3 January 2013

Fashion in Academe

Vera Brittain's diary entry for February 22nd, 1939, Chronicle of Friendship (London: Victor Gollancz, 1986), p. 339:
Of the four English women [dining at the club], I was the only one who painted my lips, varnished my nails & wore clothes that didn't look like they'd been put on after hanging in a cupboard for 5 years. Why, why must social reform & political intelligence in the women of this country be associated with shiny noses & unwaved hair? Is it hubris -- the feeling that you're so important that it doesn't matter how distasteful your appearance may be -- or simply that most English women have no taste and don't even know it. Oh! that University Women's Club -- full of grim-looking desiccated spinsters in appalling tweeds. Heaven preserve Shirley [Brittain's daughter] from an academic career!