Gail of Is This Mutton has already said that one of the best things about blogging is meeting fellow fashion bloggers and she is so right. Yes, it was last Saturday when we met to look at the Mary Quant exhibition, but we also spent much of the time talking practically non-stop. And before I launch into what I thought of the Quant I’d also like to say that I think the connections we make with you, the readers of our blogs, is another ‘best’ thing about blogging.   All your responses to posts are very much appreciated.

Anyway, Mary Quant. Well, as you know Mary Quant is the iconic 60s fashion designer who brought modernity to the masses with the mini-skirt, tights, pinafore, cut-out and A-line dresses. Actually note that it was Courreges, in the very early 60s, who introduced that shortest of short skirts (a revolutionary 4 inches above the knee). What Mary Quant did, though, was to bring her vision and her designs to the mass market making that clean, modern, young, short-skirted look we associate with the 60s available to us all.

However, what fascinated both Gail and me, was that her early designs seemed, to our eyes, to be quite tame and in such bland colours.  And I think that brought home to us that revolutionary designs do not arrive suddenly, they develop. I mean, do you remember what ordinary women wore?  Because they did not wear the beautiful 50s vintage nipped-in-at-the-waist look we see so often on Instagram. No, going out to a department store or to the nearest big town, women wore a plain tailored wool suit, a voluminous wool coat and one of those hats that perched on top of your heads – glamorous, it was not. I went round the ground floor of the exhibition thinking, oh, this is not as exciting and mouth-watering as I expected it to be.  And I didn’t take any photos downstairs.

But upstairs – oh yes, there was that Quant look.

The colours! The tights! The berets! And below there’s the plastic mac!

And the pinafore dress! I bought a camel pinafore in the very early 60s, which I wore with a black polo neck wool jumper and, black stockings!  Tights were later!  Both my parents and my friends thought the outfit was hideous, but I loved it!

And in the late 60s and early 70s – do you remember that quite busy material?  I used to wear lots of dresses with variations of that particular dense look.

More plastic macs!

And don’t forget the maxi! I wore many variations of the maxi.

And I love this.

In my late teens (1963-5) I bought a pleated ginger wool skirt and matching jacket from my local department store. Was it from Mary Quant’s Ginger Group? Could have been.

At the end, we both agreed that the clothes on display were not quite as wearable as we thought they would be, but it was, nevertheless, a fascinating exhibition.

What did I wear to London?

I wore a charity shop skirt I’ve had for years, an exceedingly old black jumper and a Hennes (H&M) thin jacket, topped by my black homburg hat bought in Toulouse 3 years ago, plus a bargain of a coat found in a charity shop and bought for £30, which still had its label saying £160! My shoes were flat lace-ups but so comfortable, and quite quirky as the blue you can just see on the side is an impression of the bones of your feet!

The V&A had good food and a very tempting shop (which I resisted!) and it does these exhibitions so well. Don’t forget that there is a Dior exhibition on at the same time, although sadly I believe all the tickets are gone. However, I think there are always tickets handed back so you can try.  While I didn’t go as overboard as I thought I would with the Quant exhibition the Dior was amazing. I went earlier this year, and here are a couple of pics for you to see.

Isn’t it lovely. And then this.

And this.

I decided that I wanted this skirt!

Actually – think how tiny you’d have to be to wear this displayed outfit. What was refreshing about the Quant was many of the dresses had been lent or gifted to the V&A for the exhibition by ordinary women who had worn the dress, so they looked so much bigger than the above and – more normal.

Finally, we got on so well, me and Gail. We tried a selfie!  And didn’t quite achieve it!

That’s all for now, more posts next week 🙂

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper


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37 thoughts on “Meeting a like-minded blogger at the Mary Quant Exhibition

  • 10th May 2019 at 8:03 am

    A great selection of pictures Penny, I found I didn’t take all that many! And you’re right about the Dior. The perfection of that beaded dress, oh my! You have a tulle skirt quite similar to the one shown I think? I would love a tulle skirt but haven’t found one that suits me yet. Thanks for such an enjoyable day out and we must do it again!

    • 10th May 2019 at 9:00 am

      Yes, I have got a tulle skirt which I would/will wear up to London on a summer’s day. As I said (somewhere else) I have to wear slightly more clothes than Londoners coming in on the tube as I have to stand on freezing platforms. But my tulle skirt is a keeper – definitely!

  • 10th May 2019 at 8:39 am

    Hi, You always look great, but to be honest, shoes???? They let your outfits down!!! Please
    have a look for some stylish footwear!!!

  • 10th May 2019 at 9:12 am

    I’ll have to do a post on my shoes – which are so totally not fashionable! But quite stylish in a quirky way and actually those black lace-up shoes I wore to the V&A are not all black as the entire outer side is the impression of the bones of your foot in blue – so funny.

    Two things: I do exhibitions and am on public transport and trains a lot and comfortable shoes are an absolute must! And second: whilst waiting for Gail on the table next to me, two women I’d never met before started a conversation with me by saying: ‘I do admire those shoes, I noticed you on the bus with those shoes, where did you get them’! So I think the shoes are slightly better than you imagine! Also as Gail came in I had my back turned but she said she recognised me from my shoes! I think the type of shoes I wear (quirky and often quite clumpy) are definitely my look!

  • 10th May 2019 at 9:15 am

    I like the Emma Peel feel that exhibition gives me! And I adore the raincoats. What fun the two of you must have had! Enjoy your weekend Penny!

    • 12th May 2019 at 8:17 am

      Hi Nancy! I hadn’t thought about that but yes, definitely, the clothes are very Emma Peel! Have a lovely weekend too! xxx

  • 10th May 2019 at 9:22 am

    How fabulous to be able to meet up with another blogger and have such an enjoyable day! I do love the V &A and the Bowie exhibition (6 years ago?) was one of the best I have ever seen. Mary Quant was just slightly before my time – haha – but of course I was very aware of her impact. I guess I was more of a Barbara Hulanicki girl!! I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that the Dior exhibition has sold out. Perhaps I will try for a returned ticket. Did you and Gail plan to both be wearing monochrome?! You both look great!

    • 12th May 2019 at 8:24 am

      The Bowie was the best exhibition I’ve ever seen before or since – was groundbreaking! And, yes, Mary Quant – she changed us all!

      We didn’t plan the outfits, but not only did we have twin black and white outfits we both had pink bags! I had a pink bag (charity shop, I think, and kind of cheap) and Gail had a deep pink (designer) bag, which was amazing as it was furry. I see totally why you’d buy it. And while Gail had a pink jacket and I had a purple coat it’s kind of on the same spectrum – so we thought and dressed alike!!!

  • 10th May 2019 at 10:26 am

    Thanks for this very enjoyable posting and all the pics. Looks like you had a great day – what with the exhibition and meeting up with Gail. I was thinking what Dee said about your shoes, so look forward to seeing more.

    • 12th May 2019 at 8:26 am

      It was a really fun day. And I will be doing a post on my sensible flat and sometimes funky shoes! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  • 10th May 2019 at 11:14 am

    I am going to the Quant *and* Dior exhibitions next Sunday with a very old friend, I am so looking forward to it.
    About the tulle skirt – I was in Nantes with a friend just before Christmas and we saw a yellow tulle skirt on a dummy in a department store. My friend (not quite 70 at the time) said “Oh, I love that look, what a pity I am too old to wear it!”
    I remembered that you had a couple of tulle skirts so I sent her a link to your post about a film night in March 2017.
    I think she has been following your blog ever since!
    It is a pity we don’t have many good charity shops in France.

    • 12th May 2019 at 8:37 am

      You will love both exhibitions, but as you might have guessed from the post I did have a favourite! And at not quite 70 you can definitely wear a tulle skirt! I shall be wearing mine into my 80s!

      Re: charity shops in France, our friend Helen who now lives in Moissac manages a charity shop (that raises money for cats) about half an hour’s drive from Moissac. Its similar to these

  • 10th May 2019 at 1:23 pm

    I so agree with you about the shoes! It’s all about lifestyle – I go out a lot to meetings,talks and exhibitions but I don’t drive and my husband is not too well so I’m usually travelling by myself and always on foot or public transport. This means I quite like to be “under the radar” in a boring practical coat so that I don’t stand out in a crowd but I wear all my scarves and jewellery and colourful clothes underneath!

    • 12th May 2019 at 8:39 am

      Comfortable shoes are so very very important!

      Glad to hear you wear the colourful clothes under your coat – I get what you’re saying 🙂

  • 10th May 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Love the purple coat, one of my favourite colours now although at one time I really didn’t like it. Black and white is always such a smart combination. I’ve been thinking of visiting the Mary Quant but I’m really sad that I’ve missed the Dior. I knew they had extended it and should have got tickets straight away….he who hesitates is lost! I never hat a PVC raincoat just a hat. The one I have now is not a patch on it but I dislike umbrellas – hate carrying it around wet and I’ve lost so many. Today I managed to leave a shopping bag with library books in it on the bus. It was handed in thankfully but what a run around I had. I’ve always been a bit absent minded but it’s getting worse! Looks like you had a great time with Gail.

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:22 am

      We had a great time and the purple coat was such a good find and so worth paying that £30. Actually I would never have paid the full price! I don’t think I had a PVC raincoat but currently I’ve got a PVC hat.

      Thanks goodness for someone handing in your bag!

  • 10th May 2019 at 6:11 pm

    Hi Penny,
    What an interesting day out and you looked fab, dressed for the city. I never had a Quant outfit, but for my 21st my mam bought me a pot of Quant foundation and a lipstick, I thought they were so special that I hardly used them and I still have both! Did you spot the psychedelic carrier bags? I kept mine for years I loved it, also the book with the cut out clothes to put onto the cut out doll, I was often given one for Christmas when small. Happy days.
    My goodness those Dior dresses are something special, how glamorous.
    Looks like a great day out.
    Best wishes, Chrissie

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:24 am

      Now cut-out dolls! I used to love those and can’t remember a Quant version but I did have those to play with when younger.

      The Quant was interesting and some things struck a chord and good to see from almost historical/sociological perspective as Quant changed us all, but the Dior exhibition was something else – it was exquisite!

      Thanks for the comment Chrissie 🙂

  • 10th May 2019 at 7:22 pm

    How nice to meet Gail!

    I loved all your photos from the Quant exhibition. Mary Quant must have been a big influence on me as I have always loved pinafore dresses, coloured tights and maxis. The pictures of the Dior exhibition were mouth watering…I tried asking foer tickets for my birthday but all were gone. Sigh.

    Have a great weekend

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:29 am

      Mary Quant was a huge influence on us all – even those who weren’t old enough to wear the first minis or buy anything from the Ginger Group! But the Dior was just lovely – do you think there are some returns?

      Have a lovely week xxx

  • 10th May 2019 at 8:09 pm

    Hello Penny,

    You and I actually wore 60’s fashion inspired by Mary Quant. How cool is that! Many of my Butterick dress making patterns copied her designs. Thank you for sharing your V & A photos which brought back youthful memories. Dior was dazzling too! Keep um coming! Judy

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:32 am

      I definitely made a mini with a cutout at the back. Yes, Judy I actually made loads of clothes for myself and my daughter. Don’t anymore. But OK about that as I can find the clothes I want in our charity shops. I do admire you though 🙂

      The Dior was superb and dazzling, the Quant was good in a different way but interesting +++

      Thanks Judy 🙂

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:34 am

      Actually on reflection the whole outfit is superb so I’d have that jacket too. Funnily enough I have a black hat that’s quite similar – must wear it!

  • 11th May 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Now that would be such a fabulous day out especially meeting Gail. I always love seeing these kinds of exhibits and getting inspiration from them!!
    I just bought a shorter tulle skirt at a thrift store. Who knew that as an adult, it would be such a fun purchase??

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:36 am

      It was a fab day out and jsut lovely to meet Gail. The V&A is a very special museum (and free to enter) as it has so much fashion. And Jodie there’s a whole gallery of jewellery which you just swoon over and is a permanent exhibition so it’s free as well. I go there a lot and use it as a base to network.

      And you bought a tulle skirt – woo hoo!! Wonderful 🙂

  • 12th May 2019 at 12:52 am

    Tulle Tulle Tulle! Yes! I’m sixty three and just bought another tulle skirt in a coffee brown. I can’t wait to wear it! I have this love affair with tulle forever. I so wanted to take dance class when I was little but could’nt convince my mother. I don’t know if I really cared to dance but I wanted that tutu fluffy tulle skirt! Well, now I’m over 60 and 6′ tall with red hair (I really am a red head although I need to enhance it a bit now) and having more fun with fashion than I ever have. Thankyou for your bright spirit, Penny

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:38 am

      A coffee brown tulle skirt – that sounds so good! Your description of yourself! I bet you look stunning. And thank you for reading my posts!


  • 12th May 2019 at 8:50 pm

    Back in those days when I was a teenager, and then in my early twenties, a yard (one metre) of fabric made me a shift (straight up and down frock), as short as I could get away with. I remember making a yellow Mary Quant dress from a pattern to wear to the local dances. Each one of those tiny dresses I made had some unique feature. I lived with my glamorous Nanna, and she made herself a Quant skirt to wear for golf. We have sideways heavy rain in New Zealand in winter, so I’m going to be wearing a blue plastic raincoat for my walks, on those days.

    • 13th May 2019 at 6:40 am

      I too made a mini – with a circular cutout at the back! Bet those dresses you made were stunning.

      I do like that description of sideways heavy rain! Thanks for your great comments 🙂

  • 13th May 2019 at 8:55 am

    What a fun exhibition to visit and I really like the skirt you wore 🙂

    Hope that you had a great weekend! I just posted my weekday wear linkup, I’d love you to join! 🙂

  • 15th May 2019 at 3:52 am

    Sounds like my sort of day out, sharing a fashion exhibition with a like minded blogger. I have just enjoyed something similar on my recent Melbourne trip but with IG friends that I have met previously. The Mary Quant exhibition and its clothes were a little before me but I do remember my older sister in similar styles. I was fortunate to see a Dior exhibition a while ago showing various designers from the house , each was simply so stunning and different and the fabrics just stunning. Your outfit was so stylish and perfect for the day and sometimes comfortable shoes are the order of the day.

    • 25th May 2019 at 9:50 am

      Thank you Jill, it was a great day out and you know never say never – one day I might get to the southern hemisphere 🙂

      So glad you’ve seen a Dior exhibition and as for Quant it was so interesting to see that her early work, although pioneering, still somewhat reflected the context and fashion of the time – as in conservative and formal. She was pushing the boundaries though, but it was later when you got that ‘look’.

  • 17th May 2019 at 2:42 am

    I loved this post. My personal style was eternally imprinted by Mary Quant. I was a teenager and, from a religious and frugal family, not equipped or allowed to purchase or wear the clothing I adored although I did manage to sew some dresses that marginally copied the trend. Ever since I’ve loved pinafores and the various shapes and colours she got us hooked on at the time. Being from Vancouver, I’m always on the lookout for bright colored plastic raincoats as it often rains incessantly for days, winter and summer. I’ve owned a few over the years but sadly, mine have tended to tear and once they start with that, the rip is impossible to contain. These photos and the memories make me very happy. Thanks for sharing your visit. XO

    • 25th May 2019 at 9:54 am

      Hello Karen, so interesting to hear of your experience which is similar (but not of course the same) because my parents thought my pinafore dress and the whole outfit absurd. I remember they weren’t against the clothes but just thought I looked ridiculous. So I kept my mouth shut when my children wore what I thought was odd clothing – we should always leave the younger generation to wear what they want and find their own style! Again, thanks for sharing your experience – so interesting 🙂

  • 25th May 2019 at 9:34 am

    I love your look with your signature clumpy shoes, but would really love to see a better photo of these – I can’t even see the blue, nevermind tell that it’s bones!

    • 25th May 2019 at 9:46 am

      Hi J – go to the next post and you’ll see the shoes in question in all their glory including the blue bones. Have to tell you that I’ve changed my hairdresser and the young hipster who trimmed my hair said ‘where did you get those shoes?’ He was just ecstatic about them – so there you are! Truly, people have stopped me in the street so they’re not dull at all!!!!

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