“It was just what you did automatically, go to lunch with friends. And
it was so different than now. People were at the top of their form.
Those restaurants were so beautiful, and people felt they had to live up
to the elegance of the setting. You wore your latest Givenchy or
Balenciaga. And you felt that there were delicious conversations taking
place at every table. Now you go into a place and everything looks
--Socialite Deeda Blair on lunching with other New York high society wives in the mid-20th century.
Everything about the "Here's to the Ladies Who Lunched!"
piece in the February issue of Vanity Fair
was thoroughly entertaining, and I highly recommend reading it. The glamour of it all is fascinating.
I got to thinking about why things seem to have changed so much since then. I think mostly it's that people used to have to condense all their social interactions into an hour or two a day, at most. So during those short periods of time, they went all out: Designer clothes, full makeup, fabulous anecdotes, juicy gossip, and all the rest.
But modern technology has made it so that we can represent ourselves publicly much more often. Now, during our in-person times, the stakes are much lower. You can wear jeans and a t-shirt. If you're in a bad mood you can be a little rude; if you're in a funk you can be withdrawn. You can always make it up with a clever Tweet or charming email later on. Often, what you do online seems to matter more
than your in person behavior -- after all, content on the web lasts longer and reaches much farther.
Anyway, I don't think this shift is an entirely good thing. This is partly because I think in-person interactions are the only things that truly feed us as humans -- and also because I'd like to get dressed up and wear eyeliner more often. Photograph from VanityFair.com by Tony Palmieri/Conde Nast archive; Digital Colorization by Lorna Clark. Left: the Duchess of Windsor and C. Z. Guest leaving La Côte Basque restaurant, 1962. Right: Lee Radziwill and Truman Capote outside the Colony restaurant, 1968.