Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Great Moments in Fabric Literature, Vol XIX

The people, that Christmas Party night, were indeed nice. We wore our formals: skirts not less than eight nor more than fifteen inches from the floor, dresses of light but not bright colors and of materials semi-transparent or opaque, necklines not more than three inches below the collar bone and sleeves long or elbow length. We all passed the requirements of the catalog, but with such delectable additions as long chiffon scarves twined around our necks in the best Nita-Naldi-brochitic manner, or great artificial flowers pinned with holiday abandon on our left shoulders. Two or three of the Seniors had fox furs slung nonchalantly about them, with the puffy tails dangling down over their firmly flattened young breasts in a most fashionable way.

The Gastronomical Me; M.F.K. Fisher, 1943

If you want to visit a Lost World, read about life in the 1920's and thirties in M.F.K. Fisher's semi-autobiographical book. I say "semi" because Mary Frances was never one to let the truth stand in the way of a good story. As my family would say, if it isn't true, it should be!
This was a time when people Dressed for Dinner, and there were very specific rules for exactly what one should wear. It is so different from our New Casual Society as to require translation, almost.
If you haven't read any M.F.K. Fisher, you are missing out on some of the most graceful writing of the twentieth century. It's a misconception that she writes about food; that's just the subtext. She is really writing about hunger in all of its manifestations, and that's a much larger subject.

1 comment:

Nancy K said...

dressing for dinner. I don't allow ratty t shirts or sweatshirts at the dinner table, but that isn't exactly 'dressing' for dinner, is it? It sounds nice but a lot of work.