Once, back in college, a friend was taking a class called The History of History. It was one of those mind blowing freshman epiphanies: how we think about the past is influenced by what’s happening in the present, and the present is always changing. Therefore, history is not a set of facts, it’s fluid, a moving target. Whoa!
This is all great stuff for a vintage clothing fan to parse. Were the roaring twenties really all about self empowered, fun loving party girls or do we, the post Sex and the City generation, just want to see it that way? Lucky for me, there are so many TV shows that take place in the past, all with amazing fashion designed by modern costumers. In fact, a TV show about, say, the 60’s will have more great clothes than were actually present during that decade.
Costume dramas. We’re all familiar (or, if you’re me, obsessed!) with Mad Men. Downton Abbey had it’s cultural moment a few years back. Want to take a look at a few other less famous modern shows set in the past that are worth checking out for the clothing?
First up, a modern fantasy of a flapper-era independent woman, with enough twenties tropes to almost make it a caricature of that decade. The clothing is just luscious, and totally worth watching.
Indian Summer is a really great melodrama about the waning days of the British rule in India. The costumes are integral to the exotic feel and the wild plot twists, with a dazzling mix of silk saris, prim cotton day dresses and slinky bias cut gowns. Some of the British characters are realistically out of date, hauling out their twenties frocks well into the thirties.
These swoon worthy Swing-era frocks steal the scenes in this WWII home front drama. And really,who doesn’t love a good peplum waist?
I watch Masters of Sex for the costumes, don’t you?
Here’s a bright, cheerful-and very contemporary-look at early sixties fashion and the women who wore them. The sixties that I recall involved a whole lot more hairspray and repression, but its still great fun.