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The march of time

(Edited from contributions to the Stockings HQ discussion forum)

- There was a good article in the Sunday Times at the weekend on the return of '50s fashion, complete with pictures of lots of ladies, including celebrities, ranging from Diana Dors to Queen Elizabeth II wearing those beautiful flowing dresses that were so typical of the period. Guys then didn't know how lucky they were - tights hadn't even been invented and good girls never wore trousers (indeed even bad girls were seldom allowed to do so).

If we really are to see a revival of these fashions I for one would be delighted and it would not come a moment too soon. By contrast I was watching some "celebrities" of the modern era on the box the other day and it made for grim viewing. On the London regional news programme a female journalist (don't know her name) was doing a piece on lunchtime drinking. At the end of the report, she was shown sitting in a bar dressed in a pair of jeans. OK wear trousers if you must but I rather object to a supposedly serious TV journalist appearing on my TV screen in apparel that would get her sent home from most offices.

Then there was the BBC Holiday Programme where Claudia Winkelman appeared wearing jeans and T-shirt with a jumper round her waist. Lovely looking girl Claudia, but again is it really appropriate to appear on a serious TV programme looking like you've just emerged from the playground?

As if that wasn't enough I watched about two minutes of a Steps concert, which was definitely two minutes too long. Aside from the bloody awful music the three girls in that band have to be about the most unsexy, un-feminine dressers conceivable... I swear that they were all wearing exotic coloured pyjamas!

I wouldn't swap the lives we lead today for '50s austerity for anything, but in sartorial terms we have definitely lost something along the way.

- An interesting observation and wish you have made. You stated: "I wouldn't swap the lives we lead today for '50s austerity for anything... " but let's look at what we have given or gained in the ensuing years:

The two-way respect for the genders has been lost; woman wear pantyhose "because they are convenient". Kids are given birth to rather than raised. To dress to appeal is considered old-fashioned. Both people work more and see each other less in a relationship. The more we make the more we spend and then some. Stockings are actually more economical and logical (you don't throw out a whole pair if you get a run). Many products we bought in the '40s and '50s (if we didn't throw them out for being too old-fashioned) are still usable today - whereas something from last Christmas is probably already broken.

People dressed up to go to Church, dinner (even at home), the theatre or just over to a friend's house. I am not one to want to go back to a world where woman or minorities were oppressed but it seems we have thrown out the baby with the bath water.

- Sadly, women will never return to the beautiful fifties fashions and the flowing dresses and skirts, nor accompanying high heels and fully-fashioned stockings.

Never again will we see the glamour and sophistication of the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly with their stunning natural looks looking so glamorous.

So instead we will sadly have to put up with the likes of Tara Palmer Tomkinson, Lady Victoria Hervey, Catherine Zeta Jones, Liz Hurley, anyone who has dealings with the Gallaghers, silly girl bands, All Saints, Atomic Kitten etc who mime and dress in khaki, Britney Spears in stuff rejected from Oxfam, and stupid Helen from Big Brother who has become a celebrity with no talent whatsoever but that shows you how stupid a nation in the UK we have become;

My list continues with Victoria Beckham, Geri Halliwell, Jordan who looks like she is about to explode, have to pass on your choice of Claudia Winkleman, most certainly Anna Ryder Richardson though and many British soap stars.

So you are going to ask me at the end of the day who I would class as current day glamour?

Most certainly Penelope Cruz, Catherine Denevue, and there I am afraid my choice although limited ends at present...

But I can name you many more from the '50s and I am only 38, so if you can find a role model of female sophistication here in the millennium, who is natural and not abusive to the eye, I await your choices!

- I long for the '50s. If there was any period I could be hermetically sealed in it would be the time between 1946 and 1962, possibly stretched to 1966. Something happened in 1967 (not uncoincidentally the "summer of love" and the rise of hippiedom and the massive "counterculture"). It was the start of a downhill trend, almost as if a cannon had been fired straight at the heart of civility, fashion, style, glamour, manners and "adulthood".

Take a look at any movie made up to about the mid-1960s, and contrast that with films in the aftermath. Pre-1967 adult culture ruled. People dressed-up, homes and apartments had "adult" looks, people knew social graces and etiquette. Since then the world has descended into a form of adolescence (who are today's role models? Homer Simpson, Ted Bundy), uncivility (witness rise in crime), family decay (I believe there should be alternatives to nuclear family nevertheless look at the ills (welfare mothers, fatherless homes, massive divorce rates, abandoned children) wrought in its aftermath).

We may have a more wonderful technological civilisation. Our health care may be better. And there is generally, I believe, a greater sense of egalitarianism. For these reasons the world is better today. But we have lost so many of the forms of "adult civility. " Included in this of course is fashion and style. I look back with envy at the WW II generation who came of age in that incredible post-war period, with glamorous stylish women. And because women's clothes were so wonderful then and femininity as a value so prized, even women who may have been less physically glamorous were exceedingly charming and alluring. Both women - and men (and I include myself) - today vastly pale by comparison.

- I agree with all of your thoughts - that somewhere, somehow, we've lost a sense of classiness and formality that I think makes life somewhat more bearable.

Thank you for adding a dose of reality to this. Life for women and minorities was not as good as we'd like to think. The strides toward fairness for all have been a positive thing. Since none of us lived through it the first time, we can't know what it was REALLY like.

All we can do is try to recreate a little of that among ourselves, and among our circle of friends. The friends my husband and I have understand this, and respect those old traditions.

- One piece of solace is the ad I saw the other day for the stage production of Peggy Sue Got Married, starring the lovely Ruthie Henshall. She is pictured in one of those flowing dresses and wearing a nice pair of slingbacks. Ms. Henshall's nylon credentials are impeccable as she also starred in the London production of Chicago