england

Protection

"Bertrand came out on to the step, glancing from one of them to the other. He was wearing a blue beret, which had much the same effect on Dixon as Welch senior's fishing-hat. If such headgear was a protection, what was it a protection against? If it wasn't a protection, what was it? What was it for? What was it for?" (188)

Blue beret (and so much more) at  Agi & Sam  A/W2013

Blue beret (and so much more) at Agi & Sam A/W2013

Amis, KingsleyLucky Jim. London: Penguin, 1972 [1954].

 

What was it for? Why do we wear hats with character? At the time Amis was writing, hats on men were still common--even socially necessary. To not wear a hat would have been significant; what does wearing a funny hat mean?

Un-Prim

"'Oh, I see all right, James. I see perfectly.' This time her voice was flat. She wore a sort of arty get-up of multi-coloured shirt, skirt with fringed hem and pocket, low-heeled shoes, and wooden beads. The smoke from her cigarette curled up, blue and ashy in a sunbeam, round her bare forearm.

Elaine de Kooning, 1950s. Detail from a portrait of the de Koonings by Rudy Burckhardt. In the  permanent collection  at the Guild Hall.

Elaine de Kooning, 1950s. Detail from a portrait of the de Koonings by Rudy Burckhardt. In the permanent collection at the Guild Hall.

...

'...What the hell do you take me for? It isn't as if you didn't know what I've had to put up with, all these last weeks. It's intolerable, absolutely intolerable. I won't stand for it. You must have known how I've been feeling.'

She went on like this while Dixon looked her in the eyes. His panic mounted in sincerity and volume. Her body moved jerkily about; her head bobbed from side to side on its rather long neck, shaking the wooden beads about on the multi-coloured shirt. He found himself thinking that the whole arty get-up seemed oddly at variance with the way she was acting. People who wore clothes of that sort oughtn't to mind things of this sort, certainly not as much as Margaret clearly minded this thing. It was surely wrong to dress, and to behave most of the time, in a way that was so un-prim when you were really so proper all of the time." (76-77)

 

Amis, Kingsley. Lucky Jim. London: Penguin, 1972 [1954].

 

You are how you dress! Or should be, anyway, right?

Public Exhibition

"Wilson liked poetry, but he absorbed it secretly, like a drug. ... His taste was romantic. For public exhibition he had his Wallace. He wanted passionately to be indistinguishable on the surface from other men: he wore his moustache like a club tie--it was his highest common factor, but his eyes betrayed him--brown dog's eyes, a setter's eyes, pointing mournfully towards Bond Street." (12)

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, certainly no shrinking violet. But what a mustache! From  here .

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, certainly no shrinking violet. But what a mustache! From here.

Greene, Graham. The Heart of the Matter. Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books, 1962 [1948].

That passionate interest is so far from what I am interested in personally that I can't understand it, but it's such a wonderful description of this character. What kind of mustache does he have, what "club" does he belong to? What is a nondescript mustache in British West Africa in the 1940s?

Fashion suffers.

"Fashion suffers by being very much more interesting than those who follow it." (ix)

 

McDowell, Colin. The Literary Companion to Fashion. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995.

 

I knew this exists, but I never picked it up--this is the 1995/analog version of this website! But better organized. So maybe this is, instead, an extension? If I may be so bold? Really looking forward to reviewing his new book on Worn Through in two weeks...