I grew up in the fifties, a child of parents who were kids during the Great Depression. When I was a kid, fashion meant whatever my aunty, a genius on the sewing machine, could whip up.
My cousins, who were some ten years older than I was, were into American pop music despite it being called “an affront to a normal person’s ears” by my uncle. Aunty was a dab hand at creating fashionable poodle skirts and the rope petticoats necessary to make them fluff out properly.
She made smaller, slightly less fluffy versions of these petticoats for me. I loved them. When I twirled around, my skirts spun out and up in a dance all of their own.
My special day dresses looked more like this, with the little puff sleeves or even sleeveless for the hot summer days. With one of those lovely petticoats underneath I felt like a princess.
The only thing missing were the princess shoes. I had my school shoes and some sensible sandals but what I lusted after was a pair of shiny patent leather Mary Janes like these…only black ones. Oh, yes, that was the dream…sadly destined to remain just a dream…ah, well.
Another item destined to remain in my dreams was one of these. Lots of the girls at school were members of the Junior Red Cross. Basically, this meant that their parents had shelled out money for the classy nurse-like uniform and first aid lessons. I just liked the uniform. I was already expert at applying mercurochrome and bandaids. Mum said I didn’t need a nurse’s uniform and I was not to go annoying Aunty to make me one. Poof! Another dream shattered!
Like most other little girls of my era, much of my fashion fun came via paper dolls. You could buy books with the doll printed on the inside of the cardboard cover and pages and pages of clothes filling the book. The first ones I had had to be cut out ever so carefully with scissors, but later versions were perforated press-out jobs which made it all so much easier. I spent hours playing with my paper dolls. I had a Dale Evans set and a SuperGirl set and, you name it, I had the set. Much pocket money was spent on paper dolls.
As the fifties turned into the sixties a new wave of fashion began to roll in from Britain. The Beatles, Carnaby Street and all things British rock arrived and I was a teenager at last….but that’s another story.