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Old January 11th, 2017, 12:18 AM   #1
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Why did 1500-1900 America lack style?


Something that always threw my off a bit was the aesthetic of early america. Their clothing especially. Comparing it to other cultures at the time, it seemed so plain and gritty and tasteless. It threw my perception of history off when I was younger because I assumed the way, say, pilgrims dressed and acted, was a general representation of the times everywhere. This confusing perception keeps re-emerging for me. When I was watching "The Witch", I thought to myself the only way I would know that this happened later in history than say.....the crusades, was that the family owned a rifle. I got this feeling again when watching "Lincoln". It's so dreary and gritty and I just thought to myself "is there not a single person in america yet that knows or cares about quality of design?"

Other example that always had me scratching my head was how lackluster the white house is, especially the interior: Click the image to open in full size.

In comparison to say......the chateau de versaille:

Click the image to open in full size.

The cookie cutter minimalism doesn't seem to suit the ego of america. Thoughts on this?
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Old January 11th, 2017, 12:24 AM   #2

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1500 is a bit early for your ire isn't it?
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Old January 11th, 2017, 12:47 AM   #3

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I think the early settlers had more to worry about than sartorial elegance. Clothing was required to be practical and easy to make rather than aping the often ridiculous European fashions of the time. In any case it seems that in the 1800s gentlemen in the US wore very similar clothing to their European counterparts.
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Old January 11th, 2017, 04:19 AM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrandMaster View Post
Something that always threw my off a bit was the aesthetic of early america. Their clothing especially. Comparing it to other cultures at the time, it seemed so plain and gritty and tasteless. It threw my perception of history off when I was younger because I assumed the way, say, pilgrims dressed and acted, was a general representation of the times everywhere. This confusing perception keeps re-emerging for me. When I was watching "The Witch", I thought to myself the only way I would know that this happened later in history than say.....the crusades, was that the family owned a rifle. I got this feeling again when watching "Lincoln". It's so dreary and gritty and I just thought to myself "is there not a single person in america yet that knows or cares about quality of design?"

Other example that always had me scratching my head was how lackluster the white house is, especially the interior: Click the image to open in full size.

In comparison to say......the chateau de versaille:

Click the image to open in full size.

The cookie cutter minimalism doesn't seem to suit the ego of america. Thoughts on this?
You're comparing a palace built by a line of absolute monarchs who stole so much money from the people that it caused the French Revolution, vs. an elected and very limited government (at the time)? Thats a nonsensical comparison.

Compare the working class of England vs. working class USA and you would get a better comparison.
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Old January 11th, 2017, 05:04 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by zincwarrior View Post
You're comparing a palace built by a line of absolute monarchs who stole so much money from the people that it caused the French Revolution, vs. an elected and very limited government (at the time)? Thats a nonsensical comparison.

Compare the working class of England vs. working class USA and you would get a better comparison.
From that statement my take away is that we couldn't afford to make a nice white house????
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Old January 11th, 2017, 05:04 AM   #6
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Fashion is based on the idea that one becomes a different person by changing clothes. The Cavaliers with their fancy clothes and elaborate wigs and the Pilgrims with their plain clothes were making very different statements about who they were. The Cavaliers tended to hang around court. Their lifestyle depended on gaining and keeping the king's attention so their clothes and wigs were intended to draw attention to the wearer. The Pilgrims had rejected these worldly ideas in favor of a more God-centered existence. God is not impressed by one's fashion sense. He looks at, and judges, the inner person.
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Old January 11th, 2017, 05:57 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrandMaster View Post
From that statement my take away is that we couldn't afford to make a nice white house????
We did. What we didn't do was make an imperial palace. Now compare the Whitehouse to the British PM's residence.

Also a better comparison would be the Parliament vs. the Capital Building (or more properly the Texas Statehouse which is intentionally just slightly taller heh heh heh)
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Old January 11th, 2017, 07:27 AM   #8

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Quote:
Originally Posted by zincwarrior View Post
You're comparing a palace built by a line of absolute monarchs who stole so much money from the people that it caused the French Revolution, vs. an elected and very limited government (at the time)? Thats a nonsensical comparison.

Compare the working class of England vs. working class USA and you would get a better comparison.
Zinc--



1. You're imposing your 21st century morals on the past. I doubt that the French in the time of Louis XIV viewed the money to pay for Versailles as having been "stolen from the people."

2. The cost of Versailles is not what caused the French Revolution--it was the cost of helping the US in the American Revolution--something that the French people were in favor of at the time-- plus the failure to get the nobility to make a substantial contribution to national taxes plus the writings of Voltaire, Rousseau et. al. who persuaded the nobility that the monarchy should be overthrown. See Alexis de Tocqueville The Ancien Regime and the French Revolution--the best book I've read on the causes of the Revolution.

Your basic point--which is that Europe had a long head-start on the US--is valid.

Last edited by David Vagamundo; January 11th, 2017 at 09:22 AM.
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Old January 11th, 2017, 09:10 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrandMaster View Post
Something that always threw my off a bit was the aesthetic of early america. Their clothing especially. Comparing it to other cultures at the time, it seemed so plain and gritty and tasteless. It threw my perception of history off when I was younger because I assumed the way, say, pilgrims dressed and acted, was a general representation of the times everywhere. This confusing perception keeps re-emerging for me. When I was watching "The Witch", I thought to myself the only way I would know that this happened later in history than say.....the crusades, was that the family owned a rifle. I got this feeling again when watching "Lincoln". It's so dreary and gritty and I just thought to myself "is there not a single person in america yet that knows or cares about quality of design?"

Other example that always had me scratching my head was how lackluster the white house is, especially the interior: Click the image to open in full size.

In comparison to say......the chateau de versaille:

Click the image to open in full size.

The cookie cutter minimalism doesn't seem to suit the ego of america. Thoughts on this?
Well, there was that teeny, tiny, eensy-meensy fact that THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA WASN'T EVEN A FRICKIN' COUNTRY UNTIL 1776!! The absolute monarchs of Europe had CENTURIES to make their palaces grand and fabulous.

When we became a country, the Founders didn't want to style themselves after the absolute monarchs, hence why we don't have fabulous grand palaces. Got it now, my man?
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Old January 11th, 2017, 09:46 AM   #10

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American was founded on the frontier myth, ergo the look was always going to be more rough and ready -racoon skin hats and Davy Crocket etc. The founding fathers also rejected monarchy so there was no personal vanity of monarchs to consider. Pre 76 it didn't matter because the monarch lived in London and America was a distant colony. The fancy houses are for governors.

The fine buildings in America follow the Neo Classical design. Congress, White House, Lincoln Memorial & IIRC Franklin's house?

America was also a bit of a rural backwater until around 1918-43. Farmers and lawyers have no need of a Versailles. That's for Princes and aristocrats and is why those grand houses mostly exist in Europe.
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