Fashion Passion, Part 2: Mother in Ersatz Dior

Baltimore backyard, 1948

 It was spring, and my mother was just home from work, or shopping, or an appointment. Here, she holds a blossom from the flowering bush behind her. The Kodacolor  in the picture faded long ago, and now the image is infused with yellow. Her blouse was mint-green, and the floppy bow gives her that schoolteacher look—fitting, for she was a teacher. The skirt is classic post-World War II, with the flowing lines of the  Dior New Look. At 5’9”, Marcella had a model’s figure, and here, even the mid-calf skirt length isn’t too long to prevent her from showing a little leg. Underneath, she’s wearing a girdle not to hold in her tummy, but for modesty, and to keep her nylon stockings up.

 The skirt has a peplum, a  ruffle overskirt  that descend from the waist. Only the slender can wear these well. Her shoes, classic black pumps, were likely sinking into the soggy spring lawn.

My fashion-conscious mother  never read Vogue, but shopped in the Better Dresses department in Hutzler’s or Hochschild Kohn, the finest downtown Baltimore department stores. “What’s cheap is cheap,” she would say. She had  this skirt for years, wearing it well into the 1950’s when she returned to teach at Fullerton School. I could really use a skirt like that today.