Sunday, 3 June 2012

Inside my Mother's wardrobe

Now, I should probably start by saying that whilst my mum wears lovely clothes and is perfectly stylish it is not her current wardrobe that I wish to talk about. I want to focus on part of her wardrobe from the early 1970s, when she was in her early 20s and had moved from a small rural town down to London.

I would have liked to know my mum as a teenager. From old photographs I can see that she was fashionable - hair in the latest style, on trend clothes, fancy shoes. Like many people who didn't have lots of money to spend on their appearance my mum made many of her clothes. I have heard stories of many of the dresses and seen photos (which I can't post here until I've asked her if she would mind)! If she agrees I will follow up this post with more pictures. I love the fact that she sat and looked through fashion magazines and browsed in shops for inspiration and then just went home and made it herself. She has a collection of Golden Hand magazines which we have looked through together discussing what she made. I bought one from a charity shop a few weeks ago which featured a Vogue wedding dress pattern. This turned out to be the pattern she used to make her own wedding dress!

Mum has recently decided to part with some of her clothes from the 70s. Both my sister and I would love to wear them but there is one small (literally) snag. Mum was clearly absolutely tiny, one of her skirts will not quite do up around my thigh and where her rib cage used to go I really don't know! I have tried to take pictures of a high quality but am hampered by the fact that no one I know can fit the clothes to model them and I don't have a dressmaker's dummy to display them on either. I still think they are worth a look.

Stirling Cooper two-piece, floral print on black.
Shirt shoulders gather and tie.
Skirt has shirred front panel and ties at the sides.
Fabulous red buttons.
Bought in 1976/7.
Mum wore this whilst pregnant with me!

 Halter neck bandeau top and floral and pink denim panelled skirt.
Handmade by mum in 1974/5.
Worn to many parties and dances on river boats on the Thames. 

Close up of the floral fabric.

Long sleeve tie front dress .
Bought from Wallis in Oxford Street in 1976.

 Close up of the fabric, a mixture of ditsy florals, paisley and folk print.

 Orange wheat ear brocade dress by Eastex.
This is actually a 1960s dress which Mum bought in the 1990s.
I had to include it as it is beautiful.

A close up of the amazing buttons and embroidery.
I love this fabric, I wish this dress fitted!

 Red squiggle chiffon floor length dress.
Bought in a boutique off Victoria Street, London, in late 1976.

Close up of the fabric.
It is sheer so Mum made a long red slip to go under it.
She wore this whilst 3 months pregnant with me!

Mum wore this dress to The Royal Marsden charity fund raising ball at Quaglinos in London's West End. The cabaret artist was singer/comedienne Joan Turner who was a little worse for wear and not on top form. Several men began a protest by getting under their tables, lifting them above their heads and advancing on the artist. During this bread rolls started flying towards the stage. An appeal for order was made by Danny La Rue and Ava Gardiner who managed to rescue Joan Turner!

One of the things I love about vintage clothes is the idea of the life they may have led before they became part of mine. I always imagine the type of woman who owned my dress before and the events and occasions they would have been to together. I love that tangible link with history. Its a shame the garments can not speak and tell all their tales. This is one of the reasons I am so interested in my mum's clothes as she can tell me all about them.


  1. Hi, I have a full length version of the wheat dress. Do you or your mum know anything about it?

    1. Hello, sorry for the delay. No, sadly we don't know any more about the dress. It must be glorious in a full length version, do you have a photo? Mum's is cut with very high, narrow armholes, is your one the same?