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June 21, 2010


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Me too!! What an awesome exhibit that sounds like. I wouldn't mind checking out our sisters in history myself.

Hello Maureen,

Still there is something about an era that is gone. The classiness of the women of the past is just not in us today (I feel, I could be wrong).

Fashions seem to go in cycles. I remember wearing Annie hall type clothing that looked similar to the manly type fashions of the 20s. Without the breast-binding of course.

My step mother was a big bra burner. I remember this so clearly as a young girl even though I didn't understand exactly all that it implied. I'm glad for the symbolism that fashion can imply because the lessons of her bra...and those I'm imparting to my daughter (from my sports bra era, to today when I'm all for fancy and spoiling myself) mean something.

I felt it then...I'm watching it transition to my kiddo.

Glad you enjoyed the museum.

What a cool exhibit. Don't they say that womens hemlines reflect the current economy?

The thought of me going braless at any age is frightening. And I do have to say, I wish curvy girls would come back in style - just about everything seems to be designed for 6-foot tall 12-year-olds.

You make me want to see this exhibit! I smiled at your mention of the braless 70s. I certainly remember them (though personally, never tossed my undies on a revolutionary pyre).

It's extraordinary looking at how women's fashion is shaped by social change, our "roles," the economy. I wonder what the study of bras / underwear would tell us, even as we cycle through assorted trends again and again.

Ah, the things we do to our breasts all in the name of fashion. I stopped going bra-less once I had kids. The boobs were never quite the same.

I have photos of my grandmother from the 30's with her wearing riding boots, high-waisted trousers, and a men's button-down shirt. She was such a rebel.

The evolution of fashion is intriguing. Love the photo. I think you resemble your aunt in the center. I love the look of the roaring 20's (and I wouldn't even have to squish my boobs down to fit in!). I am actually thinking of bobbing my hair for the summer...don't think I'll go as far as reverting my swimsuit to one that goes down to my knees, although the public might wish I would!

Loved this post. I remember I used to have a pair of burgundy pumps from my grandmother that were probably popular in the 20's and 30's. I loved those things and I even wore them a few times in the 70's. I wish I knew what I had done with them!

I would have found this extremely interesting! (And I've always had an nsgging thought that going without a bra sometimes in my younger years made my breasts the way they are today. And that's not complimentary..)

I am just living vicariously through you and your big adventures. I love your recaps!

Wow! What a fascinating exhibit and interesting analysis. I'll be in NYC in August - I hope it will still be there!

God I wish I were there with you. I love love exhibits like that. HOw long is it there for do you know? and I too so wish they would have continued to show more from WWII and beyond

I love that crazy shoe at the end! I am very proud of how far we've come as a gender, aren't you? Ugh, to think of having to bind your breasts (or feet) or disfigure yourself in any way...

I would love to check this out. Envy your getting to take weekend trips to Manhattan Maureen.

I told you writing about fashion wasn't completely frivolous;). Not that you ever said it was, of course.

One of my favorite classes as a drama major in college was Costume History, which was essentially the history of fashion since the Roman Empire. We studied all the stuff you're talking about, the historical reasons behind changes in fashion. It was fascinating. We learned the changes in the erogenous zones (at times it was the wrist, or the ankle, or the bosom), the shapes of corsets and hoops, hemline shifts. You'd have LOVED it.

Were sweatpants and ponytails featured in the exhibit? What's that you say? That's not fashion?? I'm doomed then. =>

Love fashion history, even the history of the bra (what movie was that in again?) So, being an underwire-wearing gal since my teen years should mean something, right? Um... I'll have to talk to these manufacturers!

Also, isn't this new fascination with Spanx just a return to the girdle, except now there's a girdle for every part of the body? How much of clothes has to do with hating our bodies and how much has to do with loving them?

Really interesting, Maureen. Great post!

I didn't really need to wear a bra until I was 25ish. My mother was horrified. (Seriously, they didn't make 'em small enough...)

Totally not the case now - I had no idea.

It's funny how clothes, like places, can bring back nostalgic memories and feelings! Sounds like a fascinating place!

It sounds like it was an inspiring exhibit. I agree, the WWII and 50's fashion, through the 70's would have been a nice addition. It is amazing what the trends tell us about the times.

Loved the way you described the different exhibits...I could easily picture them in all their fashionista-glamour...

I've often thought that every new trend is somehow influenced by something from the past. I mean, how many different looks can really exist...and yet still cover our girlie-parts? Plus, we have to be able to walk in it...and maybe sit, too. Speaking of sitting, remember that I Love Lucy eppy where she couldn't sit in her skin-tight gown for dinner? She said it was better for digestion to eat standing up...

I always wished I could go braless. I was a size D by 6th grade (at a whopping 110 pounds). I was a DD after nursing 3 kids ... and finally had a reduction so I'm now a C ... still too big to go braless comfortably. I always envied the girls who could wear halter tops ... Sigh!

Great post as always. I took a women's history class in college and have always been fascinated by the women of the early 20th Century. What a time that must have been for women! So interesting how clothes and fashion shape us as much as our attitudes and times shape fashion.

I'm with Jan, everything is designed for 6 ft tall 12 year olds....been looking for a dress to wear to sons wedding....
I wore like an a or maybe a b for 25+ years....that helps in not being droopy, now they are heading for the waist.....

hate many of the ways women have been treated, but LOVE fashion :). Braless... How I wish!

And what a fantastic photo (of your grandmother and great-aunt) to accompany this post! What an amazing trip through the years of woman and style. The changes in women's fashion is fascinating to me.

This is fascinating. All in all, I'm glad I'm living now where the thing that most dictates what I'm wearing is comfort!

A few years ago, my husband and I also took in a fashion-related exhibit in NYC. But I think yours was much more respectable. Ours was a foot-binding retrospective thingy at the Museum of Sex. Poor female breasts and feet--they didn't stand a chance for years...

I can't even imagine having to wear some of the uncomfortable, unflattering getups those women had to endure.

I'm fascinated by fashion but even more by women who decide to buck what's in and what's not. I love the idea to wear what feels comfortable and says to the world, "This is me. Take it or leave it." Although I must say, I am now showing my age. At a recent funeral of a friend's mother, one of the granddaughters had torn tights with more holes than hose. I thought, "Oh, honey, change those right now." I also felt she is a young woman trying desperately to stand out and using "clothes" to do it. Fashion don't...that's all I can say.

I'm so glad that someone burnt their bra, cause it is the one thing I love to NOT wear!

Sounds like a wonderful wasy to spend the day learning about women's great history and impact on society.

Last year, around this time, we went to the MET, and they had a fashion exhibit. i dont know if it's the exact same one, but i LOVED it.

I feel the most comfortable with my boobs flapping in the wind. *sigh*

What? Was this not the place to share this? would love to see this exhibit and learn more about womens' fashions (and braless women too! :-)

Seriously, I would really like to see the exhibit and I find the fashions back when my grandma was young in the early 1900s so fascinating. someday I need to post some of those shots of her just being free and hanging all out...the flapper days. So cool...

What does any man know about women, so I feel eminently qualified to comment. It has never halted a woman in similar circumstances.
I think it is not so much the binding or releasing of the breast, nor the lifting or lowering of the hem. But the closing or opening of a mask. A mask that is so similar but for it to work in any widespread way must be achievable in a widespread way to be Classic. 1890, 1920 and the 1960. All these had that affordability and more importantly that ability to transfer to any size or shape.

Thanks for the summary of the exhibit. At first I thought COOL, I wish I were there. Then I thought of the 2 whining kids crying about how bored they are. YOUR summary is a lot better than being there.

The problem with popular fashion is that we come in different sizes and shapes. When the breasts were being flattened, I imagine that there were some women who were not as well endowed and were ok with this practice. When voluptuousness was celebrated, there must have been women who felt inferior about their bodies. Whenever I am back home, I am bombarded with images/advertisement/commercials about weight loss and breast augmentation. I wish they would just go away.

p.s. I am working from home today. But I am going to go put on my bras now. Thank you for the reminder!

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