Regarding the person who asked about dressing in a 20's style: Another thing one could do is wear a long scarf around the head, a la Clara Bow at the end of "It". It's very easy to find pics of her in that scarf on google or here on tumblr. There are also lots of how-to videos on Youtube demonstrating 20's hair and makeup techniques. As for shoes, here in the USA "character" shoes for dancers are close matches for 20's shoes. Wish I had more ideas, but I hope this helps. Kathie
Both great ideas :) There are some gorgeous photos of other figures as well in the 1920s with a similar scarf-as-bandeau…one of Alla Nazimova particularly comes to mind. It’s a great look particularly for those with very curly hair - they pile it up on top, and the scarf keeps it in place. I don’t approve of a lot of the costuming choices in the upcoming “The Great Gatsby”, but I do rather like the fact that they’ve adapted this look for Myrtle in one scene (now, if only they’d chose different dress, foundation garments, shoes, hose etc etc).
I sometimes order dance shoes as it’s hard to find vintage 1920s in my size…DSOL has some good styles fairly cheap in a whole range of colours…try to order closed toe and, if they give you options, a 2.2 inch Louis or Cuban heel. If you want to support an American costumer, American Duchess is a lovely person and is introducing a whole lot of fabulous shoes for those of us looking for an Edwardian or 20s style.
any advice to dress modern of 1920's fashion? right now i cant afford to buy old vintage clothing i'm on a very low budget.
You’re in luck! Some 1920s looks are so timeless they can be easily duplicated today and adapted for contemporary styling. Try for simple shift dresses - a drop waist is good, but even a straight up and down “chemise style” without any waist works. Layer on long beaded necklaces (which can be quite inexpensive) and bracelets/bangles. You can go for the Patou inspired sporty look by wearing a long cardigan or sweater (a fair isle pattern for it is good but not necessary) over a pleated skirt. There are quite a few Mary Jane style shoes around…often the heel isn’t right (it should by preference be something like a Louis, Cuban or Spanish heel), but that’s not going to make a huge difference…you could even do ballet flats and put a ribbon across the top to imitate a strap.
Have a look in the shops or look in op shops to see if you can find beaded dresses in a shift style…they were very in a season or two ago, and some almost looked like 1920s replicas.
You can wear headbands lower on your forehead (rather than up as an Alice band) to imitate 1920s bandeaux. This is appropriate for sportswear in the day (e.g. team it with the cardigan and pleated skirt) or with evening wear. Most of the “cloche” style hats available today tend to be more like 1960s bucket hats, but if you hunt around you might find one with a more 20s vibe as there are a few in the stores.
Following on from my conversation with Cutie-Toes…if there’s anyone out there who hasn’t read the ghost stories of Montague Rhodes James, may I suggest they do so? As 1 August marked the 150th anniversary of his birth, this is a good time to discover the master of this genre.
To quote from Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook (and these must be the first M R James lines many of us read:
"St. Bertrand de Comminges is a decayed town on the spurs of the Pyrenees, not very far from Toulouse, and still nearer to Bagnères-de-Luchon. It was the site of a bishopric until the Revolution, and has a cathedral which is visited by a certain number of tourists. In the spring of 1883 an Englishman arrived at this old-world place — I can hardly dignify if with the name of the city, for there are not a thousand inhabitants. He was a Cambridge man, who had come specially from Toulouse to see St. Bertrand’s Church, and had left two friends, who were less keen archaeologists than himself, in their hotel at Toulouse, under promise to join him on the following morning. Half an hour at the church would satisfy them, and all three could then pursue their journey in the direction of the Auch. But our Englishman had come early on the day in questions, and proposed to himself to fill a notebook and to use several dozens of plates in the process of describing and photographing every corner of the wonderful church that dominates the little hill of Comminges. In order to carry out this design satisfactorily, it was necessary to monopolize the verger of the church for the day. The verger of sacristan (I prefer the latter appellation, inaccurate as it may be) was accordingly sent for by the somewhat brusque lady who keeps the inn of the Chapeau Rouge; and when he came, the Englishman found him an unexpectedly interesting object of study. It was not in the personal appearance of the little, dry, wizened old man that the interest lay, for he was precisely like dozens of other church-guardians in France, but in a curious furtive or rather hunted and oppressed air which he had. He was perpetually half glancing behind him; the muscles of his back and shoulders seemed to be hunched in a continual nervous contraction, as if he were expecting every moment to find himself in the clutch of an enemy. The Englishman hardly knew whether to put him down as a man haunted by a fixed delusion, or as one oppressed by a guilty conscience, or as an unbearable henpecked husband. The probabilities, when reckoned up, certainly pointed to the last idea; but, still, the impression conveyed was that of a more formidable persecutor even than a termagant wife”
You like flappers AND M R James?! ...you are so awesome to me right now...
If we share those interests, then “awesome” right back atcha! I *love* M R James…reading articles about the anniversary of his birth reminded me of my long time desire to get to Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges…need to organise that on my next trip to France. Although I won’t be doing any purchasing of rare manuscripts, no matter how cheap they are, if you know what I mean ;)
Oh dear, you made me laugh out loud with the Wodehouse quote. LOVE the books, and LOVE Fry and Laurie's Jeeves and Wooster. Now, as to the dresses: They are fantastic. An Australian designer? The blue knocks me out. You'd look great in all of them, but the blue - oh, the blue!! Do let us know what you decide. Kathie
Many thanks, Kathie! And yes, Wodehouse always gives one a lift :) The designer is an Israeli - wonderful lady, we corresponded and she had me go into her shop here in Sydney to pick out a necklace for myself as she felt I understood her design ethos! The dresses are brilliant to wear - light as air and fold up into nothing, so perfect for travel. It’s a very hard choice - I saw footage of the blue gown in one of her runway shows and it was a knockout in motion.
One of my favourite anecdotes relates one of the few times during the War of Independance that he got rip-roaringly drunk. For some unfathomable reason, he took some of “The Boys” to one of their favourite hotels for Christmas dinner - Vaughans or the Gresham or one of those places. They invited one of his agents in the Castle to join them, and he - thoroughly alarmed at what a nice Christmas present Mick Collins and his closest lieutenants would be for the British - declined with a few scathing words. Undeterred, they rocked up for dinner…only to find there was no private room booked. So they ate in the public dining room. And were raided.
Collins made an excuse to go to the restroom, and was escorted there by an Auxiliarery. When they didn’t return, one of Collins men found an excuse to follow…and found with his head being held under a light, being turned this way and that by the officer, who held a photo of Collins in the other hand. He was trying to make up his mind if Collins looked like the bad photo (Collins told his colleague later that just as he interupted, he - Collins - was about to dive in desperation for the officer’s gun). They returned to the table and found, lo and behold, one of Collins’ men had opened a bottle of Jamesons and was offering it to the Auxies. They had a few drinks and departed in good spirits.
By the time one of Collins’ men came to pick them all up - long after curfew - they’d all become uproariously intoxicated in relief at their close call. Collins was sitting in the gutter arm in arm with an equally drunk mate, and they had to be hastily loaded into the car and removed.
As far as I understand it, although I may be wrong, suffragette was indeed initially intended as an insult, but was appropriated and redefined by the women themselves. It is one of the examples that is often quoted for processes like this, in which a group takes over a term that is used against them and redefines it. Other examples of similar processes would be the impressionists, the big bang theory and of course the queer movement. So I say: Hooray for suffragettes! Boo for the Daily Mail!
I do see what you’re saying about claiming the name and subverting the original derogatory intention….many women of the time, however, did refer to themselves as Suffragists, and I know that many women today still find “Suffragette” problematic. I don’t assume that if it’s used the intention is to insult or belittle - as I said, I sometimes lapse into use of that terminology as it’s so ubiquitous in literature from and about the period - but so as to avoid misunderstanding, I try to steer clear of it.
That link to The Daily Mail was quite interesting, though it made me burn! I just thought I'd point out, AGAIN, that the correct term for a person seeking suffrage (the right to vote) is "suffragist". "Suffragette" was used to belittle and make light of women's struggle for the vote. I noticed The Mail only used suffragette even when commenting on the pictures. Like I said, the insult has become the common use term. It's a damn shame. Ladies, let's try to change that! Kathie
Intriguingly enough, it was the Daily Mail that historically coined the term “Suffragette”, intending it in a derogatory sense, and I wonder if - in spite of the article pointing out the misogynism of the postcards - the journalist was at all conscious of their own paper’s history in this regard? I’ll put up a couple more pro- and anti- suffrage postcards.
Your blog is just wondeful! I love your really detailed replies to people's questions. I personally (and rather shamefully) don't know an awful lot about 1920's women's rights so I'd like to rectify that. Do you know where I can find the images mocking women's attempt to get the vote? I'd be very interested to see them xx
Many thanks :) I’ve been trying to find the link to the exhibition, but there are a few collections in insitutions around the world. Here’s an article illustrating some fairly typical examples (don’t hold it against it that it’s the Daily Mail ;) ):
Thank you for your in-depth reply, it was much appreciated. AND thank you for reminding me that we American ladies got the vote on this day. I'm going to go tell my daughter! Did you notice- and I bet you did! - that the lady in the picture attending a votes for women rally, is powdering her nose? Men are such asses some times! Just like calling Suffragists "Suffragettes", which to my dismay has become common usage. BTW, when did women get the right to vote in Australia? Kathie
Hi Kathie :) I’ve just heard that “Suffragettes” has apparently become the new derogatory term of choice for the far right fringe in the US for women whose opinions they wish to deride! I must admit to having the bad habit of lapsing into “Suffragettes”, possibly because I spend too much time reading material from the period (particularly c.1912). I still wince at all those dreadful Edwardian “humour” cards mocking the women who campaigned for the vote…I think there was an exhibition recently featuring the pro- and anti- depictions.
Women achieved the vote at different times in different Australian colonies/states. Each Australian state has its own parliament, and some granted women the right to vote when they were still colonies. In South Australia women first acehived the vote in state elections in 1894 - an extension of the right for property holding women to vote in local elections that they’d held since 1861. Women were also able to stand for state parliament, the first country in the world to allow them to do so. In Western Australia the right to vote came in 1899 and the right to stand for parliament in 1900, after federation (nationhood) in 1901 women achieved the right to vote in Commonwealth (national) elections or to stand for the Federal parliament in 1902, in my state of New South Wales the right to vote came in 1902 although the right to stand for parliament didn’t follow until 1918, in Tasmania it was 1903 (standing for parliament in 1921), Queensland in 1905 (standing for parliament 1915) and Victoria in 1908 (right to stand for parliament in 1923).
New Zealand granted women voting rights in 1893, although Sweden had allowed a form of female sufferage in the 18th century for a period.
Hi. Congratulations on your successful bids at Mossgreen auctions. I am curious: concerning the lovely peach-colored gown, do you intend to have the missing beads replaced? Do you do it yourself or do you have someone who is expert at it? I don't know why I was wondering, but I was! And I'm so hoping you conserve the gowns, shoes, accessories etc well. Your collection is quite wonderful. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Hallo - and thank you for the kind comments! Yes, the beads will be replaced. I’m fortunate that my mother is extremely good at restoration, and I work at a museum and have colleagues in conservation to consult if needed. In this case, it’s a comparatively easy job - they’re small clear bugle beads, and it’s not difficult to find them from the right period. The cotton base is also very solid. Sometimes you have to look for matching beads in the hem of the gown etc. I try to store my gowns as close to “best practice” as possible (usually in conservation boxes with acid free tissue paper, checked on a regular basis for signs of deterioration and padded/refolded as necessary to prevent fabric stress). If worn, I always try to retire them before they show signs of stress - I have dresses packed away that I’ve been asked to wear “just one more time”, but I’d rather pass them on for people in future to enjoy.