6 December 2008

Fabulous Fifties

ETA: She has changed her project. In her own words, from her blog, My Decade Year, "As of December 15, I've altered the project to include the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Read about it!"

My Original Post:
This morning I was reading the blog, Life of a Jersey Girl, and came across a post about Marzipan Jones. Marzipan (a pseudonym) has decided to live the life of a 50s housewife for one year. She started this experiment on September 1st, 2008 and she documents her daily trials and tribulations on her blog. She has vowed to cook, clean and take care of her husband and child a la June Cleaver and she will do all this while dressed the part.

I quickly came to realize that she feels much like I do about the 50s:

"I've been both enamored and repelled (ha!) by the 50's for as long as I can remember. I think it began with the music and of course, the fashion....Everyone always looked so wonderfully put-together and there seemed to be a quality of innocence that pervaded everything said. However, I also knew about the terrible conditions the cultural climate held for people of color, gay and lesbians, and for women. So, I had a love/hate relationship with the era..."

I am completely awed and amused by this little experiment and I can't stop reading her blog. I am hooked and I will certainly be keeping a close eye on her trials and tribulations!

I have always been fascinated with the 50s (and to a lesser extent, the 60s), although I was born in 1970 and never had any first hand knowledge of the era. I adore the fashion, the etiquette, the music and the cars. I long for a return to sophisticated dressing. I could easily step back in time and don a pencil skirt, a sweater set and a string of pearls - no one knows how to dress quite like Grace Kelly these days. However, I can't imagine what it was like to live in a time of such rampant sexism and racism - being anything other than a strong-willed, independent woman seems foreign to me.

So, dear reader, what is your era of choice and why? What fashions make your heart go pitter-patter? Who is your style icon?

19 comments:

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Oh this is easy for me! I love the 60s the decade of change, the civil rights era, women burning bras, and Jacqueline Kennedy and the culture and fashion that she brought to the White House.

Myra said...

I like the 40's the best, WWII, a strong generation, tough old birds, having come out the depression... The swing dresses, swing dances, big band, USO dances, etc. I loved the Homefront TV series in the early 90's. Also love the fashions of 20's, 30's, 50's, early 60', but the 40's were cool, like the zoot suits...

Nancy K said...

I find her desire to be a 50's housewife very weird.Even June Cleaver wasn't June in real life. I watch Mad Men occasionally and I have a love hate relationship with it. I hate the uptight clothing and the hypocritical mores of 1950's America. Sexism, racism and homophobia were rampant. I was born in 1950 and I am very happy in the present. I am a modernist in all things and have no desire to travel back in time for clothing.

Alison Cummins said...

Ok, I know the fifties sucked. But it was a time of effective activism, a fact that people seem to forget. I love the ordinary, working-class and middle-class folks who were able to effect change. Brown vs the Board of Education was in 1954. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was in 1955-56. I think there was something about the assumption of orderliness and homogeneity at the time that enabled ordinary people to undertake radical acts resulting in Supreme Court decisions.

These days a demonstration is just something that college students do to make themselves feel good. In the fifties, it could get you injured or killed; it could also change a country.

toy said...

gosh, this is a hard one, I love the golden age of hollywood the 40s but not to wear, just to fantasize about. I would love to get dressed for one night in vintage lana turner style dresses but my true era would be the 60-70s which is when my mom was growing up, I loved how everyone dressed to make a point, it was all about self expression and liberation and I love it

tammychristine said...

wow.I had my mind all made up until I read the other comments. I love 50's fashions and music.But also that "HOMEFRONT" era. And all that freedom and embrodidery and crafting in the 60's. Somedays I wish even to rat my hair up to there and wear some of the stuff I wore in the 80's! It's probably all better off left in my imagination!

Tara said...

While I dig the fashions of the early '60s and Jackie is one of my style icons, I'm a '40s girl, through and through. I love the clothes, the can do attitude (We Can Do It!) the patriotism, the progress we made as a nation, etc. I even have pictures of my husband and me dressed up '40s style for a hangar dance, the night we got engaged. We love it! We were born 30 years too late. :)

patsijean said...

I was born in 1944 and thought the women's clothing of the 50's was beautiful, but I was too young. My favorite time was the late 60's and the 70's. I had mini dresses and a purple sweater knit jumpsuit to wear under it. I made Crocheted clothing, and long, hippy dresses, hip-hugger pants and blouses I made out of beautiful prints, denim pants and leather jackets. But we wern't trashy and cheap like many can look in this decade. I also thought the 80's were fun but my clothing was self-drafted for the most part, and not completely "in style." I am at a loss for style right now.

Becky said...

Despite being born in the early 80s, I've always loved the 60s (minus the prolific use of mind-altering substances, of course!) Especially the music and fashion. I've been a fan of the Beatles especially for pretty much my entire life, among other groups, and I do love hippie-style clothes--the flowy skirts, the peasant blouses, the hand-crafted details, paisley, tie-dye...yum. I like mod style too, though I've never really gotten as into that to wear personally because I do greatly prefer my flowy hippie skirts to miniskirts!

Honestly, I do think a huge part of it is probably a reaction against my childhood in the 80s and early 90s-- for the most part, I don't like that era of music, and I can't think of a single fashion from the 80s that I liked! So glad I was a teenager in the 90s instead!

sisidaboom said...

GET REAL. Surely you jest, the fifties were not fabulous. It was a sadly repressed society. There was McCarthyism, the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, bomb shelters, gossip and the church kept society in it's place. America was communist phobic. The women were Stepford wives. A woman feared that her husband would divorce her (no support or alimony then). Birth control as we know it now, did not exist. And all good and decent woman wore a Playtex girdle that chafed and smelled awful. I could go on and I should know I was a teenager in the fifties. But we did had Elvis.

Gry said...

The 40s are my favourite era; I love the silhouette and the complicated cuts. I like vintage looks, because they are more feminine and suit my figure much better than jeans.

I also like the mend and make do attitude from the 40s. I love to hear my grandfather tell how my grandmother would make a new suit for herself from one of his old suits. I know they had to work hard to make ends meet and that life in most ways is easier now.
I just can't help feeling that some values have been lost.

I was born in 1981 and have grown up with consumerism. People rarely bother to mend clothes these days, because new clothes are so cheap and the quality often is so poor, that is doesn't pay to mend. Progress is rarely entirely positive and I understand the interest in looking back in time for other values and other modes of living.

Summerset said...

Easy, the 50's of course! Not that it was an ideal time in American history - no time really was, if you have to really live in it. The clothing was beautiful and elegant, something I can't say for much of today's fashions. I have no problem pulling out the large skirts, crinolines, cardigans and pearls!

Lindsay T said...

What a good question... Hmm, I guess I'd have to say early 70s... Ali MacGraw in Love Story, Jackie O in Capri, you get the picture.

ambika said...

How fascinating. I'll have to take a look when I have more time.

I think I'd be all over the 1920s. Ditton on the race & gender issues but I just feel like, at least in Harlem, the 20s are where it's at. Don't even get me started on the clothes. And hats!

Maggie said...

I'm enjoying all the comments here so I'll add my own. Born in 1950, I "came of age" in the 60's It's the era that I cling to for better or worse. I imagine the era of our first 10 years doesn't really define us like the next 10 does. I remember the 50's (if I can at all) as a peaceful quiet time...the calm before the storm. That repression so many people speak of may go unnoticed by a 7 or 8 year old. But the fashions of the 60's are tatooed on my brain. All my important life events(good ones!) happened while I was in full 60's regalia. So it's natural that I associate good feelings with the fashion of the 60's. There are plenty of photographs to reinforce this in my old albums. So I'd be interested to know why some people like a certain era. Good memories, or just a fondness for the designs? Although I had to laugh when I saw an ad for a 1950 style fridge (Northstar) going for $4,000. It seems Mad Men has sparked an interest in retro kitchens...and just when you were lusting after the sleek stainless appliances! Go figure

laura said...

I just read Frank Gilbreth's (cheaper by the dozen) book 'Helds Angels' that takes place back in the 2o's. Flappers, Speakeasies, prohibition, College Life (every Fraternity had it's own exclusive bootlegger) etc... Women rolling down their stockings with 2 sets of garters; one pair for practical purposes and one for 'show', deliberately not wearing bloomers and crossing legs so everyone could see this for themselves, rouging cheeks and knees... While I love the freedoms and progress that we've made in this country today, I wouldn't mind experiencing a week back in the roaring twenties.

angie.a said...

OH, the 1940's definitely! I'm so enamored of the 40's I wouldn't be surprised if I really was there, as someone else. ;)

1912 Suffragette said...

As you can see from the "name", I'm rather fond of the 'teens. Women were coming into their own, working outside the home and fighting for the right to vote. It must have been amazing to live through that period. The lingerie dresses, Gibson girl look and Titanic-era dresses are my particular favorites.

Anonymous said...

I was born in the late `50s and I find nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, appealing about that decade. :-) :-(

Apart from the important societal problems you've mentioned, people actually yearn for

The New Look? (I got to wear the girl's version, scratchy crinolines, elementary school; no fun, and girls weren't allowed to wear pants.)

Saddle shoes? (Ugly then, ugly in the '70s, still ugly.)

I also am not a big fan of the music.

If I were playing 50s housewife, I'd probably find myself rewriting "The Feminine Mystique."

I'm still waiting for my best decade to come along.