'I made all my own clothes....'

Nancy's recollection of clothing from the way they wore series.

By Lu Pearson

Photo:Nancy with her parents

Nancy with her parents

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Nancy's 21st Birthday

Nancy's 21st Birthday

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Nancy in the hat shop

Nancy in the hat shop

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Nancy with her engagement ring

Nancy with her engagement ring

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Nancy and Wally on their Honeymoon

Nancy and Wally on their Honeymoon

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Nancy lives in Hangleton and is part of the Get Together group from the Hangleton area. She has always loved clothes and used to make her own. She is married to Wally and has been for 58 years.

'I was in the 'Marguerites', it was like the Brownies but for younger girls. We wore green dresses, yellow beret and little white petals around the collar, like a flower. We looked like little flowers.  I went to the church opposite where the Knoll Business centre is now, on Old Shoreham Road.  That was when I was about five years old. Then I went to the Speedwell's group.  We wore a skirt, a blouse and sash. There were different coloured sashes depending on your rank, and a bobble on the bottom of the sash. When I was about 6 or 7, if you gave the rag and bone man your woollens, he gave you a goldfish!'

'I've still got the patterns....'

'When I was older cross over tops were very popular, although they weren't as low cut as people wear them now. Once I left school I stopped wearing vests and ankle socks, but others wore them, and 'liberty bodices' which were for young children'.

'My mum made my clothes and she taught me how to sew.  I worked in Madame Christopher's in Western Road in Brighton until say the 40's.  It was a milliners and they sold handmade clothes.  It was quiet upmarket, so not just anybody would walk in off the street, you could have a hat made to match your outfit.  My mother always wore a hat.  She used to say you never go out without a hat or gloves.  She used to wear a beret a lot'.

'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 remember '3 tier' wedge shoes in the 1940's. I had a pair of white sling backs, with three rows making up the platform and the wedge'.

'I was lucky I could make clothes. In the 1940's 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 as I now have Gullain Barre syndrome which is an illness I've had since 1999'.

From 'Tony' perms to 'Pinup' perms...

'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 top, 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 back view too. 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 20's.  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 'Kay'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.  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'.

Moth Balls

'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 60's someone put glue in the door locks'.

A bridesmaid for each year..

'I made the bridesmaids dresses for our wedding in 1950 when we got married. We had four bridesmaids. I had four years of engagement so there was plenty of time to do it.  I bought a tulip sleeve pattern for the dresses.  A relation of Wally's had a wedding dress, so I got it off her. I made it into dress with a heart shaped neck, which I altered with apple blossom to make nicer.  There were two ribbons hanging down with two shoes.  I brought my veil in Southampton when we went down to visit Wally's aunt. Wally brought me a silver heart with my new initials on it.  A girl on Godwin Road got married in a white lace nightie and her mum's net curtains as a veil. They had a cardboard cake too.  She married a Canadian and went to Canada with him. We married in 1950. We got dressed up on our honeymoon for a souvenir photo in Scotland of us in kilts'.

Nancy also took part in a reminiscence about her worklife, this can be found here.

Special thanks to the illustrator Hannah Eaton and Trevor Povey who acted as the series Historian.

The reminiscence facilitators during these sessions were Imogen Christie and Nicola Benge.

This page was added by Lu Pearson on 06/06/2009.

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