In February I had the very sad news that my paternal Grandma had died. At 87 she had lived until a good age, however I somehow always thought she would make her 90s at least. We were extremely close, not least as I was born 8 days after her husband, my Granddad passed away. This blog is dedicated to her.
Grandma was born in 1925 when George VI was on the throne and Stanley Baldwin was prime minister. She was named Joyce and never was there a more appropriate name being that Joyce means cheerful or merry. My Grandma was always smiling and such a warm person. 1925 was of course a time of prosperity in the UK, a time of peace between the two world wars and the 1920’s are often referred to as the roaring 20’s. I am looking forward to the release of the Great Gatsby film in May which is set in 1922. Fashion then was very much the drop waisted flapper dress and long strings of pearls. Shoes suddenly earned more fashion status being that they were now being mass produced and dresses were shorter so they could be seen. T-bar or Mary Jane shoes were the shoes to be seen in. Vogue magazine came to Britain in 1916 and a quote from January 1925 read
“This year the mid-season collections are concerned with subtle changes of the slender silhouette. [The mode] is much given to introducing a fluttering movement – a flowering, feminine line. Waist-lines are low. Chéruit and Chanel are also bringing forth a newer, more feminine elegance. They have launched simultaneously the combination of black and flesh-pink in afternoon or evening frocks.”
During her childhood years I recall my Grandma saying that she would see a dress in a shop, her Mum would go and look at it and then make her the same thing. I wish I had such dress making skills.
Grandma would have become a teenager just prior to the start of World War 2. Through the war years, many people in the UK struggled financially and rationing was brought in. Clothes were rationed from June 1941 until March 1949 due to shortages in materials. Women still however paid attention to fashion and those who could not get silk stockings from an American troop would stain their legs and draw a black line up the back for a seam to give the allusion they were wearing them. Tea dresses were the dress of choice and shoes were often the lace up variety as they were more practical.
Make do and mend was the motto and the reason for patches on elbows of jumpers becoming fashionable. Magazines would advise on how to update existing clothes for the new season. Square shouldered jackets were popular, emulating service uniform and because many women entered jobs previously done by men often trousers and dungarees and headscarves were worn as these were more practical. In occupied France, the Germans tried, unsuccessfully to move the fashion centre to Berlin causing many couture houses to close. Coco Chanel later benefited from having a Nazi lover. In the issue of vogue (front cover of which is seen below) there was an advert from Chanel informing readers of the absence of their scent until after the War but continued production of their lipstick and powder.
The victory roll was a popular style for hair at the time and you can see Grandma with this in the below photo aged approximately 19. The government produced strict guidelines on clothes; skirts were shorter, waistlines higher and no pleats and minimal hems and fastenings. Patterns had to conform to this too. Red lipstick was also preferred by many women and women felt it was their duty to keep men’s spirits up by still looking their best.
Movie stars in 1940s were Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland and Ingrid Bergman. 1942 saw the release of Casablanca which was an immediate hit.
This is my Grandma in the 1960s. This style of dress with the gloves was the height of fashion at the time.
I have a very similar vintage handbag to the one in the picture only in black.
Grandma was as my uncle said in his tribute ‘born to serve.’ She was of the generation of women who waited on their husband and children’s every need. In some respects however she was also a modern woman often holding down a job as well as bringing up a family.
Grandma loved her garden so I had a wreath made in the shape of a watering can. The number of people at the funeral was wonderful and showed just how loved a lady she was. I also read a tribute and the poem ‘do not stand at my grave and weep’ which Grandma had requested I read.
Grandma you were like a second Mum to me and I valued our relationship so much. You will be greatly missed. I hope you are now pain free and are with Granddad and your sister Gladys. Rest in Peace Joyce.