When I get interested in a subject, my default behavior is to dive into research mode. I scour the internet, book stores, magazines, and experts in an effort to get the widest amount of information possible. It was no different when I began “nesting” — i.e. getting interested in fashion, home decor, entertaining, etc. Fortunately there’s been a bit of a resurgence in homemaking and decor in popular culture, providing me with plenty of fodder for my inquisitive mind.
One avenue, of course, was that of “French Chic”: chic clothing, chic homes, shabby chic, Provincial chic and so on. But equally popular I discovered was Vintage or Mid-Century chic: 1940s and 50’s clothing, home decor, even cooking and other domestic skills.
While I was equally enchanted by both aesthetics, I hadn’t thought about the similarities until one of the blogs I regularly visit — Modern Retro Woman — pointed it out:
…I was struck by the fact that what [Francophile] authors are writing about are the same things that Home Ec teachers were teaching in the mid-century (at least, the textbooks and advice books I have from that time period say the same things):
– Make mealtimes special
– Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
– Go for quality, not quantity
– Spend money wisely
– Always look your best
– Good grooming matters
– Create a capsule wardrobe instead of being a victim to fashion fads
– And so on and so forth…
I was blown away when I read that because she’s absolutely right! Mid-century housewives were encouraged to take pride in their femininity and personal appearance, believed that making one’s home into a sanctuary was worthwhile, and felt cooking attractive and nourishing food was (or could be) an art.
Now that my eyes have been opened to the parallels between French and Vintage chic, I am an equal enthusiast of both. I’ve even begun collecting mid-century homemaking books to add to my library — they usually have at least a few useful tips, and if not, they’re usually hilariously chauvinistic which is good for a laugh.
If you’re curious and want to learn more about Vintage / Retro lifestyles, you can find several links on my sidebar.
Standard Vintage Disclaimer: Appreciating certain aspects of mid-century lifestyles such as fashion, homemaking and decor does not in any way condone less savory aspects such as racism, misogyny and other problems of that era (this should be obvious, but apparently vintage buffs get a LOT of pushback claiming they want to return women to chains in the kitchen… (sigh))