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MatC
323691.  Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:29 am Reply with quote

The rubber shortage meant that most shoes had wooden soles; hence the advice on shoe care from Mrs Sew-and-Sew:

“Damp shoes should be dried out slowly - never near strong heat. Put wet “woodies” sole-side up.”

S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

(Well, just in case there’s a desperate shortage of doubles entendres this series ...)

 
MatC
323708.  Thu Apr 24, 2008 6:48 am Reply with quote

Trousers again:

It was WW2 that made trousers respectable for women; until then, they were considered “fast.” But I suppose having bare legs was even more shocking than wearing trousers. Also, trousers were simply the only practical garment for women, who were spending hours a day queuing for supplies, and were picking their way through rubble, and working in difficult, physical jobs, and so on.

Disapproval died hard, though. In 1945, the Sunday Graphic, under the excellent headline “Time Women Stopped It,” wrote that “Far too many of us, for far too long, have been masquerading in public in men’s clothes. [...] It has simply succeeded in being cheap [...] Women’s figures do not show up to advantage in trousers and jacket - they are not built to carry them.”

S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

Links: Feminism

 
MatC
324490.  Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:01 am Reply with quote

Interesting to note that during the war, the British fashion industry continued producing clothes. These were not available in Britain, but were made entirely for export, to bring in desperately needed dollars. That has to be the strangest possible answer to the question “What did you do during the War?”

S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

 
MatC
348192.  Fri May 30, 2008 4:31 am Reply with quote

Have we ever mentioned the social prohibition in the southern USA on women wearing white shoes before Memorial Day (or in some versions, Labor Day, or Easter)?

About ten years ago, I belonged to a gardening email list which consisted largely of Southron Ladies, all of whom took this extremely seriously, and simply couldn't understand why those of us on the list who lived in the First World were laughing at them. They really, really meant it - and were equal parts baffled and horrified to learn that the rule didn’t apply in other countries.

 
Flash
348205.  Fri May 30, 2008 4:44 am Reply with quote

Never heard of that, and I'm just writing the Fashion script now. Do we know why they do this?

 
suze
348221.  Fri May 30, 2008 5:20 am Reply with quote

The "rule" was that one should only wear white shoes between Memorial Day (last Monday in May - it was this week) and Labor Day (first Monday in September).

I've heard of it as a quaint thing that people in the South used to believe, together with the notion that cowboy types should wear straw hats between Memorial Day and Labor Day and felt hats the rest of the year.

But I thought that it had very much gone the way of the dodo. Then again, Southern Ladies Who Garden are not a group whose orbit has crossed mine to any great extent - did such people invent the rule just so that they could mock lower class people who didn't abide by it?

 
MatC
348306.  Fri May 30, 2008 7:15 am Reply with quote

I think "nobody knows" is the usual answer, but I imagine that suze is right, and it's simply what happens when feudal societies are becoming capitalist: people from below are moving up the class ladder, and have to be kept in their place by U and non-U rules, which should be as impossible to learn as they can possibly be.

Some interesting stuff here:
http://ask.yahoo.com/20020913.html


Quote:
But others suggest the rule stems from a class issue. Acting Director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Valerie Steele notes that in the late 19th century and the 1950s, more people were entering the middle classes. These nouveau-riche folks were often unaware of the standards of high society, so they were given specific codified rules to follow in order to fit in.

 
MatC
348308.  Fri May 30, 2008 7:17 am Reply with quote

From this http://allday.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/03/22/97724.aspx
we learn that it is still a VERY live issue with some folk!

 
MatC
348310.  Fri May 30, 2008 7:18 am Reply with quote

Same here - http://blog.baghaus.com/white-shoes-before-memorial-day/

What surprises me is that it seems to be nationwide, rather than just from the States That Time Forgot.

 
MatC
348313.  Fri May 30, 2008 7:25 am Reply with quote

This is particularly interesting; responses from some sort of blog correspondence:

http://www.emailbookclub.com/alt/white1.html

Quote:
Yes, avoiding wearing white anywhere except on a tennis court between Labor Day and Memorial Day is absolutely still "enforced" where I live (Palmdale, CA). But we also still frown on mixing blue and brown, which is really silly since leather shoes like Topsiders (my favorite) are brown, and Levi's 501's (my other favorite) are blue, and the two together not only look quite nice, they are the best uniform for almost all outdoor activities.


Quote:
I am a senior citizen who lives n New York, and I remember "the rules" quite well. However, the probem of wearng white was solved some years back by the clothing manufacturers themselves. A slightly yellowed white was given the designation "Winter White".--Ruth


Quote:
White after Memorial Day is a hard and fast rule in the South. But I have been told repeatedly that Florida is not part of the South. So don't worry.


Quote:
I grew up, and still live in Columbia, South Carolina. We learned that you could not wear white shoes before Easter or after Labor Day. Here is a story to illustrate how seriously my mother took this rule:

The Carolina Cup (a horse race held in Camden, SC ) was held the DAY before Easter one year. The Carolina Cup is a very small version of the Kentucky Derby, where everyone dresses in their best new fashions. My sister had an outfit picked out, but had white (gasp) shoes to go with it. My mother gave her money to go out and buy a new pair of shoes to wear, knowing that they would probably be ruined by my sister wandering around outdoors, rather than have her wear white shoes the DAY BEFORE Easter.

We take our accessories seriously here in the south! This event took place about 20 years ago! I think that the rules have relaxed somewhat since then, but most people in our community (locals, anyway) still wouldn't be caught dead in white shoes at the wrong time.--Suzanne


More encouragingly ...
Quote:
I've asked my very fashion aware nieces about the "white rule" and they had never heard of it!--Lori


Quote:
I was born and raised in Houston by a southern parents (Mississippi and Arkansas). We did not wear white until after Easter and NEVER after labor day, the same with sandals and straw hats and bags. When I moved to California 20 years ago I was shocked to see women wearing white shoes in the winter. I have gotten over my shock, but I still will not wear white shoes in winter. I believe in individuality and that people should wear what makes them happy. --Barbara



Perhaps that's a question for you, Flash -

Q: What is Winter White?

 
MatC
348317.  Fri May 30, 2008 7:27 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
The "rule" was that one should only wear white shoes between Memorial Day (last Monday in May - it was this week) and Labor Day (first Monday in September).


There wasn't/isn't one universal rule; I watched the women on my list fall out with each other as they discovered the perverted details of each county's precise interpretation! Sometimes it's hard to see how the USA can possibly survive the coming of the internet!

 
Jenny
348351.  Fri May 30, 2008 8:15 am Reply with quote

I've heard of that 'rule', and indeed you rarely see white shoes here in the winter. On the other hand, you rarely see any footwear except heavy boots in a Maine winter, for extremely good reasons.

I thought 'winter white' was well known as a colour. I know of it anyway - it suits me much better than pure white.

 
MatC
348441.  Fri May 30, 2008 10:02 am Reply with quote

It probably is well know, Jenny; my excuse is that I am male, and therefore genetically capable of being aware of only three colours: black; white; and “Yeah love, looks great, smashing.”

 
Jenny
349038.  Sat May 31, 2008 8:54 am Reply with quote

Maine men don't know black and rarely know white. They are, however, very familiar with khaki and blue. These are the universal colours for trousers/jeans here, and frequently shirts. There's probably a thesis to be written about these cultural differences - my husband commented to me when we were in England once, 'Why does everybody wear black pants here?'

 
eggshaped
349085.  Sat May 31, 2008 10:54 am Reply with quote

Flash, I know you're working on this at the moment. You may want to google "Richard Buckley's Exploding Trousers". Not sure exactly what the story is, and I don't have time to look it up, but I think it's something to do with a weedkiller reacting with trouser fabric.

There was an ignobel about it, I think.

May link to Wellington's pants.

 

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