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Everybody’s talkin’

July 6, 2009


I’ve long wanted to actually own a copy of a vintage Vogue magazine, and finally took the plunge last week on Ebay. My copy, from June 1954, arrived at the weekend, and I made a large pot of coffee, made a little me time, and sat down to peruse it. By the time I’d finished I began to feel that possibly high fashion in the 1950s was not at all about ‘personal style’ as we know it today, but more about looking absolutely Stepford immaculate and “practically perfect in every way”. (A touch ironic then that some of us now work aspects of 1950s fashion into our own highly individual and personal look?) The adverts (of which there were MANY) were all for: a) nylons/stockings for immaculate legs, b) make up to help you achieve that immaculate mask-like face, and c) fearsome looking underwear and girdles to help you achieve that immaculate figure.

Having said that, though, there were some lovely dresses:

It was fascinating reading the articles. Of which there are quite a few about dieting. One diet menu plan suggests a dinner of prawn cocktail, roast chicken, bacon rolls, French beans with water chestnuts, strawberries and cream and coffee or tea. (Now that’s my kind of diet…)

Vogue bills the summer of 1954 as “the prettiest summer for years”. Everything is soft and flower-bedecked. Including underwear and petticoats. Which actually seems like a great idea, making a petticoat that’s pretty enough to be seen:

I loved the “People are talking about” column. Apparently, in June 1954 “people are talking about….The extraordinary prevalence of summer clothes in the shops practically all the year round- only to be explained logically as psychological war against the English climate….The rise to star popularity of the Plain-Jane or Ungly-Mug style of looks in actresses, probably originating in the French films, now spreading to the English stage and screen…The nice way we have Gregory Peck about the place in England…The astonishing way in which tea-addicted Londoners are piling into the new coffee bars for great draughts of espresso….”

Great draughts of expresso? Great scott!  Steady on, chaps!

People are also talking about Marlene Dietrich, just about to do four months cabaret at the Cafe de Paris “seen here in a ringmaster’s costume that emphasizes the eternal perfection of those poetic legs”:

And I couldn’t resist a chuckle at the snide comment below:

“People are talking about… The awful way English seaside towns will keep advertising their phenomenal holiday weather- choose between Weston (“for fun in the sun”) Clacton (“glorious sunshine”) Sunny Worthing (” for l-o-n-g-e-r sunshine hours”) Hastings “South Coast sun spot”) and Felixstowe, which merely says with rather touching honesty “facing south” and hopes for the best…”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tula permalink
    July 9, 2009 11:15 pm

    Vintage magazines are such fun! I don’t have too many Vogues, but I’ve got quite a random collection of other fashion magazines, mostly pre-1930’s. I love reading the articles and following the different trends and focuses of fashion. It’s interesting to see how the “ideal” female shape changes over time.

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