One of my pet topics when it comes to women and fashion in the 2000's is the general lack of glamour and classical elegance displayed in the way we dress these days.
Walk down Oxford street on a busy week day and what is the overwhelming feeling one gets as they watch hundreds of women walk past?
An overriding sense of drabness….a dull murky greyness……a feeling that most people are clones all merging into each other.
Where has glamour, individuality and femininity gone?
I never, ever thought I would have anything in common with Joan Collins …
For starters, I am not a famous actress, and am not in my 70's. I've have had no procedures carried out on my face or body, I don't spend my summers in St Tropez and I certainly haven't clocked up 7 husbands. (And I hasten to add that I have no desire to, the one I have is more than sufficient for me!)
So what do we have in common?
A passion for glamour!
In essence, a passion for the return of the bygone days of elegance and graceful clothes, when women dressed as women, where femininity and inner beauty shone through, when women weren't afraid to dress in gorgeous outfits, well cut dresses and suits and exude an air of glamour that is rarely seen today.
Much is being made in the press at present about the return of the 1950's ladylike, glamorous dressing and I have to say it makes me feel rather excited. All those nipped in waists and full circle skirts, cute little kitten heel shoes and elegant hair styles. How fabulous!
( A pair of original 1950's purple stilettos found at Alfies Antique Market,13-25 Church Rd, Marylebone, London NW8 – A great place to source authentic vintage clothes. Website:www.alfiesantiques.com
The permission to dress up and go a little overboard has been given.
* To be wild and wear red lipstick…
* To have hair with big curls and flamboyance …..
* To carry cute little bags that are delicate and virtually useless….
* To wear dresses and skirts that are impractical but oh so elegant…..
* To wear gloves….. well, maybe not !!
My mother was a dressmaker and as a child in the late 60's I was dressed up for all manner of occasions. Part of the 'getting ready' process for the event was of course to have cloth strips twisted into my hair the night before, which I torturously had to sleep in to make wonderful ringlets, which I just loved. A little handbag and gloves were absolute essential parts of the outfit.
And do you remember your Mother or even yourself having to sleep in plastic curlers every night and then the amount of teasing that was needed to get those high beehives into place? How very funny it all seems now! But women did it.
( Carolyn late 1960's as a flower girl! )
I am sure many of you a smiling with similar memories…..
In the early 70's, when I was young, my family flew overseas for a holiday and my mother made beautiful matching dresses for my two sisters and me to wear on the plane, complete with frills and lace typical of the fashion at the time. Imagine dressing up to fly these days. How utterly hilarious, but back then it was apparently the thing to be do.
People dressed though for any occasion back in the 50's, 60's 70's….
But times have changed..
I recently had a conversation with a barrister in her 50's who came to our studio to have a number of outfits made, she lamented the fact that she felt she could no longer get dressed up to even go the opera any more and never knew what to wear to special occasions as people were more likely to dress casually than with the special care they once took.
So what has happened to the way women dress?
Why do so many of us feel comfortable in just trousers and a simple top of some description? For 'special wear' the top may change and be a little more elaborate, but the uniform is the same. Trousers with a shirt and jacket for work, trousers and t-shirt for casual, trousers and something a little brighter and prettier for that special event.
(Yoka modeling trousers)
Trousers, jeans, leggings…..
Don't get me wrong… they have their place, but surely not all the time….
Maybe as women we have forgotten how to actually dress, or maybe we don't even know how to dress in a really feminine manner any more. Maybe that is why we need people like Gok and Susannah and Trinny to tell us how to do it.
Nearly every day I meet women who have not worn anything other than trousers for as long as they can remember.
I recently met a woman in her early 70's who had not worn a dress since her wedding dress 50yrs prior. When she tried on a variety of dresses she could not believe how wonderful she felt and how womanly and sexy it made her feel. A certain sadness washed over her as she realized that for the last 50yrs she had foregone a simple pleasure. As I watched her twirl in front of the mirror I could not help but smile at her enthusiasm for having found the womanly side of herself again.
Dresses and skirts can have that effect, they bring an immense feeling of femininity and even sensuousness to the wearer, especially if they are made of a luxurious fabric and are a good cut that suits the body shape perfectly.
There is nothing better than watching a woman enter a room with a gorgeous dress on, to see the fabric move with her as she walks, maybe swishing around her legs and draping perfectly over the hips, it sits with precision on her cleavage and the right amount of arm is showing. The woman of course is the key, the dress a mere accessory in helping her shine.
What do men generally think of how women dress these days? Do they prefer women in feminine clothes such as dresses? Do they like softness, elegance, prettiness and glamour in a woman's outfit? I wonder what defines a well dressed women from a male's point of view? I have no idea. Interesting to find out, though I suspect it is immensely varied and of course all down to taste!
(Yoka in a 1950's style floral dress)
Maybe as women in the 2000's we are so used to living and working within what was once viewed as a more traditional male role and lifestyle that we feel uncomfortable expressing femininity in too obvious a manner.
Some of the young women of today, however, can almost be accused of going overboard the other way. Overt sexuality in skrimpy tops that leave little to the imagination and skirts that are more like belts than a skirt….
Where is the middle ground?
A little effort ladies is what I think is needed…….
Challenge yourself to wearing skirts and/or dresses regularly.
Challenge yourself to trying new colours. Find colours that make you feel fantastic and seek out clothes in those colours.
….avoid too much black.
Wearing coloured clothes expresses a certain inner happiness and confidence, remember black was traditionally worn for mourning and an outward show of sorrow.
Splurge on some well cut, beautifully made clothes that are classical in their style and will last for years and years, you'll always feel like a million dollars in them.
Be confident to express personal style, don't be a slave to fashion trends. Be your own person and enjoy who you are and how you dress.
And smile – there is nothing more attractive and alluring than a lovely happy face!
I leave you ladies, dressed in a pair of jeans with an old favourite sweater my mother knitted for me years ago and a pair of wellies (covered in pink and blue flowers I should add!) I'm about to walk the dogs through the woods and am so glad on this occasion that we are not back in the 1950's, when even walking the dog meant a twin set and pearls!!
Times have changed, and move with them we must, but take heed…….
Glamour is back…..
Enjoy it and dress with Flare, Flamboyance, Femininity and Elegance whenever the occasion arises!