Countdown to Downton Abbey (13 days to go) — The Dowager Countess’s “Mom” Jeans

Or at least the equivalent thereof.

Have you noticed that as other women’s hemlines rise and hairstyles modernize, Violet Crawley (played by Maggie Smith) remains somewhat stuck in a pre-WWI Edwardian time warp?  Her hats are a bit smaller and slightly updated in style, her voluminous skirts and jackets are a bit more streamlined, but 1921’s Violet Crawley looks much the same as the 1912 version of the series’ first episode.

I’ve always been fascinated by photos from the 1920s and ’30s in which modern-looking young women in short dresses and bobbed haircuts stand next to grandmothers in pre-flapper-era long skirts and Gibson-girl pompadour hairstyles of the pre-war 1900s.  It’s like the contrast of eras seen in circa-1930s movies like Dinner at Eight (1933), that classic George Cukor comedy/drama, where aging actress Carlotta Vance often looks similarly dated alongside glamorous floozy Kitty (Jean Harlow).  In the film’s closing moments, though, yesterday’s-news Carlotta lets fly a zinger that sails right over Kitty’s empty head.

Think beehives and white lipstick that occasionally lingered into the mid-1970s when most women had moved on to lip gloss and short blow-dried hairstyles.  Think of sideburns and leisure suits, mullets and heavy-metal perms.  Very stylish in their time, but . . .

Or think of mom jeans, which weren’t a joke until a good 10-15 years after their fashion heyday.  In this New Kids on the Block video (1988), the blonde girl fantasy-figure appears to be wearing a pair 🙂

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in History, Life, Movies and film, Popular culture, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Countdown to Downton Abbey (13 days to go) — The Dowager Countess’s “Mom” Jeans

  1. Hm. I wear Mom jeans!! 🙂


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