Meg Schmitt: Baseball Pants and Medical Donuts
Meg Schmitt's designs draw upon the weighted optimism of World War II aesthetics, with science fantasies drifting up over the chunky machinery, the assembly lines, the orderly movements. For its backdrop, the retrofuturistic shift dress demands a specific metropolis: lacquered, white, floating, and with rocket ships everywhere, whizzing past. Meg chose an old-fashioned argyle print to offset the crisply structured shoulders. To shape these, she used loads of interfacing—a utility fabric inlaid with stiffening adhesives. "It doesn't even feel like fabric anymore. It feels like plastic or something."
Work-wear influences also make their way into Meg's line, referencing the time women took factory jobs when the men were away, stirring the feminist movement. Utility apparel was flat, boxy, and unadorned—resembling the clothes stick-figure drawings always seem to be wearing. Safety outweighed glamour, and dangling garnishes would only get tangled in equipment. Hair was encased in turbans, jewelry removed, and garments were "stripped of strings, laces, and loops..." (according to Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye in 20th Century Fashion). Trimmed with dripping-off cuffs, Meg's work blouse is made of a silk crepe that falls gorgeously against the body. (But don't buy it if you're planning on time-traveling to the '40s for your next factory job. Silk was banned in munitions plants—it generates static electricity, causing explosions.)
Meg's other looks showcase raglan jerseys, sports bloomers, and elegant baseball pants made of a wool-blend textile, patterned with tiny white checks. "Up close it looks digital, like it's pixelated," she says. She cites an old-timey photo of a women's baseball team in casual wear, with plain tees or hefty button-front shirts tucked into saggy, man-tailored flannel slacks pulled high. "It's what they wanted to wear, when they had the choice," she says, and she's right.
Members of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League were well paid and largely respected, but there's also the part where they had to always wear lipstick on the field, have long, styled hair, and wear short skirts, profoundly impractical for sliding. "All of us would have rather played in standard uniforms," said former player Sophie Kurys in Barbara Gregorich's Women at Play. "I had strawberries on strawberries," she said, which is a pleasant way to describe her giant rashes: raw, puddling, embedded with dirt, accruing in layers. She wore a makeshift medical donut cushion beneath her skirt. Without it, her thigh's leaky abrasions would stick to the fabric, and after the game, "it would be torture to try and get the clothes off."
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