"The Catcher in the Rye": A Classic with Staying Power
A Classic Always Reminds You Why You Love Reading In The First Place
The 1940s Was A Very Good Time For Fashion and Literature
I've wanted to read "the Catcher in the Rye" again ever since J.D. Salinger died, but after searching for hours for my copy, I remembered I gave it away so I had to go to the library to check it out. A lot had changed since I'd first read it years ago. Back then it was one of "the" books you read if you were a serious bookworm and now it's a Young Adult novel. It's been both welcomed and banned since the 1960s increasing its allure.
Holden Caulfield As A Fashion Leader:
Holden Caulfield, its 17 year-old protagonist, is still an outcast but now he's also an "adolescent icon of rebellion." Maybe the thing that drove me back to Salinger's crazy prep school/New York odyssey this time was his description of Caulfield's clothes? I absolutely love clothes from the 1940s, so when I disappeared back into the story I realized the depictions of our boy's "bourgeouis" wardrobe was even more intoxicating than when I initially cracked the cover.
Generally the 1940s, when the book takes place, was a momentous time for American fashion providing noteworthy classics adaptable enough to be worn today. For men, what was conventional back then can be radical now when combined with contemporary sportswear. Great Britain and "Brooks Brothers" influenced men's styles and the most popular looks were "Shetland sweaters, wool slacks, gabardine raincoats, polo coats and tailored suits."
Men's Fashion in the 1940s:
Caulfield's prep school attire is representative of these garments and if you want to imitate his look you can either visit the Santa Monica's Vintage Fashion Expo or shop at your local vintage clothing store or thrift shop.The last time I went to the Expo I saw quite a few excellent buys under $200, such as tweed jackets and wool two-piece suits. To update '40s all a guy'd have to do is wear a "vintage wide-neck" tie with a button-down shirt and a pair of jeans or a "grey stripe suit" over a white t-shirt and a pair of Converse. If they wanted to dress up a pair of baggy shorts and a short-sleeved retro shirt they could top it with a fedora or straw derby hat.
Women's Fashion in the 1940s:
The 1940s was also an excellent decade for womens fashion too because the "slender silhouettes" lent themselves easily to accessorizing. Hats, headscarves, purses, jewelry and shoes spiced up simple suits and dresses giving them added elegance and mileage. Pants became the norm when women joined the "work force" to help the "war effort" and "ready-to-wear" became a flourishing fashion category. Independent of French influence American fashion designers Hattie Carnegie, Gilbert Adrian, Claire McCardell, Adele Simpson and others created a phenomenon within the industry.
Presently there are still affordable '40s collectibles available. On my hunt for additions to my collection I prefer to shop at Santa Monica's Vintage Fashion Expo where I've found some lovely pieces, including a navy blue dress with navy and green floral buttons, a navy blue blazer that said "Tailored by SAKS of California" on the label, an Hawaiian shirt, a pair of black lace-up oxfords, a green bakelite pin and a pearl dress clip. As flexible as the menswear, women can easily modernize '40s by pairing blazers, blouses and cardigan sweaters with jeans, shorts and skirts and pantsuits and dresses can be given a refined twist when worn with scarves tied as doorags.
Seamless and clean the 1940s is an enjoyable age to study and recreate because it teaches us that wonderful literature and timeless fashion will always be in style.
Where To Look For '40s Stuff:
1) Vintage Fashion Expo (www.vintageexpo.com)