Monday, April 16, 2012

A and P Supermarkets/Grocery Store Rant (1940s)

Photobucket

Good afternoon, everybody! I got a story for you...a story of groceries and missed sartorial opportunities...gather round the old vintage campfire and I'll tell it to you straightaway.

Yesterday, I pulled together what I, in my own conceited opinion, consider to be a knockout outfit for the occasion of Matthew's friend Ernest's birthday barbecue. Resisting an urge to wear white wrist-length gloves, I went out of the house in red lipstick, a double strand of pearls, a fifties' blouse I found at the Gallatin Goodwill, my go-to black skirt and dress belt, and a McHenry's ladies' hat from an estate sale a long time ago to cover my still-wet hair pinned underneath said hat. It looked like this:

Photobucket Photobucket

Lovely, right? If I do say so myself. You fellow decades-dressers know how it is when you somehow pull off the alchemy of putting together this skirt and that blouse and come up with something that makes you look exactly like the image in your head of how you wanted to look. Rare are those occasions! Yet, in spite of my costume success, I felt a little like a Sasquatch walking into the Greenfield Kroger's when we had to run in and grab a card and some kind of snack to bring to Ernest's party.

In a storeful of people in sweatpants and tank tops, in cargo shorts and polos, in jeans and t-shirts, a gal in the above ensemble sticks out like a red lipped sore thumb! And of course, granted, dressing in head to toe vintage will often make you look like you've escaped a period-set dinner theater production...but man did I notice how slip-sloppily people dress to go to the grocery store! On the one hand, you may just need Cheerios and felt like running over to the store in your pajama bottoms wasn't a major fashion faux pas. On the other hand...you're in public! What if you run into your fifth grade teacher/best friend's mom/that dude you're crushing on from a local band/me? All of which are possible in a neighborhood grocery the size of this sucker.

Whatever happened to dressing up, period...but specifically, whatever happened to dressing up to go shopping?

Photobucket

These pictures from A &P advertisements of the mid forties' have assuaged my troubled mind on the count of how-you-should-dress-in-your-supermarket. While I know these are advertisements, I can't help but feel that people in the forties' at least put on a bit of mascara to hit the meat counter. The lady below is wearing a fur stole, forgoodnesssake. I must share with you that the caption of the picture below is "Favorite Meating Place for Particular People". Oh, forties' Mad Men. You crack me up. How handsome do the meat counter men look in their white coats and bow-ties? The shapeless blue polo shirts with "Kroger" stitched on the front of them, plus an apron, just doesn't have the sparkle of these old uniforms. Even the employees are dressed up, see!!

Photobucket

Below, gloves? Check. Hat? Check. Smart little bowtie? Check. Ready to select superior produce? Check check.

Photobucket

Look at the mile long feather on the hat at stage right. Plus more furs on that woman and the one to the left. That Russian sable looking coat is something I'd like to own.

Photobucket

Did you get a load of the blue turbaned thing at right, below? It would probably make me look more like a Dr. Seuss character and less like a Rosalind Russell type that I'd like, but I would still like to take a gamble on it if we ever met up in a darkened estate sale closet.

Photobucket

A & P made its name as being one of the first grocery store chains, period; then continued to trailblaze with some of the first self-service grocery stores in America. I still like to daydream about a time in which you could hand a list over to a grocery clerk and he would dutifully pull and ring up all your items while you wait. Do you have any idea how much easier that would make my life? I feel like I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the canned tomatoes trying to figure out which, of a thousand varieties, best suits my needs, when in the 1800's, someone would do that for me. Le sigh.

Check out this Rosie the Riveter in her just-off work swagger. I excuse her from being dressed to the nines as she's obviously pitching in with the war effort. Plus she looks cute as a button. Do you see the beanie on the woman in green, or how handsome the man in the suit is? I do.

Photobucket


What're your thoughts? Are you an unselfconscious vintage wearer or do you skulk around a little in your 50's/60's best, wary of the unwelcome stares? Would you go to the grocery store dressed in houseclothes or do you make an effort when you're seen in public to be spotlessly presentable? It's an important question!

I think we're on to more Your Power as a Woman tomorrow, be sure to tune in!

Til next time.

9 comments:

  1. And when you think about how short of a time span it took for people to go from that to the "Juicy" written across their butts generation, it's mind boggling. I DO wish that people dressed up like that still. I have a theory about how people treat each other with less respect and manners these days because most people look like they just rolled out of bed. If we look like we have no respect for ourselves, nobody is going to respect us. Even if our look mirrors their own.

    I remember going to the The Golden Age of Couture show at the Frist and seeing people milling around in cut-off shorts and t-shirts. And dirty Ugg boots and flip-flops. It seemed really strange. And then I saw a group of senior ladies who had come together as a group and they were dressed to the nines!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, we could learn something from those older ladies, for sure. I remember in college just being ASTONISHED at people walking around all day literally in their pajama bottoms (sometimes tucked in to Uggs!) or tiny shorts that were obviously meant for the gym... I'm not always at my Sunday best but I definitely make a concerted effort to be presentable outside the house! Like you said, it's a matter of respect for yourself and other people.

      Delete
  2. When I do run into the store in work out clothes and no make up, that's when I see people I haven't seen for ages and they're probably thinking Wow what a slob but then they're wearing jeans. Shrug.

    I often wonder though and never thought to ask any of the older ladies I know if they would have still dressed in suits and dresses to go to the store if there had been an alternative. The reason I wonder is that these same ladies are now wandering around in sweat suits and jeans and not dresses like they were in the 40s/50s

    You look adorable by the way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the compliment! And that is a really good point, actually... that most older people either dress pin-neat (lipstick, "hair did", etc) or sloppy, sloppy, don't even care sloppy, this is my matching old person track suit. We'll have to investigate!!

      Delete
  3. Tesco actually BANNED jim-jams in their stores a while back! Seriously. They put signs on the door that stated you'd be escorted out if you were under-dressed in what they referred to as 'nightwear'! Good on them. After that, they were my store of choice!
    People got lazy in the late '60s when ACTUAL fashion became a thing of the past. Post-modern fashion is an anything goes kind of thing and it lets people be couch potatoes when it comes to their gear. At least some of us respect ourselves and fashion enough to give a damn!
    You looked UBER fab, BTW! Love that top!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. i totally agree with you! whatever happned to at least trying to look decent when appering in public?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aww, you look gorgeous!! That blouse is adorable. And love all those '40s folk at the A&P!! I concur, it's a shame no one seems to dress up anymore; I don't wish to judge anyone for wearing sweats and nightclothes around town (goodness knows I'm the "freak" here in my red lipstick and obsolete fashions) but I do wish people still -enjoyed- the act of getting all gussied up. Everyone has to wear clothes, so why not use them as a means of personal expression?!

    But a lot of folks I know seem to consider their rather shoddy apparel some sort of act of free expression, like they're sticking it to the man in their totally radical flannel pajama bottoms, haha. Kinda like what Dolly said; it's just laziness and conformity disguised as postmodernist thinking. (And of course, in an ironic twist, those rebels in sweatpants are often the same ones who sneer at anyone who actually shows a little originality in the way they dress, sigh.)

    Then again, I find casual wear so much less appealing these days; I really wouldn't mind seeing ladies at the grocery store parading around in '50s peignoirs and Daniel Greens, haha.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You look beautiful in your vintage apparel and could grace the A&P ads alongside the other shoppers, of course you would have your Forstmann's wool coat on too! This brings to mind when I was lucky enough to catch a rebroadcast of the original tv pilot for "Let's Make a Deal" with Monty Hall. It was before the zany costumes were part of the script. Every single male and female was dressed in a suit or dress. Every one of them! This must have been the early 1960's. I would really like to see that episode again. Now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I might not fix hair and makeup to perfection just for grocery shopping, but I don't go our underdressed ever. I don't really own any sloppy clothes that isn't nightwear and I wouldn't dream of going out in those.

    I absolutely love the pictures you have found and I think you looked very neat and nice!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...