Friday, June 20, 2003
( 12:21 AM ) Carolyn Pietala
Back with another lovely link.
A fan of Miss Manners snagged this article. I share her fondness for it, probably enough to remember from this point that Miss Manners's real name is Judith Martin. These first six paragraphs are particularly wonderful writing. And like the person who snagged the article for her blog, I can't resist the urge to copy it somewhere.
(from her June 1st column this year)
Respectable people did not used to appear any the less respectable as a concession to summer heat. They had summer wardrobes made of lighter materials, but these featured the same items as their winter counterparts, including ties and jackets, long skirts and stockings.
Of course, that was back before air conditioning. Now we have desperate and indignant pleas that human survival would be at stake if anyone had to stagger from air-conditioned transportation to air-conditioned buildings wearing more than tank tops, shorts and sandals.
Miss Manners does not mention this out of any yearning for the fortitude of yore. Those people must have been nuts.
But she finds the relationship between the progression of technology and the progression of style to be curious. As the methods of producing clothing went from tedious handwork to mechanized mass-production, tailcoats and embroidered, elaborately draped dresses were abandoned for jeans and basic-black shifts. In architecture, for that matter, increasingly powerful equipment and more flexible materials marked the change from an immense variety of fanciful buildings to the ubiquitous unadorned box.
Ah, well. Miss Manners doesn't pretend that hers is the prevailing taste. If it were, the bustle would be back, and ladies could use their stair machines to practice walking with a train.
All she asks is that some effort be made to conform to the standards of our own times, which still distinguish between dressed and undressed. There must be a summer compromise between running around in practically nothing in order to stay cool and looking dignified while passing out.
The paragraphing on my copy looks different than on hers, because I found the article in Miss Manners's archive at the Washington Post. (I like the way the paragraphs break just where one would take a pause for comedic timing if one were reading the article as a speech.) But the community of the Sybarites at Live Journal is more fun than the Washington Post site, hence...
Yes, I'm still typing in odd combinations of my personal interests to see whose blogs they summon. At Live Journal, they also summon small forums. I think I like the Sybarites. So one can consider oneself a Sybarite if one likes Anais Nin, absinthe, chocolate and Cirque du Soleil?
Cool. I can go there.
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