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January 15, 2014

Blotto and Twinks: Dressing the Part

Here’s my problem with 1920s fashion: I don’t get it. It’s as though post-WWI clothing designers said “Ok, so let’s take everything about pre-war fashion, and tweak it just enough so that it becomes a whole lot less flattering. Those long, fluid skirts that made even the stockiest woman look graceful? Let’s hike the hem so she looks boxy instead, and let’s also opt for heavier, stiffer fabrics that don’t drape well. And you know how we had been downplaying the bust, with the result that corseting was much less elaborate and restrictive than it had been at the turn of the century? Now, we’re going to just crush the bust, kill the damn thing, so that any woman over the age of 12 will both be permanently uncomfortable and look vaguely like a stuffed sausage in the chestal area. Ooooh, and finally – Marcel, this is my favorite part! – you know how the waistline used to be kind of loosely under the bust, so that lovely long line was preserved while at the same time providing a nod to the feminine form? Dead! That puppy is dead, Marcel! Instead, we’re going to wrap a sash around a woman’s widest bits, emphasize her least elegant angles. And the best part is, all these outfits are going to illustrate like a dream. The drawings in Vogue will be the most gorgeous things ever. But there isn’t a woman alive who will wear these clothes and look like anything other than a tubby mailbox perched on a couple of stilts.”

You’d think our darling Twinks (remember that the Blotto and Twinks books are set in the 1920s) would be too smart to fall for these evil machinations, but heck, even Einstein had blind spots. So far as I’m concerned, the entire decade is a Glamour Don’t, but while I’d love to give Twinks a make-over, I think it’s a lost cause. But lest you think I’m just whining for the sake of a blog-post, please see the illustrations below. And tell me if you think anyone beyond the very young Kate Moss (or the eternally young Louise Brooks) could wear those clothes without defining the word “dumpy” for a new generation.

The height of pre-war chic

The height of pre-war chic

And it even looked good on real women!

And it even looked good on real women!

But while the post-war clothes looked fantastic in illustration...

But while the post-war clothes looked fantastic in illustration…

...on actual women, not so much

…on actual women, not so much!



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