When the History Repeats Itself
They say — history repeats itself. Well, not quite. There is certainly a cyclicality to themes and areas of life. But each time ‘the history repeats itself’, the themes play out differently. For, each time we enter the same subject, we do it from a different level of self-development, be it a global one or a personal one.
Looking through the Photoplay magazine back issues of 1920s, I have come across an article which resonated with the global shift that occurred in March 2020. I am referring to Corona virus global ‘shake-up’, which effected certain areas of life such as non-stop consumption of things we do not need, splashing of money, showing off one’s wealth and literally feast of gluttony. Astrologically speaking, all these themes are connected to the lower energies of Taurus sign (2nd house, planet Venus). One of the signs whose energy will go out of focus starting from 21 December 2020. To some extent, the process has started already, but the main and final shift is still to come.
Now, the article I came across in the Photoplay magazine refers to the same sort of shift that occurred back in 1920. The shift was due to the global consequences of the World War I, but, nevertheless, the changes it had brought was of the same nature that Corona virus started in March 2020. The question, of course, is — if the energy of Taurus will go out of focus what energy will take its place? Well, it will be taken by the energy of Libra — one of the three air signs — Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. The energies of these air signs will prevail for another 200 years until next the shift. In particular, Libra energies are connected to balance, elegance, ingenuity, artistry, style, harmony, beauty, justice, lightness. The article below does not use the astrology to explain the shift in energies that occurred in 1920, instead it does it using a very specific example of mindless consumption and as result generation of waste and provides suggestions to how elegantly tackle the issue. I find it beautifully and comprehensively written and striking the right chord. I hope you will find the article of help and interest. For, the advice it gives will be much needed in a new epoch.
When the Dollar Works Overtime
By Norma Talmadge
One of the favorite topics when two women get together these days is the high cost of living referred to both frequently and concisely as the H. C. of L. I lament about it. So do all my friends. So do you and all your friends. But recently I have begun to suspect that the H. C. of L. means, to a very great extent, the High Cost of Laziness.
There is a tradition that a French woman can take a soup bone and produce therefrom a five-course dinner. Maybe she can, I don’t know. The thing I do know is that a great many American women are more likely to take the makings of a five-course dinner and produce therefrom a full garbage pail. The same thing holds true with our clothes. Last season’s faded suit, last winter’s crumpled party frock mean little to one of our girls except that they are discarded clothing that we had better send to the Salvation Army. Again the H. C. of L. with my meaning attached.
In the ‘good old days’ in this country we were all rather inclined to look down on anyone who was suspected of economy. In the pre-war days those brave times when housewives never turned a hair at using a dozen eggs in a cake, and when pounds of butter were plentiful as the sands of the sea-shore in those glad and carefree days we considered anyone a ‘tight wad’ who tried to ring in the remains of yesterday’s roast for today’s stew or who tried to freshen her clothes by dyeing and turning them. We cast a cold and haughty eye on the girl who was skilful in ‘making things over’ and who could produce this year’s new bathing suit out of last year’s old skirt.
When I say we, I mean we. Every mother’s daughter of us was alike; every one of us went on the gladsome way of least resistance. What did we care for last year’s clothes? Away with them. I bring on the dressmaker and the milliner and the sewing machine and the glad new materials and laces! Let us have new clothes and expensive ones and lots of them and above all things let us spend money, wads of money!
That time has gone. Some people say it will be quite some time in getting back if ever. Meanwhile, the law of supply and demand seems to be sitting up nights trying to figure out new and more unpleasant ways of jolting us. A lot of money changed hands during the war, and people who had never worn silk and laces before went in for them strong. Naturally, the prices of these things soared to the blue sky, helped in their upward flight by limited production. Everything that went into the making of pretty frocks and hats went up and up and up. Labor decided about this time that it might be a good thing to join the million-dollar class, and it did. The result was that the ‘simple little dress’ that used to cost you from $25 to $40 soared to $80 or $100, frequently more. The blue serge suit likewise took to airplaning, and everything that one wore with it went right along in the gay attempt to hit the roof.
After a little while we are going to realize that this era of high prices was the best thing that ever happened to us. Just now, however, we are feeling like Johnny after a session with the reliable family switch. We are finding out just how high the cost of laziness can be. We are beginning to wonder if there isn’t something in this economy business, after all. The next step is to find out just how cheaply we can do a lot of things that we have been used to doing expensively. Some clever women are doing it now.
That reminds me of a friend of mine who always looks beautifully dressed. So does her seventeen-year-old daughter and I know that the allowance for clothes in that family isn’t a very ample one. I went in to see her one day recently and found her busy in preparations for getting Dorothy off to school. A sports suit was needed, also dresses for school wear and a party frock. New shoes, stockings and other incidentals piled up into an appalling sum.
‘I couldn’t think of spending all the money that new things meant,’ said my friend frankly, as she showed me some of the things her ingenuity had achieved, ‘so I had to do considerable thinking and planning. Do you see that coat?’ she pointed to a lovely red sports coat that lay over a chair. ‘That used to be a grey blanket that cost $5 eight years ago. I dyed it, and then cut and made the coat from a fifteen-cent pattern. Dorothy crocheted the tarn to go with it. I can’t tell you how glad I am that this year’s styles favor the use of two materials. Out of two dresses that Dorothy had outgrown and part of a discarded one of mine I made these.’ She held up two pretty frocks, one of blue serge and red and blue plaid material, the other of green serge and black satin.
Dorothy’s party frock was achieved through the use of an old green chiffon one of her mother’s that had been cleaned, recut and hung over a rose-pink foundation, the latter an out-grown summer dress of Dorothy’s. A set of pink cotton crepe underwear had been-trimmed with narrow lace edging from the ten-cent store. These economies meant that enough money was saved to buy Dorothy’s shoes and a fur scarf.
A lot of mothers will have sent their daughters to school this year in expensive clothes, but I doubt if any of them will have the feeling of triumph that Dorothy’s mother is entitled to.
Before the telephone was invented women used to know the advantages of ‘shopping round.’ Yes, certainly, it took time. One might have to walk half a mile to find a cut of beef that was two cents a pound cheaper, or grape fruit that cost four cents less — but it was worth it. Incidentally, the woman who puts a market basket on her arm and ‘hits the trail’ for cheap provisions will find that she doesn’t need any flesh reducers these days. Of all the things designed to give one a sylph-like figure the quest of inexpensive food is the surest. But it can be found, if you are resolute and will hunt for it.
Of course, if you are a busy woman and your salary or your husband’s salary mounts up to spectacular figures you may pay current prices promiscuously if you want to — but don’t be
surprised if you find yourself with an emaciated pocket book. I know a woman who edits a monthly magazine and in addition turns out a surprisingly large number of short stories and special articles each year. This woman with all the demands on her time and energy is never too busy to do the shopping for her home. Twice a week she visits the cheapest public market in her city and buys there her fresh vegetables, most of her fruit, and all of her meat, fish and fowl. She buys for a family of three and has learned the wisdom of making her dollars work overtime.
The same thing holds true in regard to clothes. There is an inexhaustible fund of material on hand for the woman who has the enterprise and good sense to make over faded and out-of-style garments. There are dyes on the market today that can be used with excellent results by any amateur. Patterns may be had that tell one in the last detail just what to do in making a dress or blouse. Everything lies at the hand of the woman who really wants to put the H. C. of L. down for the count.
‘But I can’t sew,’ a woman complained the other day when someone suggested that making over clothes is one of the best ways of discouraging the prevailing high prices. And she said it with a sort of pride. I had just as soon be proud of a cross eye or a hump. In fact, I had rather, because one can’t help the latter very well, while any girl or woman who isn’t imbecile can learn to be deft with her hands.
Thank heaven, the day of the girl who ‘hasn’t ever washed dishes’ and who lies abed until ten o’clock in the morning is passing. And again, thank heaven, that in these stirring days one
doesn’t have to be brainless or lazy to be ‘feminine.’ It is the feminine girl of today, the dear-thinking modern product, who is reviving the homely arts of our grandmothers, who is learning how to cook, either in domestic science classes or in her mother’s kitchen. She is learning to sew from one or the other of these teachers also — and, best of all, she is learning from them lessons of economy.
One morning a few weeks ago I was watching a parade of manikins in a fashionable
dressmaking establishment, when a woman seated near me remarked to one of the women in attendance: ‘What smart shoes those girls wear! Where do you get them?’
The smartly coifed and dressed attendant replied: ‘Oh, we have our own bootmaker who makes all the shoes our manikins wear and usually makes them to match the gowns we design.’
‘How convenient! ‘ the customer exclaimed. ‘How much will a pair like that cost me?’ pointing to a pair of low grey suede shoes worn by a slender manikin just passing.
The saleswoman looked. ‘Oh. we can make you a pair like that for sixty dollars,’ she replied carelessly. I waited for the woman’s reply. ‘Well. I declare!’ she said emphatically. ‘Of all the nerve! Sixty dollars for those shoes? Well. I guess not. Why, I can buy shoes like that for $16 down town.’
Mentally I thanked the woman who had courage enough to say what she thought of $60 shoes. But there are a lot of women who think differently. Pin-minded women who are quite willing to pay $60 for a pair of shoes and $200 for a ‘simple little frock.’ Those are the women who keep prices up. Just remember this when you hear a woman boasting about how much she paid for her new Fall suit and hat. Consider that it is the fault of her and those like her that you have to pay more than you can afford.
Did you ever go through a pile of hats near the end of the season and run across that lovely $15 shape you saw earlier in the year? Now you will find that it is marked in the basement at $1. Talk about the thrill that comes once in a lifetime! Believe me, if you want to combine a good time with real money-saving try becoming a basement sleuth. The dress that the haughty saleslady upstairs tried to give you in exchange for $80 will be found here at the comfortable price of $45. The basement has good-looking shoes at eight dollars — they charge twelve for them upstairs. If each and every one of us would decide this season to go gaily past the specialty places and give the basement counters the rush there would be a decided difference in the prices that the brigands of the specialty fetish charge.
And while I am discussing economy, I want to tip you off to the fact that there is money to be saved in dealing with any of the reputable, established mail order concerns dealing in articles for women’s wear. One of the girls who plays good parts in the studio, and who is always well dressed, told me the other day that before she came to New York, she bought all of her clothes, even her shoes, from one of these concerns. When she came to New York and compared prices in some of the so-called smart shops with the prices given in the catalogues of the mail order houses she kept right on doing her buying by mail.
On the strength of her experience, I made a few experiments with very pleasant results. I was surprised to find this almost every house guaranteed satisfaction. There are in the concerns many fine lines of goods that are sold at a generally known price, thus preventing profiteers from gouging you. A concern that is making a nationally known brand take pain to let public know the prices on its goods for their own protection. I have often seen the same goods sold in the ‘Smart Shops,’ at ridiculous advances.
I am the last one in the world to suggest frumpy, badly home-made clothes, and unless you are clever with the needle and have a bent for putting things together with taste, it is safer to go to the good stores, or the ones you know by reputation.
In the old days when a dollar in our pockets meant something more than a tip to the waiter, most of us used to be ashamed to frequent the ten-cent stores. But today, ah! today how different things are! When we enter the five-and-ten emporium we are just as likely to jostle Van Renssalaer Diggs on her way out. All the world has learned the virtues of the five-and-ten. If you are not acquainted with them try it the next time you want new dish towels, or lead pencils or flower for your hat. They are all there. The character number of my hats are trimmed with flowers from the five-and-ten.
We were all frantically ready to help during the war. If we didn’t knit ourselves blue in the face, we fox-trotted all night at the ‘khaki and blue’ dances, or we poured coffee and cut sandwiches until every bone in our bodies ached. We were glad to do it. It was our job at the time. Now we are needed just as badly at a different kind of work. It’s a kind we haven’t been used to and we don’t like it. But it may come a bit earlier if we just remember that every little economy we practice will help to relieve the situation in these days of scant production. Every cent we save will help to bring things back, perhaps not back to the careless plenty of pre-war days, but back to a more normal basis and a more rational outlook. Unless you start your dollars to working overtime, that day is very far off.
The article was first published in the September issue of Photoplay magazine (1920).