(If anyone is wondering where I’m getting all this fabulous inspiration, I was given a copy of “The Lost Art of Dress” by Linda Przybyszewski for my birthday. I have, in fact, made a life-long hobby of reading classic advice on wardrobe and style, but this brings it together, and is bringing it out!)
Let’s think about your wardrobe. Wait. No. Stop. We’re doing this a bit differently. Don’t run off.
What do you do all day? Do you dig ditches? Or do you sign forms? Do you keep house – and if so, how old is your youngest child?
Your clothing should reflect how it is going to be used, as well as who will be observing you.
I keep house. That means that my clothing should be easily launderable – I will be cooking, I will be doing at least light chores (and possibly heavy ones), I will be getting dirty! Now, my children are older, so I don’t get filthy, and I don’t need to get down on the floor to play. I’m not bending over in public places to pick them up off the ground. I do a fair number of errands, so I like to look reasonably presentable at all times.
That lifestyle lent itself to light cotton dresses in 1940 and it still does. Since mores and public expectations have changed, it also includes jeans and tshirts – as long as they’re cute and feminine. (I don’t wear jeans, but that’s because I look terrible in jeans, and I find them quite uncomfortable.) There’s quite a nice variety of things I can wear… but my first question is: What will I be doing while I am wearing this garment?
My second question is: Who is my audience? Is this something I’m wearing to a public park, to volunteer at kindergarten, to make a presentation, or out on a date? Children *like* bright colors. Men aren’t quite as fond of yellow and orange Mondrian squares or purple kittens.
*After* having answered the first two questions – what am I going to be doing, and who will see me – then I can start answering the questions about figure flattery, colors, emotional connotations, and social conventions.
Of course we all have different occasions for which to dress – I’m not always making lunch or running to the grocery store – but if we think intelligently about our wardrobes, we’ll realize that we want to have the most clothing for whatever it is we spend the most time doing.