by admin on May 6, 2011

the new look

watch out….this profile could be coming to a neighborhood near you!  esme’s fashion history class has been whizzing through the decades (a bit too fast for my taste) and is now up to the post-war period (1947 – 1960).  this is really a period of known history for esme, and even a period of hazy memory.  what marks this era is a style called the new look.  this was originated by christian dior in 1947, and caught on like wild-fire.  it consisted of a markedly “feminine” look.  skirts were full (or very narrow and slit) and fell to the lower calf.  bodices were form-fitting and had tiny tiny waists.  shoulders were soft.  the curve of the hip in contrast to the narrow waist was emphasized.

the new look contrasted with war-time silhouettes, which were shorter (fabric was rationed), looser (to allow women to work at jobs formerly done only by men), and often had military details (double-breasted jackets, broad padded shoulders).  it heralded an era when the wife and mother became queen.  no one can deny that the look is beautiful (especially on the actresses and models of the time).

however, esme finds it disturbing.  perhaps because of it’s implied defenestration of women’s liberation.  perhaps because in order to carry it off one had to revert to uncomfortable and confining undergarments (modernized corsets, high girdles).  but mostly because esme fears she would not have been able to manage this look!  really, esme, don’t take fashion history so personally!  but i do.  i can only imagine that even at my thinnest, my waist would not have fit into those bodices!!  and even if it did (which maybe in my 20’s it would have), the foundation garments required would have driven me bats!!!  i recall my mother (who couldn’t have needed one) slipping into a girdle, but never had the ill-fortune to wear one myself.

this style must have had a little revival in the early ’80’s.  esmes recalls 2 fetching dresses by a karen alexander (one in bright red, one in flannel plaid) that she had during this period.  they were very romantic, with wide skirts and narrow waists.  it being the ’80’s they did have large shoulder pads.  however, esme finally gave them up when they became too squishy around the waist!

esme imagines this look may come back in….and why?  kate middleton’s wedding dress!  it is new look to a t!  i know that spanx’s have replaced corsets and girdles, but still……the new look is just not for the middle-aged (middle, because one’s middle expands no matter what!).

a bit worried,



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