Wednesday 7 August 2013

YESTERDAY Part 2.....THE CLOTHES by Adèle Geras

This is the second of the extracts from my memoir YESTERDAY (first published in 1992) which details my time at Oxford between 1963 and 1966. It’s 50 years this September since I matriculated and in honour of that, I’m putting up some bits from the book which is now out of print. This one is about what I was wearing in the early Sixties.


Fashionwise, it was a time when I should probably have gone into hiding. The Mini was upon us, and I ought to have shunned it, but I didn’t. I wore short skirts and dark tights and sometimes white tights, although I never went as far as white plastic boots.

Everyone was very Body Conscious in those days, and the bodies they were conscious of looked like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. Therefore I always felt myself to be fat, even though I was probably no more than plump. This plumpness was (is) not helped by lack of height and a distressing shortness of leg. However none of this has ever prevented me from trying to follow the fashion, and from loving clothes and jewels and dressing up in any way I can. This was also the era of the High Heeled Shoe. I cannot emphasize too strongly the liberation that Flat Shoes (the blessed Trainer and the glorious Doc Marten) brought us. I think my feet must have been hurting for a major proportion of my youth. I also wore various shapes of trousers, although these were always black because black was supposed to be slimming. All my jumpers, blouses etc. hung loosely over my hips on the “hiding a multitude of sins” principle. Laura Ashley opened a shop in Oxford in my last year (1966) and transformed me into a buxom Victorian wench.

I remember several outfits in detail: 1) A fuchsia pink smock-type dress ending three inches above the knee 2) A wonderful long jungle print evening dress made by my friend Franny in about two hours. It had no sleeves and sort of gathered itself round my neck leaving my shoulders bare. (NB to plump young women: do not despair. Your waist may not be up to much but your shoulders, neck and cleavage will be terrific!) 3) A bottle green knitted dress from Marks and Spencer, like a very long jumper. I thought I might end up looking elegant like Liz, but discovered quickly that knitted dresses cling to one’s bottom with dismaying tenacity. 4) A bright scarlet duffel-type jacket, which I loved and wish I still had. 5) A black dress I used to sing in whenever I did cabaret. Everything they say about little black dresses is true. 6) My first Laura Ashley: a full-skirted, long, cap-sleeved pinafore in blue cotton printed with white swans. [This dress is almost exactly like the one I had and I found it on the internet on a website called Moonchild Vintage. I've tried to contact it for permission to use this image with no success, so Mooonchild, if you're out there, please may I use this image?]


JO said...

Ah, those 60s clothes! I'm about 3years behind you, and our skirts were up to our bottoms (I remember going out once wearing pants and a rugby shirt ...). I also had a lovely long dress like yours (they were so flattering and comfortable).

Sally Prue said...

Maxis, floppy-rimmed hats, rings that turned my fingers green, and trying to get flowers to stay in my hair.
I even learned to play the guitar solely so that I could carry one about as a fashion accessory.

adele said...

Thanks for these comments! At least, Sally, you can now play the guitar!

Theresa Breslin said...

OK Adèle - exactly what do they say about little black dresses that you found to be true?????

sensibilia said...

Oh how those Laura Ashley dresses evoke memories of student days. When I went to York in 1972, absolutely EVERYONE floated around in Laura Ashley all summer long. So romantic.