Author Morgan K. Wyatt gives us her perspective on fashion, providing a deeper understanding of the heroine in her new novel, Undercover Rebel.  How do you feel about fashion?

by Morgan K. Wyatt

That’s what I tend to think when I see women prancing around in shoes worthy of Lady Gaga. Please note the Lady has taken several falls from her skyscraper shoes. I usually only don my moderate three and half inch heels for a nice evening out. These days I am not the crazy fashionista I used to be.

I remember writing down everything I wore including jewelry in a daily planner so I would not duplicate an outfit in thirty days. I had such an extensive clothes collection that my sister tended to shop in my closet more than the mall. What crazy things did we wear? Jeans so tight that you had to lie down and suck in your breath to zip them up. Some females did me one better by putting on the jeans wet and letting them dry on their body like fresh paint.

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My mother used to joke about when she was teen back in the early fifties that the girls would don several cancan tulle slips to make their circle skirts stand out like square dancers. How did they even sit? They all coveted a pair of white buck shoes like Pat Boone, only they had to be appropriately scuffed. This was achieved by rubbing them on the curb as my mother walked to school. Bet that made my grandmother happy.

My grandmother confessed that during the war years it was hard getting nylons. Instead, they rubbed foundation on their legs and used an eyebrow pencil to make the seam up the back. Most women couldn’t make the seam straight themselves, so they had to depend on their girlfriends. In case, you wondered, women have been trading clothes back and forth for years. One cashmere sweater went out more than its original owner, my aunt, did.

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Besides falling off your shoes, and suffering gastrointestinal distress from too tight jeans, how else can fashion be deadly? In the Rococo period, when women had such pale complexions, they aided the process by swallowing a teaspoon of arsenic every day. That along with lead face paint contributed to an early demise.  Dresses could be deadly too besides collecting all the filth and bacteria in the streets, the trailing hems often caught fire. A woman encased in several starched petticoats became a torch as she ran in terror.

Do you wear what you want around the house when you think no one will send you? You’re not so different from your great, great grandmother. Women who moved westward to isolated areas often turned to men’s clothing to help clear the grounds and maintain the farm. It made sense, considering how many layers of clothes an average woman wore. Most women couldn’t dress themselves because of button or hooks up the back or corset laces. Many women were alone while their husbands went hunting, prospecting, or even served in wars. Not the best time to wear a dress with thirty-two buttons down the back.

The same corset that allowed Scarlet O’Hara to have a sixteen-inch waist also caused women to faint because they couldn’t draw a decent breath. When women passed out, loosening their stays was the basic first aid treatment after clearing the gentlemen out of the room.

Women have suffered greatly in the name of fashion sometimes from their own hand from plucking eyebrows pencil thin from a self-administered Brazilian wax. My sister and I once tried sugaring to remove leg hair, besides being a sticky mess; we managed to fry our legs with the boiling hot mixture. Pass on this one, please.

Other females will allow surgeons to recreate them by adding or removing parts. Ironically, a high percentage of the men who pay for their wives or girlfriends to have plastic surgery end up leaving them, which shows they could never be satisfied. Consider this before you go under the knife, also consider thousands people die every year from plastic surgery. Not all those who do cosmetic surgery are actual surgeons. Some are dentists, disbarred doctors, or individuals bold enough to pretend to be a doctor.

Therefore, with all this in mind, it is easy to sympathize with Emily, the heroine of Undercover Rebel, when she sheds her hoops and corset to go undercover to find her missing fiancé. She crosses enemy’s lines dressed as a soldier only to rescue a man who does not even remember her. Want to find out more? I am offering three free books to commenters. In addition, a Starbucks card for a commenter picked at random. Want to be picked? Please leave your email address. It is the only way I can reach you.

Morgan as a child had to suffer through movies with clueless heroines rescued by smart men. Her mother dutifully read her stories where princesses waited for princes to jump-start their lives. There were no proactive female role models in the media at that time, with the exception of Wonder Woman. It is for this reason, and that it is fun, Morgan writes about strong women going after what they want.  To learn more go to: www.morgankwyatt.com.

Image courtesy of caitlin p.