When I was young, my parents showed me photos of themselves when they were young and I would laugh and shake my head. How old-fashioned they looked! My mother’s hair with its elaborate artificial waves, her hats and gloves and fancy dresses. My father’s three-piece suits with striped ties and the classic fedora that he wore everywhere—except indoors.
Now, when I come upon those same photos, I think how stylish my parents looked, how elegant. Compared with them, people today, including me, look pretty boring—casual, practical, identical. With ball caps indoors, running shoes outdoors, and blue jeans everywhere. Well, we’re a lot more comfortable and a lot less creative.
Or, is it my nostalgia speaking? After all, when I was young, I didn’t want to look like my parents. I wanted to make my own choices about what to wear. To shorten my skirts and straighten my hair, to take off those hats and gloves and garter belts! Every generation wants this freedom and it takes a while before we can see the value in what we threw away.
Which makes me wonder if some of the popularity of Downton Abbey was the thrill of seeing how fabulous people can look when they’re not wearing sweatpants and T-shirts! Maybe our grandchildren will re-discover elegance.