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Nostalgia: Saudade, White Ties and Tails

by Hope Sears about a year ago in men
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What Men Should Wear for more Sex Appeal

Fred Astaire dances with his sister Adele Astaire in their act

What is being nostalgic for an era you did not live through? It is a self-defeating phrase in some respects since the word “nostalgia” implies the feeling is evoked by some personal association. Some definitions of nostalgia include a desire to return home. Yet for young fans of vintage Hollywood, music, or fashion, this feeling of desire is prevalent.

In the vintage Hollywood fan community “nostalgia” pops up quite a bit and it is not rare for the question to be posed, “Is there a word for being nostalgic for things that never happened to me?”

The English language does not share this complex feeling as other languages do, simply labeling it as “nostalgia”.

There is a Portuguese word “Saudade” which essentially means feeling a longing for something or someone that may never exist again or perhaps never existed in the first place.

A study in “Psychological Sciences” talks about the “cascading reminiscence bump”, where musical tastes can be transmitted down from generations. For instance, you will probably be most nostalgic for music you listened to in your youth, but you also are more likely to like the music your parents listened to in your adolescents when you had no control over the music.

This often leads to a young person liking music from 20 years before since their parents were most likely listening to the pop music of the time.

While I do not mind a good 80s song, I find myself going back to music found in musicals or singers from old movies. When I was young, these were the movies I would watch since my mom was on a classic movie kick and she also felt comfortable letting me watch these mostly innocent love stories from decades past.

With my love of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s media, I also love the fashion of the era. However, it is not women’s fashion that I find myself particularly drawn to as a style that I wish would come back. There are several clothing items that I still see in stores today from the bygone eras.

The other standouts in fashion for these eras that have not made it back have ethical reasons for not making it into today’s zeitgeist. For instance, some fashions such as fur coats are made from the pelts of wild animals and certain hats. Some hats are interesting, some a bit too crazy, but too many included bird feathers which became such a problem it depleted several species of birds to near extinction.

Several magazines still tout “what men want” in women’s magazines with advice from men for young women. Yet, when I look at men’s magazine headlines, I do not see the same sort of advice. If they did share similar advice, I am sure women’s advice would include a guide for how a man should dress.

Generally speaking, we want to see more men in suits. A suit makes everything better. Are you overweight? A suit makes the pounds disappear and suddenly, you look like Clark Kent. Even men that act in superhero films look more dapper in a suit or tuxedo.

I plan to make my future husband wear a Fred Astaire white tie tailcoat to our wedding. If he comes in looking like that, I am going to go crazy. I will not be able to keep my hands off any man who is going to dress like that for me.

If you want to put a cherry on top, add a nice boutonniere. The latest trend for men is to put a pocket square. This works if you want to be a little quirky with it. But for me, nothing says I care about my style than a flower, especially with carnations. Carnations typically come in red or white. But a Malmaison Carnation is light pink and small.

The reason the carnation flowers appeal to me is that they are flowers for one, and most girls do like flowers. It is also something alive and fresh.

There is the danger that they go bad, but I think this very fact that they can go bad shows that you are living in the moment. You are not cutting corners.

“You’ve either got or you haven’t got style. If you’ve got it, you’ll stand out a mile. A flower is not a flower if it’s wilted.” ~Frank Sinatra singing the song “Style” in Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964)

Also, flowers smell good and you can always give them to your date at the end as a memento. Some women are still sentimental and will save the petals to be pressed.

From my research, royals wore these flowers to special occasions in the 1930s-1950s. In fact, the trend is reported to have started when Prince Albert cut a hole in his suit when Queen Victoria presented him with a flower.

This trend made it over to the Americas. There is even a song about these pretty delicate flowers in attire, “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation” by Marty Robbins.

I am a fan of the red carnation because it reminds me of Dean Martin’s tuxedo in his variety show in the 1970s. He actually wore a red pocket square but to me, it stuck out as if it were a carnation with its ruffles.

You can forgive a man more easily when he reeks of class as Fred Astaire knows well as he sang “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails”.

...“I'm steppin' out, my dear,

To breathe an atmosphere

That simply reeks with class;

And I trust that you'll excuse my dust

When I step on the gas,

For I'll be there,

Puttin' down my top hat,

Mussin' up my white tie,

Dancin' in my tails.”

men

About the author

Hope Sears

Used to write for TV news, now I hope to write myself into a new story.

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