When I was younger I didn’t seek out charity shops – did they even exist in the 60s? If they did I never went into one. But I did wear second-hand clothing because I did frequent, what we call in the UK, jumble sales, which were run by charities. I’ve even organised several myself in, I think, the late 70s and 80s.
I clothed my entire family from these sales, which explains why on looking at some old photographs I’m slightly horrified at what we’re wearing. And maybe it’s my eye for what is OK now, and how it clashes with what we’re wearing then, but I often hear myself, saying, ‘gosh, what on earth….?’, and then I recall,’ ah yes, of course, they’re jumble sale clothes!’
But in the 60s and early 70s I wore some really fashionable second-hand clothes bought from the London military clothing surplus store Laurence Corner.
Because military wear was very, very on-trend at one point, although I would argue that the fashion for military gear has never gone away as I still covet a sheep-skin lined pilot’s jacket in that rather battered leather. At Laurence Corner I used to buy sailors’ front-buttoned navy wool trousers, which are, or were, flared and very trendy in their time, I can tell you. And of course, I had a long, dark blue, double-breasted military coat so not an army coat, probably, ho, ho, navy!
And what am I wearing here?
Well, this is my grandfather, Joseph Archibald Martin Hislop’s mess jacket. My lovely cousin Rosemary had it and has given it to me to give it the airing it deserves, as we’ve worked out that this mess jacket must be nearly 100 years old.
Here is a photo of my grandfather as a sergeant-major marrying my grandmother.
He rose to be an honorary captain in 1917 in the now defunct Bedfordshire regiment and retired in 1928 as a full captain. The mess jacket that I’m wearing is for a captain, but it’s without its pips and buttons, so I need to do some research and go find these to complete the outfit.
What is so striking about this jacket is how small it is. I am a UK size 12 and with buttons I would just about be able to fit into it. Amazing to see the living proof that our forefathers were smaller than us, for so many reasons including diet and poverty and so on. But how wonderful also to have a relic of the past and acknowledge with pride the life of someone who served his King and country. I remember him as he died in 1954.
RIP an honourable gentle man.
With love, Penny, the frugalfashionshopper