Friday, September 10, 2010

1913 Orgy of Undressing

Well, I thought that the 1920's shake your booty fashions were an outcome of WWI: With few marriageable men left, women had to flaunt what they had in a frenzied competition for sperm donors.

I also thought that the new lighter fashions were a result of women donating their corsets to the war effort or something.

I knew that Coco Chanel started her fashion house before the war, moving to the South of France in 1914.

Anyway, I found a 1913 article in the Gazette archives (special to the Montreal Gazette and the New York Times (We were something in those days, we were a contender :)

This article is so entertaining I wish I could just transcribe it here. It has a tongue in cheek tone, too.

As it were, the militant suffragists were being blamed for yet something else subversive, the 'undress craze' where women were wearing 'almost nothing' under their gowns, and where the dresses were so sheer you could see the leg muscles through the material (just like with the Nike taking off her sandals in the Acropolis Museum) and slit so that you could see the leg HALF WAY to the KNEE!!!!

This craze, more pronounced in North American than England was scaring people, who wondered how far it could go. (Let me tell you...)

An expert explains the craze: women in their quest for equality with men had so turned men off (my words, of course) that women had to undress to get men's attention back. Another expert has another take, that only woman who oppose the movement dress provocatively, so as to differentiate themselves from the militants who like to dress like men.


Of course, another explanation might be that women were working and to negotiate the CRAZY traffic is the city (take a look at era films on YouTube) a woman had to be freed up a bit. And then they liked the feeling. I have an article posted on my website, showing what women in 1910 had to wear under their dresses. Many layers. In Flo in the City, my book in progress, based on the letters of http://www.tighsolas.ca/ I have Flora dressing in the morning. (Chanel explained the success of her looser clothing in this way.)

And more unmarried middle class women were working and buying clothes or material for clothes and they could now influence the fashion of the day and not leave that to the matrons. And young women like to attract men...militant suffragist or not. Just take Edith Nicholson of Tighsolas as a real life example of someone who wanted it all, her emancipation, nice clothes (and a job to buy the clothes) and a man to love.

But hindsight is 20 20, as they say.

In this article they mention 'the pneumonia blouse' which must have been someone's nickname for a low cut blouse. I guess health was a reason given for covering women up.