It was 1945 and World War II was finally over! Rationing had ended. But many things had changed. Well-defined gender roles had blurred. Women, the absence of men, had become stronger and more self-sufficient. Plus the war had lessened the population of eligible men.
The men who did make it home from the war found that the girls they left now knew how to assemble car engines and operate heavy equipment. They had jumpsuits in their closets and often wore pants.
Style historians say that the way women started to become influenced by menswear during WWII resulted in confusion as to what women expected themselves and what other people expected of them.
But not everybody was fashion-confused. In December 1946 Christian Dior founded his own fashion house and launched his “New Look” in Paris. During the war, he had served in the military and afterwards went to work in a Paris house of fashion designing dresses the wives of Nazi officers.
After the war, he was free to design as he pleased. And speaking of freedom, Dior’s younger sister Catherine had been a member of the French Resistance during the war and was captured the Gestapo and sent to Ravensbrük until she was liberated in May of 1945.
Her brother’s New Look totally changed the feminine style of the previous ten years and also established Dior a global brand for a wide range of products. His collection exaggerated the female figure by featuring soft shoulders, tiny waists, and flared, calf-length skirts. The skirts were long, flowing, swinging and often had underskirts or pleats. Dior’s new skirts used as much fabric as 10 or even 15 wartime skirts. They were balanced with wide-brimmed hats. For evening, the skirts were also full, with lower-cut bodices showing more cleavage than had been shown since the 1700s.
Dior also brought high-heeled dainty shoes and many women on both sides of the Atlantic were no longer content with practical wartime wedgies. Women’s underwear was reinvented at this time in order to hold in waists, and pointy bras began to be manufactured and used.
Both the American and British governments tried to discourage the New Look, calling it extravagant, wasteful, expensive and outright unpatriotic. But American department store designers raced to create ready-to-wear pieces inspired by Dior’s New Look. Something called The League of Broke Husbands was formed, hoping to hold clothing expenditures in check, and there were public demonstrations these extravagant clothes both in Europe and the United States.
Then someone in Italy brought back the stiletto heel, named for a type of dagger with a slender blade. The heel needed to be reinforced with metal, which would have been impossible WWII rationing.
In case you are wondering the appeal of such uncomfortable, impractical footwear, it was explained by contemporary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, the one whose shoes have red-lacquered soles. He said, “What is sexual in a high heel is the arch of the foot, because it is exactly the position of a woman’s foot when she orgasms.” Take notice.
Women had been equalized during the war — upper middle class women worked right their blue-collar peers in the effort to keep the economy from going south. But after the war, women who could wanted to show they could afford the luxury of staying off their feet by wearing impractical shoes. This was not unlike the reason the Chinese used to bind upper class girl’s feet in order to show the girl would always have “freedom from labor” and to ensure a good marriage.
Post WWII, many women felt that years of sacrifice, it was worth it to learn to walk in stilettos and feel fashionable, sexy and elite. The bottom line is that even today many women actually want to look like Cinderella (who was created in the 1600s) in her crystal heels, no matter how much discomfort they cause her feet.
Stilettos were like pieces of fine jewelry, a designer purse or a luxury car, supposedly classifying women by their economic rank and social value. Generally speaking, high heels still show a woman’s class. (Brazil may be an exception.) Some women kept the practical, WWII look, and others adopted the modern, sexy, feminine look. British women and American women are still divided in regard to the personal image they want to put .
There was another reason why American women were thoroughly enjoying their return to frivolity: they had been kicked of the work force almost as fast as they’d been asked to join it in the beginning of WWII. Some women were asked to leave the job market so that returning veterans could be employed, and others were simply fired in order to make way for the men.
This was also the time of the Cold War and producing the Baby Boomer generation. American women were expected to focus on bringing up children to be strong citizens who could become Cold War Warriors – mothers were supposed to guide their children careers in science and engineering.
I was born near the end of WWII and raised in a small town in New Jersey, just a little more than a 30-minute drive from NYC. It was a wonderful place to be brought up, feeding ducks and canoeing on the river that meandered through the town in the summer, and ice-skating on that same river in the winter.
My two brothers and I were privileged to be raised in a lovely town that was safe to explore on foot, but close enough to NYC to be taken there on day trips to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Baily B & B circus, museums, Chinatown, street fairs in the spring and Broadway shows as we grew older. But we thought nothing of it.
Later as teens, we would go into NYC to buy a couple of beers (the drinking age in New York State was 18, and 21 in New Jersey) and hang out in Greenwich Village where we saw singers such as Bob Dylan who were on the first rung of the ladder on their way to fame.
The sixties were a time of speaking out and creating change. I decided to do my part by joining the Peace Corps, an innovative cold war program established by John F. Kennedy in 1961. I arrived in Brazil at the end of 1966, and after an adaptation period, was sent to serve in Porto Nacional, in what was Goias at that time. I can’t say I changed the course of the country, especially as I was immediately called upon to teach English in the local high school.
I have been teaching ever since; high schools, college literature, college language pedagogy, financial English and everything in-between. I married a wonderful Brazilian from Rio and we had 3 boys and moved around some, as he was an engineer who worked on hydro dams. Nowadays I am a widow and live in BH with 3 cats, one of which has extraordinary powers, and I have 4 wonderful and uniquely different grandchildren nearby. Thus far, I have had an interesting life, and this new endeavor called a blog should make it even more interesting.
Tattoos have been around for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians, for example, used tattoos to differentiate between peasants and slaves, a kind of social branding. But ink art, which is what some fans like to call tattooing, has really exploded in the past 25 years. But not all of us have succumbed to this fad. And many of us who don’t have a tattoo have a favorite mug. Having a tattoo or becoming attached to a mug are not dissimilar. According to research, 60% of Americans say they have an emotional attachment to a favorite mug. And about 40% said their special mug was irreplaceable, and about 1/3 of those said they would be devastated if it broke. Personally, I think that most of these people don’t have tattoos. Mugs and tattoos are both an extension of our personalities, and both express the way we would like the world to perceive us. That is not to mention, of course, that those of us who have tattoos or mugs are often irrationally attached to them.
You can plate appetizers on or in many things. Fill in the blanks with on or in: Deviled eggs a platter Figs with bacon a plate Spinach & Yogurt dip a bowl Bacon, lettuce & tomatoes toothpicks Chicken croquettes napkins Oysters with turkey bacon a tiered cake plate Cold cuts a breadboard Raw veggies & dips a Lazy Susan Cheese…
Blackberries – Blueberries – Raspberries – Strawberries Nutritious food is nourishing and efficient as food in the sense that it gives you the sufficient amount of nutrients such as vitamins, carbohydrates and proteins that you need to survive. Healthy food is food that promotes good health, in other words, prevents illness and keeps you younger longer. I. All of the berries above are healthy and nutritious. However, according to nutritional content, total carbohydrates,…