THE DEBUTANTE SLOUCH. I mentioned to Mary Jane the debutante slouch as a possible fashionable stance or walk. I asked her to describe it for me, and she said it was the opposite of “standing tall”. A Google search turned up this article by Peggy Shinner on Salon (April 12, 2014) which traces the phrase to 1913, in a listing in the Library of Congress’s 1913 “Catalogue of Copyright Entries.” Shinner acknowledges that the debutante slouch was “reputedly named after the walk of upper-class women”, but that “women of all classes took it on.” Shinner defines it as “shoulders sloping, chest dropped, hips slung forward and the knees… slightly bent.” This article from the Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion site reports on the debutante slouch of the 1920’s: “The posture of the flapper was an affected “debutante slouch,” often with hand on hip. This limp, listless pose was not possible on a traditionally corseted body and was meant to imply the aftereffects of the previous night’s debauchery.”

I don’t know whether the dowager slouch is still around today. Peggy Shinner describes efforts to fight slouching during the 1950s when, for example, Posture Queen contests were staged all over the country and Barnard College held a posture contest for freshmen every January.

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