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

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, though 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.

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So 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. Recently I was out for a night with a great lady who looked fabulous for her 84 years but she had high heeled boots and the ground was wet, she took a tumble and then experienced a few weeks of a painful wound to suffer. 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. Sit in any shopping centre and you will see examples of the roll over tops. Enough to put you off your ‘flat white’.

Ball gowns and cocktail dresses,’ Mother of the Bride dresses’, my theory is either buy good second hand or borrow, or they will be in the wardrobe unloved for too darned long. If you have to buy one for a special event that is a different case. I would be looking to sell it on eBay soon after I think. At 60 and beyond you only get the wear from it on a cruise.

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 and early 30s are a bit cringe making. At the moment I am wearing a $25 outfit: gold sparkled top I bought in a charity shop, some leggings with a thin gold pattern down the side (Rivers sale) and a long red cardigan. I am still crazy after all these years.

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Do you remember wearing these types of clothes? What are your memories? Is fashion better now or was it best back then?


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