Southern Style Before the Yankees Came

Update: Check out Joshua Rothman’s take on this story.

Allure of AntebellumWhat better way to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the release of the movie, “Gone With the Wind” than with a Fall fashion spread inspired by life on an antebellum plantation. That’s exactly what some actress by the name of Blake Lively is doing. I guess this is how one gets old because before today I never heard of this person. Having just finished Baptist’s new book, I have very little patience for such nonsense.

Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and the enticement of a smooth twang…we all love a bit of southern charm. These regional mainstays, along with an innate sense of social poise, evoke an unparalleled warmth and authenticity in style and tradition.

The term “Southern Belle” came to fruition during the Antebellum period (prior to the Civil War), acknowledging women with an inherent social distinction who set the standards for style and appearance. These women epitomized Southern hospitality with a cultivation of beauty and grace, but even more with a captivating and magnetic sensibility. While at times depicted as coy, these belles of the ball, in actuality could command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom.

Like the debutantes of yesteryear, the authenticity and allure still ring true today. Hoop skirts are replaced by flared and pleated A-lines; oversized straw toppers are transformed into wide-brimmed floppy hats and wool fedoras.

The prowess of artful layering -the southern way- lies in inadvertent combinations. From menswear-inspired overcoats to the fluidity of soft flowing separates, wrap yourself up in tactile layers that elicit a true sense of seasonal lure.

Embrace the season and the magic below the Mason-Dixon with styles as theatric as a Dixie drawl.

Just don’t ask where their allowance for clothing came from or the raw material itself.

About Kevin Levin

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12 comments add yours

  1. In the spring, she’ll be coming out with a line for folks who can’t afford these clothes, but who aspire to them one day – just some grey and butternut uniforms.

    In all seriousness, to go back to the discussion here earlier about Baptist’s use of “slave labor camp” instead of plantation, well, it’s manure like Lively that makes me think the new term is important, because too many people don’t think “slavery” when they hear “plantation”. They just think “pretty things” instead of thinking about how they got there.

    • In all seriousness, to go back to the discussion here earlier about Baptist’s use of “slave labor camp” instead of plantation, well, it’s manure like Lively that makes me think the new term is important, because too many people don’t think “slavery” when they hear “plantation”. They just think “pretty things” instead of thinking about how they got there.

      I agree completely.

  2. Okay – just got done with one hour on the indoor bike trainer so maybe I still have sweat in my eyes.

    …towel wipe…sweat is gone

    Nope, read it correctly the first time. And, like you, patience for this kind of crap is running very thin.

  3. Silly stuff but just marketing. Really, I think you need to worry about more serious stuff.

    • Don’t worry, I am not going to lose sleep over it, but it does reflect how little we understand about the history of our “slave labor” camps.

  4. The clothes themselves don’t hark back to the 1850s or Gone With the Wind. They’re early 70s retreads: short skirts, mixing patterns, the big fedoras. If you told me this was a layout from 1973, I would have believed you.

    The mint julep copy that goes with it…who exactly does that appeal to in 2014?

    • Except for the bullshit description there is really nothing at all about the South. I doubt the photos were even taken in the South. Probably a studio in Los Angeles.

  5. I had something along this same vein crop up not long ago in choosing a wedding venue. There was an antebellum mansion not far from where I live that hosts weddings. My fiancé liked it quite a bit and it was beautiful, but I told her I didn’t feel comfortable getting married at this mansion because it was built by slave labor and slavery with all its brutality was practiced there.

    Luckily it was far out of our price range so it saved us a debate. That said the facade of its pastoral beauty hid an ugly truth that all too often gets pushed aside to emphasize a more comfortable myth of the south of belles, grandeur, hospitality, moonlight and magnolias that people gravitate to.

    I don’t like the idea of being a killjoy but people need to know that one ideal that gets held up as a standard for genteel living was built up by something that was anything but. Whether it be antebellum mansions, clothing, popular entertainment there needs to be a rather large caveat that explains how the one side lived so well based off the exploitation of the other.

  6. Let me see if I can fix this ad copy up just a bit:

    Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and the enticement of a smooth twang…we all love a bit of white southern charm. These regional mainstays, along with an innate sense of social poise and white supremacy, evoke an unparalleled warmth and authenticity in style and tradition.

    The term “Southern Belle” came to fruition during the Antebellum period (prior to the Civil War), acknowledging white women from slaveholding families with an inherent social distinction who set the standards for white style and appearance. These white women epitomized white Southern hospitality with a cultivation of beauty and grace, a grace made possible by slave labor, but even more with a captivating and magnetic sensibility. While at times depicted as coy, these belles of the ball, in actuality could command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom.

    Like the white debutantes of yesteryear, the authenticity and allure still ring true today. Hoop skirts are replaced by flared and pleated A-lines; oversized straw toppers are transformed into wide-brimmed floppy hats and wool fedoras.

    The prowess of artful layering -the white southern way- lies in inadvertent combinations. From menswear-inspired overcoats to the fluidity of soft flowing separates, wrap yourself up in tactile layers that elicit a true sense of seasonal lure.

    Embrace the season and the magic of neoconfederate white supremacist nostalgia below the Mason-Dixon with styles as theatric as a Dixie drawl.

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