I’m hooked on Masterpiece Theater. You may have guessed that from some of my previous posts. But the story I’m watching now, Mr. Selfridge, dovetailed so perfectly with a charming scenario in the bedroom last evening that I just had to comment on it. Stay with me here.
The whole crew came over for a big pasta feed yesterday and the tradition is for Grandma to play with the kids after supper while the other adults clean up. After all, I Had made my famous garlic bread, so I deserved it. The kids know this and soon had me by the hand wanting to play something. So I asked them if they’d like to see Grandma’s new dress. Sam declined, but the girls were all for it. That’s the dress up in the corner there.
I pulled it out of the bedroom closet and waited for the praise. All of the judges sat on Grandma's bed and I breathed a sigh of relief when it passed muster.Then I hauled out the old jewelry and scarves so my three little dolls could drape themselves and pretend. I put my lacy, black fringed shawl over my head and showed them a few of my Flamenco dancer moves. I didn’t have a rose for my teeth but they appreciated my efforts. Next Anna put rhinestone earrings in her hair (clip earrings hurt her ears) and sang for us. Such fun.
So how does Mr. Selfridge, watched after they left, figure in? Well, it got me thinking about fashion through the ages – plenty of which is in my closet since I hardly throw anything away. Anyway, Harry Selfridge was a hurricane of a man who owned the fabulous department store bearing his name. On Oxford Street in 1909 London. The opening credits have those quick clips of people and places in the production to give you a taste of what you’re in for. Oh, the dresses and hats! The Gibson Girl profile – hair piled high and tendrils dangling, the wasp waist dresses, parasols. Too elegant. It’s set at a time when people were eager for everything new and fashionable. Harry loved and profited from female fashion.
So, as I sat sighing over the costumes in the show, I thought about my lifetime and the eras of fashion I loved. When I was in sixth grade I got my first crinoline which meant many yards of nylon net that made my skirt swirl all around me when I ran through the playground. I think it cost my Mom six dollars, an extravagance for us. But she got it for me and I loved the rainbow colors in the ribbon edging. My little dolls would have loved it, too.
In high school I had a mohair skirt – lavender. I felt like a fashion model in it. I had a sweater that perfectly matched. Skirts were for the most part A- line or straight; a far cry from the 50’s and much more Audrey Hepburn, that mighty fashion icon. Actually she covered two eras – her own and the glory days portrayed in My Fair Lady (in Selfridge's time frame). That black and white number with the gigantic hat? To die for! Okay, not to wear, but to die for.
The 80’s brought us away from the horrors of the pantsuits, hot pants, mini skirts, and bell bottoms so popular in the 70’s. Enter the peasant skirt. Oh, I loved those. And peplums. And patterned socks. Little pink roses climbing up your legs. Soft blouses and elegant boots. Nice.
What I love about current fashion is represented in the little shrug that goes with my polka dot dress. A throwback to the 50’s that I adore (my Mom wore them, too). And the pretty sheer tops that you must wear a pretty tank under. So feminine. Unlike those midriff baring teeny tiny shirts of the 90’s. Ugh. Never could wear those.
So – tell me - what fashion era do you love? I’ll tell my granddaughters and maybe we’ll come to your town and do a fashion show. It could be the ghost of Harry Selfridge will tag along. How cool would that be?
PS: Some of my memories of certain eras may not be spot on. Feel free to correct me.