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Staggering Heights (and hello!)

Hi all! I'm Angela, owner of vintage clothing boutique in Des Moines Iowa, Dorothea's Closet Vintage and online shop, DOROTHEASCLOSETVINTAGE.COM. The delightful Cherie here at Shrimpton has asked to guest blog once in a while and so, aside from my regular-slash-sporadic blogging at REAL-VINTAGE, I'll pop in now and then to share some thoughts on vintage, modern fashion and vintage IN modern fashion now and then. Thanks Cherie! Here goes!

The long awaited September issue of Vogue confirms it.....the 1940s shoulder is back. With the 80s making a comeback recently as well, its easy to assume right off that this shoulder pad moment is brought to you by those who cannot stop Tivo'ing Dynasty (I'm talking to you, former visual merchandising co-worker at the department store who dressed every mannequin like Joan Collins at the Kentucky Derby!).

But there is more to this shoulder growth phenomenon than a longing to revisit ones youth. Unless of course you are 90.

Not only does the look actually mimic a more refined, sophisticated 40s noir startlet, there is another big difference between the 80s spin on the wide shoulder and the one we're seeing today....the shoes.

In the 1940s the wide shoulders were balanced by a chunky or wedge heel and the platform sole. To revisit my own recent blog about shoulder pads a tad, you can pretty much track the evolution of the wide shoulders to the beginning of WWII in the late 30s....certainly shoulders reached the maximum width while the women of America found themselves thrust into the workplace doing what were traditionally men's jobs. And as they stepped into that role, they stepped up their physical image with the platform. The epitome of which were the shoes designed for the starlets of the day by Salvatore Ferragamo. You can click the Ferragamos to get to a killer site, SHOE-ICONS to view the 40s section of a virtual shoe museum with serious drool-worthy shoes!

Oddly, the platform made its second appearance in the 70s, paired with nearly 30s inspired long, lean and feminine silhouettes. Worn by both women and men....at times more earthy than the 40s platforms, at times far more outrageous, the 70s platform is what comes to mind to most when speaking of platforms today. Picture links to Shoe-Icons 70s collection...

In the 80s the shoulders bulked back up but with the platform now being passe, this was not a direct re-issue of the 40s head to toe look....now the shoulders were not at all balanced out by footwear, rather the silhouette became that of an inverted triangle teetering on impossibly narrow stilettos. Its as if the polar opposite of the 70s silhouette with the weight of the silhouette at the base of a long, lean feather-light female form. The 80s saw the physical bulk of design sit at the shoulders (and upward into huge teased hair)!

This time we're seeing both 40s & 80s trends run concurrently....perhaps a tribute to a sane view of proportion. The wide shoulders remain more lady like, the waist still emphasized, the hips acknowledged as part of the feminine form. The platform returns, this time more subtle, concealed as part of the upper rather than an exaggerated stacked sole (a clever design setting today's shoe apart from platforms of the past, thank you CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN!). The heel is slowly bulking back up and getting away from the stiletto, the toe rounding to less of an extreme. While there are nods to the 80s, the 40s hold court here. This example is available at GOJANE.COM

So the next time someone laments the return of 80s fashion, you may want to gently remind them that the 80s were a return to 40s fashion...and this time we're mixing the best of both.



Make Do Style said...

Yes well said! Although the 40s were a continuum of the 1930s until 1947 and Dior's New Look.

Shoulders are very Adrian (Hollywood costumer).

Ulz said...

Very Interesting Blog! I absolutely adore the wide shoulder look and glad its back1. As of platforms - they were also a huge fad in mid 90's, especialy with the rising pop groups like spice girls turning them into an ultimate fashion must-have's for all the girls. I still have mine! They are so hideous, but I know their time will come..

Sandra @ Debutanteclothing.com said...

great to see you posting here at Cherie's site. I am in love with the comeback of the 40s/80s shoulder. Although I do prefer the strong shoulder and smaller peplum of the 40s.

Ang said...

Thanks guys! I agree, Sandra, for me the strong shoulder is a better approach than going linebacker wide. And Ulz, I had forgotten about plats in the 90s (I think they'll always be around in some respect on stage and in the music scene!). Make Do, there sure were a lot of 30s looks into the 40s but that long lean bias cut look and the more flirty details fell away as the US joined WWII and rationing affected textiles & extras like ruffles became streamlined! Thanks for reading!


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