Thursday, July 5, 2012

Your Playsuit for 1950

This week I'm mainly obsessing (and I mean obsessing) over novelty prints, playsuits and mix-and-match holiday wardrobes. This from Woman's Own magazine, May 1950.

Oh yes, you'll also need an enormous sun hat.

The pattern for this five-piece holiday ensemble was designed especially for us by Joy Ricardo, creator of beautiful clothes for many famous stars of stage and films. This is not just an elaborate beach outfit, for the clever mixing of the five 'separates' enables it to be worn for dinner-dance dates and for walks on the promenade.

Starting from underneath we have a strapless, uplift brassière, as brief as can be and partly hidden by an enormous bow lined in Pacific blue and white - good concealment for a small bustline, this. Then there are full, pleated shorts which look like the tiniest of skirts. There is an ingenious fastening - the two side pleats button on to the front panels. Wear the bra and shorts for sun-worshipping, deck and beach games.

Next there is a snugly-fitting top with wide straps, a deep V décolleté and a low square neckline at the back. Next comes an elegant, slim-as-a-string skirt (a refreshing change from the full skirt which has been so popular for holiday wear these last few years). It is back-buttoning, and the last button fastens at knee level for freedom of movement. The big slanting pockets stretch round to the back and stand out slightly from the hipline.

Lastly, there is the indispensable stole-cape. Joy Ricardo lines it in white to make it reversible. Wear it over your head when the sun is too strong, wear it over your shoulders when the evening wind blows chill - or wear it simply because it looks pretty.

The brilliantly coloured fabric in which the outfit is made is featherweight woollen Frelon - a material which has all the qualities a great fabric should have and is available at most large stores throughout the country. It is washable, colour-fast, and unshrinkable and is being sold in the Utility range. The design was originally 'for export only' and was very popular in the U.S.A.

The sunny beaches of California were wonderful inspiration for the design - the deep blue of the Pacific and the gay suits of the sun-tanned holiday makers make a colourful pattern.

And yes, this adorable novelty print is soon to be available once more (though not, I'm afraid, in featherweight woollen Frelon!). It's been on my to-do list for a long long time (like a year, ever since I picked up this magazine in a Chichester antique shop!), but was a bit of an awkward one because it involved re-drawing the pattern from the snippets in the magazine. I started work on it months ago, but took it up again this week and finally finished it (I reeeeally want to make the outfit!). It will be available for purchase through my Spoonflower shop (as always I have to check the print colours first - it should be ready in a couple of weeks from now).


  1. I would KILL for that set! Its so hard to find matching sets like that though. Its so pretty and I love the print.

  2. Love these articles. Saw your pic in H and A!

    1. Ooh I haven't seen it - must get my copy!

      xx Charlotte

  3. AWESOME!!! I just made a 3-piece set for my sis! Great print!

  4. AHHH!!!!! This is sooooooo amazing! I love that you're working on the print version too!

  5. Sooooooo fabulously fun and summery! Novelty prints are instant hits of happiness, and this one is certainly no exception.

    ♥ Jessica

  6. I've loved all of your fabrics, but this is the tops!

  7. Oh my goodness! Play suits are everywhere on the blogosphere this summer! Time for me to get to work making one!

  8. Charlotte- love love this print! I'd kill for a play suit with all those options!


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