A recent article in the Huffington Post proposed that our grandmother’s dressed better than we do now.
And in many ways I agree with that. I reflect on the style lessons I learned from my grandmother (which I wrote about shortly after she died in 2012) and agree that many of her strategies in shopping, getting dressed and expressing her style were ones I could do well to incorporate more into my own life.
And it’s equally true that not all of the ways the women in our grandmother’s era dressed are sustainable in the current age and beyond – girdles, anyone?
So in this and the next article in this series, I’m going to share my translation of what we can do if we want to step in our grandmother’s stylish footsteps, using the HuffPost article’s list as a starting point and adding in my own flavour.
So let’s get started – style secrets from our grandmothers:
1. Make the effort to truly get dressed (beyond covering your nakedness) every day.
Make today and every day a stylish day. This doesn’t have to cost any money or take much time, but it will take a bit of thinking and some creativity. Add some style to your every day looks and dress up an otherwise expected ensemble. Consider these strategies:
- add an accessory or two (think necklaces, bangles, bracelets, earrings, belts, scarves)
- swap the old faithfuls for a dressier shoe
- tie a scarf around your handbag
- swap your everyday handbag for the funkier one
- add a layer with a jacket or jacket-item (vest, cardigan, overshirt, wrap)
- try a daring ensemble you’ve never worn before
- take your make up up a notch and style your hair
There are many ways to make today and every day a stylish day, and almost all of them can be accomplished by tapping into the hidden magic lurking in your own closet. You needn’t outlay a single cent to make the effort to truly get dressed every day.
2. Buy the best-made clothes you can find.
Good quality clothing can still be found, even though the collective clothing manufaturer’s attention to quality has downshifted considerably in the last 50 years. We now have so many choices to buy cheap and buy fast, it does make the search for quality that much more challenging. But it can be done!
You probably won’t find what you’re looking for, if it’s quality you’re seeking, in fast fashion mass produced discounted in-every-mall clothing stores, though. Expand your search to smaller boutiques that pride themselves on a small selection of excellent options, chains that always produce quality but only a few times a year, and quality preloved.
3. Buy clothing made from the highest quality fabrics you can find.
Not only have standards regarding garment construction downshifted in the last 50 years (and I’m speaking generally here, as regards the clothing manufacturing industry) there’s been an explosion in the choices we are faced with to purchase poorly constructed, mass produced garments, and the sad truth is those poorly made mass produced garments are being made out of low quality fabrics.
These are fabrics that don’t stand the test of time — after a handful of washes (sometimes only 2 or 3) they start to lose their shape, their colour and their resilience. They pill (those little fabric balls that congregate in high impact areas such as under the arms and in between the thighs), they shrink, they pull out of shape. They became excellent candidates for car wash rags in very short shift.
It’s not all bad news though when it comes to the fabrics our clothing is constructed from. With focus and a commitment to purchasing quality, you can find clothing made from higher quality, more durable and harder working fabrics.
As above regarding where you’re highly unlikely to find it and other options you can explore.
4. Choose your foundation garments carefully.
The basics when it comes to your foundation garments are your bra and your knickers (undies, panties, whatever you call them). Yes, these really are foundations in that everything you put on top of them rests on them – you don’t want your outfit to ‘fall over’ because the foundations weren’t strong enough.
The job of your bra is to support your breasts and to create a pleasing silhouette through your midsection. Without proper bra support, you can end up with an amorphous and indistinguishable mass of flesh between your clavicle and your waistline, which is not a good look and adds the appearance of pounds/kilograms.
You want your breasts to be sitting approximately halfway between your shoulder and your waist, opening up the space around your ribs and your waist. Plus, it’s one of the easiest ways to make it appear that you’ve lost a few pounds/kilograms!
It may be as simple as adjusting the straps on your current bras – yes those plastic doovers on your bra are meant to move and even if you wash your bras by hand or on the delicate cycle or in a lingerie bag, they still move. So adjust those plastic sliders on your bra about every month to make sure your breasts are well and truly placed where they should be.
Our breasts change shape and size a few times in our lives (some experts say at least 7 times) so if you haven’t been fitted for a bra in a while, it’s probably time to be. Your cup or band size may have increased or decreased so have a professional give you the lowdown on your proper size.
And the big news on the small stuff is your knickers can create a smooth silhouette under your clothing, if you’re wearing the right kind and size.
Pay attention to the small stuff – it can make a big difference.
More style secrets from our grandmothers
There are a few more style secrets from our grandmothers that I’ll share with you in part 2 of this series – you can check it out here.
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