When we wished each other a Happy New Year, we did more than say goodbye to a year, we said goodbye to a decade. And from what history tells us every decade brings something new and different and changes society in one way or another. As a historical fiction author, I’m always looking for those changes – in fashion, in cars, in music, in attitudes.
In the Victorian and Edwardian periods fashion changed considerably. Sleeves got puffier and larger and then smaller, bustles came and went, petticoats reduced in number until the slimline look arrived, but the length hardly changed until the 1920s. All these things have to be taken into account when I write about how people move, get into and out of vehicles (and which vehicles) and how often in a day they changed their clothes to suit the occasion – morning dress, visiting dress, dinner dress etc. I love the elegant and feminine fashions of those times periods, but there were downsides. The material was heavy and thick – good for the English climate possibly, but not good for trying to break-in the new and raw land that was New Zealand at the time – and I’m certainly glad I don’t have to wear those uncomfortable corsets!
But even in my lifetime, fashions have changed. From the swinging skirts and pearls of the 50s, to the hippie look of the 60s, mini-skirts, bellbottom trousers and platform shoes of the 70s, leather jackets and power-dressing with big hair and wide shoulders in the 80s, and then the anti-fashion of the 90s where anything went. Jeans and t-shirts became the norm. Since the turn of the century 20 years ago, we’ve seen the rise of caps and sneakers and sunglasses. We seem to be happy to wear whatever is comfortable these days. Remember the velour tracksuits? Were you ‘a dedicated follower of fashion’? I’d be delighted if you share your memory of your high fashion moments in the comments below.
But I can’t say the 2000s, or the 2010s have shown style that the populace has adopted. Maybe 2020 will bring something more interesting.
My latest novel, The Costumier’s Gift, released in 2019 was a dual time-line story set both in the present and moving through the decades from 1903-1950. Remembering to change the fashions and vehicles was one thing, changing attitudes and reactions was quite another. What was acceptable fifty to a hundred or more years ago, is no longer acceptable. I must have got it right though, since I’m delighted to have been awarded an IndieBRAG medallion. One reader described the book as ‘AWESOME!’ while another said ‘this book was hard to put down.’
I’m now focussed on writing Book 7, starting off in Part I in 1860s Dunedin during the goldrush and moving through to Part II from pre-WWI to 1950s and Part III which will be set in modern times. As a follow up to ‘The Cornish Knot’ the story wraps itself around the art world, the changing face of New Zealand, and reveals a true story about an Italian pioneer and his success in his adopted country.
I’ll have to do a lot more research.
Until next time
Take care and be kind to one another.
By Vicky Adin,
Author & book lover.