Inspirational Editorials: The Fairest of Them All

Jean Muir

Dress by Jean Muir

Impossibly beautiful editorial, even if it is touching on the rather unpleasant subject of narcissism. There are a few images from this which have been reproduced many times, but these others less so – so I thought I would give them a well-deserved airing here.

Photographed by Jeanloup Sieff. Styled by Caroline Baker. Make-up and nails by Biba.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Nova, March 1972

Gina Fratini

Sun top (matching trousers not shown) and headress by Gina Fratini

Annacat. Shoes by Chelsea Cobbler.

Blouse by Annacat. Shoes by Chelsea Cobbler.

Zandra Rhodes

Tunic and knee-length skirt by Zandra Rhodes

Gina Fratini

Tunic and shorts by Gina Fratini

Jean Muir

Chiffon dress with matching short bloomer-knickers by Jean Muir


Nice Girls Do

nice girls do

Note the Peter Robinson bag on the floor (Peter Robinson was the progenitor of Topshop)

I recently picked up this phenomenal booklet which came free with Vanity Fair magazine in 1971. Entitled ‘Nice Girls Do’, it is supposedly intended to be a guide to modern life for young women confused by the new sexual revolution and women’s liberation. With a few gorgeous inspirational images thrown in for good measure. It’s also a brilliant insight into the mindset of the early Seventies woman, but also not really a million miles away from such small-minded, hypocritical women’s journalism now. Plus ça change

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Here is a small excerpt relating to fashion:

Dress and Undress

Talk about liberation! Suddenly all the old rules of dress have been suspended. Unisex, the Great Pants Revolution, ten million boots marching across the nation, and the great unleashing of bras have swept a century of fuss and fogginess onto the junk heap.

Once the strictures were clear as crystal, hats for church and town, gloves always, no bare legs on nice girls—ever, girdles an absolute must, trousers strictly for the country, and still only for the young. Now nurses and bank clerks wear trousersuits, patrician matrons dine in transparent pyjamas, and women of ‘a certain age’ boldly appear in black body-stockings and ammunition belts. Alas, it’s easy to become a laughing stock unless you have innate style. There is still one rule: propriety. That means wear what’s right for you and what’s right for what you are going to do. Everything you put on should polish your assets like sterling and blur your flaws like camouflage.

‘Look for the woman in the dress’ was a favourite theme of the late Coco Chanel. ‘If there is no woman, there is no dress.’ And . . . ‘In love, what counts is to please a man,’ Coco liked to say. ‘If it pleases him, paint yourself green.’

Dress to please the man in your life. But don’t overdo it. Dressing for a man doesn’t mean dragging him to your favourite stores to make him choose what he likes on you. It means you wear what makes you look appealing and avoid the chaff. Men can be drearily conservative. They resist change and need to be lured to a new look or a new length, slowly and gradually. Stay aware and try.

The man who falls all over the giggly brunette with the pop-up bosom or the naked tummy or the shortest shorts in the room will want to fade into the wallpaper if you —his adored— appear in the same costume. Be careful . . . even if you happen to be in better trim than Miss Pop-Up Bosom.

Go with fashion, but don’t sell yourself into fashion slavery. Twelve girls at the same film premiere in velvet knickerbockers, identical bullet belts, and fringed boots are pathetic. You, in the same panné velvet knickerbockers but with a suede belt and an old art-nouveau buckle, are infinitely more interesting. Style is individual. It’s what you do with fashion to make it yours alone! When everyone in your crowd is rigged up like a strolling gypsy or Moroccan princess, do not underestimate the power of sleek black simplicity.

Not every new style will suit you, but somewhere there is a proportion cut just for you. Impossible, you say: Aha. You’re in serious trouble and need to shed twenty pounds. Quick.

A dress you can’t move or cuddle in without worrying about moulting feathers or splitting a seam is a disaster . . . no matter how divine it looked in Vanity Fair. Give it away and avoid others with similar faults. You’re going to be a grouch all evening if that groovy buckle digs into  your rib cage with every breath. Choose clothes you feel relaxed wearing.

Nothing can ruin your day more efficiently than a shoe that pinches, rubs, and digs. You can read the pain plain as yoghurt on your face. If the glass slipper doesn’t slip on easily in mid-afternoon when your feet are most vulnerable . . . forget it. You can’t break in a shoe . . . it only breaks you with pain and wasted cash.

Avoid the Grooming Gloom

1. A close lit is no fit at all. A good alteration lady is your third best friend (after Mother and the hairdresser).

2. Clean underwear every day.

3. If you hate to wash and iron, don’t buy clothes that need it. (I didn’t own an iron until a friend —considering me a poverty case— passed one along three months ago. I haven’t used it yet). But you will need a large budget for cleaning bills. If you don’t have money, learn to wash and iron and avoid buying clothes that must be cleaned!

4. It’s a little rip . . . sew it now. Hoard extra buttons when you find ones you like.

5. Weed out the inevitable flaw: snagged stockings, pulled threads, a spot of tomato juice on your doeskin glove, a rip in the lining of your handsome ostrich handbag. Repair it before you wear it again . . . or give it away.

6. Prune the cupboard mercilessly. Don’t drag rejects with you the rest of your life . . . if you haven’t worn an item in two years (a decade?), discard it. Clean it, and donate it to a charity.

How Do You Know What’s Right for You

A lot of the most ghastly mistakes were made when women were encouraged to do their own thing. It’s one thing to have didactic fashion laws arbitrarily laid down by a toffy-nosed fashion magazine not geared to your way of life; it’s quite another to be let loose on a bewildering range of styles and left to your own devices. A great sense of style and chic is needed to steer through that morass.

1. Study yourself in a leotard betore a well-lit, full-length mirror. If this experience drives you to drink . . . vow to re—form your form.

2. Who are you ? What are you trying to say about yourself? What is your image ? Are you playing a romantic Ali MacGraw? Or a carefree groupie? Are you a girl with her eye on Mary Quant’s throne? Are you a lean drink of spring water or a bubbly dolly bird or a languorous sensualist? Decide! Then you will develop antennae that tell you when gingham is right and where a monkey-fur fringe is definitely excessive.

3. Decide whose style you admire or consider close to your ideal. Analyse what this paragon has done and be inspired . . . don’t imitate blindly.

4. lf you see someone wearing an item you absolutely must have—even a total stranger on a bus—say so and ask where she bought it. Don’t ask the price.

5. Read the fashion magazines. Out of the wild and exaggerated fancy there is a message: brown is great for summer . . . length doesn’t really matter anymore . . . superstructured underpinnings are dead. Especially note the accessories: bags, belts, gloves, jewels, hats.

6. If you find a store that pleases you, make it your hang-out. Loyalty is rewarded. When you stumble across a salesgirl with taste and energy, pursue her. Call to see if she’s on hand before you venture across town on a shopping spree. Ask her to telephone you when she has something just your style . . . or when that Cardin coat you’ve been sighing over is reduced 20 per cent.

7. If you are one of those indecisive creatures who cannot tell whether a dress with pleats and flounces in shrimp crépe is as good as it sounds till it’s hung on the cupboard door at home for a week, then never never buy clothes marked ‘final sale’ or ‘not returnable.’

8. Learn about fabrics, seams, and construction. Go to fashion shows and try on a dress by Jean Muir or Ossie Clark so you’ll get a feeling for what makes a £70 shirtwaister different from a £7 one.

9. If you find a bra or panty or shoe that’s ideal for you . . . tights that are like a second skin . . . a ribbed polo sweater that makes you feel like Jeanne Moreau, buy in quantity. That’s what Jacqueline Onassis does. Even on your budget, it makes sense. If you wait until you need replacements, the style or colour may no longer exist . . .

A Sampler of Specifics

Q. Is it better to put all my money into one status Gucci handbag or buy half a dozen bags for different occasions ?

A. A recognisably fine bag has great impact and lasts ages. But it really won’t go everywhere. Invest in the quality leather as your mainstay. And then collect for pennies—a larger canvas tote bag, an old doctor’s satchel (from a junk shop), a small wicker basket or champagne wicker tied tight with a bandanna hanky, an Oriental brass box from an antique shop, a denim over·the-shoulder newsboy bag you make yourself.

Q. Are there any rigid fashion rules that still count these days?

A. Yes. White for tennis (unless you’re playing on your own court at home) and plimsolls. Warmth for skiing, hunting, cold-weather sailing—if you neglect warmth for chic you’ll ruin your day and everyone else’s as well. Rubber-soled shoes for yachting, preferably those with a special-grip rubber bottom. Rules for formal riding and the hunt are specific: visit a shop that specialises in riding clothes and do what they tell you.

Q. Must I wear a hat to church?

A. Women should wear hats in Roman Catholic churches and Orthodox synagogues. And many women do wear a hat to church even where it is not a must, But today a laoe mantilla or a bit of veiling is considered ‘hat enough.’ No woman should ever let lack of hair covering keep her from entering a church on impulse for a few moments of meditation. Attitude is more important than a hat. And anyway, hats are back. I couldn’t live without my giant wolf beret that covers my ears in winter or half a dozen felt and straw cowboy hats in spring and summer. You need to learn clever scarf tricks for your head, a flattering all-over hat for days when your hair just doesn’t cooperate.

Q. Is it right for a divorcee to wear her wedding and engagement rings? Mine are so beautiful.

A. Do you really want a constant reminder of the past? Why not have the stones reset into a marvellous ring you can wear on your index finger or, if you’re not the type, something smashing for your little finger.

Q. Where can l go to find out what to wear at a Bar Mitzvah?

A. A standard etiquette book will tell you what dress is expected at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies of life. Or you might phone the women’s page editor of your local paper and ask advice.

Things That Are Out

Your sweet little lace blouse worn one day too many.

Tell-tale-grey nylon underwear (tint it purple or red or espresso brown).

Structural safety pins.

Wrinkles, spots, baggy anything, runs, rundown heels.

Shoes clearly beyond their prime.

A handbag that had it two years ago, still ‘making do’.

Festive party gear in the office.

Ruffles when you are much more the slinky jersey type.

Too-big coats and shoddy tailoring.

Superclunk shoes.

Ice-cream-cone bosoms.

Bulges . . . panties that bind and show-through.

Drooping hems . . . make a fast temporary repair with sticky tape, then sew that very evening.

Baby-doll costumes on women over thirty-five unless you have the figure and complexion of a twenty-year-old.

See-through blouse with a utilitarian bra in full view.

Clothes you’ve hopefully squeezed into and kidded yourself you can wear. Try one size up —you’ll look slimmer, and every hook and eye on your bra won’t be visible at ten paces.

Anything that looks like it’s wearing you.

Itsy-bitsy fragile little jewellery. If you can’t afford knock-out jewellery in 18-carat gold, buy some smashing fakery.

Last year’s rejects or rotting nightgowns as at-home clothes . . . give the family a break.

Toting an adorable Lilliputian evening bag and loading your man’s pockets with survival paraphernalia . . . learn to survive on less.


Undressing for an audience is a sadly neglected art. Too many women just peel everything off with no thought to the effect . . . rudely tossing crumpled garments here and there . . . and then slopping around in an abused and mutilated housecoat.

Men hate to see you in the bedroom clumping about in high-heeled day shoes and bare feet. Most of them prefer you to take your bra off before your pants. Practise doing it quickly, gracefully, and if he’s in a mood for being teased—tease him. Let him see you in a lacy slip you know flatters you. Don’t wear superstructured bras or girdles. Let him catch a glimpse of you through an open door, spotless bare back, creamed gleamy skin, brushing your hair or spraying yourself with scent just for him. It arouses him to know you want him.

America’s COSMOPOLITAN once ran a wise little article about ‘How to Strip for Your Husband.’ Tassels and twelve-button gloves are not necessary. But attractive undressing, sensuous underpinnings, and flattering, fresh at-home wear is kind to your audience—that one special person.

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More from ‘Nice Girls Do’ some other time…

Inspirational Editorials: The romantic way you’ll look this year

Outfit by John Bates for Jean Varon

Outfit by John Bates for Jean Varon

Photographed by David Bailey. Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vogue, January 1968

Dress by Jean Muir - shoes by Rayne

Dress by Jean Muir – shoes by Rayne

Dress by Liza Spain at Vanessa Frye - shoes by Charles Jourdan

Dress by Liza Spain at Vanessa Frye – shoes by Charles Jourdan

Inspirational Images: Clothes to get you back in his arms

Barbara wears halter top and pleated skirt by Mary Quant, £23 for the rigout, and shoes by Chelsea Cobbler. He wears intarsia sweater by Ballantyne.

Nice girls are turning a cold shoulder on some of the best looking men around. Perfectly enchanting girls, like Twiggy, who flashes her famous shoulder blades at Christopher Gable through her sleeveless, backless The Boy Friend costumes. And who can forget Lauren Bacall and lngrid Bergman acting with their backs turned on Bogie in all those Late Late Show films. Now you can make some of the best exit lines in the backless—and fairly frontless—cIothes previewed here. lt’s clear that fashion is on the side of the female female in clothes that show off a nice warm back and allow plenty of MANoeuvring room. Putting the Back-to-Basics through their paces in many of the pictures are Barbara Trentham and Gary Myers, a couple of Cosmo people to watch. Blonde, brainy Barbara with the 1,000-watt smile will soon be seen in her first film, opposite Shirley MacLaine. called, if you can believe it, The Possession of Joel Delaney, and Aussie Gary is tall, dark and one of television’s busiest tough guys. Together they show that a cold shoulder never turned a good man off…

Scanned from the very first UK edition of Cosmopolitan, March 1972. Photographs by Norman Eales.

Paulene wears chamois leather blouse and pleated skirt by Jean Muir, £46 and £31.50

Paulene Stone in a robe from Browns, £20

Barbara wears dress by Early Bird, £7. Gary’s sweater is by Harold Ingram, £3.30

Barbara wears dress by Mary Quant, £15

Barbara wears strappy crepe dress by Medusa, £9.95

Barbara wears dress by Tsaritsa, £29. Shoes by Mary Quant.

When both ladies turn up in identical tank tops scooped low, a man scarcely knows where to put his eyes. Dark Janni and tawny Kari-Anne [sic] fill out backless sweaters by Stirling Cooper, £2.95. Janni’s red jersey trousers are £9.60, also by Stirling Cooper. Yellow satin jeans by Medusa, £17.91.

Apples and Pears (and other new listings)

Rare 1972 Jean Muir dress at

I am delighted to finally reveal one of the most amazing pieces I’ve had the pleasure of handling and listing over at Vintage-a-Peel. This superb Jean Muir dress hails from 1972, as photographed by Barry Lategan for Vogue of April that year, and is made from one of Muir’s most distinctive prints, the Apples and Pears chiffon (which I already mentioned back in April).

I have also just listed a stunning cocktail mini dress by the supremely talented Antony Price and a definitive disco-era ensemble by iconic brand Fiorucci. Amongst other beauties, of course. Not least a mini dress by seemingly forgotten designer and owner of eponymous King’s Road boutique, Susan Locke. Susan was the girlfriend of actor Jeremy Brett in the late Sixties/early Seventies, and was also one of the first stockists of Terry de Havilland’s wonderful shoes. A fine pedigree, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Antony Price strapless mini cocktail dress at

Floral chiffon Seventies-does-Thirties dress at

Rare Fiorucci pink metallic bustier/trouser ensemble at

Paisley gypsy ‘Jake’ Seventies dress at

Galactic glam rock Seventies Chelsea Girl skirt at

Rare Biba ‘Lolita’-labelled Seventies maxi skirt at

Romantic mid Seventies ‘Lady Charlotte’ maxi dress at

Rare late Sixties micro mini dress by Susan Locke at

New blog, new listings…

Mr Darren

Ah, my inaugural listings post … well, over here on wordpress anyway. Yet again I have been a little tardy in posting them here, but better late than never! There’s Annacat, Jean Muir, Biba, John Bates, Jean Louis Scherrer, Foale and Tuffin, Strawberry Studio (and breathe), and many more. All images are links to the pages over at Vintage-a-Peel. Usual things apply, free postage in the UK and let me know if you want to pay in a couple of instalments for the more expensive items.

John Bates for Jean Varon

Vanessa Frye / Mary Murray Ltd.

Strawberry Studio


Jean Muir

Foale and Tuffin


Jean Louis Scherrer

Kate Beaver

David Silverman

Mister Ant



Inspirational Illustrations: Muirs by Mouchy

Drawings of early matte jersey dresses from Harpers Bazaar, 1970. Drawings by Mouchy.

Scanned from Jean Muir (exhibition book from 1980) by Leeds Art Galleries.