It’s Fashion Week here at Camellia’s Cottage! This is our second installment of Tacky or Tasteful? Every Southern Mother despairs of her children looking Tacky- it reflects badly on her and of course can send her to bed with a case of the vapors. We discussed the basic solid Tasteful colors of Black, White, Gray and Red, however there are Tasteful Fabrics and Prints which are suitable for a Southern lady’s wardrobe. The most highly prized fabrics are natural or natch-ral as we pronounce it.
Cotton– We know cotton, we raise it. Think thread count and fine gauge here. The heavier the cotton fabric, well-the more coarse and common it is. While we have made allowances for Denim- because let’s face it, Denim helps our economy; it should be noted that Denim was considered the Fabric of Laborers. No Southern Lady worth her salt wanted anyone to actually know that she even broke a sweat, much less owned a pair of Denim Jeans. We have evolved on this point, now a good pair of Dress Jeans and a pair of White Jeans make up a part of the must-haves in the Southern Wardrobe. Though, let’s leave off those Denim Overalls once you get out of Kindergarten.
Wool – Southerners love wool, at least the idea of wool-the problem is the heat so we have to go for fine gauge wools and menswear fabrics, that have a nice drape. A nice pair of slacks, a sharply creased pleated skirt or a well cut pencil skirt. A cashmere or camel hair dress coat- now you’re getting the Southern territory. Whole conversations and exclamations have occurred about wool-
- ‘Now honey you know you can’t wear that boucle jacket – it makes you look thick’
- ‘Why in the world would you get a Harris Tweed jacket? Did you get accepted to Harvard?’
- Get the Heather Sweater, you’ll look like one of the Von Trapps in it.’
So, think fine gauge in boucles, tweeds and more rustic wools that are strengthened with good silk linings.
Silk– just don’t get me started here…Shirtwaist dresses, blouses, suits, scarves and silk linings. Silk seemed like the ultimate luxury fabric to our Southern Mothers. Lingerie drawers full of silk gowns and undergarments. We especially love raw silk- which is nubbier with a stiffness that is appropriate for suits and sheath dresses. We do love silk- though there is rarely a mention that one stain and the whole garment is ruined for life.
Velvet– Southern women have always loved cotton velvet. We love the feel of it- go for lightweight as it can add bulk unless you are skinny as a rail. Jackets, Sheath dresses, hostess skirts, collars or piping on wool coats, vests and even in our homes- Where do you think Scarlett got the idea to make that devastating velvet dress when Tara was a broken wreck?
Linen – is highly prized in the South. Even though it wrinkles beforeyou walk out the door, sit down or bend an elbow, Linen wrinkles but a Southern Mother will tell you- ‘Why honey, that’s how folks will know it’s real linen.’ Women have been known to use up a case of Spray Starch getting the wrinkles out of linen, only to get it wrinkled just in the act of buttoning it up. We love our natch-ral Linen. I have a friend who gets so excited when she ‘gets out her linen’ We want to have our Linen from Easter to September.
The truth is most of our Southern mommas preferred solid colors as classics, however there are some classic Patterned Fabrics-that can be either Tacky or Tasteful-
- Animal Prints
Cotton is our top fabric of course- we have an ancestral attachment to it. Gingham is tricky though. Our mommas thought a baby must be six months old before wearing gingham and then it must be the tiniest possible gingham. Checks get gradually larger as Southern Women age…with a reasonable cutoff however. We don’t want to look like a Tablecloth at a Picnic! Gingham is perfect for picnics, field trips and going to the farmer’s market.
Houndstooth (as long as it is of a reasonable size) Big ol’ Houndstooth is never acceptable if the teeth on it are as big as your daddy’s hound dog. The one exception is a Bear Bryant Houndstooth Hat- go hog wild Bama Fans!
Plaid– Classic, especially if the plaid is your Family Tartan, real or imagined. Scale is important to tastefully wearing plaid. Don’t put on some big loud plaid that looks like the upholstery in an RV or a Recliner at the hunting camp. No seamstress in the state could match at the seams of a loud plaid. Now that’s Tacky. Tartans are tasteful, darlin’
Striped clothing is considered Nautical and therefore classic. Coco Chanel was inspired to design women’s clothing after she noticed some handsome sailors on shore leave. Chanel saw the potential and the comfort of striped knits- ever since Southern Women have loved our Stripes.
Animal Prints– a warning here: Southern Mothers reserved animal prints reserved for the more mature woman. We would certainly never want our southern daughters to look wild in any way.. use touches of animal prints- a scarf, a blouse, a collar or a cardigan. Animal prints can either look exotic or tacky- you surely don’t want to end up looking like the Flintstones. Now that would be Tacky. If you’re determined to walk on the wild side- do it Tastefully, like Jackie.
As Fashion Week continues at Camellia’s Cottage-Remember in all of these fabrics and prints- scale, weight and quality are what our Southern Mothers were trying to instill in us all. The Fashion Icons agree.
Love y’all, Camellia
Top photo is a photograph of a friend’s mother lunching with a friend at the Waldorf Astoria NYC- many years ago. Other images are from AOL images and may be copyrighted.