restricted access “I just took it straight from Vogue”: Fashion, Femininity, and Literary Modernity in Rosamond Lehmann’s Invitation to the Waltz

This article analyzes fashion as a discursive force in Rosamond Lehmann’s novel Invitation to the Waltz. Through a reading of Lehmann’s novel alongside fashion magazines, it demonstrates that 1920s fashion, in spite of its carefully stylized public image as harbinger of modernity, was complicit in propagating patriarchal norms. However, if Invitation opposes the cultural machinery that regulates gender roles in post-war Britain, its formal appearance is nonetheless dependent on the very same tenets it criticizes since the novel reveals resemblances to Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. If the tension between imitation and originality determines choices in sartorial fashions, female authorship in the inter-war period, this essay argues, was subjected to the same market forces that controlled and sustained the organization of the fashion industry.