Fashions of the day

Making our own clothes

By Nancy Kersey

Photo:Nancy Kersey in Godwin Road 1935

Nancy Kersey in Godwin Road 1935

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

High heels and peep toes

I made all my own clothes. I had a skirt-flat front, then pleated all down the sides. Tops with tulip sleeves, v necks, sweetheart necks. I made a cross-over top like what's fashionable now. I've still got the patterns. I used to wear them with three tier wedge shoes, high heels, or peep toes. I made swing back jackets, coats, and smocks when I was pregnant.

I didn't even have a wardrobe. I was lucky I could make clothes. There used to be a shop called 'Bellmans' on London Road in Brighton and I got a blue and black dress there. Their motto was: 'we aim to please'. I did knitting, sewing, crochet, although I can't do it like I used to.

A bit of a (hair) do

I used to have 'Dinky' Curlers to make my hair curly. You had to part your hair on either side and leave a bit in the middle, then put your hair clip through, and put a wave in the front. I used to cut my own hair, into layers, so you could have little curls all the way down. The 'Dinky' curlers were for the short bits. I had two mirrors so you could look at the side view too.

Permanent curlers

Sometimes I did a finger wave in my hair. There were lots of different types of perms: 'Tony perms, Pinup perms, Marcel wave: that was older from the 1920s. Then you could keep your rollers in, put grips in to keep them in place, or something like bulldog clips that you could clamp over the roller. You used to get a shampoo called 'Trixie plus'. I learnt lots working in a hairdresser as an apprentice. I used to put a turban on to hide the curlers. If you were going out that night you had to keep them in all day. I was cycling to work once and my turban blew off, all my curlers were underneath!

There used to be a place on Portland road, a hairdresser's called 'Hay's'. I had my first perm there. I worked in 'Maurice' on Blatchington Road, a hairdresser. He had one up in London too on Dolphin Square. He pronounced his name the French way, but he was English really.

Glue in theĀ locks

I worked at a Furriers called 'Vianne' in Palmeira Square in Hove. We made fur coats - there was the shop, and I was in the workroom. I remember when fur coats came in for alteration they would often smell of moth balls. We made coats from all sorts of fur including mink. I've got a mink collar that was sewn for me from some of the mink scraps, the sort of thing that would be worn with an evening dress. When it became less acceptable to wear real fur coats in the 1960s someone put glue in the door locks.

Made to match hats

My mum made our clothes and she taught me how to sew. I worked in Madame Christopher's in Waterloo Street in Brighton until say the 1940s. It was a milliners and they sold handmade clothes. It was quite upmarket, so not just anybody would walk in off the street. You could have a hat made to match your outfit.

3 tier wedges

If I was going out in the evening, I wouldn't wear much make up. Just a bit of lipstick and maybe some 'panstick', but I took a lot of care with my hair.

I remember 'three-tier' wedge shoes in the 1940s. I had a pair of sling backs, with three rows making up the platform and the wedge.

To read more about Nancy's courtship and wedding click here.

This page was added by Susan Morrison on 08/02/2008.

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