#5. WHAT MAKES SOME ITEMS CLASSIC AND OTHERS PASSING WHIMSEY? (first published in nov. 2009)

by admin on February 2, 2011

 

esme’s “ethel coat” (with glass buttons!)

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to receive this question from another soul who would like to take fashion to a higher, more philosophical level! As the years go by, I am starting to think that the idea of a “classic” (similar to platonic ideals) is an illusion, and that all fashion (in clothing, design, art) is relative to its time, place and the eye of the beholder.

Think of ranch-style houses built in the 50’s and 60’s: for so long they looked “tackey” to most of us, whereas these days they are described as “mid-century modern”, are valued by historic preservation societies, and can be seen on house-tours! Think of shag rugs, which are now back in fashion. Think of how muscle cars have become classics in the car-world! Our eyes change with the times.

An interesting exercise would be to think of all the shoes and clothing you have owned over the years and try to identify which one or ones still feel “right”—let me know. The only one I personally can identify took me by surprise; it is a long black cashmere coat with a gentle A-line from Bonwit Teller that I inherited from my mother-in-law. She probably bought it in the 40’s. We call it my “Ethel coat”. It looks good with everything (well, I have not tried it over a speedo swimming suit and flip-flops) and fits me to a tee! The color is neutral, the fabric is rich and luxurious, but the mystery to me is how the cut can still work after all these years! BTW, I will have more to say about clothing which circles back into fashion in future posts, so keep reading!
Philosophically yours,
Esme

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