Saturday, July 27, 2013

This excerpt from Gone With the Wind (by Margaret Mitchell) is one of my favorites in literature, where fashion is greatly expounded upon in its minute details.  It acts as a representation of Scarlett's determined, resourceful, character - and her refusal to let life decide its course for her - that was in its own way a feminist declaration at the time.  It goes on for awhile, but the importance that Scarlett have a new dress is not represented as frivolous - it indeed is part of who she is.

  credit:  How We Do Run On

Excerp found at Project Gutenberg:

She walked to the long pier glass and looked at herself, her head
held high.  And she saw framed in the cracking gilt molding a
stranger.  It was as if she were really seeing herself for the
first time in a year.  She had glanced in the mirror every morning
to see that her face was clean and her hair tidy but she had always
been too pressed by other things to really see herself.  But this
stranger!  Surely this thin hollow-cheeked woman couldn't be
Scarlett O'Hara!  Scarlett O'Hara had a pretty, coquettish, high-
spirited face.  This face at which she stared was not pretty at all
and had none of the charm she remembered so well.  It was white and
strained and the black brows above slanting green eyes swooped up
startlingly against the white skin like frightened bird's wings.
There was a hard and hunted look about this face.

"I'm not pretty enough to get him!" she thought and desperation
came back to her.  "I'm thin--oh, I'm terribly thin!"

She patted her cheeks, felt frantically at her collar bones,
feeling them stand out through her basque.  And her breasts were so
small, almost as small as Melanie's.  She'd have to put ruffles in
her bosom to make them look larger and she had always had contempt
for girls who resorted to such subterfuges.  Ruffles!  That brought
up another thought.  Her clothes.  She looked down at her dress,
spreading its mended folds wide between her hands.  Rhett liked
women who were well dressed, fashionably dressed.  She remembered
with longing the flounced green dress she had worn when she first
came out of mourning, the dress she wore with the green plumed
bonnet he had brought her and she recalled the approving
compliments he had paid her.  She remembered, too, with hate
sharpened by envy the red plaid dress, the red-topped boots with
tassels and the pancake hat of Emmie Slattery.  They were gaudy but
they were new and fashionable and certainly they caught the eye.
And, oh, how she wanted to catch the eye!  Especially the eye of
Rhett Butler!  If he should see her in her old clothes, he'd know
everything was wrong at Tara.  And he must not know.

What a fool she had been to think she could go to Atlanta and have
him for the asking, she with her scrawny neck and hungry cat eyes
and raggedy dress!  If she hadn't been able to pry a proposal from
him at the height of her beauty, when she had her prettiest
clothes, how could she expect to get one now when she was ugly and
dressed tackily?  If Miss Pitty's story was true, he must have more
money than anyone in Atlanta and probably had his pick of all the
pretty ladies, good and bad.  Well, she thought grimly, I've got
something that most pretty ladies haven't got--and that's a mind
that's made up.  And if I had just one nice dress--

There wasn't a nice dress in Tara or a dress which hadn't been
turned twice and mended.

"That's that," she thought, disconsolately looking down at the
floor.  She saw Ellen's moss-green velvet carpet, now worn and
scuffed and torn and spotted from the numberless men who had slept
upon it, and the sight depressed her more, for it made her realize
that Tara was just as ragged as she.  The whole darkening room
depressed her and, going to the window, she raised the sash,
unlatched the shutters and let the last light of the wintry sunset
into the room.  She closed the window and leaned her head against
the velvet curtains and looked out across the bleak pasture toward
the dark cedars of the burying ground.

The moss-green velvet curtains felt prickly and soft beneath her
cheek and she rubbed her face against them gratefully, like a cat.
And then suddenly she looked at them.

A minute later, she was dragging a heavy marble-topped table across
the floor.  Its rusty castors screeching in protest.  She rolled
the table under the window, gathered up her skirts, climbed on it
and tiptoed to reach the heavy curtain pole.  It was almost out of
her reach and she jerked at it so impatiently the nails came out of
the wood, and the curtains, pole and all, fell to the floor with a
...  He thought as he stared at Will in the shadowy hall that he had
never known such gallantry as the gallantry of Scarlett O'Hara
going forth to conquer the world in her mother's velvet curtains
and the tail feathers of a rooster.


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Atlanta/Seattle, United States
What is most interesting is fashion when it's living. I find it inspiring when people dress well - but in their unique interpretation. Searching for people who enjoy having fun with their style and make their own statements. If you want your picture removed, don't hesitate to contact me!
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