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Monday, 4 April 2016

A-Z: I Remember.........Clothes

I Remember When......
Recalling Memories of My Childhood

Most of my CLOTHES as a child  were home made. 

My mother, Kathleen Weston, nee Danson  was a dressmaker, apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14, so 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.

My brother and I  in 1948.  See the Peter Pan collars, smocking on his baby top and the cross stitching on my blouse   - all my mother's handiwork.  
 The ritual dress for going out in winter in my early 1950's childhood - A Liberty bodice over my vest, a skirt with short socks, home knotted jumpers and a pixie hood, Wellington boots, gloves kept safe on a string through my coat sleeves, plus a long scarf criss-crossed over my chest and tied at the back.  I hated Liberty bodices- the rubber buttons were difficult to fasten 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. Boys were stuck in short trousers until the milestone of their voices breaking. I have no winter photographs of my childhood - the camera must have been reserved for summer only.
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.  This was still the postwar era of "make do and mend". 

Party dresses were often taffeta with puff sleeves and a sash.  A touch of luxury was to have an angora fluffy wool bolero to wear over it in chilly weather - no central heating in those days!  
Summer c.1950

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.  

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. 

Other memories were of shirt waister dresses, pinafore dresses,  plastic macs, awful plastic hoods called rainmates,  baby doll pyjamas -  and summer duster coats.  Why  were they so called, as  I could not see women dusting the furniture in them.  Apparently they originated from loose garments worn  to protect clothes when driving  in early open-topped motor cars.     

When I started university, the first thing I bought from my grant was a hooded duffle  coat to dress the part of a 1960's student.  

Then mini skirts came in and I joined in the fun!  

More C's
What part did CHURCH play in your childhood?   What  CHRISTMAS traditions did you follow?    Which CRAFTS did you enjoy as a child?   What  CHORES were you expected to do around the house?  What was your first CAR?


Onto D for Dolls, Dogs & Desserts  

In Case You Missed.....
A-Z Challenge 2016 Theme Revealed:   
I Remember......Memories of Childhood

Copyright © 2016 -  Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. Oh boy - the hooded duffle coat. I loved mine. It was honeypot yellow and I thought I was the bees knees.

  2. Susan, we should have gotten together over tea and compared notes. I'm doing clothes EVENTUALLY but using a different term. (Look for it under O)

  3. LOVE this post - it brought back so many memories of my own mother sitting at the sewing machine making my summer wardrobe of skorts. I had completely forgotten about that...

    This series is one of my favorite Challenge themes :)

  4. My mom made my clothes too (out of necessity) and the outfit that always comes to mind was a white dress with red and blue polka dots with a blue cape. It was divine! As a teenager Mom made me a rain cape which was a black waterproof material with a red lining - I had that cape a very long time, used as part of halloween costumes for myself and my kids for many years til it finally gave up the ghost.
    Sue - your memories spark my memories - what will I remember tomorrow? Thanks

  5. A very fun traipse down memory lane, or rather a glimpse into the closet of days gone by. Every year my mother made matching dresses for my sister, me and herself for Christmas. This was during the 60's and one yer the dresses had the matching bonnets and we looked like little Holly Hobbies. We even received handmade dolls with dresses that matched our own. I surely can't imagine children today being excited about that for Christmas.
    @ScarlettBraden from
    Frankly Scarlett

  6. Thank you, all, for your comments and sharing your own memories of your childhood clothes. Wendy - you have got me puzzled, as I cannot come up with anything related to Clothes beginning with O. I shall just have to wait!

  7. What a fascinating look into clothes! We have dusters here in the States, too - I believe those come from the coats cowboys would wear on the trail - sturdy but fairly lightweight, split in the back for riding, and often oiled against wet weather.

    I know more about horses than fashion! =D

    Boldly Going Through the Alphabet!
    Part-Time Minion for Holton's Heroes
    shanjeniah's Lovely Chaos

  8. That sounds like your mother was a talented women. And as for us we was sent to Church and my parents stayed home and would cook Sunday dinner for us.

  9. Mum still makes her own clothes today. I keep saying that when I retire, I will go back to making clothes......and when I have grandchildren. We will see :)

  10. Clothes: I still remember my new husband looking dumbfounded as he watched me unpack my 16 wool skirts with matching sweaters, multiple dresses, & 22 pairs of high heels which I'd had shipped to my new address in the redwoods. I'd been working in San Francisco, you see, where all of that was quite useful. Not so much in the woods, however, where I was soon decked out in jeans and tennis shoes almost exclusively.

  11. My mother had been a dressmaker so all my clothes were homemade. I particularly loved four gingham dresses of identical design but in red, blue, yellow and green. When I left home to go to teachers College I was still wearing my home made dresses (made by me). It soon became clear that I looked different to everybody else so as soon as I started teaching I wore store bought clothes only.


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