Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Memories of the 60's & 70's U is for Underwear, UK and Ultravox

Underwear is like any other fashion, it changes with the times. When I was little I only wore white cotton briefs, no colour or fancy material just plain white cotton so they could be put in the boiler and boiled. I wore a vest in the same white cotton and a liberty bodice which I remember hating so much as it was so restrictive. It was a lot thicker than a vest and  fleecy inside I think it was shorter too, not a good look.
 Next was a full length underskirt, then my normal clothes. The layers of the vest and liberty bodice  and underskirt were to keep me warm as I was prone to chest infections. We didn't have central heating just a coal fire so our houses were cold especially trying to get dressed for school in the morning, it was freezing.
I have now discovered that the liberty bodice was made to replace corsets and not so restrictive for the woman of the day, there was also little ties on the bottom for suspenders. Why then were ones for children so awful?

When I was about twelve years old my mum took me to Davidsons, purveyor of undergarments since the 1800's to be measured for my first bra. Can you imagine how embarrassing that was? The shop wasn't really the browsing kind, all their underwear were kept in drawers with little see through fronts and you had to be attended to by an assistant.
They were called training bras and we picked a Berlie Teenform bra with briefs
and a waist underskirt to match. It was white with tiny blue flowers and it was NOT cotton and it was the first time I was allowed to wear a waist underskirt.
 I was thrilled with it and knew I had become a teenager.

At secondary school we wore navy knickers for PE and to play hockey outside in the freezing cold where everyone could see us. We had to buy them at the Co-op or a specialised schoolwear shop. Mine were about two sizes too big (so they would last)  Those knickers were the work of the devil and I hated them. The school hockey team wore short pleated skirts so why we couldn't wear them in class time I don't know, I think the teachers were just plain sadistic.

I always wanted to wear stockings like my mum did with seams up the back of the legs. When my friends and I played dress up we borrowed our mum's stockings and held them up with elastic bands. Our mums wore suspenders to keep their stocking up and granny used elastic garters. I did get my own pantee belt with suspenders eventually but just as that happened pantyhose appeared.

Pantyhose were the invention of Allen Gant of Glen Raven Mills in North Carolina USA. They were invented in 1959 but it was the sixties before they came to the UK and we eventually called them tights. I imagine they must have been far more comfortable for women to wear and I don't think we could have worn our skirts so short if we had had to wear suspenders.

In the seventies I remember French Knickers and Camisole tops. The Cami knickers were silky and very exotic compare to the cotton pants of childhood but were not very comfortable when wearing trousers.
 My mum and hers sisters found it hard to part with their  corsets and pantee belts they were so used to them. I think it was me who eventually persuaded my mum that she didn't need to wear them.
Men didn't escape some horrendous fashion mistakes. During the seventies men were wearing Matching
 multi-coloured vests and Y fronts. Some even had psychedelic designs on them and looked like all in one playsuits.

The UK  decided to experiment with time from 1968 until 1971. In the UK  in1968 the clocks were put forward as usual in the spring but did not put the clocks back in Autumn, they called it British Standard Time. I can remember walking to school in the dark. At first it was very exciting and parents who didn't usually walk their children to school were having to do so, there was a kind of party atmosphere and we all thought we were so brave.
 We were given fluorescent armbands to wear and we bought sticky bright orange strips to stick on our schoolbags. After the first year we were getting a bit fed up with it and the excitement had worn off.
 Fours years later we changed back to Greenwich Mean Time, putting the clocks back one hour in autumn and forward one hour in the spring. The experiment had neither been a success or a failure as they were pros and cons to both times.

In 1976 "Under The Moon of  Love" was a number one hit in the UK in  for Showaddywaddy.
In 1964 "Under the Boardwalk was recorded by The Drifters.
In 1979 Midge Ure joined Ultravox. He was previously a member of the group Slick and Salvation, the group I danced to in  Clouds in Glasgow

I'm sorry, Midge but I didn't like your music with Ultravox, so I'm finishing with a toe tapping, head bopping,
Under the Moon of Love.

Rosalind  is reliving her Ato Z memories of the fifities and sixties at Writing in the Rain  I wonder what she has for "U"


  1. Your take on underwear is totally different to mine. I never wore a liberty bodice but maybe it was colder up North. I'd forgotten all about those awful navy knickers. It was so embarrassing to have to prance round in them. The indignity. Talking of men's underwear mistakes, what about those string vests!! I think even the men in all-in-one playsuits sound more enticing!

  2. Fancy seeing you here, Ros *smile*
    I thought I'd pop over and say 'Hi' to Cassam. I'll have a read, Cassam, when I've finished the story I'm revising for People's Friend magazine.   

  3. Who knew there was so much to say about underwear?  Interesting post.

  4. Yes I knew we would write about completely different things. You were lucky you didnt have a liberty bodice maybe it was more a Scottish thing I searched and a lot of people same to remember them but think I might have been on a Glasgow website. Interesting to see if anyone else had one. Forgot about string vests ,horrible!

  5. Hi Pat thanks for stopping by. You reminded me I used to read People's Friends when I bought it for my mum. I must buy it again.Do you write for them?

  6. I've had quite a few stories accepted now, Cassam - and a few rejections as well.  If you pop onto my blog, you'll see the fantastic painting that was used to illustrate a story set in the 50s. http://writeupthehill.blogspot.co.uk/

  7. Just stopping in on the AtoZ challenge.  As a child of the 70's in the US, I guess I was lucky to escape the unusual underwear of earlier times.  Although I was right at the tail end of the belt thing for "Aunt Flo's visit."  
    I love that there are so many UK participants in this challenge as I'm learning a lot about life outside of America, which is cool.

  8. I was mortified to get my first bra.....I did not want to grow up at all and I developed way earlier than my peers.  Love Ultravox though.

  9. I didn't even know you had a blog but I will pop right over, get the tea on.

  10. Ha ha I didn't know there was so much to say about the subject either.

  11. Lucky you escaped it.I had an "aunt Flo" to mostly called her Flora and I've wrote about her a lot.

  12. I was dying to have mine. I liked some  Ultravox  songs but there wasn't any good ones on Youtube.

  13. Hi, again
    Thanks for visiting my blog. I did write a few children's books in the late 80s - it was mainly picture books and licensed characters then, My Little Pony, Glo Friends, Wuzzles...

  14. I didn't know that about the clocks not going back! Aww I've got a few pairs of those tights with the line up the back; I love them! I would have loved to have been around in the corset days :)

  15. They still argue about the clocks changing now - I'm sure one of the plans means doing away with GMT and following CET, which I hate the thought of. Greenwich is the home of time, not central Europe!

  16. Oh my goodness,I bought them all.My daughter even had a glo friends light up toy she took to bed at night,had all my little pony and I remember Wuzzles as well.I wish I still had them. I will have to tell her I've spoken with the author (kind of)

  17. Thanks for reading Laura

  18. Well I think they still sell them today! Yes going to school in the pitch dark was fun .

  19. I'm doing this in work aas I am having no luck on my iphone, been loving all your blogs, loved the one about smokie, and marc boland Oh these memories have been so so good.   I cant remember the signed picutre though!  Got the one of you and I and some random fella though!  Gosh I remember vests, the ones I hated ws when mum bought the sets and they were bri nylon!  used to itch a lot!  Midge Ure - yeah much preferred him in Slick!   Ah the momories!    Louise

  20. Thats a shame you can't do it on your phone I thought this new one would be easier just leave a comment on facebook one if you're finding it too hard. You had photo too ,a black/white one all signed I cant believe I threw it out a few months ago. What random fellow? I have no recollection at all, it wasn't Henry Cooper was it? lol Rememebr standing at the stage watching Midge Ure sing in his big yeti boots?

  21. Why do they want us to keep changing things ? It'll be the money next.


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