Shared Moments: Day 75 – ‘Fashion’ written by Maureen Kershaw

Dear all,

Day 75 – Fashion. As the 70s headed into the 80s we were watching “Dallas” and “Dynasty” and wanted ‘The Look’ in our lives too but pencil skirts, fitted jackets and cocktail dresses were not for me. The shoulder pads were useful though and could soon enhance a simple shirt with its turned-up collar – another fad. Jewelry was important too; I wore bold clip-on earrings until I had my ears pierced then it was studs thereafter. I felt I was “at a funny age” as my Mum would put it, young enough for culottes and velvet knickerbockers worn with frilled oversized shirts from ‘Chelsea Girl’, but far too old for the younger fashions of ra-ra skirts and leg warmers (thank goodness!).

Princess Diana was such an influence in fashion and from the moment we saw her in ‘Laura Ashley’ separates and pie-crust frilled collars, we all wanted to copy her. Her hats were copied for weddings but I don’t think many wished to wear a copy of her crumpled silk wedding dress! In the early 80s I attended three weddings in the same year and wore the same outfit to each. Cream culottes and matching blazer with a taupe-ish silky blouse which had a cream Puritan collar. Camel/taupe shoes and bag with a small ‘Diana’ style cream brimmed hat and gloves.

We enjoyed many years of elegance in the 80s and once again sleeves featured heavily from full to batwing. We were rid of the less flattering fabrics and enjoyed wearing floaty silk or crepe de chine ‘for best’ although I didn’t as I was always scared I’d spill something down it. Polyester jersey was more serviceable for me and it was available in such an array of shades from dusky pinks to jewel brights. My Designer friend Stephen Hanley had made me a beautiful mid-calf dress with matching turban in emerald and buttermilk (or cream!) for an earlier wedding and I fell in love with the fabric forever.

More dresses and stage costumes followed from Stephen. I never tired of the fabric as it adapted to many styles which fitted the years of elegance – without any lumps and bumps showing! I have three which still fit today – ah yes but wait! They were based on the djellaba style – one size fits all – but with added interest and I have promised to donate them to the Leeds Discovery Centre for their Clothing Archives.

Following the birth of my son in the mid-80s I hadn’t time to observe fashion and only discovered it again when I worked for Schofields, prior to moving into Theatre. What a contrast! From back-of-house in the Management Office where I was amongst the glamour of the store and wore their fashions too, to the move into Theatre’s front of house which converted my style to casual.

After the first day in denim skirt and white shirt, I don’t think I wore a skirt again. Out went dresses, skirts and heels and in came trousers and denims plus loafers and trainers. I did insist on dressing for Press Nights though in smart trousers with fashionable tops or jackets. It was working at the Playhouse that I noticed how fashion changed drastically in the 90s. I loved to see the audience ‘dressed for the theatre’, particularly at Christmas when we would welcome Corporate and workplace parties.

Ladies would be dressed up to the nines and the men in immaculate suits. As the years went by with fashions coming and going, smart casual and just ‘casual’ was accepted in most places and I was sorry at the change. Certainly at the Theatre, those who had ‘dressed for the occasion in the past, did so no longer and we would comment that we only knew it was Saturday because ‘best’ perfumes and aftershaves were worn! As Frank Sinatra sang “Regrets I’ve had a few…..”  my main regret of the last era covered was the SHELL SUIT!

The proud owner of a black and cerise with a second one in white, navy and turquoise, both suits being worn with trainer boots. What was I thinking? What was anyone thinking who wore them? All part of life’s rich pattern. Nowadays clothes just seem to happen around us, we buy what and when we want it. Whatever our age, in our minds we are so much younger but now it is the Classics with a twist for added style that is safe. The problem is – where are all those lovely shops of yesteryear??

Thank you Maureen, it was fun to be transported to my wardrobe of yesteryear, until next time…..