Monday, 9 February 2015

Oh! You Pretty Things

I am interested in why people choose the clothes they do. 

We all have to get dressed, so even those who profess no interest in clothing, fashion or style make decisions about their wardrobe.

I have long suspected that my penchant for early 1970s styles might be due to the influence of my eldest sister on my childhood.

Belinda is nine years older than me, and I have clear memories of many of her outfits from her late teenage years; the maxi dresses, floppy hats and chokers, the lurex and platform shoes, lace-up knee-high boots, cheesecloth wraparound maxis and floral print mini skirts, and an infamously pungent afghan coat.

 She was very fashionable, she went up to London on the train to shop in Biba and Kensington market, and I longed to be old enough to do the same.

She was also quite bolshie and challenging, the rebel of the family, which gave her added cachet. (I think we were all a bit scared of her.)

Fur and lurex; I was too young for them in the early Seventies, but now I can wear what I like.

And forty years on, I like to wear this.

1970s Emreco lurex sweater, bangles, Pierre Cardin silk scarf and ankle boots - charity shopped
1970s Atlantic lurex maxi skirt - Ebay
Faux fur jacket - gift

I've been brewing a post about all this for a while, but a couple of things have shifted the subject to the front of my mind.

My darling friend Connie and I had an entertaining e-conversation about our early fashion influences (her babysitters, my sister).

And I found this 1970s gold lurex sweater in a charity shop last week...

on the same rail as this...

with a label which made me a little misty-eyed;

Lee Bender's designs for her Bus Stop label are much sought-after these days; the brand existed from 1969-79, and provided cheap fast fashion for trendy young women who didn't want to shop in the same stores as their mothers.

Fab Seventies knitwear.

Oddly enough, in a different charity shop but on the same day, I also found this;

so quintessentially early 70s, it hurts!

(It hurts even more that neither the Bus Stop skinny lurex cardigan nor the blouse fit me, but hopefully some slimline 1970s-loving chick will snap them up on Ebay.)

 In the small country town where I was born and grew up, there were two shops selling clothes.

One was also a old-fashioned haberdashers, and sold clothing my mum would have worn, had she ever bought anything from a real shop and not from jumble sales. She had absolutely no interest in clothes, and was rather scathing about any woman done up like a fashion plate, believing that a concern for dressing well was a sign of being dim-witted and superficial.

The other shop was the wonderfully named Peekaboutique. It appeared to my 7 or 8 year old self, nose pressed longingly to the window, a treasure trove of everything I couldn't have (and my big sister could); velvet, chiffon, sparkle, fur, dramatic sleeves, flares, high heels, fabulous prints and rich colours.

Fashion. Cool.

Oh to be a Sarah Moon doe-eyed darling, all Deco-inspired chic and soft decadence.

Yeah, that never happened...

So when you see me wafting about in a 1970s maxi, sighing over a great print or squeaking at lurex...

or acquiring yet another faux fur...

just blame my childhood.

You can take the girl out of the Seventies, but...

 I'm joining Patti's Visible Monday, fashionably late (rather like my style choices).

(PS. I'm far too idle to link to all the sources of the photos I've used, but I am indebted to Miss Peelpants' blog, a treasure trove of wonderful vintage photos and style.)



Patti said...

It is fascinating to think about where our fashion choices started, Curtise. I adore those 70s knits, the Lurex, and the furs. You look wonderful and so true to your own aesthetic. Thanks so much for linking up to visible Monday, XO. PS, I love it that your sister was a rebel!

diaryofapennypincher said...

I do covet that beautiful skirt, and what a fab find that gold lurex top was! I'm chomping at the bit to get back to chazzing again, not sure if your great bargains are helping or hindering!

Kezzie said...

Yes, it is funny to think of where our style comes from! I think of my Mum with a hippie aesthetic so I think I have a little love from there but otherwise????xx

Mother of Reinvention said...

Your sister's wardrobe sounds very cool. This is obviously a family trait as you are so rocking the sparkles and the fur. Can never have too many of either of those in my book. For me, I have no idea where my style choices came from. One of my friends big brothers was a Punk and I loved the music and style so was soon following suit. Add in my Kate Bush obssession from an early age and I guess that I had to go a bit goth and eccentric. Lots of eyeliner and real victorian clothes. Wish I had some of them now. Xxxx

Mrs Bertimus said...

I remember my auntie shopping at Chelsea Girl, it was all done out in red and black and was the most glamorous and decadent place I had ever seen.
I still remember it and I'm sure that's where my obsession with clothes came from x

Miss Magpie said...

I got my love of clothes from my Mum. She was a professional dressmaker and made all her own outfits. I don't have the same 70's love as you though which is kind of weird when you think that was the era that I remember my mother's clothes from the most. I think maybe it's because I was a painfully shy and she used to have me in all these violent prints when all I wanted to do was melt into the background!

Catherine said...

ooh your sister is just too fab! do you have any photos of her from these early fabulous years? Oh your giving me envy for all these beautiful 70s babes! and that scalloped knit skirt! gorgeous! And you know the 70s are "in" this year or some such. mind you the 70s were always in fashion for people like us!!

Melanie said...

This is one my favourite outfits on your, Curtise! WOW. Lurex, faux fur, attitude. Don't ever take it off.

Good questions and I'm not sure I can pinpoint my own influences. I am interested in what our choices say about who we are now and how they frame how we will be interpreted whether we like it or not.

I love seeing your penchant for the '70s expressed in your style choices. It inspires me.

PinkCheetahVintage said...

You look incredible!!!! Lurex and leopard print FOREVER! I was definitely influenced by my mom <3

Laurie Duncan said...

Yes, I definitely was influenced by my older sisters. I also loved looking at all the pix of my mom and dad in the 40s. So much fun fashion to choose from!
Love all those fashion pix, and your fab outfit. You are even more sparkly than usual! :)

Goody said...

I really enjoyed this post .As the youngest child I have similar affection for the clothing I wasn't old enough to wear.

Yep, older sister was an influence here too. I didn't get many of her hand-me-down clothes as she was tall and slender (I wasn't) but I certainly admired them. Had we been the same age I don't think we'd have dressed alike (I doubt she ever owned anything even vaguely tweed, or heaven forbid, corduroy) but she taught me to shop, and how to wear what I liked with confidence.

All the women in my family were mad for clothes-I'm just keeping tradition alive.

Helga said...

LURID lurex, no less!
Bloody love lurex. Bloody love that skirt!
You are a magnificent 70's wearing minx! enjoyed your musing very does make food for thought.
I think my satorial taste is so mixed because I had an older Mother, and grew up watching all the old movies with her, plus all the fabularse 70's sitcoms.Hence my weird mix of 50's/60's/70's.Mama's favourite was Sophia Loren. We didn't have a lot of money, so clothes were mostly home made or second hand, new was a treat. (Ugh!)
Yes, I would say I am a product of my upbringing!
My elder half sisters never lived with us, so as an only child, living in the country, Mama was my main influence until I discovered English bands and music magazines in the early 80's.
O, Sarah Moon! Gorgeous work. BIBA! Australia and New Zealand were way behind the times!

Sheila said...

I love your history of your 70s clothing affection! And why not wear the stuff now that you couldn't wear then - makes total sense to me! I hate that "fashion is superficial and shallow" line. Arg.

Natalia Lialina said...

What a lovely, lovely post, Curtise! You look incredible, as you always do in your 70s dresses and skirts! Love the addition of fur here. I think about things like what makes us who we are all the time!! How amazing that I have literally just posted about this topic too. (Can't wait to interview you!) I love 70s, it's my childhood, and even though I don't wear vintage clothes nearly as much, I love the aesthetics, the bold colors, the geometry of shapes, and just in general how funky and happy it feels. It must be wonderful and torturing at the same time to grow up with a sister like yours, being able to admire all this beauty, but not being able to wear such outfits due to age. You got it now - enjoy!!! Love and hugs xxxx

beate grigutsch said...

you are wearing that BIBA look just perfect! wonderful!!!!!!!
i love this 70´s does Art Deco style too!!! great finds btw!
but in our little town behind the iron curtain that decade was never so glamour - i did learn this only later in the library of my art school. jeans and khaki suits were the high end of fashion, maybe a flower (tiny ones of cause) printed sundress. so my grannies became my fashion role models - still wearing 30´s and 40´s inspired, homesewn or tailored clothes. and sewing/knitting for me in the style in that they once learned that skills when young.
thank you for all the glam pics here!

Melanie said...

Oh that fake fur jacket, that is gorgeous!

My mum was a hippy and she had an afgahn coat, lordy that smelt when it rained! Then her cat peed on it and as she mostly has no sense of smell, she had no idea until it came back briefly. She finally smelt cat pee after a trip out and asked my sister if she could smell it on her coat, to which she replied she could, but just didn't bother to say anything!
I got my love of red dolly shoes from my mum who always wore red button fastening ones as I was growing up, so I long for my own pair.

'Done up like a fashion plate' is a fab saying, it'd make a great blog title. Peekaboutique is also a wonderful shop name. Do you have any photos of your sister from back in the day?

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Darling Curtise,

This look is iconic!

Such a pity that the lurex cardigan could not come home with you, but, happily, you have this wonderful sparkly top to brighten any dull day......or night! Under a spotlight you must shimmer with deliciousness.......dazzling everyone within a mile radius. Fabulous!

Dior brought leopard and its print into the world of haute couture in the 1950s and here you are looking so stylishly chic in your animal print jacket. Our friend, Richard, an interior decorator of note, declares leopard to be the new neutral and to be used and worn with anything....well, almost. Your look is pure Bus Stop, Biba and Curtise, for you reinvent the 70s in your own image. We are in awe!

Winter Moon said...

I love learning more about people and how their style and tastes have evolved. So many gorgeous items of clothing, and I've never heard of Bus Stop, before now. I hope you're having a wonderful week so far. xx

Sue said...

I love how you dress, totally your own style. I have two older sisters and loved borrowing their stuff when I could finally fit it. I think I was always boho or hippy in my dress, and went a little main stream for a wee while and then back to my layers and flows, and colour!! Love the little fur.

Ladan Ladanu said...

I found this great post on a Facebook page about the difference between Lame and Lurex. Bit long but interesting: "Lamé is going to be a fabric made with all metallic threads, and what we refer to as lurex is really a fabric with lurex threads. Typically, something called "lurex" is going to be a fabric that has threads of another fiber (wool, poly, etc) with metallic/lurex threads woven in. There is also liquid lamé, which is a synthetic knit fabric with the metallic color printed on, tissue lamé, which is a really light and delicate fabric, usually used for costume or decor, etc..... lurex is actually a registered brand name, like Kleenex, often used to refer to any metallic ribbon thread made of aluminum foil woven into a fabric.".

Bobbi said...

Your sister sounds so cool! I would have been enamoured with her, I'm I kind of am with you and your awesome style. The lurex looks great - you're ready for anything in sparkles and fur.
Wouldn't it be great to have a time machine and go shopping in Peekaboutique and Biba?

Ivy Black said...

Lovely post darling! Isn't it fascinating how our love of shmutter goes back to our childhood? I have very clear memories of my mum mums wardrobe in the Seventies...all chiffon, cheesecloth, lurex and faux furs. She used to shop at boutiques and I'd go with her. I do love Seventies gear and it must be to do with those shopping trips!
You do rock the look and it's clear how much you enjoy your clothes which is what they're there for I think!
Loves ya!

Olga Rani said...

I wonder about my influences...When I was 12-15 years old I had crush on Bollywood movies. And look where I am now! And love to wear (occasionally) Indian style clothes that I dreamed to wear when I was a child.

Fiona said...

Superb post Curtise and thanks for the wonderful montages....blimey Bus Stop, that takes me back. I have no sisters and mum was not as trendy as she'd like to be as money was very tight but I do remember a pair of red patent shoes she wore which I loved to clip-clop around in. My first infant school teacher Mrs Tinker also wore red shoes which I loved, I obviously had a red shoe obsession! Your new lurex sweater has deffo got the old 'knockers ahoy' effect, ding dong! xxxx

thorne garnet said...

lurex and fake fur? Yes, please

Jan Graham-McMillen said...

The era suits you to a T, as you know, and I love your story. You look as chic and smart as any girl from the period, and I especially love you in these trim pieces that show off your figure!
The 60s grew my politics and worldview, but the 70s really were one of the best times for clothes in my whole life. I mourn the loss of some of my pieces still.
Always a treat to read what you've got to say, Curtise, and a visual feast as well!

Emma Kate at Paint and Style said...

It's fascinating, the things that stick with us from our early days. There's even a belief that shoe fetishes date from babyhood and crawling up to peoples feet! Clothes were a lot more interesting then than modern crap, that's for sure. You look very elegant in your little fur jacket and maxi combo. xxxx

Sarah Jane said...

Wow that Bus Stop cardigan is a beauty. Oh to be a size 8! Some gorgeous pics here. I love the 70's. I wasn't there but there were many hangovers still around when I was a kid in the 80's so I've always been fond of it. I bet you and Belinda had some great nights out once you were of age :) xxx

joyatri said...

So many wonderful things in this post! Your outfit being one of them. I love every image you posted. The late 60s/early-to-mid 70s just speak to me. My father hung out with hippies in the '60s and them I was addicted to fashion mags in the 70s. I just wish I had the tall, willowy body type to wear much of these fashions!
The 70s gods were looking out for you the day you found that Bus Stop cardigan. A couple days, I started 'watching' that Biba-esque jacket of yours on eBay. Need to double check if it would fit me.

Shawna McComber said...

I enjoyed reading this and I too am always interested in why people make the choices they do, even, as you say, if they are trying to chose not to care about their clothes. Like you I grew up in the seventies. I didn't have any older siblings but there were plenty of women around whose style I could admire, whether it as the babysitter or my teacher or someone on tv. I am still attracted to seventies shapes but not to the fabrics. I like natural fibres so my seventies leanings go more in the hippie direction and less fashiony. Indian cottons, denim, sandals or tall boots, brown leather anything, paisley, lace and velvet all appeal to me, as do peasant blouses, smocked tunics, flared pants, long skirts and the whole long hair, no makeup look. Included in this is making your own granola, sewing patches on your jeans even if there isn't a hole and anything patchouli scented. This is exactly how I would dress today if I could actually find such items, and I think the process of winnowing down my closet contents is probably going to take me back in this direction. I get my fix of seventies fashion by reading your blog and admiring your outfits. I would not wear the same outfits myself but would feel quite at home just hanging out with you. xoxo

Angels have Red Hair said...

HA .. "Done up like a fashion plate" … it's a loooong time since I heard that statement … but I'm sure my Mum used to say it too. Funny thing is it was clearly meant to be derogatory and yet it actually sounds kind of flattering now.
I like classic, timeless fashion … but I'm not sure what inspires it … it's just what appeals to me on some level.

Beth Waltz said...

My icons are Marjorie Reynolds, Evelynn Ankers, Lotus Longe et al, the women who worked in the 1940s making films directed by Roy William Neil and other masters of low-budget magic. I've childhood memories of peeking through sound-proofed studio windows, watching actresses perform radio plays and admiring their hats, furs and flowers. A pet fashion fantasy was to board a train with a name, wearing a full-length fur (not faux!) with a porter carrying my bags.

No one noticed the retro make-up I wore when I taped a vintage mystery for public radio play, and my 40s fur chubby passed without comment when I produced a remote location shoot on an antique train. We do dance through life to different music: I hear Big Bands swinging.

Connie said...

Oh this was fun. I was so looking forward to this post and you really outdid yourself. I wish I had a time machine. We could go to Biba and have tea on the rooftop garden and buy frosted eye shadow and go dancing in our platform shoes, lurex shining in the light of a disco ball. Love you!

Mim said...

I love that misty-eyed 70s nostalgia. I always say I don't like the 1970s, but from Sarah Moon photos to The Sting to Biba and early Laura Ashley, I do like quite a bit of it. Your sister sounds like quite a dresser, I bet she's got some great photos! Does she know how much she influenced you?

Miss Peelpants is ace. Her site is what made me realise that I don't really dislike the 1960s and 70s. She shares such fabulous photos.

Why do I choose my particular clothes? I have a love of streamlined shapes and practicality, which is probably why I dart between the jazz age and the early 1960s. Even as a goth my favourite clubbing outfit was a plain black velvet bodycon dress plus statement necklace (either an ankh, very Gaiman Death! or a string of pearls a la Louise Brooks). I've come to realise that while I wear more colour, my basic tastes haven't changed, I still don't wear ruffles and frou-frou or anything I can't move in, and keep everything simple with some bold jewellery.

The Style Crone said...

I'm thrilled that your sister had an influence on you, because now we have the honor of viewing you in the most spectacular ensembles, but together by the artist that you are. The photos portray an era that was significant for me in many ways. Wonderful post Curtise!

peaches mcginty said...

Why Miss Curtise! you are ravishing! drench us in your lurex and faux fur, it's just fabulous! your older sister sounds amazing, I do think a rebellious air and gorgeous outfits make us want to be like that! I remember my Mum threw a table sale in the front garden for charity, our neighbour (a fabulous coiffed, formidable woman) donated silver and gold lurex gloves, I was 7 and fell in love with them. I love excess, big shapes, fake hair, it's my sartorial home. x x x

Hollie Black-Ramsey said...

All the patterns and textures!! I'm in love!!

Vix said...

What a great post, luv! You are the epitome of 1970s chic.
My reasons are almost the same as yours only it was my trendy mum I emulated. I'd roller skate around the block in her PVC snake print bell bottoms and go-go boots even though they were a million sizes too big and I'd fondle her Jean Varon evening dresses in awe.
My 13th birthday pressie was an olive green satin jumpsuit from Bus Stop, sadly long gone. The Birmingham branch was a regular haunt in the 1970s.
Great finds, bastard shame they aren't your size!
Love you! xxxxx

freckleface said...

Oh I love these topics. Nostalgia and influences. Your sister sounds impossibly glamorous! I can just imagine a little Curtise soaking it all up, wanting to join in. My mum had a passion for clothes when we were young and wore some great things, as did her gaggle of sisters. My paternal grandmother also had an enviable wardrobe and home. I was like you, a little magpie drinking in all the sparkle and beauty with wide eyes. Talking of sparkle and beauty, I love you in all this lurex and fur, looking every bit as glamorous and sophisticated as Belinda must have done. Isn't it wonderful to be able to fulfill childhood dreams every day, just by dressing up? Xxxxx

Jean at said...

This is probably my fave outfit of yours, hands down. I nearly fell over with delight when I opened up your page. Then to read your musings and see all the delicious was a moment of pure joy.

It's so interesting to think about influences! One thing that has really struck me recently (as I'm now spending a lot of time with my 92 year old mother) is that she probably would've dressed like I do (bohemian-ish) if she hadn't been so very afraid of "standing out". Plus my dad was very conservative.

However, every time I see her, she is enthralled with my outfits and jewelry. She even started trying on some of my bracelets! I realize that she's always had an appreciation for beautiful fabrics and unusual jewelry.

We fought severe wars over clothing (I was never "appropriate") but it's both lovely and a little sad to see her wistfully admiring the things she could "never!" wear. I do dress up every day to bring some entertainment her way, and am beginning to make a few friends on her "memory care" floor that enjoy the clothes too. It's very sweet. :-)


Jean at said...

This is probably my fave outfit of yours, hands down. I nearly fell over with delight when I opened up your page. Then to read your musings and see all the delicious was a moment of pure joy.

It's so interesting to think about influences! One thing that has really struck me recently (as I'm now spending a lot of time with my 92 year old mother) is that she probably would've dressed like I do (bohemian-ish) if she hadn't been so very afraid of "standing out". Plus my dad was very conservative.

However, every time I see her, she is enthralled with my outfits and jewelry. She even started trying on some of my bracelets! I realize that she's always had an appreciation for beautiful fabrics and unusual jewelry.

We fought severe wars over clothing (I was never "appropriate") but it's both lovely and a little sad to see her wistfully admiring the things she could "never!" wear. I do dress up every day to bring some entertainment her way, and am beginning to make a few friends on her "memory care" floor that enjoy the clothes too. It's very sweet. :-)


Kelly Roy said...

Wow! You do 70s like no other!I absolutely adore that you stay true to this era after so many years. I always shift and change my mind and go one way ,then another. But I quess it's just 2 different approaches to style, and 70ws are sooo influential(?) to fashion.Take heart thereis just a bit of winter still!

Trees said...

This post actually really got me thinking, who were my early "fashion" icons? I think it would have to be my aunty, she was my Dad's youngest sister and only 11 years older than me! She so so very cool with her big hair and brightly coloured 80s clothes. I kind of wanted to be her. I was usually dressed in track suits and pinafores. Maybe I get my love of colour from my early fashion inspiration. I DO love LUREX so so much and I LOVE your outfit and that lurex cardy is just dreamy!