Back in the glory days of Hollywood, the stars always looked fabulous in their cars. Screen siren Marlene Dietrich wore exquisitely tailored men’s suits in her vintage Rolls Royce. Grace Kelly took Cary Grant for a hair-raising spin in an open top car in ‘To Catch a Thief’. The scene was thrilling but we were far more distracted by her two-piece rose ensemble with a matching silk scarf.
And little wonder. Over the years, fancy cars and high fashion have become synonymous with glamour and status. Let’s take a look at how driving fashions have developed through the years.
When driving wasn’t dressy
Early driving fashions in the first part of the 20th century were focused on the journey rather than the destination. Cars back then were exposed to the elements and driving clothes were functional, and mainly used to protect what you had on underneath. It was the era of full body dusters, baggy coats, hats, netted veils, goggles and gloves, which were worn only when driving.
Design comes into its own
With the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, driving fashions became more noticeable. It was also a time for better designed and cheaper cars. The Art Deco movement in particular influenced both clothes fashions and car designs. Women’s hemlines became considerably higher and moved away from the billowing skirts of the previous decade. Men’s popular fashions included slicked back hair, V-necked sweaters and English driving caps.
Moreover, as vehicles became more enclosed and less open to the elements, being well dressed became more common. With the 1930s depression era, both fashion and car designers focused their attentions on streamlining and simplifying shapes. Cars were more aerodynamic and clothes fashions became geometric and slender.
The war years were a time of austerity, but from the 1950s onwards, prosperity increased. It was the era of convertibles, sports cars and equally glamorous driving fashions. Advertisements for cars often pictured men and women wearing the latest styles of the day. The open-top convertible popularised chiffon head scarves and sunglasses for women. And modified racing cars inspired muscle t-shirts, leather jackets and driving gloves for men.
Although fashions are fickle and change regularly, there are always a few basics that can help you look your best in the car.
Drive in style
If you enjoy dressing up, here are a few classic items that can add glamour to your drive.
If you’re lucky enough to own an open-top car, headscarves are probably one of the most glamorous accessories you can wear. You could try them in different fabrics such as chiffon, silk or cotton. Headscarves can also be tied around the neck for a little classic glamour.
You don’t have to own a fancy car to look glamorous. Wearing the right kind of sunglasses can add the style quotient behind any wheel. They can also make your drive safer, by reducing extra glare on sunny days and giving you a better view of the road. It’s a good idea to choose anti-reflective lenses in brown or grey colours for better visibility.
Even today English driving caps are considered quite chic. They’re also a great way to keep your head warmer and hair neater in cold weather. Choose from a variety of fabrics such as tweed, corduroy and cable knits.
When cars didn’t have air conditioning or non-slip steering wheels, driving gloves were considered an essential accessory. Today, they are an indispensable way of keeping your hands stylishly warm in open-top cars. It’s important to ensure driving gloves give you comfort and flexibility at the wheel. Look out for fingerless, open backed or traditional designs.
Are you well covered?
Although it’s great to be well dressed in the car, you’re not fully covered until you have the car insurance that gives you everything you need.