Swinging London In Photos: 1960s

During the 1960s, London was trying to become the new fashion capital of the world. It rebranded itself as ‘Swinging London’, and photographers were out on the streets taking photos of the new fashions, regularly using professional models too. This selection includes some styles that never caught on.

A man sporting the early ‘Mod’ look. Smart suit, and an Italian scooter.
(This was how I dressed at the time, but I was too young to own a scooter.)

Three young women shopping for clothes.
(Or a set-up by the photographer.)

A carefully posed group in very colourful attire.
(I think this might be the very early 1970s.)

Models in London wearing what almost appears to be a uniform.
(I don’t recall any ‘ordinary girls’ wearing such things.)

The famous model Twiggy, pictured with children and animals all wearing paper masks of her face.

Colourful dresses and berets posed by models.

Another model showing off a designer fashion.

This young lady was very on-trend.

Showing the fashion for wearing old military uniforms.

Taken to show ‘ordinary’ young people trying their best to be fashionable.
(And failing.)

Nearer the end of the 1960s, the trend for Eastern clothing began to emerge.

Female Fashion: Edwardian London, 1906

I found these photos by the keen amateur photographer Edward Linley Sambourne, who was also the chief cartoonist for Punch magazine. They are early examples of candid street photography, using a hand-held camera. He was obviously interested in the fashions of the day, and as you can see, most women were still wearing corsets and very long dresses or skirts at the time.

A ‘modern’ young lady, stepping out. She appears to be full of confidence.

Described by the photographer as a ‘Common shop-girl’, this lady is reading a book as she walks along. Much like people looking at their phones today.

A ‘progressive’ lady walking with her bicycle. She would have been making something of a ‘statement’, in 1906.

This lady is carrying a ‘modern’ handbag. The forerunner of today’s familiar female handbags.

Another ‘handbag and book’ lady.

Two elegant friends walking together. They are also carrying books and one has a letter in her hand, ready to post it.

And two more doing the same.

Some ladies at the time favoured black, or dark clothing. Sometimes this was to indicate modesty, or they may have been in mourning. Here are two of them. The first lady appears to have spotted the photographer.

A well-to-do older couple exiting their carriage in Central London.

Women and children wandering in a London Park. The children were dressed in very similar clothes to the adults.

Can you imagine wearing so much clothing in high Summer?

An Alphabet Of My Life: Q


One good piece of advice my dad gave me was, “Pay more for quality”. I took that to heart.

A handmade bespoke suit can last a lifetime.

Loake shoes may cost four times as much as a high-street brand, but will last you ten times longer.

A Sony Colour TV was three times more expensive than other leading brands in 1977. But the picture quality was outstanding, and it never went wrong.

A good cashmere overcoat, carefully-stored and regularly dry-cleaned, will be the only overcoat you ever need.

Don’t be tempted by cheap, badly-made cars. They will break down all the time, go rusty, and lose almost their entire value in under five years. Buy a more expensive car, and it will last you for a very long time.

Cheap clothes are a false economy. I have shirts that I paid £50 for in 1990, and I still wear them today. They are as good as new.

You get the idea…

Shorts Back On

I had only recently posted about putting away my shorts until next Spring, then the weather changed.

Today, we reached 17C here (63F) in warm sunshine, and I was pleased to note that the forecast for Monday and Tuesday is for rising temperatures, with up to 21C (70F) possible in Beetley.

So the shorts will be back on tomorrow, and for as long as it lasts.

Indian Summers are to be welcomed.

An Early End To The Shorts Season

Regular readers will no doubt remember that I wear shorts for most of the year. Shorts-wearing season traditionally begins for me in mid-March, and ends on the first of October, much later if the weather stays fair. I have been known to still be wearing shorts in November.

(Not the same pair of course, before anyone asks. 🙂 )

This year was no exception, as my shorts were on by the 12th of March, and they remained my choice of attire right through the unusually hot summer, including our recent week away in early September.

But this week, the winds changed. They were coming directly from the north, from the Arctic. Overnight, the temperatures fell from 18C (64.5) to just 6C. (43)

It was a shock to feel so cold at this stage in autumn, when the usual temperature should have been at least 16C. (61) The cold gusty winds and occasional heavy showers didn’t help, so by Tuesday I was really feeling cold on the dog walk.

Yesterday, I woke up to a very ‘fresh’ morning, and a check on the predicted weather showed it was unlikley to exceed 8C (46) until the late afternoon.

There was nothing for it, I had to admit defeat. The shorts went back into their drawer in the wardrobe. Out came the warm jogging trousers, and they went on with some thick walking socks.

(No jogging was intended, that is just what they are called here.)

My season had to end three days early. But after such a hot summer, I can’t really complain.

Thinking About: Clothes

My dad always used to tell me, “You get what you pay for”.

I was thinking about that statement a few days ago, as I was ironing some shirts. One of those on the ironing pile was a shirt I bought in 1999. It is a ‘pullover’ style, with twin front pockets and a short zipped entrance for the neck. Made of strong cotton/canvas, I bought it in the chain store ‘Next’, for almost £40. Back then, £40 was a lot of money to pay for a shirt, believe me. You could buy a two-piece suit for that money, in a ‘cheap shop’.

But here I was over twenty years later, ironing a shirt that looked as good as the day I brought it home.

In the 2014 photo on my ‘About’ page, I am wearing a lightweight jacket with a Tintin logo. That was bought from a shop in London that used to sell official Tintin merchandise. It was an impulse buy, as it had been reduced from an eye-wateringly ridiculous £199, to just £90. But that was in 1990, when £90 was around the total disposable income we had in any given week after bills. Other than some fraying inside the pockets, that coat is also as good as new. I wore it out with Ollie recently, before the weather turned warm.

Thirty years old, and still going strong. It has cost me just £3 a year to own that jacket, and I am sure it will last for another ten years. If I live that long.

When I moved to Norfolk in 2012, I bought some items of clothing I had never previously owned. They included a pair of warm corduroy trousers purchased from Marks and Spencer. Not cheap even then, at £39.99, they are still like brand new, despite being worn and washed numerous times.

One of the benefits of getting older, and being male, is that you tend to care less about fashion. You don’t get rid of things just because trends change, or certain colours become supposedly unacceptable. Most of the styles in my wardrobe I would class as ‘timeless’. I no longer own any jackets with enormously wide lapels, trousers with substantial turn-ups, (cuffs) or shirts with collars as big as the wings on a light aircraft. Those things went the way of fashion trends, when I was still young and foolish enough to have bought them.

I also don’t own any ‘skinny’ ties anymore, or knitted ones, for that matter. You see sense, you buy conventional, and you no longer read magazine articles about what is ‘In’, or ‘Out’. If you are still falling victim to that, I understand why. And I feel sorry for you.

But one day, you will ‘get what you pay for’, and be very happy that you did.

The Quintessential Possession-my saree box

A wonderfully evocative post from Indian blogger Ritu Ramdev, about the importance of the Saree in her culture, and her own treasured Saree box.


A must have in every Indian woman’s wardrobe…saree.It not only symbolises femininity but also the great Indian traditions. The versatility stored in its weave and draping reflects the region from where it belongs. Though over the years it is losing its significance to the hassle free western dresses but still it occupies an indisputable place in each household. Every woman likes to boast of her heterogeneous collection from different parts of the country- Baluchari, Taant, Painthni,Chanderi, Kanjeevaram and the list is endless. An army wife for sure feels highly jubilant when she flaunts her collection by virtue of having been posted to such places where she gets an opportunity to pick an exclusive piece from the maiden source. Over the years, it definitely adds to her self glorification…but other than just being reflective of one’s indulgence there are innumerable stories associated with each and every saree in the box.


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A Random Memory

Wandering around on a cold bright afternoon with Ollie, it often surprises me what pops into my mind.

Once my Mum was in her eighties, and could hardly see, she often spilled things down her clothes as she was eating. On occasion, I would visit her to find her sitting in a top or dress that was obviously quite badly stained. I would point this out, and offer to find her something to change into from her wardrobe. But every time she was adamant that there was nothing there, that her clothing was not stained, and she was fine as she was.

She didn’t have any loss of mental faculties at that time, so I suspect her reluctance to believe me came from a mixture of embarrassment, and natural stubbornness. One evening, I was due to take her to a restaurant to celebrate some occasion. I arrived to find her wearing a rather fancy black outfit that was quite obviously spattered with stains from what she had been eating the last time she had worn it. I mentioned that she might want to change, as many other people would be there, and might wonder why her top had so many marks on it. She became unreasonably angry, and told me that if I was that bothered, she would stay at home.

I took her as she was, feeling sad that a once elegant and immaculate lady was perfectly happy to be seen in food-stained clothes by an assortment of family and friends.

Not long after this twenty year-old memory had been in my head, I saw a fellow dog walker, with her two dogs. One of them jumped up to me a few times, leaving muddy paw prints on my trousers, and then on the sleeve of my coat. She apologised, and told her dog off for jumping up. I assured her it wasn’t a problem. “They are only my dog-walking clothes, don’t worry”.

Maybe it runs in the family?

Looking Good In Victorian Times

During the Victorian Era of 1837-1901 going out badly dressed was never an option for all but the poorest in society. In the 1860s, high fashion demanded the wearing of very wide, ‘crinoline’ dresses. There were supported by a hooped affair that the unfortunate lady had to wear strapped around her middle. Then yards of heavy material in the form of an underskirt and overskirt would be worn underneath, and fastened around the hoops, After all that, the final dress would be put on by a helpful relative, or a ladies’ maid, often having to be sewn into position at the last minute.

No wonder houses had bigger entrance doors at the time!

The demand for ever smaller waists in female fashions led to some drastic measures. Corsets stiffened with whalebone (yes, from real whales) would be tightly laced around the middle, from under the breasts, to the swell of the hips. This was done with such force, it was almost impossible for the poor woman to consider doing it without help.

Not only did they have to suffer the corsets, but also smart ‘corset covers’ that were applied over them. This on an undergarment that nobody could even see!
Many versions were widely available.

The resulting tiny waist has to be seen to be believed. Small wonder that women dressed like this could not eat, found it almost impossible to go to the toilet, and often fainted as a consequence of their internal organs being compressed unnaturally.

A snazzy striped dress was the height of fashion too. This lady was very much ‘on trend’, in around 1880.
Her waist reminds me of a wasp!

This is what passed for mainstream ‘glamour’ photography at the time. 🙂
Although tame by modern standards, it serves to illustrate just how much underwear was worn under everyday clothes.

Men had to look good too of course. Though they might have escaped the rigours of corsets and crinolines, they were expected to wear three-piece suits in all temperatures, along with hard collars, and ties of course. And not forgetting trying to keep a heavy top hat on their head.
As well as the clothes, facial hair was the ‘mark of a man’!

This smart chap obviously loves himself.
He has included the cane in his photo, showing him ‘getting his swag on’!

So the next time you are slipping on a barely-there pair of thong panties, a baggy T-shirt, some black leggings, and flip-flops on your feet, just be grateful that you were born after 1920.