12 April 2010

Betty Draper Nightgowns

One of my favorite semi-local bands, newgrass outfit The Giving Tree Band, has decided that an upcoming concert will double as a pajama party. Now if you're like me, you don't have a lot of pajamas per se in your closet. It's fashion while you're unconscious, so it doesn't seem like a huge priority. The concert is at a bar, so the idea of exposing anything comfy and cuddly to that environment is unappealing. I decided to go to the local thrift stores because something costumy will feel more festive, and because I won't worry as much about getting a thrift store purchase dirty.

I thought it might stand out nicely, amidst cute Katherine Hepburn/Roman Holiday, matching top-and-bottom pajamas, and short Victoria's Secret shorts with "Angel" or "Lover" emblazoned on the butt, to go with something a little more unexpected. I wanted something which rejoices in 100% nylon fluff and ruffles and rosettes--in feminine pink or baby blue. Perfect for crisp morning air and black coffee on a front porch, waiting for the morning paper. Old lady nightgowns, or more properly, nightgowns which were popular thirty to forty years ago, are perfect for this. They are moo moo balloony numbers, about as far away from having a waistline as a garment can possibly be. They are very flowy in their ballooniness--which is perfect for dancing.

To travel to my destination in style, I found the perfect housecoat--an elegant, structured piece, with a sewn-in decorative Bertha collar. 100% polyester gorgeousness. I should note here, out of respect, that my mother and both of my grandmothers have worn such housecoats with the utmost sincerity, and have lent them much elegance. It is no doubt due to their example--sipping their morning coffee at the kitchen table in a soft yet structured housecoat--that I appreciate the elegance of this shape now. It is structured similarly to a 1950s day coat, and has the same polished look.

I bought a pair of pink, slide slippers, with ribbon and lace detail. Not only do they look dainty and feminine, but they create the scuffling shuffle walk which is essential to this sort of pajama costume.

I plan to finish the outfit with a nape-up-the-neck up-do, secured with pink, sponge curlers.

Just a note about the namesake of this post.  Betty Draper is the suburban housewife of Donald Draper on as-good-as-the-best-of-Greek-tragedies Mad Men.  She is played to pitch perfection by January Jones, and sometimes gets flack simply for being a 1960s, "I don't know who we're voting for" housewife, but it's important to realize that these sorts of complimentary handbag housewives, with clandestine cunning, were cultivated to be the perfect feminine counterpoints to ultra-masculine protagonists.  It would be a failure of compassion to damn the woman for not running free while failing to damn the society that bound her feet when she was a child.  I love the Betty Draper character.  She embodies a particular kind of bell-jarred, 20th-century western woman to me.  And I am waiting for her to break free!  I am waiting for her to realize that Betty Draper nightgowns are meant for dancing!

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