My brother and I in 1948 See the Peter Pan collars, smocking on his baby top and the cross stitching on my blouse.
This is a great topic for me. My mother, Kathleen Weston, nee Danson was a dressmaker, apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14, so most of my clothes as a child were home made. My Sunday coats always had velvet collars, embroidered with flowers and a matching bonnet, and my "best" dresses usually had smocking. Skirts for little girls always had straps (braces) and I was about 13 before I "graduated" to a grown up skirt.
A Liberty bodice, skirt with short socks (short trousers for my brother), home knitted jumpers and pixie hood, wellington boots, gloves kept safe on string through my sleeves, plus a long scarf criss crossed over my chest and tied at the back - this was the ritual dress for going out in winter in my early 1950's childhood. I hated Liberty bodices - the rubber buttons were difficult to do and undo, and if the day got warmer you ended up all sticky inside them. I grew up in north-west England where winters were relatively mild, but this was the days before tights and girls then did not wear trousers I have no winter photographs of my childhood - cameras must have been reserved for summer.
Both my mother and aunt kept me in hand knitted jumpers and cardigans, though I remember being less than pleased around the age of 8 to open a Christmas present and realise it was a jumper - not a toy. A winter occupation was to help my mother unravel old knitwear and wind up the balls of wool for re-knitting.
Mum always made me a new sundress for holidays, with a matching little bolero jacket. The one in the picture (right) was green and white - she was very fond of putting me in green. Dresses were often gingham, with white Peter Pan collars and the standard footwear was a pair of brown Clark's sandals with the cut-out flower.
There was not a strict uniform at my primary school, but I was desperate to wear a gymslip. My mother did not like them, but eventually I got one handed down from my cousin and wore the school tie and the red girdle round my waist, feeling I had stepped out of one of the school stories I loved to read.
When I started secondary school, in Blackpool, the uniform had just had its first major change for years. For the first two years, though, we wore short pleated navy "Windsor Woolie" skirts, with braces - still very "little girlish". Unlike the pudding basin hats of other schools, we felt very smart and modern in a pillbox style hat - navy with a narrow sky blue band round it. a fringe at the side and a metal school badge. I was so proud of that hat! My mother said she got seasick sewing the school summer dress - it was sky blue again, highly patterned with with lots of white sea motifs. We moved across country and my next school uniform seemed extremely dowdy in comparison - long navy pleated skirts, and a shapeless navy beret which sat like a pancake on my head and you were expected to wear at all times to and from school.
In my teens in the late 1950's, the big fashion statement was to have a "puffy out skirt" - the more petticoats and the more puffed out the better, to wear with a waspie black belt. It was a disaster when the petticoats went all floppy after too many washes. I also recollect a lilac and white gingham dress trimmed with broderie anglais - made popular by a young Bridget Bardot.
1970 fashion statement
When I started university, the first thing I bought from my grant was a duffel coat to dress the part of a 1960's student. Then mini skirts came in and I joined in the fun.