Wednesday, 22 June 2011

inter-war

"This was a time of substitute materials, of shoes with hinged wooden soles or cork wedges, but also of hats whipped up from nothing, from a crumpled newspaper, a ribbon, or a whisp of tulle."


Fashion during the forties, right in the the midst of the second world war, is one of the most frequently copied and sought after eras for vintage lovers everywhere. Funny really, when you consider that at the time there were so few materials, and women were so restricted with their clothing choices. I've been a lover-of-history and a wearer-of-vintage for a few years now, and have finally come to realise that my favourite era is in fact the inter-war period, with the forties arriving at a close second.

I think the whole attitude of people during the late thirties and early forties really draws me in - the 'gung ho-ness', community spirit, and the seemingly endless morale of the British people. In this day and age, of video games and two-car families, Jeremy Kyle and fast living, we seem to have lost the ability to talk to each other - my Mum often tells me stories of how neighbours actually became a sort of 'extended family', people who would rely on each other and think nothing of helping someone out of a sticky spot. These days, if you smile at someone in the street you are 'weird', or worse. Open the newspaper, and rather than uplifting tales of human kindness, and common interest pieces, headlines such as 'Teen Stabs Girlfriend to Death' jump out you, and battle for space with endless articles that tell of murders, genocide, environmental destruction and Government failure. I have long periods where I don't even read newspapers, and more lately have found myself reading more history books on my beloved inter-war era, and immersing myself in my (pretty lengthy) blog list - I simply think that I was born in the wrong era. I long to chat over the garden fence (OK, we live in a flat, but you get the idea...!), wear beautiful dresses and set my hair, have a house full of rosy-cheeked children and home-baked goodness, spend my evenings sewing and crafting, and live in a world which is a pleasant place to be, rather than a modern sort of hell. But, alas, I'm destined to spend my days playing make-believe, and finding solace in the many friends I've met over blogland and Twitter - my friends humour me, so it's nice to find people (finally!) with common interests and thought processes. (You know who you are, lovely people!)

Anyway, I digress. I'm slowly digesting literature and films both from, and set in, the thirties and forties. I'm gathering the courage to dress a little more 'vintage' and a little less 'vintage-meets-high-street', wear a little red lipstick, and curl my hair. My first port of call was, naturally, The Edge of Love - a blockbuster with not the best acting, but my word, the most delicious of clothes. The sartorial choices in this film are nothing short of a triumph - how I'd love to get my hands on that knitwear, those dresses....

This post has taken a bit of an odd turn - I was intending to write a bit of a fact-laden ramble about the inter-war years, but somehow, it's just turned into a long rant about the state of the world today, and the fact that I wish I lived seventy years or so ago. Sorry about that, friends!







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3 comments

  1. completely agree...whilst I'm at uni, all I'm thinking about is setting up home, growing my own veg, making my own jam, having 15 children running around my feet...forget the degree..all I really want to be is a wonderful housewife! To take your rant further, so-called 'feminists' who think women should work 40 hours a week, dressed in a trouser suit and not having children til they're 33 because they need to focus on their career, are not feminists. My sister, who claims to be one of these, believes that I have been "brain-washed by society"....and I actually think it's completely the other way round!! Good luck in LIVING the dream!

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  2. Hi sweetheart,

    I am completely hearing you! I'm not a complete vintage wearer (yet) but you know me well enough to be a bit of a make do and mender and second-hand Alice! I often feel like I don't fit into modern life and I hark back to better times.
    I adore The Edge of Love for the same reasons and the era is a powerful one not just for the fashion but for the camaraderie as you say.
    I wish you were my neighbour so we could have a real chinwag while pegging out the washing. At least we can chat over the twitter fence and for that alone i suppose we should be grateful for modern technology!
    Great read!!

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  3. A lovely post, and I do agree with much of it, but I'd like to play devil's advocate if I may. Life as you paint it sounds idyllic, and the idea of the great British spirit is all very appealing but imagine how backbreaking being a regular housewife would have been then (without servants obviously).

    I'm a housewife at the moment and mother to 2 small boys. I did work, but gave it up to be at home for what I consider to be the essential early years. All very 'vintage' I guess, but it is a struggle sometimes and whoever says otherwise is lying. I have done both and work was easier. I find the laundry and constant round of meal making bad enough, imagine having to beat your rugs, scrub the front step, plan your meals from your ration allowance (home baked goodness probably being in short supply), make your clothes as a necessity rather than as a hobby, behave 'correctly' or face general opprobrium, always with the terror of losing husbands, boyfriends, brothers and neighbours to a protracted and appalling war...

    Foreigners were treated with suspicion, casual racism abounded, intelligence was still not that much of a virtue in a woman, bombs a constant threat - sounds like Iraq or Gaza, and I'm not too keen to experience life there!

    You can still be lonely in a crowd, and I pity the woman who may have desperate to talk to someone who really 'got' her, rather than making polite chit chat to the vicar and Mrs Thompson about Mr Thompson's lumbago and hasn't her Billy grown? When I first left my working life and single girl friend support for motherhood, I felt isolated, but with the internet at our fingertips, and an inexhaustible supply of music to do the washing up to, we can chat with women in other towns - even continents. As Kat says, we have the Twitter and blogging fence.

    If you want to make jam and bake cakes and stay at home with your children - do it! I do. In many ways it's wonderful, but I'm still glad I'm doing it now, not the 40s.

    Lakota x
    Sorry for mammoth comment!

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