A jolly outfit

Here’s something I wrote a couple of years ago::

I can’t remember now what I was looking for, but searching through an archive of old Australian newspapers, I came across this fashion feature. I have no actual interest in fashion, but I found this fascinating, the language, the descriptions, the different world it portrayed where most people wore hats most of the time when outside – and for women when they were inside too, at cocktail parties, for example.

This was written in 1939, at the beginning of the summer; war was already on the horizon but who could have foreseen then that it would be a grim seven years of slaughter and sacrifice. In June 1939 when women would be reading this article, all about the latest Paris fashion for ‘peasant coiffes’, any whispers of war would be far away in Europe, the other side of the world; they never would have dreamt that Japan would enter the fray, almost on their own doorstep, nor that nearly 17,000 men would die in action, and another 10,000 would die from wounds, as prisoners or just never return home, presumed lost in action.

Have You Heard Of Silk Stockinette Lacquered ? 
Gaiety Of Colour Is Marked Feature Of New Designs In Knitted Wear


The monastic outline is well liked in this fabric, as its soft fullness falls gracefully from well-built shoulder lines to the hem. Mulberry, raspberry, grape or fuchsia with green are favourite combinations for colour.

Knitted Wear
A feature of up-to-date knitted jumpers is the gaiety of colour in design, decorations and the buttons which match it.
They are painted or modelled in flower patterns, and take up the colour of the tie and collar. Tyrolean designs are now being made in good wools in really delightful combinations of bright shades on dark, vivid, neutral and all sorts in white and cream.
A cardigan example has multi-coloured flowers on a stone-hued ground flecked with brown, brown edging, ties and buttons brown and bright, embroideries hand-done on the knitted ground.
Black and white carry out the popular magpie craze in woollens, machine or hand-made. The former are lustrous deep, or just matt at the same time. A plain jacket of night black wool, with a skirt and revers of black and white and the stripes used in different directions represents the ideal tailor-made for informal wear.

Cheery Rainproofs
Umbrellas are not merely utilitarian. They are, indeed, so attractive that no one should reject the Chamberlain cult of carrying an umbrella on all occasions which has even reached these shores.
Of course, there is always the danger of losing one’s umbrella – witness the stacks of them in the lost property offices – but there’s scarcely a risk of being separated from one’s wet weather friend if one indulges in one of the new handbags about a foot in length which have a loop of the leather running all along the bottom, into which a folded umbrella fits neatly.
A new effect has been made in umbrellas confining the decoration to the border of the gay little oil-silk protection with which we laughed at the rain. The umbrella may be light or dark in colour, but they are all cheerful, all competent for their job, and some of them are made in the pastel colours which will not go amiss with summer frocks.

 No Hatless Cult
It is said that the “no hat” craze is fast growing amongst men, but, of course, that is not difficult to understand. The masculine chapeau has no allure, and if a man has got a good head of hair he looks considerably better without a hat. On the contrary, feminine millinery is alluring and a woman’s beauty can be greatly enhanced by an attractive top-knot. And top-knots is the word for the latest headgear designed primarily for the cocktail hour, for wedding functions or for evening wear, but probably will become very general for street wear in the early spring.

Marvellous Work
Clever milliners, amateur as well as professional, do marvels with an assortment of velvet ribbon, net veiling and flowers. No framework is required, but deft handling is essential. An example to mind, began with a half helmet-shaped piece of firm net, about 6 inches at its base, on which were rucked six rows of black ribbon velvet; this formed the back of the cap and in front and to stand up as a crown was a bunch of six deep pink, moss roses, their mossy verdure standing up in the centre. A band of black velvet ribbon held the hat on round the back of the coiffure. Another in the same vein had three mauve and pink water lilies as its motif and yards of mauve net veiling twisted round to form a base and hang down the back. Another had nothing but a huge bunch of clipped clover coloured net veiling to form its flower-like crown, which nestled on to a twist of purple velvet ribbon.
For an evening cap, pure and simple, there is a tiny lame skull cap to match a lame gown, in gold or silver, and requires nothing more than a slender aigrette held in place with a sparkling pin.
Peasant coiffes are Paris favourites. They are buckled half-way up the crown and gracefully veiled. Black pill boxes, be-plumed in green or red or blue, are, also chosen by smart Parisians, and little white daisy covered berets are alive with the “little black frock” beloved of French women.

I have no pictures of hats, berets or peasant coiffes, so my featured picture is of a jolly outfit I saw on a lovely day at a market in Somerset.

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