Remembering the days we used to wear aprons, waistcoats and more

Remember when wearing an apron in the kitchen was a fashion statement in itself? Photo: Pixabay

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 discarded it for a bra in size 34 A. After that 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 our choices.

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… Perhaps not the smoking jacket!

Smart hats for shopping and white gloves. It seems so alien now. Yet, I wore white gloves for my first interview, a position as a clerk in a boy’s college office. I looked so old in my plain grey dress with a white collar, but it got me the job.

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! Oh the agony of those tight elastic tubes. Our stockings were joined to them with suspenders and they always ended up popping. Stockings around the ankles were not a good look.

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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, yet 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!

Jacqui loved wearing wide belts, but she especially loved her tiny waist. Photo: Jacqui Lee, Supplied.

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. I also have to wash items more often as I am a messy cook.

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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 lookalike. Mostly they draw attention to the horrible bits.

Ball gowns and cocktail dresses, ‘Mother of the Bride dresses’, all seem a bit overdone. Better to 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 to wear them unless ‘dressing for dinner’ each night.

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 cringeworthy.

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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, and I aim to pay only $5 or so for my dashing new look.

Fashions change and we have lived through an amazing time. For me it was the austerity of war-time Britain when grey and brown were all we seemed to wear. Then the fun skirts and pedal pushers of the ’50s, and later, the wild and colourful hippie era. I loved them all.

This year I will 79 and I am still having fun with fashion.

What fashion faux pas did you make? What were you favourite looks from the ’60s and ’70s?

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