The Englishwoman’s Wardrobe


This book is one of my latest charity shop finds. It was published in 1986 and was apparently in a series of books looking at the Englishwoman’s kitchen, garde and bedroom.  I haven’t seen the others but this one is fascinating.  25 women let the photographer look at their wardrobes and they talk about how they choose their clothes, their likes and dislikes, whose dress sense they admire etc.  Of course it isn’t free from the usual range of advice – how to avoid “mutton dressed as lamb”, older women shouldn’t have too much flesh on show etc, etc.

It’s a bit like blogs today – full of individual styles and opinions.

Shirt - beforeStripes never come out well on my blog photos but this is a rather large shirt made of lovely linen.  It’s going to be a new top very soon.

DressDress Another recent charity shop find.  This dress is made of lovely fabric but it’s an odd length for me.  I think if I take six inches off the length it will be good for summer.  I’ll need a bit of sun before wearing: my legs are so white after this long winter. Or maybe I should follow the advice in my new book and not show so much flesh now I’m middle aged.

What do you think?

Author: norma

Hello, I'm Norma and I live in Wales. I love animals, baking, growing veggies but my big loves are sewing and history.

11 thoughts on “The Englishwoman’s Wardrobe”

  1. My Mum bought that book from The Works years ago and it annoyed her, too!
    Love that dress on you and dying to see the magic you work on that shirt! x

  2. I agree that it could do with taking up the hemline a little. I always marvel at how the hem can make the difference between cute and not so cute. It’s different for each person, but I find that I either want it long, as in just above the ankles, or short with my knees showing a bit. That in between stage makes me feel frumpy-dumpy. I love the fabric; the blue and white is refreshing… same with the linen stripe. Will be interested to see how you change it.

    1. You are right; it is strange how an inch or two can make the difference between love and frumpy. I have the same problem with skirt shape – if I wear a flared short skirt I feel uncomfortable but if it’s the same shape in a short dress then I love it.

  3. Yes, I vote for shortening the dress. Honestly, what is it with all these “rules”? Wear what you love and makes you happy, whatever your age! Looking forward to seeing what you do with the shirt. xxxx

  4. I still have some clothes from the 80s when i was a student and I made my wardrobe or adapted charity shop finds. I have upcycled some of them since, the rest are waiting …….Lovely dress, a very striking print. I agree it would look great on you shorter, you could always wear sheer tights until the sun shines . . . . !

  5. What an interesting book. (oops, I’m glad I caught a typing correction automatically made by my iPad, because that phrase said ‘uninteresting’ at first … Sheesh, auto-correct … Trying to embarrass me in front of my friends!)

    What a cute dress on you. I tend to wear my dresses shorter, so I would go with a shortened length, but either way, it’s a nice one.

  6. I agree those book can have really good advice, but some of my favourite stylish people are very individual and don’t fit into any mould! I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with that shirt 🙂

  7. The dress has a retro feel to it. I think shortening it to just below the knee will work and keep the lovely flare at the bottom looking just right.

  8. The book’s cover with title looks like it’s a satire.
    I like the dress at any length; the print is especially gorgeous. Of course, you should adjust it to whatever feels best on you. And bah, to whatever rules out there that suggest otherwise.

  9. First off, I like the new format/design of your blog with multiple posts on one page instead of one per page.
    Very pretty dress. I agree with others on shortening it a few inches. I’m also in the ‘wear what you want” and ignore ‘rules’ camp!

  10. What great finds, I only ever see overpriced rubbish in our second hand shops – they have all rebranded themselves as vintage and put the prices up! I would be tempted to go even further and chop most of the skirt off – then you would have a really nice tunic to wear with jeans or leggings and not have to think about showing legs or not at all – but maybe it is just still too cold for me to think of summer clothes at all!

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