The garments that have almost become extinct: clothes we wore back then

The liberty bodice was worn like a singlet, only we also wore a singlet under it. Have you heard of

The liberty bodice was worn like a singlet, only we also wore a singlet under it. Have you heard of it? It had little tapes sewn in rows vertically. My mother said it was to protect me from chills. I expect it was a purely English thing. Perhaps she was right, but I was so happy when I was old enough to cast it aside.

I was soon into tight sweaters, and skinny trousers, wide skirts and low cut tops, and yet compared to today’s fashions we were quite reserved. In fact, demure almost.

Girdles, aprons, suspender belts, liberty bodices, silk underslips, waistcoats, smoking jackets, white gloves and smart hats for everyday wear. All of those listed once had a place in our wardrobes, well perhaps not the smoking jacket! Smart hats for shopping — and gloves? It seems so alien now.

Girdles and other tortuous garments were worn by all teenagers in the ’50s. The very time when most of us were slim and didn’t need them we were encased in elastic pull on corsets!

I wonder how many women still wear a ‘slip’? I only wear a half-slip, stowed in the back of the wardrobe, when I am wearing a filmy skirt, these days filmy see-through skirts are rarely part of my clothing choices. Wide elastic belts were also part of the way we dressed. Oh for the waist I had then, with my black belt tightly emphasising it!

Aprons are probably still worn as a normal by some, but once every woman had a few to wear, some were the all covering type, usually floral and with such useful pockets, I could do with the pockets now, so few of the things I wear have pockets.

As we get a little more mature we find other items are not really suitable. Out go the sleeveless things, unless you have wonderfully toned arms of course. Skin tight dresses just make the excess around the middle a bit more obvious. Feet also suffer, bits stick out, corns hurt and wearing really high heels is not a good idea. Balance is not as good as the years advance on us.

Shorts can be worn by those lucky enough to still have a good pair of pins. I have the reasonable pins but an ankle that swells, so can only wear shorts if I spend an hour with my legs elevated. Crop tops would look just plain scary, unless you are a Helen Mirren look alike. Mostly they draw attention to the horrible bits.

Ball gowns and cocktail dresses, Mother of the Bride dresses, all seem a bit overdone.

Buy good second-hand or borrow one, or they will be in the wardrobe unloved for too darned long. Unless life is an endless cruise of course, you don’t get the opportunities.

Fashion can be anything you want it to be, I love the variety and the scope.

There will always be fashion mistakes; and in my quest I have made them!

The young boys wearing their jeans down below their underwear might look back and shudder when they are 60, but for now they are happy with it.

For me the very short skirts I wore in defiance in my late-20s early-30s are a bit cringe worthy.

I love wearing crazy clothes sometimes, and my charity shops provide me with all the glitz I need. I have a sequinned bolero, a bead edged top and sweeping skirts, all for a few dollars, life can still be interesting, so go for it!

What fashions have you noticed fall in and out of favour over the years? What was your favourite fashion trend growing up?

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  1. Ruth  

    I used to love wearing my “liberty bodice” – but mostly because it made me giggle to hear my mum say “liberty bodice”.

  2. Joanne  

    As a child in the ’50’s, I remember my Mother, her sisters’, & friends’ wearing those wide elastic belts, usually black, & I was fascinated how the buckle ‘clicked’ inside each other to do up!

    I remember having to wear a ‘long sleeved spencer’ under my long sleeved wool-serge school uniform, as I’m allergic to wool (& lace) next to my skin!

    I remember my Sister wearing shorts like those in the above photo, as we often went to our house at Palm Beach(Qld), during the school hols.

    Mum was never seen ‘going out’ without newly-bought dress, & bespoke milliner-hat, gloves, with matching handbag, & shoes!
    I was SO proud of my Mum, at School Functions’, all of which she attended, with a group of other Mums’.

    Those were the days’ when both men, & women dressed very well, indeed.
    You never saw a man without a hat.. My Father wore one every day, & in his retirement, it was an ‘Akubra’!

  3. Judith  

    As a teenager, I remember how embarrassed we were if a bra strap slipped out from your shoulder from a sleeveless top, particularly if in the presence of a boyfriend. These days it seems almost compulsory to show all your straps and underpinnings! Not a good look in my view.

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