What: 1970s/80s Daniel Schagen Men’s Shirt
Where: Buffalo Exchange, Los Angeles, US
History Behind the Garment
These days it is common for women to wear shirts and ties but it wasn’t always the case. Before the 20th century women were expected to wear restrictive clothing such as corsets and layers of dresses and underskirts. With the commencement of WWI more and more women were entering the workforce, calling for less restrictive and more casual clothing.
The 1930s saw actresses such as Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich adorning masculine suits and bow ties in films. However trousers were still not considered socially acceptable and after WWII women went back to their traditional household roles and skirts. If women were to wear trousers they were under strict instructions from magazines such as Vogue to ensure they paired it appropriately in order to appear as feminine as possible.
It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s when laws were passed encouraging equal pay for women that fashion designers started introducing menswear inspired clothing for women again. It was around this time that Yves Saint-Laurent introduced the “smoking” tuxedo jacket, touted as an alternative to the little black dress.
Menswear inspired fashion continues to grow. Nowadays there is increasing demand for actual menswear that is fitted to the female body. We are slowly moving towards the end of gender-specific clothing.
Story Behind the Garment
This is a true story….
I bought this shirt in an op shop in Los Angeles in 2011. I was looking for a costume to wear to a Halloween party and while sifting through all the usual array of oddities that you find at second hand stores I discovered a gas mask. I knew immediately what I was going as, “The Empty Child” from Doctor Who. He resembles a young boy from the 1940s in a gas mask who walks around cocking his head and saying “are you my mummy?” I brushed aside the niggling concern that I was in the United States where Doctor Who was not known, and even if someone did know it it was highly unlikely they were going to recognise this obscure character that only featured in two episodes. I hunted around the op shop collecting all I needed to complete my outfit, including the pictured shirt.
The party I had been invited to was the Playboy Mansion Halloween party. Yep that famous mansion where the dressing gown clad Hugh Hefner dwelled with his bunnies. I had the good sense to realise that a girl dressed as a 1940s child in a gas mask would not be appropriate for a party where less is definitely seen as more. So instead of changing my costume idea I stubbornly stuck with it and decided to go to a house party with considerably fewer dressing gowns and bunnies. Predictably no one knew who I was meant to be and I ended up leaving early in a huff.
I later learned that the Halloween playboy mansion party of 2011 was the year the vast majority of guests were struck with food poisoning. I may not have rubbed shoulders with the Bunnies and Hef but in a way this shirt helped me dodge a bullet. That’s what I like to tell myself anyway.
Woolley and Cotton xx
We normally accompany the blog with an illustration but this week we thought a photo was more appropriate. Cotton in her Doctor Who Costume