Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The lost habit of wearing dressing gowns

Every morning, when I prepare the breakfast, cuddle the cat, check my emails, I do all this in a very old fashioned manner: I’m wearing a dressing gown. And only when it’s time to get dressed and leave the house, I feel the need to take it off. Wearing it for simply being quickly covered, to avoid getting cold, or because it’s faster than picking the clothes for the day, is not the only reason I enjoy robes so much. It’s a lost habit. Gone with the newly discovered way of putting on an oversized T-shirt or- and that’s my worst case scenario- jeans, right after getting up.
A robe hugs you. It is the comfort blanket that gives you a feeling of being up, but not yet in the cold harsh reality of the day. It is the consoling fabric that relaxes you on a rainy afternoon; or an entire Sunday, that you’ve decided to be a lazy break from engaging with the world.
But how we view this piece of clothing has changed over the decades. In Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “Marnie” (1964),  Tippi Hedren floated around in a cream colored robe de chambre that could nowadays easily be mistaken as a formal gown, worn to the opera. If people would dress formal for the opera today, which they usually don’t do either.
Back in earlier decades, like the 1940s and the thirties, ladies presented themselves on the big screen as if just jumped out of a musical, rather than out of bed. The hair in perfect waves and with flawless makeup, waving the busy husband goodbye at the door, while he jumps into his car, armed with a suitcase, a hat and the morning paper.  
Although I cannot say that I have in any way the need to wear that kind of makeup in the morning- let alone already when waking up, nor my hair in flawless layers- I do miss the normality of being a little more ’lady’ in one’s one home. It seems utterly uncommon to shop for pretty bathrobes, or getting exited when size and length are just right.

Other things excite us now. A pretty cell phone case… a chic new flat screen that to me looks exactly    as dull and cold as any other black surface. Or the occasional high heels that look cool on a shelf with umpteen other high heels, that one isn’t capable of wearing for more than three hours.
Nifty things to excite ourselves while just “being”, seem to be obsolete. A thing of the past, when women and men all over the world enjoyed their morning coffee in appropriate attire. In case the milk man rang at the door, or you quickly had to chat with the nosy neighbour while picking up the morning paper. 
A man in a robe is these days, is rare as a horse in ballerina shoes, since we believe it’s a thing of certain magazine editors, surrounded by busty blondes. And although picturing that must be at least a little motivation for some man, to try the whole-robe thing, it seems rather odd and fallen out of time.
And as a man usually decides to wear anything else but a robe, it would be nice to bring back the old habit of a lady wearing not the exact same thing as her lover. It can be cute to run around in your partner’s button up shirt, or a t-shirt in the size of a tent. But then again, a little dressing up that only takes two seconds and instantly makes you look neat and put together, could make you feel twice as good!
Shopping for dressing gowns on the other hand, can be a rather tricky undertaking. Not only do I find myself often in a too short version of something that seems oddly asymmetric. I also look like a beefed up version of a polar bear, in a terrycloth bathrobe. So if there will ever be another trend or movement towards the lost habit of wearing beautiful robes at home, I will smile in my dressing gown in which I write this piece, in this very moment. Thinking: These are the hours at home that comfort me most. The time of celebrating my sanctuary and the freedom this clothing gives me, before facing a world full of jeans and t-shirts.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Asian inspired retro style

A new addition to my video series about world makeup and style, inspired by different cultures, is the Asian inspired retro style. As the biggest continent, Asia would be impossible to reflect in a single look. So I was focusing on typical style components of- for example- China, Japan, Thailand or Indonesia to inspire me here. Also, I combined style elements of the 1930s up to the 1950s for this retro-mix. Asia is so large, that it takes up a third of the entire world’s land area.
Some countries are geographically in Asia, but belong to very different cultures and therefore other traditional roots of style. Yet we usually think of particularly Chinese or Japanese basics when an Asian style is aspired.
I too have chosen a traditional Chinese silk blouse, to go with a 1940s style skirt and 50‘s shoes in a plum shade. To complete the retro-look, I‘ve decided to wear my hair in a 1930s faux short bob, that I simply achieved with the help of pin curls.
The makeup was often sophisticated and rarely overdone. The Asian ladies of the past- as many of the present- loved their sheer skin to be treated well, for an excellent even complexion and often went completely makeup-free.
I leaned into that idea and chose a truly simple makeup look with a 50s eyeliner, 1930s thinned eyebrows, fresh cheeks and a soft shade of lipstick.
The colors of traditional Asian clothing were often not only pretty, but often were specifically associated with various dynasties. The Chinese Shang dynasty was clearly connected with white, while black was the dominant shade in the Xia dynasty.
Aside from the- until this day- often seen immaculate makeup of the Asian lady, there are still people who imagine a geisha makeup when referring to traditional looks of Japan for example. In reality, the geisha style was and still means an impressive effort for the skilled woman entertainer. Who is known for her talents and grace in various fields, like music, calligraphy, literature and other cultural and intellectual aspects.
The daily style routine of many women in Asian countries though, would be a very clean, mellow one. The desired complexion changed here and there. So was a pale skin the ideal in one decade, in another a tan was seen as a positive statement of being proud of the hard work done by people on farms and in the fields. A similar shift to many other countries in the world.
To this day, traditional clothing and a particular approach to style and beauty, is what often defines a culture and enchants another. It does not only teach us the new, but inspires us with old ways of creating and maintaining a beauty that is more than skin deep. I was especially exited to try a few things myself and create my own little version of an Asian-inspired retro style, that makes me feel transnationally connected to this beautiful, impressive continent.