The Way we Wore

Clothing and fashion memories in Portslade Winter 2008

Nicola Benge

Photo:Talking hemlines at Portslade WRVS Centre

Talking hemlines at Portslade WRVS Centre

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Looking at the way we wore at Portslade WRVS Centre

Looking at the way we wore at Portslade WRVS Centre

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:And this sleeve is too short!

And this sleeve is too short!

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Homburgs and trilbies - fashion memories

Homburgs and trilbies - fashion memories

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:High tech hemlines

High tech hemlines

Photo from the WRVS Heritage Plus archive

Fab Gear!

These are notes from some of the reminiscence sessions on the theme of clothing and fashion at Portslade WRVS with local participants. Sessions were facilitated by Imogen Christie and Nicola Benge and memories shared included: uniforms, favourite outfits, dressing up to go out on the razzle and make do and mend.

The sessions took place from December 2007 to February 2008 at the WRVS centre on Windelsham Close, Portslade.

Themes we planned were:

Reminiscence activities on clothes and fashion

This could be something like: Uniforms (childhood and adulthood) i.e. cadets, brownies, army etc.

Outfitters: where you went to get your school uniform, for your Sunday best, work clothes, going out of an evening etc.

Clothing during the war, how you coped with rationing and what you wore instead i.e. army blankets being turned into coats; cutting sheets into two and stitching them together.

What you got married in/honeymoon outfits.

Difference between then and now i.e. do you dress differently now to then? What has changed?

Holiday/Festive garb, what you wore on the work beano, out with the lads, at Christmas etc;

Markets which sold clothes, which ones you went to.

Evacuation: if you were evacuated, what clothes you took with you.

Memories are made of these ...

We started talking about dressing up on Saturday night and quickly discovered that everyone used to go to The Regent - a dance hall by the clock tower in Brighton, where Boots is now....

BERYL:  We walked around more than we actually danced.  There was a fabulous sprung dance floor. I went there between 1958 and 1964 I expect.  I used to finish work at 5.30 and be there by 7.00.  We got the bus from Portslade to the clock tower - took it from the old Green Sponge factory. It cost two shillings on the bus I remember.  Thursday was hits night - sixties stuff - jive and rock n roll.

NANCY:   We went there on the forties night.  There was Sid Dean and his band I remember. We used to go on a Saturday night. Wally came but he never danced. He wore those Hush Puppies, didn't you Wally?  Couldn't dance in Hush Puppies.  There were tea dances too, then.  Ladies wore hats and gloves, girls danced together.  I had a French man ask me to dance once. He wanted to see me home.  My dad would have killed me. I told him I had to get the bus all the way home.  That it would take ages.  He wouldn't come all that way.

BERYL: It was my mum who would have killed me, not my dad.  We did proper dancing like the foxtrot and the quickstep too.

TREVOR: It was very territorial.  I had a girlfriend then and I came home on leave and this other bloke was knocking around with my girlfriend Julie.  I went straight up to him at the bar and said, "I owe you a pint - you've taken her off my hands."  That shocked her.  Me and him became mates in the end.  There was a promotion at The Regent once - the strongest man in the world.  There were six of us volunteers.  We had to go and pull these chest expanders.  They made us take our tops off. I didn't win. There was a glitterball too and we did the spot waltz.  If the light shone on you, you were out and the last couple got a prize.

ROD:   I didn't go dancing. My brother did.  Anyway you joined the army and away you went.

BERYL:   Other places in the sixties were Cliftonville Hall, St Richard's Hove Town Hall and Sherry's Victorian dance hall, but there were fights in the street there.

ROD:   You didn't go near that Sherry's did you?  That's where the prostitutes went!

TREVOR:   There was The Florida Rooms in the aquarium. I saw The Who, Jimmy Henrix, the Temperance Seven. In the early sixties I saw Tommy Steele.  And I got into trad jazz - remember the skiffle? And at the Hippodrome, there was good theatre and variety - Frankie Vaughan, Petula Clark, the Andrews sisters...

NANCY: I had dancing shoes in leather.  There was a shoe shop on George Street in Hove. Everyone went there. There were three-tier wedges, sling backs, stilettos. I walked all over the Dyke in those heels...

ROD:   What were you doing on the Dyke?!

BERYL: I was fifteen when I first went.  I couldn't afford a drink.  I was a smoker though. I used to get a sub off my gramps. Ten bob.  I had to give it back to him. That paid for the bus, entrance to The Regent and a packet of smokes.  I went with my friend - a tiny little lassie - who worked on the production floor at Green's.  She was 16, four months older than me but she couldn't even get into the bar because she looked too young. I could at 15. There were bouncers on the door but it was never any trouble to get in - I sailed in.  I used to have a Babycham when I could afford it.

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

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