Fashion in Song: The Revolutionary Costume for Today – 2007

Oh, hi. Thank heaven you’re here.
You look absolutely terrific, honestly.
(Mother wanted me to come out in a kimono so we had quite a fight…)

(Singing)
The best kind of clothes for a protest pose
Is this ensemble of pantyhose
Pulled over the shorts, worn under the skirt
That doubles as a cape.

To reveal you in capri pants
You fashion out of ski pants,
In a jersey knit designed to fit
The contour of your shape.
Then cinch it with a cord from the drape.

And that’s the revolutionary costume for today.
To show the polo riders, in khakis and topsiders,
Just what a revolutionary costume has to say.
It can’t be ordered from L.L. Bean.
There’s more to living than kelly green.
And that’s the revolution, I mean.

Da da da da dum…

(Speaking)
Just listen to this: The Hamptons Bee, July, 1972:
“The elderly bed-ridden aunt of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy,
Mrs. Edith Bouvier Beale…”

My very own mother, can you imagine?

“…and her adult daughter, Miss Edie Beale,
a former debutante once known as Body Beautiful Beale…”

They called me Body Beautiul Beale, it’s true –
that was my whaddyacallit, my uh … sobriquet.

“…are living on Long Island in a garbage-ridden, filthy 28-room house with 52 cats,
fleas, cobwebs, and virtually no plumbing.
After vociferous complaints from neighbors,
the Board of Health took legal action against the reclusive pair.”

Why, it’s the most disgusting, atrocious thing ever to happen in America!

(Singing)
You fight City Hall with a Persian shawl
That used to hang on the bedroom wall,
Pinned under the chin, adorned with a pin
And pulled into a twist.

Reinvent the objet trouve,
Make a poncho from a duvet,
Then you can be with cousin Lee
On Mr. Blackwell’s list.
The full-length velvet glove hides the fist.

And that’s the revolutionary costume for today.
Subvert the CrisCraft boaters, those Nixon-Agnew voters.
Armies of conformity are headed right your way.
To make a statement you need not be
In Boston Harbor upending tea.
And that’s a Revolution, to me.

Staunch!
There’s nothin’ worse, I tell ya,
Staunch!
S-T-A-U-N-C-H.
Staunch women, we just don’t weaken.
A little known fact to the fascist pack
Who comes here for antiquin’.

Da da da da dum…

(Speaking)
Honestly, they can get you in East Hampton for wearing red shoes on a Thursday ?
and all that sort of thing.
I don’t know whether you know that ? I mean, do you know that?
They can get you for almost anything ? it’s a mean, nasty, Republican town.

(Singing)
The best kind of shoes to express bold views
Are strapless mules in assertive hues
Like fuscia or peach, except on the beach,
In which case you wear flats.

When I stood before the nation
At Jack’s inauguration,
In a high-heeled pump, I got the jump
on Jackie’s pillbox hat.
Just watch it where you step with the cat!

And that’s the revolutionary costume pour du jour.
You mix ‘n’ match and, Presto!
A fashion manifesto.
That’s why a revolutionary costume’s de rigeur.
The rhododendrons are hiding spies,
The pussy willows have beady eyes.
Binoculars through the privet hedge,
They peek at you through the window ledge with guile!

We’re in a Revolution!
So win the Revolution with style!

Da da da da dum.

Patent Fashions – Sweater clip

The spring clip used on the back to hold a sweater in place over your shoulders are especially designed to hold firm but not snag the knit. The original design, (1,981,740) patented in 1934, was just a jaw and tended to bunch and snag the material. This improved patent (2.853,761) was applied for in October 1957 and granted in September 1958.

Fashion in Song The Bird on Nellie’s Hat (1907)

A vaudeville song written and composed by Arthur J. Lamb & Alfred Solman in 1907 and popularized by Helen Trix.

Every Saturday, Willie got his pay. Then he’d call for Nell
Trousers neatly pressed and nice white vest
Button-hole bouquet as well
On Nellie’s little hat, there was a little bird
That little bird knew lots of things, it did upon my word
And in its quiet way, it had a lot to say
As the lovers strolled along.

Refrain:I’ll be your little honey, I will promise that!’
Said Nellie as she rolled her dreamy eyes
‘It’s a shame to take the money’ said the bird on Nellie’s hat
‘Last night she said the same to Johnny Wise’
Then to Nellie, Willie whispered as they fondly kissed
‘I’ll bet you were never kissed like that!’
‘Well he don’t know Nellie like I do!’
Said the saucy little bird on Nellie’s hat.

In a shady nook, by a quiet brook, Nell and Willie fish
Lips together meet in kisses sweet
Love is such a dainty dish
Then Nellie said to Will such pretty things galore
But everything that Nellie said that bird had heard before
And as he took her hand and said, ‘Oh ain’t it grand’
Nellie winked the other eye.

Refrain: Now I haven’t caught a fish, what do you think of that?’
Said Nellie with a most bewitching look
‘You can bet she knows her business!’ said the bird on Nellie’s hat
‘And Willie’s the fish she’s going to hook’
‘Oh its twelve o’ clock’ said Willie as he took her home
‘I’ll bet you’re never out as late as that!’
‘Well he don’t know Nellie like I do!’
Said the saucy little bird on Nellie’s hat.

Autumn came along, loves young dream all wrong, Will went round to call
Servant with a grin said, ‘She’s not in!
Nellie’s gone away, that’s all!’
Poor Willie’s heart was broke; his life seemed all in vain
Until upon Fifth Avenue he met his Nell again
Said he, ‘We meet once more!’ Said she, Love’s dream is o’er!
But we can be real good friends.’

Refrain:And I’ll keep your presents, honey, just for old time’s sake’
Said Nellie as she rolled her dreamy eyes
‘She has fixed him good and plenty’ said the bird on Nellie’s hat
Oh Willie, Willie, when will you be wise!’
Well, but how about the diamond engagement ring?
‘Of course,’ said Willie, ‘You’ll return me that!’
‘Well he don’t know Nellie like I do!’
Said the saucy little bird on Nellie’s hat.

More dry cleaner bags

Nowadays the dry cleaner bags I get are always clear, but until the 1980s they were usually printed with advertising. Even though the bags are flimsy and disposable, we often get donations come to the museum in old dry cleaner bags that feature colourful advertising and interesting graphics. I used to just throw them out without thinking twice, but then I realized that if we don’t document them, nobody will remember, so I now photograph all the bags that come in with donations and then thrown them out (they tend to be brittle or sticky, and filthy, so not keepable). A few years ago I photographed a mid 1960s bag that had a statement about not letting your child play with them – but these ones have no such warnings:

Fashion in Song – In Our Little Wooden Shoes, 1937

From the 1937 film Heidi, starring Shirley Temple.

Have you seen my new shoes
They are made out of wood
Such nice little shoes
Don't you think they look good?

I can dance all around
With the greatest of ease
I can jump from the ground
To the tops of the trees

I'll tell you something I'm going to try
Put on your shoes and away we'll fly
We'll take a trip
Wherever we choose
We'll dance and skip
In our little wooden shoes

How many miles will you travel with me
One miles or two miles or maybe three
We'll make a stop
Wherever we choose
We'll skip and hop
In our little wooden shoes

Wasn't our journey a nice holiday
We'll take another some other day
We'll take a trip
Wherever we choose
We'll dance and skip
In our little wooden shoes

Fashion in Song – Louboutins (2009)

Released as a lead single on Jennifer Lopez’ 7th album in December 2009:

Uh, uh, uh, uh, yeah
Oh, oh, ah-ah-ah, radio killer
Taking back my love (Taking back my love)…

You said you’d change, but still nothing
You’re still the same, I’m just a part-time lover (Lover)
And I’m the blame, should have went away (Away)
But yet I stayed (I stayed), with a part-time lover
See, some days you will love me
Then you don’t, then you do, then you won’t
Then you’re here, then you’re gone, I’m alone
Now you got me stressing out on the phone

But it’s the last time, I’m moving on
I’m throwing on my Louboutins…

I left the state (The state), changed everything
No more 818 (18) for the part-time lover (Lover)
What goes around comes back around
And then you get what you deserve, you part-time lover (Yeah)
See, some days you will love me
Then you don’t, then you do, then you won’t
Then you’re here, then you’re gone, I’m alone
Now you got me stressing out on the phone

But it’s the last time, I’m moving on
I’m throwing on my Louboutins…

Watch these red bottoms and the back of my jeans
Watch me go, bye baby, don’t know what you got until it’s gone
Tail lights is all you’ll see
Watch this Benz exit that driveway

I’m throwing on my Louboutins…

Watch me walk it out, walk it out, walk it out
Walk this right up out the house
Walk it out, boy, watch me walk it out
Uh, walk it out, walk this right up out the house

I’m throwing on my Louboutins (Out the house)…

Fashion in Song – Wenn die Elisabeth (1930)

This German song Wenn die Elisabeth is about Elizabeth, who loses her advantage of having great legs in the longer skirt styles of 1930. A second paragraph refers to how her friend Mitzi, who has a great rack, now has the advantage!

Die Elisabeth, die süße, hat ein neues langes Kleid,
und es schlenkert um die Füße, die seidne Herrlichkeit.
Jedes Herz beginnt zu sieden, alle Männer drehn sich um,
doch sie selbst ist nicht zufrieden! Und wissen sie warum?

Refr.:
Wenn die Elisabeth nicht so schöne Beine hätt’,
hätt’ sie viel mehr Freud’ an dem neuen, langen Kleid!
Doch, da sie Beine hat, tadellos und kerzengrad,
tut es ihr so leid um das alte kurze Kleid!
Das kann man doch verstehen, beim Gehen, beim Drehen
kann man jetzt nichts mehr sehen und niemand weiß Bescheid!
Ja, wenn die Elisabeth nicht so schöne Beine hätt,
hätt’ sie viel mehr Freud’ an dem neuen, langen Kleid!

Elisabeth, the sweet, has a new long dress,
and it swings around the feet, the silk glory.
Every heart starts to boil, all men turn around,
but she is not satisfied herself! And do you know why?

Refrain:
If Elisabeth didn’t have such beautiful legs
if she had much more joy in the new, long dress!
But since she has legs, immaculate and candle-grade,
she is so sorry for the old short dress!
You can understand that, when walking, when turning
you can no longer see anything and nobody knows!
Yes, if Elisabeth didn’t have such nice legs,
if she had much more joy in the new, long dress!

Fashion in Song – Sticky Fingers, 1971

Although none of the songs on this Rolling Stones album was about fashion, it’s hard to ignore the novel cover art that includes a working zipper that reveals white cotton undies. Widely considered one of the most influential album covers of all time (usually placing second after the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s album), Sticky Fingers was scandalous but successful at promoting the Rolling Stones ‘bad boy’ image. Designed by Andy Warhol, the model used for the photograph was never revealed, but it’s not Mick Jagger or any member of the band.

Damage was caused by the zipper to the vinyl disc when the record was stacked under other records, so to alleviate the problem, the fly was usually sold unzipped so that any damage would not occur to the recording.

Fashion in Song – How to Do That (1989) – Jean Paul Gaultier

Gaultier announced a couple of days ago that he will be retiring from fashion design after his final couture show on January 22. Back in 1989, at the height of his ‘enfant terrible’ reputation, he produced this dance video: How to Do That.

The video is all about the visuals, because the lyrics are repetitive and non-sensical:

What do you think about working with some one ?
– Euh… I think I should… Eeeeuh…

« How to do that ? How to do that ? How to do that ? Make new wave »
« How to do that ? How to do that ? How to do that ? Make new wave »
« How to do, How to do, How to do, How to do »
Hihihi

« Bravo »

« How to doodoodoo that »

Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Technic idea

I’m sure that I can’t do that, you know.

« How to doodoodoo « Bravo » that »

Euh
Euh
I think I should
Euh
I think I should
Euh
I think I should first… euh…

« How to doodoodoo « Bravo » that »

What’ll I have w
What’ll I have w
What’ll I have with that
[Tell me mather with me]
What’ll I have w
What’ll I have w
What’ll I have with that

« How to doodoodoo « Bravo » that »
« Les Français parlent aux Français »

Non, non
Oui, oui
Euh, non-non
Oui ah

« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »
« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »
« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »
« [Sifflement d’Ouvrard] »

I think I should…
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !
Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Bring some technic
Technic idea

How to hum-euh-hum-euh
How to hum-euh-hum-euh
How to hum-euh-hum-euh

Euh… I think I should… 
Non, non
Oui, oui
Euh, non-non
Oui ah
I think I should
Bring some technic idea
Euh
I think I should… 
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !
Euh… I think I should… 
Tec-tec-tec. Bring some technic idea. Euh !

Bye-bye