Tuesday, 10 April 2012

What little girls wore

Four Meals for Fourpence by Grace Foakes is about her childhood in the very early tears of the 20th century. Mrs Foakes grew up in Wapping in London's East End and she provided a delightful description of children's clothing. Mrs Foakes wrote:
"You might like to know the way we used to be dressed when I was a young girl. I wore a flannel vest with short sleeves which slipped over the head and had no fasteners. Then came a calico chemise, and over this went what my mother called 'stays', a strip of flannel a few inches wide fitted round my body and fastened with buttons and button-holes. Two straps over my shoulders kept it from slipping. On the bottom edge of the stays were six buttons - two at the back and two either side at the front. They were for fastening my knickers on to. The knickers were made with a waistband that fitted round my waist, and on this were the buttonholes to take the buttons on the stays. The back of the knickers had a flap which opened or shut as required. When shut, this was attached to the stays. The knickers were made in what was known as fleecy-lined material. They were grey in colour, reached to the knees and were very cumbersome and awkward, especially if you were in a hurry, for small fingers found it very hard to manipulate buttons at the back side. Many a time we left them undone, not caring if the flap could be seen as we ran along. Next came a flannelette petticoat with a draw-string through the neck, and then a dress, or whatever else was to hand.

"My brothers were dressed in flannel vests with Oxford shirts over them. They wore no underpants. Their breeches came to below the knee, where they were fixed into a band which buttoned with two buttons. They each wore a celluloid Eton collar and a tie if one was available. Their socks came just above the band of their breeches so that they were held in place by them. They wore thick heavy boots fitted with studs, tips and blakeys."

2 comments:

Stephen Hayes said...

Styles have rally changed over the years, haven't they. No mention of "hoodies" or "cutoffs."

Suldog said...

Sounds like such a great deal of bother. By the way, you have a typo in the first line...

"... in the very early TEARS of the 20th century..."

... but, given the clothes, perhaps it is appropriate? :-)