Beautiful Things

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Shorts in cream patterned satin with lace, by Funn.

At last, at last, British designers have realised that underwear is worn to be seen – and this season sees the prettiest, sexiest lingerie for some time. Nonsense undies are still with us – those barely-there bras, more supported than supportive, but shapelier ladies can now choose from a wide selection of really beautiful things.

Photographed by Paul Harris.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Harpers and Queen, November 1975.

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Bra and matching briefs in white lace from Harrods. Suspender belt by Courtenay.

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Lithe leotard and tights, both from Fenwick. Socks by Mary Quant. Hairnet from Medina.

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Film star petticoat and knickers by Janet Reger. Stockings by Funn. Flat dancing pumps by Charles Jourdan.

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Pale pink bra and French knickers by Dior at Fenwick. Stockings by Mary Quant. Powder puff from Harrods. Chair by Plia at Habitat.

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Slinky all-in-one set in lavender Lycra by Robin Alexis.

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Champagne petticoat by Mrs Hilton for Finewear.

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Designers have their say.

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Sheridan Barnett at Simon Massey, stripe bloomers and coloured top, £10.50 at Clangers, Shrewsbury. Mary Quant tights, 75p. Quant socks, 50p. Biba wedgies, £4.90. Sheridan Barnett stripe taffeta pants, £5.50 with dress to match £6.75.

Sheridan is twenty-five and very much a designer’s designer. He lives clothes to such an extent that honestly he has no clear idea at all of the sort of person who might wear his things. At the moment he is working for Simon Massey doing his thing, while Janice Wainwright, their other designer, does hers. He does have to compromise with Simon Massey because when he designs he goes the whole way, cutting out, naturally, a large part of the more conservative public, so he produces some simpler clothes with each new range. His summer range certainly needs a lot of confidence to carry it off. When we saw it, a great big profusion of bright clown clothes, the only other people to pass come rent had been the press who loved every little bit. It’s a happy melee of taffeta stripes, little dresses to wear with frilly bloomers underneath. Vogue had photographed them and 19 were anxious to use them at the very same time as we were. Yet in December when we spoke to him, the powers at Simon Massey were having thoughts about the range, feeling that clowns might be too ‘avant garde’ for the moment. But mainly on the strength of all the publicity they are getting, Simon Massey put them through with their fingers crowd for their success. It would certainly have been a pity if they hadn’t. He has also organised some clown hats to go with them and he is talking about wafer-thin sandals or great big clogs. When we met him he was wearing Oxford bags, spotted bow tie and a beautiful satin blazer with a clown-inclined fuzzy feather button-hole.

The job of the designer starts long before anyone else’s. They have to be able to think ahead to judge the mood of the public, but more, at this stage to sort out their own feeling as to the coming moods.

As Mary Quant says, a designer lives with an idea for so much longer than everyone else, he or she naturally progresses from it on to the next thing. It’s a very slow, deliberate progress and a very natural one.

If you look at the trends over the last year or so you can see how and why the evolution has been such as it is.

Most designers see their year split down the middle. They usually work for spring and summer, keeping those two seasons quite closely connected and then for autumn and winter, again co-ordinated with each other.

What is a designer? As Philip Bergman pointed out as one of the six people we interviewed for this feature, a designer is actually one of many things. He could be a ‘designers’ designer’ thinking clothes as totally related to himself and his own feelings or he could be very much commercially-minded. In other fields you can see a lot of design work, bearing the mark of their owner, obviously performing a task as a pure art form. With clothes designing, a man or a woman must be able to do far more than just draw nice-looking sketches.

In actual fact the six we talked to were far more down-to-earth – and aware of the industrial/business side of their trade than we had imagined. We could have expected to find them living with their heads in a creative cloud, one hand on the drawing board, the other scratching their chins in bemusement at us worldy fashion morons. That wasn’t anything like true. Most of them have either gained a specific technical knowledge and gone in to design or accumulated it through years of experience.

It’s this technical knowledge that is essential to today’s successful designer. After all, there’s no point in him or her designing some fabulous creation that everyone would go crazy over, only to find it totally unpractical and extortionately expensive to produce. It’s difficult for any creative person to work in industry because basically it is almost impossible to compromise aesthetics with the practicalities of living.

The readers complained last week that either prices were too high or quality must be improved, but fashion is very much a business. A manufacturer is concerned with producing as many garments as he can at the lowest cost so that might mean a slightly lower quality fabric or faster production. The buyer, too, is chiefly concerned that sales and stores do put quite a high `mark-up’ on clothes (that’s the profit they make between the price they buy the clothes at from manufacturers and the cost of the garment in the shops). There really isn’t a lot the designers can do about the state of the affairs, other than use their technical knowledge to keep prices down.

Some of the letters we receive here at Petticoat from readers complain that all anyone’s thinking about is what people in London are wearing, that the clothes they see in the shops in London they just couldn’t find in the provinces. In actual fact, as the buyers and designers agreed, the image of London being the place is dead and gone. No buyer buys anything different for her provincial branches and likewise, no designer has the image of ‘a London girl’ in mind when he’s sketching.

Stylewise all the designers were agreed with our readers that girls should start looking like girls again. Some of the designers turned to the fabrics that will help, like Jeff Banks, others to feminine styles, like Mary Quant and Lee Bender. Take a look and read their comments on fashion. . . .

Fashion by Sue Hone. Photographed by Steve Hiett.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, February 1972.

fashion forum - lee bender

Lee Bender wool smock with toggle fastening, £6.50. Cord half mast pants, £3.95. Quant cover-ups, 75p. Stirling Cooper sox, 95p. Bata shoes, £4.99. Bermona madras print Mother Hubbard hat, £2. Bus Stop cord pants, £3.95. Angora top, £8.95. Russell & Bromley shoes, £4.95. Quant sox 50p. Stirling Cooper sox, 95p. Biba hat, £2.

Lee Bender, synonymous with the name of Bus Stop which started as a tiny shop five years ago, is now thirty-three and with eight big Bus Stops around the country. “Honestly,” she says, “it’s taken over my life now!” She’s famous for producing clothes that are right up to the minute fashion-wise but very positively wearable ones both as regards price and style. She is every inch a designer as such, doing her own thing and interpreting the current moods as she feels them, usually working on the idea that her customers want to look feminine. “I’m right off this butch thing,” she says, “and since the designers have so much more living time with an idea and consequently get fed up with it before anyone else we can always think ourselves into the next thing quite safely. Fashion is a natural evolution and a slow one and its definitely getting softer and prettier.” At the beginning of each season, Lee sits down and runs off about thirty sketches. They’re all talked through, leaving about twelve which then go to the toile-maker, and on to a design meeting for the final selection. “We don’t have many complaints about quality here,” she said, “because we have a very stringent passing department, but when you’re cutting thousands of garments there’s bound to be something faulty on one or two, isn’t there? “I try hard to maintain a standard of quality,” she said, “but the fabric and the manufacturing costs have gone up. Anyway when the Swinging London thing started everyone just wanted fashion regardless of quality, but surely that whole scene has gone now, hasn’t it? Now we’re back to the really good stuff.”

fashion forum - sarah dare

Gordon King pants with turn ups, £5.75 with smock top, £4.50 write to Gordon King, 106, Gt. Portland St., W1, for stockists. Biba felt hat, £2. John Plenders Leith bangles. Gordon King pants, £6.25 with collared top, £5.25

Sarah, at the age of twenty-seven, is responsible, along with two others, for the sort of separates that have made Gordon King’s name in the rag trade. To Sarah, the fabrics are all important, and, especially where trousers are concerned, the cut. “Fashion isn’t just a gimmicky culture any more — it’s more important,” she says. “It’s not just putting badges and more badges on things, it’s producing clothes the best way we can within the right price limits.” Her spring range saw really neat-looking sailor clothes and she’s taking the freshness of the range on into summer but in some pretty floral prints. She tries to design clothes that are flattering rather than sexy as such and as a woman thinking clothes for women she knows how much difference a simple seam somewhere can make. “Well,” she says, “people do wear things that don’t suit them, don’t they ?” There are plenty of pants in her summer range, just as well-cut but much more feminine. ‘Trousers have been so butch for such a tong time now, haven’t they?” she said, “so I’ve put in waistbands and lots of back zips. It’s taken a while for some of the buyers who’ve seen them to get used to them but I think that if by putting a seam scooping round the hip, it’s a nice way of looking good and staying in fashion . ” She’s also brought out a great new shirt range for summer, something she really wanted to do, “I wanted to take shirts away from the usual collar, cuffs and button-front image.” That’s just what she has done. In bright floral cottons, in greens, pinks, oranges, her shirts have sailor collars, huge kimono sleeves flap shoulders or frills and tie belts. You can always rely on a woman to know what women want, can’t you?

fashion forum - jeff banks

Yellow shirt, £4.50, Miss Selfridge. Jeff Banks velvet pants, £8.25 and zip up cardigan, £6.50, both from Stop The Shop, SW3. Bata shoes, £4.99. Edward Mann blue hat, £2.80. Jeff Banks drill pants, £5.75, Smock top, £5, both at Stop The Shop, SW3. Blue shoes, £4.90, Biba W8. Edward *Mann Main hprat .7f1

Of all the designers in fashion today, Jeff probably has the best reputation, not only for possessing tremendous perception but also for his ability to carry out his designs into production in a truly pr-fessional manner. His knitwear range can take him as long as seven or eight months to see completed, involving trips to the north where his knitters are, endless discussions on technicalities and constant checking. He sees his summer collections as being a natural follow-on to the spring one so if spring was cheesecloth, summer will be some amazing Lancashire striped cotton. “An honest six quid’s worth, these are, not just to wear on high days and holidays.” He starts each season with about twenty-four designs, ends up with eight when he sees how they’re working out. “What I try to do,” he says, looking pretty comfortable himself in a beautiful shirt, funky knit waistcoat, unobtrusive pants amid all the finery of his amazing offices, “is to give girls one or two pieces of clothing to start them off. They don’t simply want to zip on la dress and a look for the day. They want lots of nice things that are comfy.” The shirts he showed us were basic, but with something ‘alien’ about them like frills, bright ric rac or cream lace. They were the sort of thing you could wear to a “summer pop festival without being hot and sticky.” His knitwear you can see a sample of here, where he has gone all out for funky colours (“sickly” he calls them), like these and a lot of beautiful quilting. Generally he likes them to look loose and long with wide sleeves to wear over his shirts with butcher-striped pants. Jeff says he is more pleased with this collection than with any other he has done – no prizes for guessing why!

fashion forum - mary quant

Mary Quant skirt and top, £13.85, from Simpsons, Piccadilly, Wl. Quant tights with seams, 75p. Kangol beret, 80p. Silky pants with top, £18.75, Escalade, SW3, Lucinda Byre branches. Dranella spot brim hat, £3.81. Van der Fransen flower brooch, £l.

She’s now thirty-seven and come a very long way since she opened her first shop, Bazaar in the King’s Road in 1955. In those days it was the clothes she’d learnt to produce at Gold-smiths and accessories she’d go all over the place to pick up. Two more Bazaars and the Ginger Group Production Co. later. She has a range of beautiful knitwear, a world-wide cosmetics firm, a hosiery organisation which includes bras and pants, shoes in her name and a domestic textile range for I.C.I. Mary was the first designer to think about the layered look, so naturally she is one of the first to feel that maybe we’ve had enough of “putting things together rather haphazardly” and that we really want to look a bit more grown up now. Her latest range is the slickest for many seasons, she’s using plenty of functional cotton from seersucker, through some amazing cotton spots and stripes to some fine, lined denim. Unlike other designers Mary doesn’t work totally from sketches. Sometimes she doesn’t sketch at all. An idea might occur to her and she’ll carry it in her head to their workroom, explain to the girls there what she is thinking about, watch it growing on a model. She’s really more of a “builder.” As to her prices, well, “she’s not actually price-conscious,” said her public relations officer, Heather Tilbury, “she’s more realistic.” Anyone can wear Mary’s designs, “just as long as they’re slim,” Her colours for the range are the brightest ones—really poisonous greens, shocking reds and yellows and plenty of pretty prints on fabrics that she travels all over the world to find. Mary’s seen a lot of her dreams come true, not in the least her year-old son Orlando making his presence very widely known.

fashion forum - phillip bergman

Henry Lehr for Muria leather pants, £32, from Muria Club at Harrods. Green jersey with stripes, £10, designed by Phillip Bergman for Muria at Hedgehogs, SW3. Kangol yellow beret, 80p. Paul Stephens belt. Henry Lehr for Muria yellow pants in leather, £32. Leather waistcoat with poppers and appliqué, £35, at Muria Club. Sweater with red. yellow and blue stripes, £12, by Philip Bergman.

To Phillip Bergman, technical knowledge must be the guiding light to a designer. He himself trained for four years as a fabric designer at St. Martin’s college, then went on to the fabric side of fashion at Marlborough Dresses then to designing tee-shirts at Miss Impact. “It’s like any business,” he says, “you must have a thorough technical knowledge. If you don’t there are a number of things you’ll never think of designing anyway!” He doesn’t actually think of himself as a designer at all. I “I simply take the elements needed at the time and produce them.” “There are very few actual designers. There are stylists who produce and editors who co-ordinate. Take these sweaters I’m designing for Muria’s new spring skin range. I told the knitter the colour and shape she knitted them– so who’s the ‘designer’?” Designs must be, above all else, functional. To Phillip, the biggest and strongest influence on fashion in recent years has come from America, whose basic culture has produced the most functional clothes ever. “Basically America has the most powerful media influence in the world. From there the look was emphasised in Paris and mass-produced over here. Every so often you get ethnic feelings creeping in, like the Japanese look or the peasant thing, but the American culture, the Andy Warhol pop thing and Mr. Freedom are the strongest influences. The naval look is a spin off the sort of genuine combat gear the kids in the States were wearing but now we’ve really taken away the whole point of the look.” It’s opinions like these that produced the beautiul sweaters pictured here.


Easy Party Pieces

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Satin crepe de chine tie neck dress and chequered over jacket by Anne Tyrrell at John Marks. Suede shoes by Mondaine.

When it comes to dressing up tonight there’s no such thing as a party line. Redheads come into their own with sleek Garboesque hairdos to set off shiny battledress tops and trousers. Jazzily printed crepe de chine dresses and jackets mix with jersey and velvet, softly innocent or dangerously backless and halternecked. Diamante remains the vital accessory – shining in the hair as well as sprinkled on bodices. The choice is yours and glamour the mood.

Photographed by John Carter.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Flair, December 1971

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Cream jersey top and matching skirt by Mary Quant

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Both dresses by Harriet

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Liberty print cotton blouses and skirts, both by Courchevel. Choker by Ken Lane. Suede bar shoes by Russell & Bromley.

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Pleated cotton voile horseman print dress by Thea Porter. Gilt and mock turquoise belt by Ken Lane.

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Left: Dress by Reflections at Reldan. Right: Jersey dress by Baltrik.

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Left: Ban-lon halterneck dress by Wallis. Right: Brown crepe de chine dress by Annacat.

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Black jersey dress by Polly Peck. Inset: Jersey dress by Baltrik. Shoes by Russell & Bromley.

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Black satin battledress jacket and trousers by Juliet Dunn.

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Grey and red short wooly jackets by Elgee.

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Fringed black shawl from Emmerton and Lambert.

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Grey wool flannel full length cape by Christopher McDonnell for Marrian-McDonnell.


Match Makers

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From left to right: White satin bib shorts, with blue bow print, by Electric Fittings, £6., from Fifth Avenue, Wl., Mr Freedom, W8., and Edward Bates, Chatham. Blue stretch vest by Medusa, SW3., £1.40. Blue, red and pink striped scarf, £1., from a selection at Rosie Nice, SW3. Lady’s face badge by Gay Designs, 49p at Peter Robinson. Quant suede turn-down boots, £10.50. Floral cotton bib bloomer shorts by Jayne Swayne, £450 at Just Looking, SW3. Purple vest, Medusa SW3., £1.40. Multicoloured plastic pendant on leather, £2.75 at Miss Selfridge. Quant boots, £10.50. Printed denim bib shorts with scalloped edging by Big Scene, £5 at Marshall & Snellgrove, Wl., and Santa Fe, Croydon. Yellow sweater with striped sleeves, designed by Phyllis Collins at Stirling Cooper, Wl., £3.50. Also available from Che Guevara, W8. Yellow schoolboy cap, Mr Freedom, £3.15. Coloured hearts strand on leather, £2.25 from Miss Selfridge. Quant boots, £10.50. Blue denim bib shorts with pockets, £2.49 at all branches of Girl, Shades and In Scene shops. Red gingham smock shirt, £3.50 from Medusa, SW3. Cash Graphics strawberry brooch, 75p. Red and white check scarf, £1., from a selection at Rosie Nice, SW3. Blue velvet bib shorts with yellow detail stitching by Gordon King, £5.77 from 27, SW3 and also at Way In, Harrods, SW1. Blue and white spot smock with yellow ric-rac trim by Kadix, £4.95 at Stop The Shop, SW3. Rainbow brooch by Cash Graphics, 75p. Dark print floral cotton blouse with navy gaberdine shorts, by Anji, £6.95 from the Anji Boutiques at Peter Robinson’s Top Shops in the Strand and at Oxford Circus.

Skinny spencer vests or ready-to-buy matching shirts—here’s two ways round the problem of what to wear under hotweather bib shorts when you want to look cool and neat or pretty and summerfresh—with enough cash left over to enjoy wearing them as well …

Illustrated by Alan Cracknell.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Petticoat, 26th June 1971.


Mirror, Mirror by Helmut Newton

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Wet-look cire bikini, also in red, with gilt link on bra top and belt of pants, 59s., from main branches of C & A. Paste tiger brooch from the Paris flea market.

Pause for reflection before you buy your swimsuit for this summer. If you’re going to be in the picture, you must get your exposure right : make it the most your shape will take. Because this is a narcissistic year. More girl, less swimsuit. Bikinis will be back with us again this summer — and they’ll be barer than ever. But the fabrics, not to be outshone, are glistening wet-look cires, metallic golds and silvers. And as adornments for the bare body, there is simple animal jewellery —snake bracelets, stalking-tiger brooches, that sort of simple thing.

Hair by Didier at Jean-Louis David, Paris.

Photographed by Helmut Newton.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from The Observer Magazine, April 1969.

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Silver crochet bikini (also in other colours), £5 15s. 6d.; all cobweb crochet jacket, £5 15s. 6d.; both by Clobber, from Miss Selfridge, Oxford Street, W1 ; Just Looking, Kings Road, SW3; J. T. Parrish, Newcastle; Contrary, Burton Square, Manchester ; Silver cord lacing up jacket, 5d. yd. from John Lewis, Oxford Street, W1. Paste tiger brooch from the Paris flea market.

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Tobacco-brown bikini with fine chain straps and belt, by Tiktiner, £10 15s., from the Summer House at Simpsons, Piccadilly, W1. Gold leather sandals fastening above the ankle, f7 17s. 6d. from Elliotts, 76 New Bond Street, W1, and Kings Road and Knightsbridge branches. Snake brace-lets, 42s., frog ring, 12s. 6d.; by Corocraft, from Marrian-McDonnell, 45 South Molton Street, W1, and 80 Sloane Avenue, SW3; Kendal Milne, Manchester.

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Barely one-piece swimsuit, cut away at the back like a bikini, in sand-coloured towelling, and in other colours too, by Jersea, £4 15s., from Harrods, Knightsbridge, SW1 ; Lynette Claire, Kensington High Street, W8; Marshall & Snelgrove, 24-30 New Street, Birmingham; Darling & Co., Bath ; Impact, Salisbury. Gladiator boots, by Mary Quant, 89s. 11d., from Lilley & Skinner.

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White Nylon Helanca and Antron bikini with clear perspex links, by Ruben Torres for Tweka, 5gn., also in lilac, black, pink, turquoise or gold, from D. H. Evans, Oxford Street, W1 ; Lady Jane, Carnaby Street, W1 ; Birn & Son, Southend-on-Sea ; Rackhams, Birmingham; Reid & Todd, Glasgow. Summery boots laced up the back by Mary Quant, 89s. 11d., from Lilley & Skinner, 360 Oxford Street, W1. Gilt snake chain around waist, by Corocraft, 2gn., from Way In, Knightsbridge, SW1 ; Kendal Milne, Manchester.


Happily Ever After

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White lawn dress printed with butterflies and flowers by Thea Porter. Straw hat by Buckle Under. Red wedge shoes by Kurt Geiger. Belt by Shape.

There’s a good reason why Vanity Fair is possibly my favourite magazine of this period. They were relatively conventional in the 1960s, and would ‘merge’ with Honey magazine around 1972, but in their death knells they were just about the most innovative magazine in the UK. Issues were often themed around ‘issues’, for example this one is entirely themed around break-ups and divorces (including a story on what a divorced man should wear when taking his kid out for the day).

Nor did they shy away from more expensive designer names, such as Thea Porter and Zandra Rhodes here, mixing them happily with the more affordable but still iconic boutique names like Stirling Cooper and Mr Freedom. Adding Foale and Tuffin, Pablo and Delia and Terry de Havilland into the mix for good measure, and all those stunning illustrations by Michael Foreman… this is one of my favourite editorials of all time.

Vanity Fair is also, frankly, a nightmare to scan because it falls apart at the binding with the lightest touch, which is why I don’t scan them as often. So enjoy the heaven of Harri Peccinotti’s work while I gently shuffle all the pages back into the magazine…

Photographed by Harri Peccinotti.

Illustrations by Michael Foreman.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Vanity Fair, April 1971.

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Long grey crepe dress patterned with purple, green and red birds by Shape. Pablo and Delia suede thong necklace. Blue suede shoes at Sacha.

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Beige suede skirt with applique shapes and matching shawl by Mary Quant. Necklace from Buckle Under. Beige suede boots by Guy Humphries.

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Blue and white feather printed chiffon dress by Zandra Rhodes.

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Left to right: Chiffon blouse and multi-coloured skirt by Foale and Tuffin. Painted rainbow shoes from Mr Freedom. Painted belt by Shape. // Cream and red jersey catsuit (top only showing) and banded red and cream skirt both from Stirling Cooper. Red shoes by Kurt Geiger. // Cream, yellow and red jersey dress by Stirling Cooper. Pull on hat by Janice Peskett. // Red cotton t-shirt by Erica Budd. Cream dungarees from Stirling Cooper. Red python sandals at Elliotts.

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Above: Mauve satin cotton pinafore dress and blouse by Gladrags. Right: Bottom half of Alistair Cowin calico trousers with green printing. Green and yellow shoes by Terry de Havilland. Far right: Black velvet dungarees with white satin applique heart from Mr Freedom. Chiffon blouse from Foale and Tuffin. Mauve canvas boots at Charles Jourdan.


Turn the heat on

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Clockwise from top left: Wolsey, Brettles, Margit Brant, Wolsey, Abecita, Mary Quant.

It’s an accomplished fact that the warmest way to hibernate starts right next to your skin. Here, then, are some of the hottest bare body coverings – Short-johns, mid-johns, long-johns, vests, bodytops and a petticoat to wear under everything else, plus the cosiest nightie on the market.

Fabrics vary from wool to cotton jersey, man-mades and mixtures, all good old favourites that have proved their insulation properties over past winters. These hibernation undies are all warm investments and most of them glamorous enough to want to show off. Long-johns and mid-johns are staging a comeback as circulation increases: wear them rolled up, if you like, over tights, under socks. Pile them on to beat the winter.

Illustrations by Caroline Smith.

Scanned by Miss Peelpants from Flair, December 1971.

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Left to right: Medico at Simpsons, Mary Quant, Marks & Spencer, Brettle, Mary Quant and Wolsey.