Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Contents of Miss T's Bag

In 1975, when I was 6 years old, it was normal for little girls to have at least one pretty party dress which was long to the ground, colourful, frilly, and preferably with a few or more ribbons attached so that they would flow around or behind you whilst running, twirling or dancing in a ring. I had two such party dresses that I can remember, but unfortunately for me at the time, as my French mother had total control over my wardrobe, my dresses were more fashionable than girly, and they were both brown. (Are there any other girls of the 70's out there who to this day, will not wear brown clothes?). I remember well the way my mother used to proudly state that these were in a word "libertyprince" and so like them I jollywell would. Even though they were brown. It wasn't until only a few years ago, that I realised what she was saying all along was "Liberty Prints" and that indeed, these are very beautiful and tactile. However, I am still trying to reconcile the memory with the reality. Other girls of my age had flowing cotton dresses of yellow, cream, pink, or even one which I remember in particular which was red and floaty with tiny white polkadots. For myself, I was thinking much more along these lines:

But this isn't a little girls dress, and it is much more than (nearly) 40 years old. This dress belonged to a lady known as Gertie, and she would wear this when she went cruising on a ship. Gertie wanted to see the world, and she did so by booking the cheapest sharing cabin always, and wore this dress when the occasion required something special. There is a label which I can't help but say in the manner of the Little Britain "ladies".


But this label, despite its comic connotations now, is evocative of a time when designer labels weren't everything. When couture was the preserve of the very rich and not always famous, and when clothes with an "English" label, were really something and sought after.


I have some more of Gertie's gorgeous dresses to show you. My model Madge the Material Girl is wearing a corset and petticoat. The dresses would not fit without!


This dress is home made. The fabric is linen and so pretty! I love the style. So fun and flirtatious, I can imagine a girl wearing this dress for summery pickniks by a river!

A slightly more conservative dress, also homemade, looks very "40's".


Practical, comfortable, attractive, more mature than the picknik dress, and yet still not complete without a perfectly coiffed hairdo and some red red lipstick.


Gertie was obviously always a snappy dresser with an eye for pretty fabric in lovely fresh colours. This is the dress she wore to Miss T's wedding 10 years ago.


When I saw this dress, I had a Twiggy's Frock Exchange moment. I'm thinking take the sleeves off, shorten, lose the lace and add a belt ...

This fabric makes a shirt

And this is a cotton dressing gown


Gertie was Miss T's Grandma who sadly passed away recently only a few weeks after her 100th birthday! I am honored and most grateful that when sorting out Gertie's clothes, Miss T saw these and thought I might like the fabrics to make things with. And so, though I can hardly bear to even hold a pair of scissors in their presence, I took some fabric from the back of the cruise dress, and made something for Miss T in appreciation, and also to remember her grandma's dresses by.


A Ladies handbag with vintage buckle, and fit for a cruise!!


13 comments:

Gina said...

Lovely post Julia - the bag is beautiful and I'm sure it will be much appreciated.

Pink Feather Paradise said...

My mum made me wear a brown dress that was a polar neck jumper opn the top half and some really itchy brown glittery slightly stretchy material on the bottom half....I wish I had been around in the 50's I love the Doris day type of dress all fitted at the top with a collar that ent around the shoulders and the petticoats to make it full.....

Kitty said...

The bag you made is beautiful. After my uncle died, my mum made his widow (mum's sister) a quilt from his shirts. It's a fabulous quilt, and means so much to my aunt.

My favourite dress as a child was one my aunt (a different aunt to the one above) sent back from Singapore, where she was living at the time. Yellow, with gingham inserts, and embroidered animals all along the hem.

x

CurlyPops said...

That is so sweet and what a wonderful way to remember Gertie...

peppermintpatcher said...

The bag is just charming, as is the story to go with it.

Miss T said...

Thank you both for the bag and your comments.

Gertie was a very special person, with a real sense of style, from the days when people made their own rather than rely on 'shop bought'.

I'm glad that her dresses have gone to a good home.

love MissT

PS also had party dresses in brown...as was alo my school uniform!!

Miss T said...

PPS It WAS a picnic dress...like all Danes Gertie love to picnic.

We always had a picnic on her birthday, August 15th, come rain or shine! xx

Helen said...

The dresses are wonderful. What a lovely idea to make the bag as a mememeto - I particularly like the clasp frame and the use of the 'English lady' tag!

alice c said...

What a delightful story. I love the fact that you have photographed the dresses so that there is a record of them even if you decide to alter them or use the fabric. Her Cruise wardrobe is now immortalised!

acrossthepond said...

What a lovely post and such a lovely tribute.

Do children in England still wear party dresses? Here in Canada they do not, but I still remember well the thrill of when i was little in England putting on my 'party dress'.

JuliaB said...

Hello Accross the Pond. Well I think little girls still like to dress up, but if presented with the style of dress I would have liked as a 7 year old, I think they would roll all over the floor hysterically laughing! But smaller girls maybe. I don't have any daughters so am not too aufait about this. x

Primrose Corner said...

What a gorgeous set of dresses. I love the sun dress. It must have been nice to be able to dress up like that in the 40's and 50's, but I'd hate to give up my jeans. The bag was a beautiful idea. Something you can keep as a memory of someone special.

Vanilla Rose said...

I have issues with brown, but not because of my age (6 for part of 1975 and 7 for the rest of it). My school uniform was brown and for 2 years we had to wear a sack/tunic in chocolate brown. Yuk. I personally disapprove of the whole concept of school uniforms.