Fashion a day-to-day decision, not crisis

BY ELLEN MARTIN

Democrat Staff

School has started and it very soon will be fall, and the question now for all the young at heart is what will the fashion be this season. At one time, women did not wear white shoes after Labor Day, and if one's feet were large, not at all.

If a person wore a 41/2 or 5, designer sample shoes were a bargain that would have made the old woman who lived in the shoe a wreck on what to choose.

If one lived a childhood with two pair, everyday and Sunday, and walked barefoot carrying their shoes until the church was in sight, they can understand the importance of shoes.

Hats, too, for the well-dressed woman or man were important and still so for British Royalty, and to be seen at the Kentucky Derby. First Lady Jackie Kennedy made the pillbox a fashion sensation just as Michele O'Bama has favored the much seen sleeveless look.

To buy a hat years past, from a large selection, was an enjoyable experience and it was never mentioned that one size fits all.

My father hung his go-to-town hat in a safe place. My nephew now hangs his hat safely out of the way at family gatherings. My brother, sister and I as children admired a tall man, our neighbor, who rode through the country on a horse and wore a cowboy hat. He was present at my grandmother's housewarming and when "Home Sweet Home" was played he had forgotten where he had hung his hat and it was more found hanging in the stairwell leading to the unfinished basement.

It is of interest to note, in old pictures, men waiting in line to apply for a job in the depressing 1930s were wearing hats and the best they had. This was a time when the few clothes a family had could be hung behind doors in a home and the song "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" could be a reality.

The "Dust Bowl" on PBS had a man recall when his family could not find one dime in the house, and very few could count on living on his brother's dime. People were poor but proud trying to appear better than they had. A man who could still tip his hat was well met.

This was still a time when many stores were small and often owned by the same family for years that could provide whatever one needed. Living in Warrensburg, while going to college, the few clothes I bought came from one store. On one fall day, the manager informed me he had bought a three-piece outfit in my size that was a must to see. Even yet, after 65 years, the suit is still remembered, but the coat hangs in my closet and is a favorite to wear.

In Excelsior Springs the "Style Shop" was owned and operated by one woman, who knew her customers and bought accordingly. You never had to worry about meeting yourself.

It was still a time when a suit and two blouses covered a lot of ground, and a formal could be worn more than once from high school to college. In today's market, the sale of a house may very well depend on the amount of closet space.

The union label carries less weight as people buy labels from the world. Reportedly, "the United States imports 98 percent" of what is being worn made by poorly paid workers. So, what will be fashionable this fall? Will hemlines go up or down, determined in part by the economy? Will the see-through blouse be an in thing? Are skinny jeans here to stay? Youth will decide the fashion to be.

Meanwhile, for we of another age, it is not a crisis, since our closets are packed. If our weight has not shifted down, we have comfort clothes, maybe not in style, to wear.

Chekhov, in regard to crisis, wrote "Any idiot can face a crisis, it is the day-to-day living that wears you out."

That might also include just what to do about fashion.

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