The Great Imposters

1970s, anello and davide, aquascutum, Beged'Or, Bermona, Borg, caroline baker, chelsea cobbler, Dada, Feathers, Herbert Johnson, jane whiteside, Jonvelle, kensington market, kurt geiger, laura ashley, Laura Jamieson, Lizzie Carr, Martha Hill, Mexicana, Mog, Morel, nova magazine, peter robinson, Russell & Bromley, Selfridges, stirling cooper, the souk, The Sweet Shop, velmar, Vintage Editorials, Wild Mustang Co.
Tissavel-lined Galaxy coat by Beged’Or approx. £50; cotton blouse by Mexicana, £13; fur fabric jeans by Newmans, 12 gns; hairy slipper boots at Russell & Bromley, £6 19s; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s; hatband made from an Estonian tie at the Russian Shop, 7s 6d; fur bag at The Souk, £3 5s; wool gloves at Dickins & Jones, 10s:

Leather and fur get more expensive every year. It’s not only the taxes and rising costs of production. It’s just that there aren’t enough good animal skins for leather around to meet the consumer demand. Furs are there in quantity for the fabulously rich. Luckily a good substitute has been found – the nylon-spun, man-made sort. Some, especially in the leather field, are so like the real thing the only way you can tell the difference is by the smell. Take the white coat on pages 46 and 47. It’s fake and costs about £50. It has a double in real fur and leather for £270. Made by the same people who have duplicated most of their collection this way and it takes an eagle eye and nose to tell the difference. Others are just furry, woolly fabrics, obviously not imitating some four-legged friend, which is one of the nicest things about them. This fur fabric is now getting the treatment it deserves. Nairn Williamson (more famous for their Vinyl floor and wall coverings) were the first to see its potential and got six designers to use their Velmar fur fabric in their winter collections. Jane Whiteside for Stirling Cooper (new label getting famous fast for their beautiful jersey co-ordinates) was the cleverest of them all. She used the best sludgy colours, mixed it with needlecord to make a group of jackets and coats to go with trousers, skirts and blouses. Borg (American originated and the pioneers in England of this deep pile fabric) has been around for a long time, mostly on the inside of duffle and raincoats but it’s on the outside as a normal fabric that it looks its best. Next winter there will be a lot more of it around, now that designers are getting less snobby about plastics. Not only is it as warm as fur, it is, of course, much cheaper and you don’t smell like a wet dog when you come in from the rain, either. So you can wear it herding sheep on lost weekends, or in town queuing for the cinema without any guilt feelings about ruining your assets.

Insert obligatory ‘I don’t agree with the thrust of the argument for fake furs as just a financial consideration here’ caveat from me, your content provider. Don’t shout at me, basically. But it’s an interesting insight into the mindset of 1970, and the proliferation of fake furs and skins at that time. It’s also a breathtakingly styled and photographed work of art from Caroline Baker and Jonvelle.

Fashion by Caroline Baker.

Photographed by Jonvelle.

Scanned from Nova, January 1970.

Mediaeval velvet applique dress by Laura Jamieson at The Sweetshop, 20 gns; Tissavel and Galaxy waistcoat by Beged’Or, £22.
Velmar jacket and needlecord trousers by Stirling Cooper, £8 10s., £5 1Gs; leggings by Chelsea Cobbler, to order, 10 gns; cotton shirt from selection at Dada, Kensington Antique Market from 2 gns.
Acrilan jacket by Lizzie Carr approx. 24 gns; suede trousers by Morel, 17 gns, tied with leather strips from John Lewis Haberdashery Dept, 1s 10d per yard; wellingtons at Russell and Bromley, £3 19s; woven sash wrapped around neck at Herbert Johnson, 25s; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s; wool gloves at Selfridges, &s 11d
Velmar and Courtelle trousers by Martha Hill, approx. 8 gns; poncho at Peter Robinson, £7; wool shirt by Stirling Cooper, £4 5s; studded wristlet by Knees at Kensington Antique Market, 1 gn; suede moccasin boots by Anello & Davide, £8 15s; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s; sheepskin rug from The Souk from £3 19s 6d to £6; flask from Kensington Antique Market.
Velmar fur fabric floor length coat trimmed with canvas by Mog, £20, over long cotton nightgown by Laura Ashley, £5; knitted wool socks at Feathers, £1 1s 6d
Velmar coat with needlecord and zipper trims (top left) by Stirling Cooper, 18 gns; pale suede and leather lace-up boots by Kurt Geiger, 35 gns; wool gloves at Selfridges, 8s 11d; leather belt by The Wild Mustang Manufacturing Co., approx. £3 12s 6d; fur shepherdess hat, bag and drinking flask from a selection at Kensington Antique Market
Velmar jacket and needlecord trousers (top right) by Stirling Cooper, £12 19s 6d, £5 10s; big polo-neck ribbed Shetland wool sweater at Aquascutum, £6 15s; corrugated leather lace-up boots at Russell and Bromley, £29 19s; knitted Aran mitts at Selfridges, 16s 11d; velour hat by Bermona, £3 11s, furry bag from a selection at Kensington Antique Market.

Your bag is your lifeline

1970s, biba, Electric Fittings, Honey Magazine, Inspirational Images, Karl Stoecker, lilley and skinner, peter robinson
Jumper from Biba. Jacket from Electric Fittings. Trousers from Peter Robinson. Leather bag by Lilley and Skinner.

Photographed by Karl Stoecker.

Scanned from Honey, February 1972

Match Makers

1970s, Alan Cracknell, Electric Fittings, gordon king, Illustrations, mary quant, medusa, mr freedom, peter robinson, petticoat magazine, stirling cooper, Uncategorized

match makers - alan cracknell - petticoat 26th june 1971

From left to right: White satin bib shorts, with blue bow print, by Electric Fittings, £6., from Fifth Avenue, Wl., Mr Freedom, W8., and Edward Bates, Chatham. Blue stretch vest by Medusa, SW3., £1.40. Blue, red and pink striped scarf, £1., from a selection at Rosie Nice, SW3. Lady’s face badge by Gay Designs, 49p at Peter Robinson. Quant suede turn-down boots, £10.50. Floral cotton bib bloomer shorts by Jayne Swayne, £450 at Just Looking, SW3. Purple vest, Medusa SW3., £1.40. Multicoloured plastic pendant on leather, £2.75 at Miss Selfridge. Quant boots, £10.50. Printed denim bib shorts with scalloped edging by Big Scene, £5 at Marshall & Snellgrove, Wl., and Santa Fe, Croydon. Yellow sweater with striped sleeves, designed by Phyllis Collins at Stirling Cooper, Wl., £3.50. Also available from Che Guevara, W8. Yellow schoolboy cap, Mr Freedom, £3.15. Coloured hearts strand on leather, £2.25 from Miss Selfridge. Quant boots, £10.50. Blue denim bib shorts with pockets, £2.49 at all branches of Girl, Shades and In Scene shops. Red gingham smock shirt, £3.50 from Medusa, SW3. Cash Graphics strawberry brooch, 75p. Red and white check scarf, £1., from a selection at Rosie Nice, SW3. Blue velvet bib shorts with yellow detail stitching by Gordon King, £5.77 from 27, SW3 and also at Way In, Harrods, SW1. Blue and white spot smock with yellow ric-rac trim by Kadix, £4.95 at Stop The Shop, SW3. Rainbow brooch by Cash Graphics, 75p. Dark print floral cotton blouse with navy gaberdine shorts, by Anji, £6.95 from the Anji Boutiques at Peter Robinson’s Top Shops in the Strand and at Oxford Circus.

Skinny spencer vests or ready-to-buy matching shirts—here’s two ways round the problem of what to wear under hotweather bib shorts when you want to look cool and neat or pretty and summerfresh—with enough cash left over to enjoy wearing them as well …

Illustrated by Alan Cracknell.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, 26th June 1971.

Nice Girls Do

1970s, Inspirational Images, jean muir, ossie clark, peter robinson, vanity fair

nice girls do

Note the Peter Robinson bag on the floor (Peter Robinson was the progenitor of Topshop)

I recently picked up this phenomenal booklet which came free with Vanity Fair magazine in 1971. Entitled ‘Nice Girls Do’, it is supposedly intended to be a guide to modern life for young women confused by the new sexual revolution and women’s liberation. With a few gorgeous inspirational images thrown in for good measure. It’s also a brilliant insight into the mindset of the early Seventies woman, but also not really a million miles away from such small-minded, hypocritical women’s journalism now. Plus ça change

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Here is a small excerpt relating to fashion:

Dress and Undress

Talk about liberation! Suddenly all the old rules of dress have been suspended. Unisex, the Great Pants Revolution, ten million boots marching across the nation, and the great unleashing of bras have swept a century of fuss and fogginess onto the junk heap.

Once the strictures were clear as crystal, hats for church and town, gloves always, no bare legs on nice girls—ever, girdles an absolute must, trousers strictly for the country, and still only for the young. Now nurses and bank clerks wear trousersuits, patrician matrons dine in transparent pyjamas, and women of ‘a certain age’ boldly appear in black body-stockings and ammunition belts. Alas, it’s easy to become a laughing stock unless you have innate style. There is still one rule: propriety. That means wear what’s right for you and what’s right for what you are going to do. Everything you put on should polish your assets like sterling and blur your flaws like camouflage.

‘Look for the woman in the dress’ was a favourite theme of the late Coco Chanel. ‘If there is no woman, there is no dress.’ And . . . ‘In love, what counts is to please a man,’ Coco liked to say. ‘If it pleases him, paint yourself green.’

Dress to please the man in your life. But don’t overdo it. Dressing for a man doesn’t mean dragging him to your favourite stores to make him choose what he likes on you. It means you wear what makes you look appealing and avoid the chaff. Men can be drearily conservative. They resist change and need to be lured to a new look or a new length, slowly and gradually. Stay aware and try.

The man who falls all over the giggly brunette with the pop-up bosom or the naked tummy or the shortest shorts in the room will want to fade into the wallpaper if you —his adored— appear in the same costume. Be careful . . . even if you happen to be in better trim than Miss Pop-Up Bosom.

Go with fashion, but don’t sell yourself into fashion slavery. Twelve girls at the same film premiere in velvet knickerbockers, identical bullet belts, and fringed boots are pathetic. You, in the same panné velvet knickerbockers but with a suede belt and an old art-nouveau buckle, are infinitely more interesting. Style is individual. It’s what you do with fashion to make it yours alone! When everyone in your crowd is rigged up like a strolling gypsy or Moroccan princess, do not underestimate the power of sleek black simplicity.

Not every new style will suit you, but somewhere there is a proportion cut just for you. Impossible, you say: Aha. You’re in serious trouble and need to shed twenty pounds. Quick.

A dress you can’t move or cuddle in without worrying about moulting feathers or splitting a seam is a disaster . . . no matter how divine it looked in Vanity Fair. Give it away and avoid others with similar faults. You’re going to be a grouch all evening if that groovy buckle digs into  your rib cage with every breath. Choose clothes you feel relaxed wearing.

Nothing can ruin your day more efficiently than a shoe that pinches, rubs, and digs. You can read the pain plain as yoghurt on your face. If the glass slipper doesn’t slip on easily in mid-afternoon when your feet are most vulnerable . . . forget it. You can’t break in a shoe . . . it only breaks you with pain and wasted cash.

Avoid the Grooming Gloom

1. A close lit is no fit at all. A good alteration lady is your third best friend (after Mother and the hairdresser).

2. Clean underwear every day.

3. If you hate to wash and iron, don’t buy clothes that need it. (I didn’t own an iron until a friend —considering me a poverty case— passed one along three months ago. I haven’t used it yet). But you will need a large budget for cleaning bills. If you don’t have money, learn to wash and iron and avoid buying clothes that must be cleaned!

4. It’s a little rip . . . sew it now. Hoard extra buttons when you find ones you like.

5. Weed out the inevitable flaw: snagged stockings, pulled threads, a spot of tomato juice on your doeskin glove, a rip in the lining of your handsome ostrich handbag. Repair it before you wear it again . . . or give it away.

6. Prune the cupboard mercilessly. Don’t drag rejects with you the rest of your life . . . if you haven’t worn an item in two years (a decade?), discard it. Clean it, and donate it to a charity.

How Do You Know What’s Right for You

A lot of the most ghastly mistakes were made when women were encouraged to do their own thing. It’s one thing to have didactic fashion laws arbitrarily laid down by a toffy-nosed fashion magazine not geared to your way of life; it’s quite another to be let loose on a bewildering range of styles and left to your own devices. A great sense of style and chic is needed to steer through that morass.

1. Study yourself in a leotard betore a well-lit, full-length mirror. If this experience drives you to drink . . . vow to re—form your form.

2. Who are you ? What are you trying to say about yourself? What is your image ? Are you playing a romantic Ali MacGraw? Or a carefree groupie? Are you a girl with her eye on Mary Quant’s throne? Are you a lean drink of spring water or a bubbly dolly bird or a languorous sensualist? Decide! Then you will develop antennae that tell you when gingham is right and where a monkey-fur fringe is definitely excessive.

3. Decide whose style you admire or consider close to your ideal. Analyse what this paragon has done and be inspired . . . don’t imitate blindly.

4. lf you see someone wearing an item you absolutely must have—even a total stranger on a bus—say so and ask where she bought it. Don’t ask the price.

5. Read the fashion magazines. Out of the wild and exaggerated fancy there is a message: brown is great for summer . . . length doesn’t really matter anymore . . . superstructured underpinnings are dead. Especially note the accessories: bags, belts, gloves, jewels, hats.

6. If you find a store that pleases you, make it your hang-out. Loyalty is rewarded. When you stumble across a salesgirl with taste and energy, pursue her. Call to see if she’s on hand before you venture across town on a shopping spree. Ask her to telephone you when she has something just your style . . . or when that Cardin coat you’ve been sighing over is reduced 20 per cent.

7. If you are one of those indecisive creatures who cannot tell whether a dress with pleats and flounces in shrimp crépe is as good as it sounds till it’s hung on the cupboard door at home for a week, then never never buy clothes marked ‘final sale’ or ‘not returnable.’

8. Learn about fabrics, seams, and construction. Go to fashion shows and try on a dress by Jean Muir or Ossie Clark so you’ll get a feeling for what makes a £70 shirtwaister different from a £7 one.

9. If you find a bra or panty or shoe that’s ideal for you . . . tights that are like a second skin . . . a ribbed polo sweater that makes you feel like Jeanne Moreau, buy in quantity. That’s what Jacqueline Onassis does. Even on your budget, it makes sense. If you wait until you need replacements, the style or colour may no longer exist . . .

A Sampler of Specifics

Q. Is it better to put all my money into one status Gucci handbag or buy half a dozen bags for different occasions ?

A. A recognisably fine bag has great impact and lasts ages. But it really won’t go everywhere. Invest in the quality leather as your mainstay. And then collect for pennies—a larger canvas tote bag, an old doctor’s satchel (from a junk shop), a small wicker basket or champagne wicker tied tight with a bandanna hanky, an Oriental brass box from an antique shop, a denim over·the-shoulder newsboy bag you make yourself.

Q. Are there any rigid fashion rules that still count these days?

A. Yes. White for tennis (unless you’re playing on your own court at home) and plimsolls. Warmth for skiing, hunting, cold-weather sailing—if you neglect warmth for chic you’ll ruin your day and everyone else’s as well. Rubber-soled shoes for yachting, preferably those with a special-grip rubber bottom. Rules for formal riding and the hunt are specific: visit a shop that specialises in riding clothes and do what they tell you.

Q. Must I wear a hat to church?

A. Women should wear hats in Roman Catholic churches and Orthodox synagogues. And many women do wear a hat to church even where it is not a must, But today a laoe mantilla or a bit of veiling is considered ‘hat enough.’ No woman should ever let lack of hair covering keep her from entering a church on impulse for a few moments of meditation. Attitude is more important than a hat. And anyway, hats are back. I couldn’t live without my giant wolf beret that covers my ears in winter or half a dozen felt and straw cowboy hats in spring and summer. You need to learn clever scarf tricks for your head, a flattering all-over hat for days when your hair just doesn’t cooperate.

Q. Is it right for a divorcee to wear her wedding and engagement rings? Mine are so beautiful.

A. Do you really want a constant reminder of the past? Why not have the stones reset into a marvellous ring you can wear on your index finger or, if you’re not the type, something smashing for your little finger.

Q. Where can l go to find out what to wear at a Bar Mitzvah?

A. A standard etiquette book will tell you what dress is expected at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies of life. Or you might phone the women’s page editor of your local paper and ask advice.

Things That Are Out

Your sweet little lace blouse worn one day too many.

Tell-tale-grey nylon underwear (tint it purple or red or espresso brown).

Structural safety pins.

Wrinkles, spots, baggy anything, runs, rundown heels.

Shoes clearly beyond their prime.

A handbag that had it two years ago, still ‘making do’.

Festive party gear in the office.

Ruffles when you are much more the slinky jersey type.

Too-big coats and shoddy tailoring.

Superclunk shoes.

Ice-cream-cone bosoms.

Bulges . . . panties that bind and show-through.

Drooping hems . . . make a fast temporary repair with sticky tape, then sew that very evening.

Baby-doll costumes on women over thirty-five unless you have the figure and complexion of a twenty-year-old.

See-through blouse with a utilitarian bra in full view.

Clothes you’ve hopefully squeezed into and kidded yourself you can wear. Try one size up —you’ll look slimmer, and every hook and eye on your bra won’t be visible at ten paces.

Anything that looks like it’s wearing you.

Itsy-bitsy fragile little jewellery. If you can’t afford knock-out jewellery in 18-carat gold, buy some smashing fakery.

Last year’s rejects or rotting nightgowns as at-home clothes . . . give the family a break.

Toting an adorable Lilliputian evening bag and loading your man’s pockets with survival paraphernalia . . . learn to survive on less.


Undressing for an audience is a sadly neglected art. Too many women just peel everything off with no thought to the effect . . . rudely tossing crumpled garments here and there . . . and then slopping around in an abused and mutilated housecoat.

Men hate to see you in the bedroom clumping about in high-heeled day shoes and bare feet. Most of them prefer you to take your bra off before your pants. Practise doing it quickly, gracefully, and if he’s in a mood for being teased—tease him. Let him see you in a lacy slip you know flatters you. Don’t wear superstructured bras or girdles. Let him catch a glimpse of you through an open door, spotless bare back, creamed gleamy skin, brushing your hair or spraying yourself with scent just for him. It arouses him to know you want him.

America’s COSMOPOLITAN once ran a wise little article about ‘How to Strip for Your Husband.’ Tassels and twelve-button gloves are not necessary. But attractive undressing, sensuous underpinnings, and flattering, fresh at-home wear is kind to your audience—that one special person.

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More from ‘Nice Girls Do’ some other time…

Inspirational Editorials: Valentine – Show Stoppers!

1970s, chelsea girl, clobber, Inspirational Images, miss mouse, peter robinson, rae spencer cullen, Snob, topshop, Valentine, Vintage Editorials

The boy's stripey sweater and white Oxford bags are from Tramps. Price is £7.50 from Gary Elliott; Edwardia of Manchester; Paul Smith, Nottingham. the sweater cost £4 and also comes from Paul Smith, as well as the George Best shops, and Quincy of the Kings Road. The girl's outfit is from a selection by Miss Mouse at Peter Robinson.

The boy’s stripey sweater and white Oxford bags are from Tramps. Price is £7.50 from Gary Elliott; Edwardia of Manchester; Paul Smith, Nottingham. the sweater cost £4 and also comes from Paul Smith, as well as the George Best shops, and Quincy of the Kings Road. The girl’s outfit is from a selection by Miss Mouse at Peter Robinson.

Not really Valentine themed (unless you’re planning to spend your day at the circus, which would actually be a pretty good way to spend it…) but scanned from teeny girl magazine Valentine which is largely filled with comic strip stories aimed at hormonal young ladies. I bought it mainly because I recognised the garment on the front cover as a Miss Mouse/Rae Spencer Cullen with distinctive bow print. I’m also a sucker for the circus theme, which seems to be a recurring favourite for late Sixties/early Seventies fashion stylists…

Photographer uncredited. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Valentine, October 1972

Star studded satin blazer and trousers comes in a choice of navy or brown from main branches of Girl and Chelsea Girl.

Star studded satin blazer and trousers comes in a choice of navy or brown from main branches of Girl and Chelsea Girl.


Yellow satin blazer in various colours from the Separates Dept., Peter Robinson. Blue denim jeans with embroidered flowers sewn on them from the Top Shop at Peter Robinson.


Sterling Cooper yellow angora sweater at Peter Robinson. Silver satin mini skirt by Clobber. From branches of Snob boutique.


Snazzy red polka dot skirt is from a selection at branches of Girl. ‘Boob tube’ in red is also from Girl.

Far From the Madding Crowd

1970s, Ann Reeves, biba, british boutique movement, bus stop, Inspirational Images, irvine sellars, jeff banks, John Carter, lee bender, miss selfridge, mr freedom, peter robinson, petticoat magazine, topshop

Left to right: Dress, Jeff Banks, £9.90, P.R’s Top Shop. Dress, Ann Reeves, £9.25, Miss Selfridge,

Soft country girl dresses falling just below the knee in dark flowery prints ready for autumn, great for now. Looking sweet and old-fashioned with padded shoulders, sweetheart necklines or rever collars and cuffs – and all they really need is you and some romantic thoughts!

Very David Hamilton/Sarah Moon influenced shoot by John Carter. Scanned from Petticoat, July 1973.

Left to right: Beige dress, Jeff Banks, £9.90, Lady Tramp SW3. Mr Freedom hat, £2.50. Cream dress, Bus Stop, £9.95.

Left to right: Floral dress, Jeff Banks, £15.90, Irvine Sellars, sizal hat £2.50 from Biba. Black print dress, Ann Reeves, £9, Miss Selfridge.


A long, long time ago…

1970s, celia birtwell, Illustrations, Ms Peelpants' rants, ossie clark, peter robinson, topshop, Vogue

…Topshop didn’t exist. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. It sprang from the loins of the Peter Robinson department store, which was originally located near the present Oxford Circus flagship site. Like a greedy devil child, it surpassed and devoured its progenitor.

This rant is brought to you by this gorgeous illustration from Vogue, April 1970. If only I could saunter up to Oxford Circus, enter an old-fashioned department store and buy myself such a delicious Ossie Clark dress today, I’d be a happy lady.