My great grandmother wore long dresses with hand-stitched pleats across the high necked bodice. She wore black, heeled shoes that laced and stockings that covered her legs. Her slip was also hand-stitched cotton that fell to the hem of her skirt. The sleeves of her bodice were long appropriately covering as much skin as possible. Her hair was worn up until bedtime and most of the time she wore an apron. How do I know? I have pictures. Bloomers were still hanging on. And modesty was the author of their lives.
My grandmothers wore ankle-length dresses of fabric that softy-draped. Their shoes were laced and had stubby heels. Again, the long stockings held on for another generation. And, once more, the apron seemed to be part of the ensemble on most days. Hair was shorter as were the sleeves on their dresses. Collars took the place of the high-up neckline. Bloomers gave way to silky skivvies. Women could vote and were finding a new voice.
My mother was definitely a modern woman stepping away from her mother’s constant desire for the old way of dressing. Her dresses were shorter and collars disappeared. She wore house dresses made from feed sacks and nylons or socks instead of stockings. Until she was older, she always wore a dress. Her shoes were flat and built for comfort. She dressed according to the budget and reveled in wearing bright colors. She had a voice and taught her daughters to use theirs.
So now we are up to me. The rebel of the 60’s who loved mini skirts and bikini bathing suits. In four generations, the skivvies had gone from bloomers to almost nothing. We dress following the fads and styles that emerge in this fast-changing world. Our necklines are lower and leggings are fun and comfy. We wear tank tops and shorts. We wear sweats and clothing for comfort. And, we don’t need to dye our hair or wear makeup. We are us. We are our voice.
In these four generations, we have gone from women who always followed what the men in their lives dictated to becoming women who said, ‘we are equal’. We fight for our rights and the rights of others. We are the trailblazers, teaching our children to be strong and compassionate. We are grandmas of the present who want our families to see that aging is not bad. It is beautiful. Those grandmothers before did the work so we could have the freedoms in dress and in expressing our feelings. We can stand up as equals chose our own lives.
My great grandmothers’ pictures are captured in sepia tones or black and white. My grandmothers’ are captured on black and white glossies. My mother is on video and color glossies. I am on digital. We have come a long way, Baby.