Be Your Own Designer

Recently I wrote about the strictly coded gender practices associated with the cocktail party in postwar America.  I talked about how mixing drinks was the purview of men and shared pages from Playboy magazine that included tips for the urbane bachelor on how to mix drinks and which tools he needed to be successful.  Before Playboy there was Esquire, which in 1949 published a Handbook for Hosts, providing an invaluable resource for single men on what kind of food to serve, drinks to make, games to play, what to wear, and how to behave.  Esquire’s

Shaken Not Jiggled

"The Gentleman's Home Bar" from Playboy, February, 1960 (author's collection).

"It even has a bar!"

This past November the Special Collections Reading Room at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a small exhibition assembled by British film scholar, Tamar Jeffers McDonald.  The small display included fan magazine reproductions of periodicals from the collection accompanied by exhibit text.  ‘Girl-next-door’ Doris Day’s fashion influence was the display’s subject.  I was surprised to learn that in the 1950s Doris Day was the most featured figure for fashion in film fan magazines of the day.  According to Jeffers McDonald, Day was regarded as a

Lift and Separate to Achieve that Desirable ‘New Look’

There is a great deal of literature – popular and academic – on what women wore in the US during World War II and how styles were influenced by goods rationing, no European fashion imports, and women’s increased entry into the workforce.  There has also been a great deal written about what happened after the war ended and how Paris positioned itself once again as a fashion center.  The Parisian couturier, Christian Dior, took the world by storm in spring 1947 when he introduced for autumn what came to be called the ‘New Look.’  Skirts were made fuller, hemlines dropped, waists were corseted

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