‘Have you stopped to think how ‘being well dressed’ has changed over the years? And not that many years really (well not in my mind anyway). I invite you to come for a trip down memory lane maybe be even a little risqué’.
I recently chaired a dinner celebrating ’40 Years of Women in Toastmasters’. Now this fabulous organisation has been in existence for 90 years starting in 1924 and was of course an all male bastion. That continued until 1973 when women were officially admitted.
There were brave souls who had joined progressive clubs under an assumed male name prior to this date… a small sprinkling. The sprinkling became a trickle in 1973 and grew into a small stream by the time I joined in 1977…yes that was really 36 years ago. OMG it sounds soo, soo long ago. And yes it took all the self confidence I could muster to just show up.
Why am I telling you this? In was in the chairing and telling of my experiences that it really sank in how much ‘being well dressed and well presented’ had changed in my lifetime.
I would NEVER EVER have gone to a function in the 70’s without stockings, or pantyhose.
Let’s pop back even further… when I was doing my nursing training in the 60’s well dressed at work meant – wearing a full slip (yes, no half slip allowed), stockings, hall shoes, no make up and no jewellery.
Yes…no jewellery…not even studs… if we wanted to get our ears pierced then we did in during our 8 week night duty block so we could hide and pop a tiny piece of fishing line in our ears. If it was spotted by the night sister or heaven help you Matron then you were told, not asked… told…to remove it then and there.
I digress…back to stockings…yes stockings and suspender belts…what shocking and unsightly things they were. If you were out socially the horrible knobs would dig into the back of your legs. Student nurses did not have the luxury of sitting while on duty so that was a moot point during working hours.
Remember a well dressed woman always wore stockings/pantyhose.
Slip forward into the 70’s. I married in 1971 into the conservative sugar industry (ooh yes a man in the sugar industry of course). It would have been unthinkable to go out without wearing hose of some description.
1977 was a challenging time in my life and my confidence had hit rock bottom. I was actively encouraged (pushed and shoved) to join Toastmasters…I did this very reluctantly. After my initial eeekkkkkkkkkkkk, I settled and even decided I liked it and it was not long before that active encouragement took me into successive leadership roles.
One of my first mentors was a German man, Walter… he took me aside and told me now I had stepped into a leadership role I was in fact a role model for other women in the organisation.
He continued..’. I never want to see you wearing pants at a function. I expect to see you in a dress and wearing stockings’.
Bare legs were definitely out!
The funny thing is I had grown up thinking I did not look good in pants (hello and I am tall and slim…where was my head?) . So I did not wear them anyway. It was years before someone convinced me I could wear jeans.
Sooo back to the stocking saga…true to word I never attended a function or represented the organisation without being in a dress with stockings…and heels. That is hard-wired in my brain. Now stay ups made life easier…
That was until I lost 12kgs in the year following the death of my husband at 51 kgs and 5’10” tall my legs were too skinny to hold them up. Stay ups crinkled around the ankle just don’t cut the mustard do they girls!!!
Oohhhhhhhhhhhhh and neither do knickers. I was attending a Convention in an electric blue top and white skirt…being me…I also wore an electric blue bra and matching French knickers with shoes and stockings…. Perfect I thought.
That is when the problem started…I had not worn these knickers with stockings…
It just happened I was last into the auditorium… as I walked across the ante-room I felt a tightness on my legs… and the unthinkable happened…my electric blue knickers were suddenly around my ankles. I did not know I had such style. Without breaking stride I stepped out of them scooped them up and kept walking… no one saw… Uummm except maybe security on camera. I prefer not to dwell on that!
Coops back to the stockings… to that Friday night a couple of weeks ago. It was a really hot day and I had this conversation with myself…don’t you just love them…don’t tell me you don’t talk to yourself sometimes…I know you do!
The conversation went “:
‘It’s hot today…you don’t need to wear stockings tonight’
‘Yes you do…. you can’t possibly go with bare legs’
‘Noooooooooooo it’s to hot’.
That ran through my head with various versions all day.
Come time to get dressed…I dressed without them. Noooo it did not look right.
I changed (then had to change underwear and jewellery) into a different outfit and it looked worse without stockings and I was feeling really uncomfortable.
So darn it…. ‘OK, OK…you have won Di… I will wear them’… but it will be stay ups… with legs a teensy bit more meaty…they stayed in place all night. I felt comfortable …yet it leaves me again pondering on the effect of our upbringing and experiences and how the term ‘well dressed’ has changed over the years.
As an add on…after the meeting there were a few standing around chatting and a lady says to me…what are stay ups? Without missing a beat a girlfriend standing next to me lifts my skirt and goes into great lengths to show and explain the intricacies and benefits of stay ups… was it a dull night? Noooooooooooo it was a wonderful night celebrating how men and women communicating together are enhancing not only the Toastmaster world but in every facet of our own worlds.
How has being well dressed changed for you over the years? Love to hear yours stories and experiences. What does well dressed mean to you today?
Warm regards Di…and what …you are asking… does this woman do?
I am passionate about mature women having the confidence and personal presentation to support their life choices.
Do you feel, look and speak with confidence? If not…my skill lies in developing your style… your mind and body… so you can shine and be your best… in your business..
If that is not happening for you…let me help you…
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