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Did Sophistication End With The 1950’s?

Many of us have gone through the phase of loving the swingy skirts, big band music, dance moves, and etiquette of the 1950’s—or at the very least have admired our grandparent’s stories about the “golden years.” There is often this assumption that the 1950’s got it right as far as classy style and good manners, and since then, the culture has gone downhill. Particularly in Christian circles, there seems to be this fight to go back to the 1950’s and encouraging this retrospective attitude, “If only we could bring back the style and etiquette of the 1950’s, things would be better.”

Hollywood has a tendency to display certain decades through rose-colored-glasses (The 1950s Weren't Always Happy Days), but the reality is, no era is perfect. The 1950’s was filled with child-worker hazards, segregation laws, pandemics, and not to mention skyrocketing air pollution. Another common misunderstanding is that the 1950’s was the height of the traditional family, when in reality it was actually the beginning of its decline, “Using the 1950s as a social standard ignores the rest of American history” (THE '50S: A NOT-SO-GOLDEN AGE).

There are some of us who love the fashion-sense of the 1950’s and incorporate it heavily in our personal style because it resonates with our mission and state in life—this is so good! We can be drawn to the style of a certain decade, but this is not to say this decade’s style is the only way to dress like a sophisticated lady.

Now, we absolutely recognize the richness of reading and learning from history, but we should be on our guard from holding a particular time-period on a pedestal (even with fashion). There is something glorious about vintage styles, antique shops, and our family heirlooms that calls for profound appreciation and receptivity; but let us not lose sight of the goodness offered in the present time.

Here are some good questions to ponder and reflect when soaking in the present age.

What am I valuing and receiving from this time period—the now—which I have been born into? What will I pass down from this decade?

Vintage is great, but we are not called to remain stagnant in the past. When we focus solely on trying to reach back to an earlier time, we might lose sight of the gift of the current era. Every decade has a gift to offer and a new opportunity for creativity. Look up new and upcoming designers, artists, and writers. Learn where they draw for inspiration and why they are choosing to create in the ways they do. They are trying to communicate something to us, here, in the current century. We all have something to offer creatively (don’t sell yourself short)!

How am I styling this era? What am I creating that is new? What am I inspired by in this current age?

Look around, expand your creative palate! Go to a modern art museum, listen to a local band, or go chat with the women who just opened their new store front—ask them how their business began. Hear the stories of this current age. Try a new style trend that appeals to you and make it your own!

Have I given up on the current decade, my own century?

Despair is always easy, particularly with the abundance of technology highlighting all the flaws and issues in the culture each day. We find encouragement when we band together and get involved with organizations working for the betterment of the culture and the environment, particularly those taking action to uphold the dignity of the human person (ex: Fashion Revolution). The fashion industry has already progressed in its ethical and sustainability acts compared to where we were about nine years ago, after the catastrophe in Bangladesh (Safety First: Bangladesh Garment Industry Rebounds).

How have you been inspired in the current era? Share with us your creative innovations combining the old with the new! We are not meant to forget the past nor cling to it but must honor both the vintage and the contemporary.

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