I picked up this odd little book called 'Style in Costume' by the famous costume historian James Laver, written in 1949. He proposes a very loose proposition (as opposed to theory and firm argument) about the parallells between fashion and environment. i.e. Styles of architecture, interior and furniture are reflected in the fashion of the times. There may well be truth in his very shaky proposal However, how would such a theory work in this day and age since we don't seem to have defined a particular shape of our era. A multitude of architecture and furniture styles equals a multitude of styles of dressing perhaps?
Lady of 1780 and Plumed Bed in the style of Louis XVI.
Lady of 1895 and Ruffled Fan Lamp
Lady of 1902 and Art Nouveau Fireplace
Lady of 1928 and Skyscraper (I think it's the Empire State Building but the book just calls it 'Modern Skyscraper')
Another piece of Laver wisdom is this curious table of Laver's Law, dictating the decorum of an era of dress.
|Indecent||10 years before its time|
|Shameless||5 years before its time|
|Daring||1 year before its time|
|Dowdy||1 year after its time|
|Hideous||10 years after its time|
|Ridiculous||20 years after its time|
|Amusing||30 years after its time|
|Quaint||50 years after its time|
|Charming||70 years after its time|
|Romantic||100 years after its time|
|Beautiful||150 years after its time|
So for example, me wearing a thirties gown is charming or I could look beautiful in a mid 19th century crinoline puff dress (I personally highly doubt this). A nineties shell suit is hideous. An Alaia body-conscious piece is ridiculous even though i'm strangely attracted to this aesthetic at the moment. Sixties/seventies aka the most referenced decades of them all are classified as amusing which I suppose is true when I see people rocking these decades very literally.
It's always good to take some fashion brain food but me thinks Laver may have been a little too astute in his propositions.