, , ,

Those tarts!

Would it surprise you during the Victorian era, the matrons scorned the youth of the day? A grandmother of the early 19th century lamented in a letter

The Ladies of the first fashion, in order to set all competition at defiance, actually appeared in public more than half naked; but instantly the whole necks, arms, shoulders and bosoms in the kingdom were thrown open to the eye of the gazer. (Cunningham, p. 41)

Whole necks?! The shame of it all! Entire arms and shoulders?! –I declare! Bosoms? Bosoms, you say? Why, I am positively convinced the entire country is headed straight hell, with the fashionable set on the Devil’s arm leading the way!

I jest and make light of the quote, but it was and still is a reality of the evolution of psyche and age. Viewing fashion plates from antiquated magazines, the models appear rather modest to me. The hemlines did not shorten until the middle of the century. Now, there was scandal! Albeit, the shoes of the time were similar to boots and the flesh of the ankle was not exposed . . . yet. From other lamentations one might think a Victorian lady was wearing nothing but a fig leaf in the oft comparison to Eve.

Older women decried their daughters and granddaughters running from room to room like wild animals and speaking in “slang” or, worse yet, like indoor servants. The young women addressed their elders rather informally much to the chagrin of the older set. All manners of comportment and dress were so vastly different; one woman was certain she was on foreign shores.

So, it will always be. Grandmother will not approve. It is a given. The best she could do is judge women of the same age against one another.