The Evolution of the Separate
Ah, The Separate. This might be a term imbued only in minds of veteran retailers. For those that rolled racks down department store floors, the Separate Department housed everything that wasn’t a dress, a coat or a suit. It was a collection of pieces that seemed removed. Disconnected. Not quite complete. But let’s talk about how the separate has evolved to rule modern fashion.
We've Come A Long Way Baby!
As fashion history goes, the dress in its many silhouettes and hemlines was the go-to for women throughout most of modern fashion history. The tunic, the sheath, the fit and flare, they all said dress. In the early 20th century the First World War and the visionary artistry of Coco Chanel made the suit acceptable fashion attire for sophisticated women. The buttons on a suit gave it personality saving it from the pool of interlocking sameness. Two world wars forged the suit into the mid-century fashion playbook. Its structure measured like a ruler how we were to look. Remember the girl scout get up or our parochial school uniform? Probably stuffed in the bottom of a trunk or hidden in the attic, it all sought to make you part of a fashion army of conformity.
Separates reflect your individuality.
The 50s arguably was the most conventional of fashion time zones. Based primarily on the right that everyone deserved a piece of post war economic bliss, the magazines advertised what that bliss would look like. Pillaring samey-samey matchy-matchy dressing sought to satisfy the Jones'. Conformity was in. Individuality, well, it was apparently out the window. But don't despair! The rumblings were there. Stirring angst of teen culture snapped across the stage like a West Side Story. The skirt, the blouse, the sweater and the leather jacket expressed what was to come. The sweater became the naughty nuance of the generation. And with it, separates were ready to rumble and roll.
Separates Play Nice Together.
Our playful personality became harder and harder to prohibit. Like contained laughter, the pant, first ushered in by the flapper, burst forth as the supreme comfort zone of the late 20th century. 40s maverick Katherine Hepburn wore them on and off the set. But it wasn't until the 70s that the pant (er, and the pant suit) came to dominate street fashion and it didn't go away. Fashion Freedom expressed by the peace loving hippy relied on fashion accoutrements like the peasant top, the wrap skirt, the bell bottom, the mini skirt, the culotte and of course, the jean.
Playfulness, the need for comfort, freedom and self expression, brought about what we see today as modern street style. And as the world becomes more individualized the separate emerges as fashion mainstay.
Vintage Separates Say It Best
What is this modern style? Isn't it a mish mash of modern moodiness pulled together this way or that? Better yet, think of it as a hard fought right won by women of generations who pushed forth and won the right to be. Vintage separates so fit the battle cry and are the best tools for this amalgamated modern style.
The fashion take away of the suit is the jacket. Wool, plaid, tweed, leather. It all works. A great throw on to throw off the outfit. The 70s leather jacket is a must.
The fashion take away of the dress is the sweater. Beaded, embellished, cardigan, pullover. They all retain their naughty nature.
The fashion take away of the jacket is the blouse. Bow tied, back buttoned, scoop neck. Blouses can be worn alone now. They don't need a jacket to be.