It may be local. It may be temporary and fleeting. It is definitely from a small sampling, and a completely personal study, but I believe that women are beginning to regain some of the sophistication and elegance of bygone years. Many women, including many young women, are once again wearing skirts or dresses for everyday situations.
Women wearing ‘men’s clothes’ became common during World War II, when women took factory jobs to fill in for menfolk in the Armed Services. After the War, working women, dressed comfortably and modestly in shirts and pants, became common, and acceptable.
Even in office settings, skirt/blouse combos were usually outnumbered by slacks and jeans, and dresses were reserved for parties and dates. The ratio of skirts or dresses seemed to be about one in twenty, or fewer.
I recently spent a day at Niagara Falls, followed by a day with a couple of hours at a mall, followed by a Saturday morning spent at the Farmers’ Market. Suddenly I was amazed at the number of females wearing skirts or even dresses. The odds now seemed to be one in five, or even more.
Of course, I’m not counting the Mennonite females, who always wear dresses, which look like they’ve been made from rejected couch upholstery fabric. They look neither elegant nor sophisticated.
While I appreciated the views, I didn’t feel Niagara was a good place to wear skirts. There’s a lot of breeze, and up-and-down, and climbing – hills, stairs, escalators, even the tour boats in the river.
Granted, while there were a lot of them, not all of them were sophisticated or elegant. Many, and not merely the younger ones, wore barely enough fabric to hang the ‘For Rent’ sign and price list. One 40ish woman wore what I originally took to be a sock. The color of safety-cone orange, it was a knit dress, primly covering her from chin to kneecaps, but it was so tight, that even I had trouble breathing.
It clung tightly to her, from below chandelier earrings, to above cork-wedge-soled sandals with 4 inch heels. Not what I’d wear to a tourist trap. Knitter daughter says there’s a knitting term for knitted clothes that look like they’re painted on – maximum negative ease, alternate pronunciation – If you’ve got it….flaunt it!
The next day – a hot, sunny one – at the mall, I expected lots of shorts. Again, I was surprised. Skirts were common, and ranged from office wear, to pencil skirts, to baby doll. Poodle skirts are back, although I imagine they’re called something else now. Lengths ranged from barely legal, or moral, ‘wide belts’, to floor-length.
There were grandmothers in comfortable, conservative, kneecap-length dresses, latter-day hippies in swirling, diaphanous kerchief dresses, young mothers in cool caftans and airy muu-muus. Asymmetrical hemlines were evident. Angled cuts hung down front, side and back. Cut-outs were on chest, arms and backs.
The biggest surprise was at the food court. (You didn’t think I’d leave without eating, did you? All that looking made me hungry.) There were at least 12 young women having lunch – or at least coffee – wearing some form of ‘The Little Black Dress’, which I thought was reserved for more special occasions, plus four more in the same high-fashion style, but in rose, gold, robin’s-egg blue and pastel green.
What’s happening with women’s-wear in your neck of the woods? Are skirts and dresses becoming more common? My female readers will already know, because they always keep an eye on the competition.
For the guys, if you get caught staring, assure any eye-candy that you are not a lascivious pervert, but merely performing a scientific study for a famous blogger.
Extra points if you can do it without snickering – or drooling. 😆