Thursday, February 5, 2009

"A Certain Element of Dress"

From My Year 1955:
One can see little bits here and there of the changing times. I am constantly amazed by the growing and changing things occurring here in 1955. Amongst the happy plastic people we always picture for this decade, we see the ruffling of the feathers of the great bird of change getting ready to take wing. I think, as many of you must feel, that with that flight was lost many honest and simple things which we, as humans, find ourselves longing for. Courtesy, trust, love of the fellow man, love of home and family even fashion and formality. I see that we, none of us, want to return to a time of segregation and distrust, but there is a certain element of dress which leads to courtesy and kindness that seems to be lacking from our modern world. Maybe I am just, as so many before me have, romanticising the past, but I KNOW that when I make sure I look 'done' before leaving the house I get a different response from people (mostly positive) and that I, in turn, am more positive. With my increasing interest in my home as a place of comfort and style and my skills in the kitchen, I find myself wanting to know my neighbors and get involved in my community. To share these things. This is really something new to me. It somehow seems to be magically linked with these other things which can seem superficial: your wardrobe, your homes decor, your cooking skills.

This, of course, could be only an instance specific to myself, but I wonder, if others were to follow suit, how long before they would find themselves changing into the patterns of the past? I know that with my family and friends when we are gathered together at a table with linen napkins nicely set with homemade multicourse meal, we act differently. And I don't mean formal or uncomfortable, but we converse more. We aren't plopped down with pizza boxes in front of the tv, but are having great conversations and even, without their knowing it for I watch them, my friends and family are just adapting to the setting. Napkins find themselves on laps, mouths are wiped before glasses touched to them, without any comment, just naturally occurring. And it is not as if we are play acting some great fluffy tea party, but just enjoying ourselves in a way that feels very 'grown up'. It's funny because I have always thought my generation was the generation that would never grow up, but now that I sort of feel I am doing so, I really like it. Of course, I say this while I am 'pretending to live in the past'. But, maybe my generation, and the other generations of today, have that childlike quality to play at something until they see it is, in fact, good to be a grown up. To care about others as well as yourself. To want to help out those less fortunate. To welcome a neighbor to the area not caring if they think you are 'cool' or not. I want to be responsible for others and kind.( I put the grocery carriage back at the front of the store to save the young boys trips to the parking lots.) But, I find myself doing it naturally and then noting to myself that I am more courteous and conscientious. It is not forced!


50sgal said...

Wow, I was just revisiting some blogs and saw that you quoted me, that was nice of you. I do really believe such a small change as wardrobe really affects a larger one. When one feels good about oneself and that they are looking nice 'for others' it gives you a felling of community and not just 'self-comfort'. I actually have a hat and coat (though a bit longer) very similiar to the model and have indeed been carrying groceries while wearing them, I would like to say I looked as glamorus as the model, but that I don't think. Thank you.

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