Saturday, 28 January 2012

.....just the wrong clothes. PS

Yesterday I spent the day in Maryborough, not cycling through the sweltering countryside with my companions. Looking for cool and sedentary diversions, I found myself at the Maryborough Flour Mill Gallery
home of the extraordinary Sew What collection of vintage, antique and toy sewing machines
I recommend a visit if you are passing that way.
Added attractions of the venue are the coffee and biscuit (included in the price of admission ), chairs and couches to relax in and retro reading material to browse.
As I leafed through the thoughtfully assembled folder of fashion articles from the 1940s and 50s, I was struck by the appearance of the models in photographs. Compared with fashion photographs you see now, the models then look almost pudgy. And as we know, on average we are bigger than our parents and grandparents. The publishers used quite a bit of artists' fashion illustration too. In the artwork, the models are elongated, have exaggerated shoulders and minimised waists, and look just like the real live models used in fashion display now!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

..... just the wrong clothes

For years I have been crediting Billy Connolly with a wise saying, only to find that it is something that Swedes say all the time, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes."
Billy said this on the cliffs near Wick, on what appeared to be a cold, wet and windy winter night such as you might expect by the northern tip of Scotland. When I saw this on the television I was surprised by a wave of nostalgia for this bleak landscape that I had never seen in real life. But one of my Great Grandfathers left Wick to try his fortune in Australia on the goldfields. I was touched to think of his grandson, my Dad, choosing to spend his working life in an equally harsh and beautiful Mallee landscape, battling a quite different set of climatic extremes.
But never mind the weather. It is one of the disappointments of modern life that many of us seem to be stuck with the wrong clothes for our shapes, our taste and our activity. In the dim past where I spent my youth, the range of clothing on sale matched fairly well the range of sizes to be clothed. And any dress shop with the slightest pretension to style, would have someone to do alterations. And then there were dressmakers, whose services could fit within quite modest budgets.
We are assured that we are much bigger people than our recent ancestors, and I believe it. But our wardrobes haven't adapted to changing shapes. Take this sentiment, attributed to Calvin Klein, "if a woman can't be bothered to keep herself in shape, I can't be bothered to make clothes for her" (he had been asked why he did not offer clothes over a certain size). Now that arrogant remark probably hides a truer explanation which might be expressed, " If I were to extend my range beyond that size there would be increased design and manufacturing costs due to altering the proportions to suit different shapes, and having to use different cutting layouts and more fabric. It is easier for me to make the cheapest possible versions of my designs, display them on models chosen to make the clothes look good, and hope the buyers are intimidated enough take whatever measures are needed to make themselves fit into the clothes I offer for sale"
Personal alteration by surgical means is a recent phenomenon, which seems to have become more common as the infrastructure for personalised garment provision has become scarcer. And the various branches of the weight loss industry are booming
My new year's resolution is to put more effort into designing and making humbler clothes. Clothes that will do their best to be comfortable and becoming to the wearer. Watch this space to see how it goes

Friday, 20 January 2012

Granny's squares.

Back in the 1930s, my grandmother made a cot blanket for my then baby sister. Not that she was my baby sister then. I wouldn't appear on the scene for quite a few years, by which time our Nana had departed it. My sister treasures this blanket, and has managed to keep it in near perfect condition, giving us a priceless glimpse at the colours of the family knits in the 30s.
I waved the iPhone over it a few times last night. Funny how I remember it as having no blue. A mistake, clearly. However the old rule, "blue and green should never be seen without a colour in between " has been followed.

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