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Lesley M. M. Blume

Lesley M. M. Blume

Posted: July 28, 2008 06:33 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen:

To honor the launch of Huffington Post's new Style section, I present the seventh installment of my Let's Bring Back series.

A quiet homage to Vogue legend Diana Vreeland's famous "Why Don't You?" columns, Let's Bring Back celebrates rituals, curiosities, and ideas from times past.

Some of the suggestions are substantive and others frivolous ... but all are intended to promote a thoughtfully stylish life.

In that spirit, I implore the world to bring back:

1. Handheld fans.

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Gustav Klimt, Lady With Fan, 1917


Which used to be a symbol-laden wardrobe staple for every elegant lady. Lace, silk, linen, painted paper - different materials for different occasions and times of the day. For centuries, elaborate fans were given as wedding gifts among the aristocratic and moneyed classes across many cultures.

For the more democratic shopper, Pearl River has hand fans from 50⊄ and up.

I also adore those divine, lazy ceiling fans on front porches, but that's a different affair altogether.


2. Windmills.

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Beautiful and philosophical creatures. And no longer uselessly romantic as we look for other energy sources.


3. Those wonderful old movie theater marquees with little yellow lightbulbs.

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There's something heady about seeing the stars' names spelled out in lights, and something distinctly discrediting about seeing those same names showcased against a dingy, flickering fluorescent backdrop.

4. Claudette Colbert films.

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Colbert with Clark Gable in It Happened One Night, 1934

I just re-watched It Happened One Night with Colbert and Clark Gable ... and that lady was such a chic sasspot. But unlike her contemporaries Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich -- who manage to rise from the dead on a daily basis even now -- Colbert has unjustly fallen into obscurity. Let's Netflix Claudette back to life.

5. Haystacks.

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Claude Monet, Meule, Effet de Neige, le Matin, circa 1890


It seems that hay is crammed into those drearily efficient rolls these days. Old-guard, haphazard haystacks just look romantic -- operatic even. Until farmers see the error of their ways in this regard, we always have Monet's haystack series to tide us over.

6. Fingernail buffing. It's fallen out of fashion, but shouldn't have. It's quite elegant for both men and women- far more so than the iridescent green and blue polishes lining the walls of manicure salons today.

Note: green polish on toes looks gangrenous and repulsive.

7. Surrealism. In art, in fashion, in all aspects of life. A wonderful 1920s and 30s art movement that shocked people into taking their lives less literally and seriously. To experience the humor and delectable peculiarity of surrealism, visit MoMA's Salvador Dali exhibit online.

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Salvador Dali, Remorse Or Sphinx Embedded in Sand, 1931

Or check out the iconic works of surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

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Lobster imagery abounds in surrealist works - which makes getting reacquainted with Dali and his pals into a nice summer activity.

8. Powder puffs.

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Big, luxurious, fluffy white or pink ones to dunk into jars of sweet-smelling talcum powder. The puff should sit like an exotic pet on your vanity table, waiting patiently in-between uses.

9. Home-delivered milk and seltzer. In glass jars, of course. I'm always running out of milk and it's such a bore to run to the grocery store for another sticky, leaky carton.

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Apparently there are companies that still deliver seltzer to your house, in those gorgeous old colored bottles as well, such as Gomberg Seltzer Works in Canarsie.

By the way, when (and why) did seltzer go out of style, and Pellegrino elbow its way in?

10. Beautiful train stations. If you were in middle-management in Hell, your office would look like the current Penn Station. It's heartbreaking to see images of the original Penn Station in New York City, which was destroyed in 1964.

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Okay, if we're intent out destroying our historical architecture, can't we at least haul Zaha Hadid in to re-do the place?

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I know that's awfully forward-looking for a column premised on nostalgia ... but anything's better than what we have now.

And whoever said that nostalgia was totally incompatible with progress?


 
 
 

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