Ever come across the term “for an elderly lady” when researching antique sewing patterns and designs?
Yeah…. So what does THAT mean??
My mom is in her sixties. If you read about a 65 year-old woman in the news you might think that’s an elderly woman. But then I consider my 102 year-old living great-grandmother – *she’s* elderly – not my mom. 🙂
Well, even as I approach 40 I would be considered old in Victorian times. Why is that and how do we dress for our “elderly” status?
Read on my old friends…
General life spans were not as long as ours today which is why 30s and 40s were considered older adults. As a social commentary, older women will cling to those fashions they wore in their youth & 20s but perhaps adjusted for current styles a little. Hairstyles, too, will follow the same.
It’s the same as today. Fashion plates are the Vogue and In-Style magazines of our time. I bet hardly any of us here even wears Vogue fashions on a regular basis. The high fashion is left to the young (which is what you see in 19th C. fashion plates).
Therefore, researching existing antique garments gives a better picture… perhaps. Remember, those garments are the ones to survive. They aren’t the everyday dresses that would have been worn until they wore out or were re-fashioned for smaller sized generations. Those, for obvious reasons, don’t survive.
Older women would keep the décolleté modest or even covered with chemisettes and fichus. Dinner and evening bodices were elbow or 3/4 sleeves with shallow necklines. Older women have no need to attract the opposite sex (generally… you know what I mean), which is what the current fashions were designed to do.
So how does this translate to those of us who simply LOVE the low-cut bodices of ball gowns or the short, puffed sleeves of the Regency dresses?
It is my opinion that life is too short to quibble. To be petty about such things.
Historical costuming is a passion and hobby for most of us. Our current society has so many fashion styles in a giant conglomerate soup that if you were to dress in a short sleeve, deep V-neckline ball gown with draperies of roses and lace and all the deeply fabulous things we dream about of Victorian clothing, who’s to care?!
And if someone points out that a 70 year-old woman (or whatever age you are, 18 to 110) would never have worn such a thing, well… they don’t deserve your attention. But be sure I would be doing research only for my own education and amusement, not theirs.
Research what you want. Find out how “old” you are in historical terms then throw it out the window.
Put your heart into creating things that give you joy! And don’t be bogged down by too much minutiae and highfalutin opinions that come from others in our creative industry. Follow your heart and share it with others.
To heck with your “elderly” age. 🙂