Knowing Your History

What bothered me the most in Worst Fashions is Catherine Horwood's complete disregard for fashion history despite working as a dress historian at the University of London. Here are the three most glaring examples of fashions that said something.

The 1950s Greaser Horwood called this the worst look for men in the 50s, which tells me she wasn't much of a rebel. She also seems to hate the basic American look -- a tee shirt and jeans. Jeans in the 1950s were a work pant. They were cheap and long lasting. Men wore them when fixing the car or digging ditches. They did not wear them just to wear them. Likewise, the white tee was underwear that could be stripped down to for a dirty job. It wasn't supposed to be worn in public. Combine this with their long, combed-back hair and nonchalance, and you have a rebel in the midst of Conservia.

Punk Plaid First of all, it's silly to condemn a pattern in its entirety. becca was furious about the dismissal of florals, because while some things may look bad, a different fabric cut or print color could fix it. Second, plaid is highly important to the rebellious anarchist image of the 1970s Brit punk. We don't often think of it, but tartan patterns are old family symbols. (Not all plaids are connected to families, but that's the general idea.) Punks took those family symbols, tore them up, safety pinned them back together and wore them in unconventional ways. For traditionalists of the era, this was a highly offensive look.

Women's 1980s Power Suits Are linebacker shoulders a great look? Not really. Is a woman in a huge suit jacket more imposing than one in a soft dress? Certainly. In the 1980s, women were entering offices with more promising jobs than receptionist. In a tough corporate world dominated by men, women wanted to show that they could compete. The power suit with its monstrously padded shoulders was their way of doing that. (Whether or not it helped is up for debate.) The evolution of women's suits in the past thirty years speaks volumes about our shifting concepts of the corporate world.


Rachel said…
Doing something different/ rebelling is what moves fashion forward! How silly to dismiss it. The ones you mentioned are so iconic, too...

The plaid thing is really interesting- I never thought about that before!

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