I am thinking about granny chic, inspired by this bad avatar:

One fashion maven friend says all the girls in his hip neighborhood in London are doing it, and that its fashion message is vulnerability instead of armor.

From the ’60s, I bring this news dispatch. There was, first, Granny Takes a Trip, the famous 1966 King’s Road boutique which claims to have started it all, long before Vivienne Westwood, with the velvets, the Edwardian coats, and clothing the Beatles and Rolling Stones for their Revolver and Between the Buttons album covers.

I’d just like to point out that the Cockettes and the Pointer Sisters were simultaneously discovering the thrift shops of San Francisco, and one in particular which was loaded with panne velvet — the foundation stone of rock chic (with the special left coast twist of the Pointer sisters’ sharp, tailored, high heeled, skirted ’40s vintage wear as opposed to the Stevie Nicks/Talitha Getty drapey pants path).

Then we had granny dresses. Mine was not vintage, but purchased in a department store. Ankle-grazing, Empire waisted, with a high ruffled neck and long sleeves with ruffled cuffs. It had an ankle-grazing grosgrain ribbon bow under the bust. The essential gran elements were the high neck and the midi-length.

This vintage ’70s pattern gives the trope. It’s pastoral, pioneerish, possibly anti-capitalist, certainly communitarian:


And can be seen in its apotheosis on the backs of Warren Jeffs’ 50 Mormon wives:


Here, another London fashion observer friend has stipulated the valuable aesthetic criteria of defiance and insouciance. I’d say the Mrs. Jeffs were in defiance, yes?

We further had granny glasses — I remember in particular a hott pair of zinc wire frames with brown tinted lenses, kind of John Lennon meets Yves Saint Laurent — which were meant to detract attention from my then-resemblance to Bette Davis, and assert my resemblance to Trotsky.

Along the way there were granny boots — pre-Doc Marten, tight, over the ankle lace-ups, which looked hott with the long skirt.

Twenty-twelve brings us at least three permutations of granny, one of which, I do believe, is the 21st century London version the girls in the street are wearing. Fifty years after the founding of Granny Takes a Trip, it’s less about the panne velvets, the Edwardian tailoring, waistlines, and even those ’40s lace berthas a lot of the left coast vintage hipsters, legatees of the Pointer Sisters, can be seen jitterbugging in. It’s more about a layered pastiche, with the Doc Martens.

Sprigged and midi length have remained. This chick expatiates on the romance of how the skirt swings when you walk, and butches out the femme with the ubiquitous motorcycle jacket, always present when steel-toed boots are not:


She found it in a thrift shop in pastoral West Virginia, and emphasizes the little girl playing dress-up element we find going rogue when it crosses the line into the Manic Pixie Dream Girl:

The floral dress is vintage by All That Jazz found at a Salvation Army in West Virginia. Long dresses aren’t exactly in my comfort zone. They’re ok, but I usually chop long dresses shorter. Since this isn’t my favorite dress I’m going to add it to the vintage store because it’s quite lovely. It flatters the feminine shape by flaring at the hips, but being tight across the waist. Plus, I enjoyed how the skirt flounced up and down when I walked. I felt like a kid playing with a toy and my toy was my skirt.

The difference between this and the ’60s granny dress is, I grew up wearing dresses. To school. Pants not allowed. Wearing skirts and dresses was quotidian until about 1980. Wearing them was not the gender-bending, shape-shifting event — whether insouciant or defiant — that it now is.

Then we have Cate Blanchette’s artisanal granny square dress:


From the Australian label, Romance Was Born, this dress of Ozzie Blanchette is firmly in the artisanal punk tradition. The founders of the firm were both offered internships by John Galliano and turned them down to stay in Australia and pursue what they call more “laid back” Oz fashion energies. These appear to be carefully connected to a local artisanal aesthetic, descended from the pioneer Granny chain smoking, drinking tea, and embroidering crinoline ladies on the dish towels after a day of shovelling sheep shit alone in the outback.


There’s wildness down under, and my impression is that the punkness and the fiber arts are — like Oz’ special film aesthetic — encouraged by state supported art schools. There is, for this new nation, the romance of everything up in the attic. The Australians are the great hyperbolic knitters, the originators of the crocheted Great Barrier Reef, of the immortal Native Blossom Hat, by Lynne Johnson, in Jenny Dowde’s revolutionary book, Freeform Knitting and Crochet, and of Killer Tea Cosies which is probably the best and most expensive Granny Takes a Trip publication of all time.


Here, Australian mathematician Margaret Wertheim, the founder of the crocheted Great Barrier Reef, discusses her inspiration, and sounds the clarion manifesto for the feminism and environmentalism in punk artisanal fiber work:


Crusty enviro punk knit sculpture is a far cry, however, from granny chic. Just to make sure you understand, here is the photograph of a knitting militant in her wedding dress.


Oops, that’s not it. Couldn’t find it. But you get the pic.

Finally, the annals of 2012 granny wear uncover a prejudice among young men that any pair of underpants worn by their girlfriends which is not a thong is a granny panty. In other words, any coverage of the buttocks, much less the navel, is considered buzzkill.

What are granny panties?

So boyfriend always calls my underwear granny panties even if there not… what do you guys think granny panties are because i need to prove him wrong… he says granny panties are any underwear that cover your butt… but i tell him that its underwear that sags and sits up by your belly button…. what do you think?

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker

So…string bikinis…low rider boy shorts…are all considered granny panties!! I think not!! Tell you BF to wear a thong all day in jeans and see how comnfortable he is!! You’re right. Granny panties are for girls what tightie whities are for boys!!

This vista of a whole generation of young men schooled to internet porn standards depressed me so I had to go think about my granny’s panties.

She wore pink silk tap pants practically ’til the day she died. Old school is a good school. And definitely not granny chic.