Louis Vuitton’s latest ad campaign features Karen Elson, Natalia Vodianova, and Christy Turlington impeccably styled in full on 50s glamour in the same spirit of their fall runway show. With perfect ponytails that even the first Barbie would envy, these women are paying homage to a time when a lady was lady from the moment she woke up until the time she went back to sleep. The image of perfectly primped and well dressed women that ruled the first half of the last century, always make me feel less than lady like as I throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt to begin my day. With all that we have achieved, the sense of everyday glamour that our predecessors upheld has all but vanished.
Of course, we all know that the images of the well heeled and well behaved women of the 30s, 40s and 50s were just that images much like the ones forced upon us today, however one chat with your grandmother will confirm that prior to the Women’s Liberation movement of the 1960s there were a lot of places that a proper lady just didn’t wear slacks to-one being on some college campuses. Women were expected to look as pretty as a flower and play the supporting role to men who were busy shaping a culture that we were expected to participate in. Nurses, secretaries, and teachers were expected to wear stockings without runs, keep their make-up flawless, and quit their jobs once they were married and ready to start a family-hence the reason most of our grandmothers haven’t worked in over 40 years. These prim and proper ladies in turn gave birth to a generation of women that went on to shake up the system and fight for the rights that we so often take for granted. They broke through glass ceilings in power suits- would you take Hillary Clinton seriously as the Secretary of State if she wore Jackie O’s suits- and shook the attire of secretaries holding a job until their husband called them home in favor of adopting the attire of their higher ups. What was once the defining standard of beauty for the American woman quickly became the poster child of all things anti-feminist and we soon turned from wanting to be like the poised movie stars of old to wanting to dress like panty flashing girls behaving badly.
In my mind, no matter what any book on feminism says, the women who came before us were paradigms of femininity. Perfect hair, skin, make-up and style are timeless and can never be discounted, which is why after over 50 years Dior’s New Look of 1947 is still inspiring designers. It may be true that dressing up every day like Joan from Mad Men may not help you climb the corporate ladder or be appropriate for a job that requires more of you than sitting in an office, however it still looks amazing. If we can learn one thing from the women before us, it is that we should always remember to be true to our own style within reason- ie wearing a garter belt and pencil skirt while installing a window display is out of the question-and that being a lady is not about the way you dress, it’s about the way you carry yourself. Whether you wear a power suit, leggings, or couture gown if you carry yourself with class you’ll be more of a lady than Grace Kelly.
Runway images Style.com
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