Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thrifty 40's/Flamboyant 50's

Thank you to those who emailed me in response to my post below - it was fascinating to hear your stories of the women in your families who had actually lived through the flapper era. Of course that whole period was cut very short. The slightly hedonistic lifestyle could not survive the great depression of the 30's. And with the start of another world war, women no longer had the option of shopping for glamorous luxuries.
The Make do and Mend booklet produced in 1943 encouraged women to prolong the life of their clothes and gave washing tips, suggested darning socks, adding decorative patches, as well as hints on unpicking and re-knitting garments. With the rationing of clothes from 1941, it was a necessity; adults were rationed to a set number of clothing coupons per year and the price of the clothes were fixed by law.

It's interesting to discover today, those little decorative additions that women were able to rustle up from virtually nothing. I'm sure a handmade corsage had the power to make a woman feel better dressed and more unique in a crowd.
This rustic corsage has been fashioned from tiny fir cones and beech nut husks, which have been given a splash of gold paint and a felt leaf backing.

Here wires have been shaped and painstakingly bound in threads to create a leaf posy.

Scraps of felt could be cut and stitched into a variety of flowers.

I think patterns for these were often printed in magazines of the day.
Short lengths of spare yarn could be made into pompom flowers for another cute design.

And here a few wooden beads have been strung together with raffia.

Handmade jewellery was another crafting area. Barbola paste was modeled into intricate flowers to make one-of-a-kind treasures.

Yarns and threads were also cleverly used in a variety of brooch styles.

And fragments of Lucite was carved and coloured to make stunning pieces, which are still very wearable today.

This wartime bride's headpiece has been ingeniously made from a simple wire frame. Lace motifs, possibly removed from an old worn out dress, have been applied to the sides. And what I love most is the mis-matched off-white buttons holding ribbon bows in place. A real thrifty look to add the make do and mend philosophies to a young girls wedding day.

This delightful headpiece has been made by twisting chenille pipe cleaners into spirals, which have then been stitched and moulded into the skullcap shape. Sadly I no longer have these two items. I sold them several years ago on my antiques stand. But looking for their photographs this morning, prompted me to look through the archive of millinery creations that I have in my files.

With the rationing of clothing continuing well after the end of the war, it wasn't until the later 1950's that an explosion of colour, fabrics and styles were seen, when restricted items were once again in use in manufacture. I'll leave you with a selection of my archive photographs showing some of the flamboyant hats, half-hats and fascinators that I have sold over the years...
I hope you enjoy them!

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Hats off to the 50's!
Enjoy the rest of your week,
Niki x

22 comments:

  1. Like I said - a one woman museum! You have such amazing collections and it is wonderful that you are sharing them with so much knowledge too! I am in LOVE with that Make do and Mend leaflet and those felt coursages! t.x

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  2. I'm SWOONING over your glorious hats, Niki! You could do an entire calendar with them (hint-hint.... heehee)! My grandmother (mom's mom) was the ultimate thrifty Nana... money was very tight for my mom's family, and there were five children to feed; I have lovely stories from my mother of the things my Nana did to make ends meet. In fact, I still have some of her thrifty linen creations to this very day! =) Thank you for another fun, interesting post.

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  3. Fascinating post, and those hats, wow, wow, wow, they are all just stunning.

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  4. My aunt has the Make do and mend booklet and it is such and interesting read.

    Your hats are swoontastic.

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  5. You should have your own exhibition Niki!
    The hats are just wonderful.
    With our throwaway society these days it's nice to see these vintage items being appreciated & cared for.

    My mum was a little girl during the war & she remembers sitting & working on rag rugs with her mum & sister using cut up pieces of worn out clothing - waste not, want not!

    Jayne

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  6. Oh I'm loving all those hats Niki! I am fascinated by the ingenuity of the fashions of the 40s during the make do and mend/rationing years, wonderful things were made.
    We've been rewatching Brideshead Revisited this week and it's been great drooling over all those costumes!
    Have a great week too
    Kimx

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  7. OH MY! So many beautiful things! The red velvet hat would be my choice for today! Sometimes I would just LOVE to really dress up! Today would be one of those days! I'll just close my eyes and pretend...or look at all your beautiful things again!

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  8. They look just like the ones I saw every Sunday growing up! In fact, I think I had one of those daisy ones =)

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  9. Oh my, you have shown beauty and gold in one post. Thanks so much for sharing! Terri

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  10. What a trip down memory lane..I love the hats, thanks for sharing those photos!

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  11. GORGEOUS HATS!!! I have a hat collection too. Wouldn't it be great if women wore them today?
    ~Debra

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  12. You truly have the most BEAUTIFUL collection of hats...They're all just soooooo pretty...Love all the flowers and all the different styles...That is just one stunning collection...

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  13. não sei como vc consegue chegar no nosso passado,ao olhar teu blogue me vem a mente minhas recordações,tudo muito lindo,um abração

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  14. não sei como vc consegue chegar no nosso passado,ao olhar teu blogue me vem a mente minhas recordações,tudo muito lindo,um abração

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  15. I think it would be wonderful to do a trunk show at your local nursing or retirement homes for the ladies to see and reminisce!

    These are too precious to keep under wraps.

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  16. What a pleasure to read. I remember photos of my nana wearing handmade headpieces..I must try and look them out.have a lovely week.

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  17. Wow! What a collection ... such a pleasure to be able to browse through them. Thank you:)

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  18. Love all those vintage hats and millinery flowers!

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  19. WONDERFUL hats! I think you need to sell some...TO ME! Do you ever wear any of them? I just love vintage hats. They are always so creative in design and style and I love the use of florals on them. You MUST part with some! HAHAHA!

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  20. Oh, such wonderful photos and information! Thanks, Niki, that was well worth coming back on line for! Your history makes sense of some of the things I remember from my Grandmother's collection, and the rather tatty little things I remember seeing at jumblesales, charity shops etc in the 1980s. I hadn't quite 'twigged' that make do and mend extended to ornaments and jewellery - very logical, really. If I could go back and pick up some of those items now I know...

    I think that the little thread brooches are fantastic. I would have bought one of those, any time!

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  21. Ohhhhh ~ I love hats! How ingenious the chenille pipe cleaner hat is! I liked the suggestion above that you take these treasures to a senior's home for a time of reminiscence. If only the fashion designers would get it in their brains to bring hats back ~ wouldn't that be fun? I guess they made a bit of a comeback with Princess Diana in the 1980s, but I think it's time again. Your hats are so beautiful; thank you for sharing with us all!

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  22. What a fantastic hat collection you have!!!!
    Michelle

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Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx