Monday, August 9, 2010

The post without a title

The difference between my real life (lives) and the life that I would like - in terms of fashion and sewing - is perplexing me.

I work as an administrative assistant in an office of the Dean of faculty within a University in the year 2010. I am at the coal face (well at a computer screen), I have no supervisory responsibilities, I "look after the office" ie ensure photocopy paper, tea, coffee and biscuits etc are always on hand for meetings and I do a pile of admin things like typing, accounts, spreadsheets, report, minutes and arrange lectures. Okay, I am minimising some things. But you get the picture.

Prior to my Revolution (or is that mid-life crisis?) I wore fairly standard stuff to the office. A mix of Dunedin in Black or cheap rip off wish it were from Nome D' but really from KMART, Pagani and Shanton. A few drapey knits and wrap tops, over trousers or leggings. In summer I am fond of A line skirts (made by me) and tee shirts. The odd piece of vintage clothing or costume jewellery. I owned lots of cheap pairs of shoes. I have about 20 costume rings which I wear most days. I thought I looked professional and smart. Possibly sexy. Mostly interesting. I am not Joan from Mad Men by any means.
Although part of me wishes I were. The dangers of being sexy at work are not a suitable topic for this blog.

I am more like Peggy. Peggy is smart / intelligent. She is not as worldy as Joan - or is she? That demure sweater is just the shade of yellow green would make most of us look like a corpse. Her fringe is so severe, its almost childlike! I am growing mine out but the hair is part of another story. I too am thickening around the waist. I eat too many biscuits in the evenings while watching tv and reading the Sookie Stackhouse books.

I am a mother and a wife - in the weekend I am frequently wearing one of the two adored aprons gifted to me by my mother-in-law and my EMU boots, tee shirt and jeans, scrubbing floors, washing clothes, ironing, baking, tidying, dusting, and a myriad of other household activities. When I have to go off the property (as opposed to out of the house) I remove the apron. I seem to adopt a different persona in the weekend - sloppy Penny-Rose with a less than attractive sweatshirt and sneakers. I rarely wear jewellery - leaving my hands bare so I can get my rubber gloves on and off easily.

Recently I have taken to wearing a CanTeen bandanna over my hair -
not quite Hilda Ogden

or Rosie the Riveter but somewhere in between.

Now I find myself inexplicably drawn to polyester shirt dresses from the 1970s, or the 1940s style dress with sturdy (in my case furry) shoes.

I want to look neat and tidy. Like I work hard - the shop smock effect I guess. Maybe its the working class union delegate thing, about being one of the workers, being part of the team of ants which keep the machine going. Not quite a uniform, not quite a military costume, but something which indicates hard work and the culture of working. Hilda worked hard - she always looked worn out, I bet her hands were wrinkled and her knees would be achey from scrubbing door steps. She wore a smock to protect her clothes and a scarf to protect her hair. When Hilda gets dressed up we snigger - she is so careful in her good clothes, so mindful that they cost her a lot of money (comparatively) and she tries so hard to look nice. We snigger because we feel awkward, because we can't really identify with her.

Rosie worked in a welding factory - with biceps and a hard look in her eye, she's seen a few things on the shop floor. Her badge of femininity is her red polka dotted scarf. Rosie looks like a union delegate, she would be able to hold her own if Management tried to interfere in something in her domain. (Joan would just flirt her way out of it, and Peggy would try reason and then go for abject compliance). Rosie swears like a sailor when things go wrong. What does Rosie wear when she is not at work? Rosie is in the factory to do a job. At home she knows that the man of the house is overseas at war, in conflict, in peril. Perhaps in the arms of another woman. Perhaps gazing up at a nurse. She has to face the incoming bills, the lack of food, the rationing, the blitz, the screaming nightmares of her children, or maybe the loneliness of having none.

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