Today when you get an invitation for something special, you think twice before dressing for the occasion. Often the expression on the invite says “sporty, elegant” so what do they want: training clothes with a crease in the trousers, or a suit without a tie. If you arrived in a flashy suit of good english cloth and a tie you would be the odd one out. You would wear jeans, preferably with a name like Kalvin Klein or Ralph Lauren and a Lacoste shirt to set the style. Of course you can save money by buying a copy from the local shopping mall, today everyone can afford to be something special.
In the days gone bye, not even so long ago, you got dressed for the occasion, and sometimes the occasion was not even so important. You had to look respectable and not like someting the dog brought home (dogs pardon the expression). This photo was around 1962, I must have been about 16 years old and just imagine, I still spent the annual holidays with mum and dad. It was a place with separate small appartments, perched on the cliffs on the Isle of Wight – an english holiday resort. During the day you wore beach clothes, relaxed and no shoes. Shoes were not necessary for a sandy beach.
In the evening it was time for the family excursion. We were probably going for a walk somewhere, perhaps even a coach excursion to some place on the Isle of Wight, or just a drink in the bar, I do not remember. When dad wore a tie it must have been some sort of special occasion. Today you would probably wear some sort of neat collared shirt, with a name stitched on it of the designer. In 1962 you had no designer names, you played safe with a white shirt, a tie and trousers with a crease.
Even I was wearing a dress – a dress? Where were the tight trousers and fashionable t-shirt. I was dressed “dapper” like dad. I remember this dress. It was in a local shop in the Bethnal Green Road where we lived in London and I had to have it. It even fit. Of course I had layers of net petticoat beneath the skirt of the dress, to make it look perfect. And white shoes of course with the fashionable pointed toes. In Summer you wore white shoes, in winter black or brown. I was discovering high heels although I dread to think why. I was already one of the tallest at school in 1962, so why be taller. You really had to hope that the guy that asked you to dance was taller than you were which did not often happen. I was not wearing a bee hive on my head, it was the haircut of the day and perhaps a little aided with back combing. We all backcombed our hair then, it gave the style more volume, exactly bee hive style, although your hair was full of tangles beneath.
Mum always wore a dress, women were not so much into trousers in 1962. I am sure the dress was a trophy from Oxford Street, the main shopping center in London. If you needed something good, you went to the C & A shop and they still exist today. We even have one in our local Swiss town of Solothurn. And so there we were, the family ready to kill on an evening excursion on the Isle of Wight, our annual escape from the every day dirt and grime of the London East End.
And here we are again in the dapper casual look of the day, probably ready for an excurion into the local village for a shopping trip, me wearing the fashionable “scarf blouse” of the day (Marks and Spencers) – with mum in trousers. You see it had already begun, although I am sure these were the only trousers she had at the time. Dad was wearing his “silvers” the name he gave to his new casual jeans style. Oh yes, I wish I had legs like that today.