring for your children.

It might also be considered as an "occasion of sin", the thin end of the wedge that leads you into immorality. Being fashionable brings you into contact with people who have poor moral values (as with Prince Cosimo) and with the temptations of drink, drugs and sex.

EBD does allow that it is possible to avoid the downside. Evadne is described as "very chic" in "Joey Goes" and we are told in one of the earlier books that Deira hasn't changed despite being Presented and going to balls (presumably doing the Season)


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 28 May 2018, 06:29 
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I think fashionable in the sense of keeping up with the trends is considered undesirable e.g. Joan Baker and her famous scarlet dress, when Betty and co. try weezers and nail varnish etc. but beinf stylish/ well-dressed is approved.
For example, we have OOAO showing off her "new kit", Joey and her hat band trick, Peggy giving Edna style advice, the Ted makeover etc. Sloppy dressing is frowned upon, "well-cut", "well-arranged" (by French fingers!) is good. Thus looking presentable is important, but keeping up with latest fashions is not. However, there are occasions when someone who is considered old-fashioned (e.g. Gerry, Polly) etc. have their wardrobe brought up to date.
Moreover, the school uniform is updated and (in EBD's eyes) is seen as quite stylish- so maybe being old-fashioned/ out-dated is also not a good thing? This suggests that being relatively fashionable was a good thing...
Given the details we are given on appearances, clothes, uniforms, the horror at Ruey's lack of style/ underwear etc. I think clothes and style *were* important to EBD, as long as being fashionable didn't make you cheap/vulgar/superficial.

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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 28 May 2018, 10:09 
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I'm sure I read somewhere that EBD was a heavy smoker and a lot of her clothes had cigarette ash on them. Is this stylish or fashionable?

Also is it possible to acquire 'French fingers,' because Jo has them, and she's not French. Do they sell fingers in Paris? (asking for a friend.)


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 05:36 
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Have not seen any in our local supermarket here in rural Normandie
I will ask our neighbours when they come from Paris to their holiday home at the weekend


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 06:39 
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I don't know, but I could certainly do with a set if possible - I never managed to look dainty, trig, chic or anything else along those lines :lol: .

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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 14:33 
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Is there a correlation between this and EBD's approach to beauty? You're supposed to present in nice, well-kept clothes and look trig and fresh, but you're not supposed to make too much of your wardrobe or improve on it too much. Just like when it comes to beauty, everyone extols the natural, effortless beauty of the Robin, but anything beyond a dusting of powder or a little pale lipstick is too much. And you shouldn't be aware of nice clothes are the same way you shouldn't be aware of your own beauty.

Does the staff worry that too much attention to clothes would create class/income-based rifts among the girls? In one book Emerence has sets of dainty, lacy collars and cuffs, or something. Girls could envy her those if she made too much of them.

There are a couple of references to wearing a hat/beret at the latest angle. Beth Chester does while escorting Barbara to school, and I think at least one other girl or even a staff member does it.

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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 16:59 
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I think there's a difference between being smart, elegant, chic etc., and being fashionable. Being fashionable suggests that you wear whatever is in vogue, regardless of whether it suits you or not and whether it leans to the more vulgar or not, which, I suspect in EBD's opinion, it often did and which she therefore frowned upon.

EBD does seem to have been stuck in the past a little. Weren't the girls still growing their hair in order to put it up, long after it became perfectly acceptable to keep it short? Poor Joey was still wearing those "headphones" decades after they'd been consigned to history by everyone else!


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 18:21 
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bythebrook wrote:
I'm sure I read somewhere that EBD was a heavy smoker and a lot of her clothes had cigarette ash on them. Is this stylish or fashionable?

Also is it possible to acquire 'French fingers,' because Jo has them, and she's not French. Do they sell fingers in Paris? (asking for a friend.)


Maybe they are similar to French Fancies?


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 19:41 
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bythebrook wrote:
Also is it possible to acquire 'French fingers,' because Jo has them, and she's not French. Do they sell fingers in Paris? (asking for a friend.)


What's the context, are they definitely food? I ask because to me they suggest someone who is deft with their hands although I've never heard of them, so they could be anything as far as I'm concerned.


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 Post subject: Re: Being fashionable
PostPosted: 29 May 2018, 20:13 
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Yes - someone who's deft with their hands. People with "clever French fingers" (e.g. Simone) or "fingers with the French gift" (e.g. Barbara) are able to tie bows, arrange clothes etc in a way that makes them look tres chic :D .

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