Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Of Footcoats And Dickeys

When I'm awake, my brain gets to go on play dates with other people's brains, has a schedule, and is expected to put its toys away at the end of the day. When I'm asleep, supervision is out the window. Things I might have encountered during the day tumble around in there and problems might be tackled, although not well.

Other times the dreaming brain just rolls around like a raffle ticket spinner and you don't know what's going to drop out.

Last night I woke up and had one thing only on my mind. Spats.

Spats. I had questions. Mainly: What the hell?

I like spats because they always make me think of the bottom end of Fred Astaire, and then I work my way up. But I always assumed they were just for fashion. No! Evidently, spats are little raincoats for your shoes. They're short for spatterdashes, and they keep the water and crud out of the places they could leak in at your shoelaces. They have a little strap underneath the shoe and go on exactly like a raincoat on a dachshund. That's how they got their start, but later they were worn purely for fashionable effect after the King of England made a public appearance in them. Similarly, dachshunds wearing coats are now mainly a personal fashion statement for the owner, and are unrelated to dry dachshunds.

Spats continued to be very popular for formal dress until the 1920s, when the King of England showed up spatless and tanked the industry in one day. Everyone noticed. According to some, the kingdom was littered with discarded spats after that.

In a way, the spat is a bit like a dickey for your feet. The Dickey, of course, was originally known as a "detachable bosom," and wouldn't that be handy on those slimy hot summer days, ladies? Men wore dickeys as a false front of their shirts so that they could just clean those instead of the entire shirt. Laundry has always been a pain in the ass and was even more of one in the olden days when you had to soak, soap, boil, rinse, wring out, mangle, dry, starch, and iron, and probably make your own soap. That's the story, but the story doesn't really wash either. It leaves out the important tidbits such as that the vital armpit portion of the shirt is now going unwashed, and also didn't they have people for doing all that cleaning? Specifically, womenfolk.

Today we think of dickeys as those cloth turtleneck types that men can wear to get the full sweater effect without the nipple abrasion, but although the originals were linen, there was a time when they made dickeys out of rigid celluloid ("hard dickeys").

But dickeys did allow clothing to last longer. Now, of course we mostly do not wear dickeys, since the invention of slave labor in the third world has revolutionized the practice of discarding clothing on a whim, and even purchasing clothing that never gets worn in the first place. Spats, however, should be due for a comeback.

Scottish Highlanders do still wear spats, which seems like a great idea. I don't know if they have hard dickeys. And it had never occurred to me to check if their spats were highly polished patent leather. Until now.

28 comments:

  1. Starting the day with a dachshund in a raincoat--what could be better?

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  2. I dreamed I was visiting a litter of puppies and every one of them had a brown bag over their head.I was told this was "Puppies Anonymous" and I would have to choose one without being able to see its face.

    I share this because I miss my nutty dreams. The Rx I'm taking seems to send me into the void. No dreams. Just black. If there were any ideas, they rolled around like a bb in a shoebox until trapped by cardboard.

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    1. You were dream-gifted. My niece is also. She has the most extraordinary dreams. Mine are either dull or awful. On the other hand, my waking like is pretty prime.

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  3. Do you see yourself in your dreams, or are your dreams from your viewpoint?

    Dickeys used to be a part of my clothing assortment - mostly, knit turtlenecks to wear during the winter to keep the wind from whistling down the neck of my shirt. You gave me a whole new understanding of dickeys and spats - thank you.

    When I was in high school, we girls wore separate, cotton collars at the tops of our pullover sweaters. I wonder when that fad died out - or does someone, somewhere still do that?
    Cop Car

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    1. Oh dear, I don't remember separate collars. I must've missed that one. My dreams are always from my viewpoint. I didn't know there was any other way.

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    2. You’re not old enough for separate collars, but you’ll be sorry you missed them. I had one made of mouse-colored Mouton, with fuzzy Mouton balls dangling from the ties. To be worn with a crew neck pastel sweater, a pleated, plaid tissue wool skirt, nubbly bobbie socks and loafers. The total preteen fashion statement of the latter Fifties. Oh, brother.

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    3. You're only ever so slightly older than I. Now. Explain to me how the collars stay in place.

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    4. They didn’t. You tied the strings in a bow in front, let the balls at the end of the strings bounce around on your sternum, and then forgot the whole thing and acted like a 12 year old. Most of the time, the silly thing was all over the place, a fuzzy testament to your Awkward Stage. Sometimes, it got hooked on a low branch, forcing you to yank it off and stomp it with your loafer, delighting your grandmother’s dog. Given the quality of such experience, five years is a yuge age gap. Nobody would have asked a normal seven year old to put up with a fake fur garrote in the name of fashion.

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    5. Murr is much too young to have caught the same "wave of fashion" on which I rode in high school. I was graduated in 1955!!!

      Nance is, of course, correct that some collars just sat there. I'm thinking (but can't prove it) that the collars that I had included perhaps an inch of "tuck in" material - as if I had taken a collared shirt and cut the yoke of the shirt about an inch below the seam of collar/yoke.
      Cop Car

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    6. Shoot, I'm so old that by the time I was a senior in high school we wore patched jeans and work shirts. Totally worked for my budget.

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    7. RBG wears the top collars...

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  4. I wore a turtleneck dickey ONCE. Never again. I worried constantly about it pulling out of the collar of whatever I was wearing on top of it. I couldn't take the stress.

    So many good lines again today, as usual! I wonder what dogs really think about being dressed up. I don't wonder so much about cats; they're pretty easy to read :)

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    1. You could have attached plumb-bobs to your dickey but that would probably engender other questions.

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  5. Come to think of it, I'm kind of surprised that spats aren't highly popular in your part of the country, where it seems to rain all of the time.

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    1. What we do is get used to being wet. Anything else seems like hubris.

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  6. Why do I think you are going to be keeping a sharp eye out for Scotsmen?
    When New Zealand took on Scotland it was a sight to behold! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaJSGky4F4U

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  7. Thanks for the history lesson. I always knew what spats were for, but never knew they were based on an item of dog clothing. Who knew the dogs of yore were so smartly turned out? (*~*)

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    1. It's POSSIBLE spats predated dachshund raincoats, but why would they eat dachshund raincoats?

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  8. Down here in southern Oregon we call those gaiters, which we wear XC skiing or snow shoeing, not to mention walking through fields of star thistle, beggar's ticks, stick-tights, burdock, poison oak, rattlesnakes, and dachshunds.

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    1. Reading the further comments reminds me that little kids' snow pants used to (may, still) have elastic bands that, when the pants were donned, slip over and around each shoe - resting just forward of the heel - to keep the pants down and to prevent snow from getting into the shoes.
      Cop Car

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    2. GretchenH, "dachshunds..." LOL!
      I have gaiters but they don't tie under the shoe. They're completely gravity-assisted.

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  9. I dreamed there were locusts emerging from the skin of my arms. Then there was a big locust invasion in Africa. I could see myself, but not everyone does seem themselves in their dreams.

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  10. I wore a turtleneck dickey ONCE. Never again. I worried constantly about it pulling out of the collar of whatever I was wearing on top of it. I couldn't take the stress.thanks

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