Jackie O

Jaqueline Onassis - Trendsetter
Jackie O, socialite, book editor, mother, former president's wife and Greek millionaire's widow, was undeniably a woman of style who, in terms of media attention, rivalled perhaps only Princess Diana. TV, the newsprint media and magazines all adored her, or rather they adored the spike in sales her image on the cover could engineer...plus, you know you've made in a big way when Franklin Mint brings out a porcelain doll in your image.

So what defining feature was it about Jacki O that made her exude dignity and good taste from every pore? Well, the fortuitous circumstances of her birth might have helped.

Jackie (doll obviously!)  Franklin Mint
Born Jaqueline Lee Bouvier in South Hampton, New York in 1929, Jackie was raised amid privilege and an atmosphere of 'high expectations'. The Bouviers were no ordinary American family - the patriarch, "Black Jack Bouvier", was a Wall Street stockbroker and did very well at it. However, Jackie's parents divorced when she was eleven and shortly aftward her mother Janet Norton Lee, married Standard Oil heir  Hugh D. Auchincloss Jr.

Jackie Bouvier and her younger sister,  Caroline Lee, attended the top  private schools, rode their own horses, mixed with the 'right' people and generally lived a life of cultured, extensive comfort - a good start for any girl.

Physically, Jackie was unusual and though perhaps not beautiful in the conventional, poster-girl sense,  she possessed an indefinable elegance.  Reed slim, she wore clothes exceptionally well and her thick dark hair, widespaced eyes and broad smile conveyed an uncommon charm. Most importanly, Jackie O was an individual and had the quiet self-confidence to express herself in her own way. All this was reflected in the clothes she wore, her hairstyles and her manner and movements.

By the 1950's, when Jacki Bouvier was in her twenties, she had come out as a debutante and was moving in illustrious cirlces that included the wealthy and influential; attending soirees and dinner parties and making the most of being young, attractive and rich. On one such occasion in 1952, she met the man who would change the course of her life and transform her into one of the most famous women in the world. That man was, of course John F Kennedy and the two were married in '53 and moved into the White House in 1960.

As First Lady, Jackie's fashion selections were a matter of public scrutiny and in a time of rapid social change and shifting clothes trends, she made a significant mark on a style scene that was already soaked with trendsetters like Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon and the Beatles. The First lady's style was smart and functional but not conventional or stilted. On her arrival at the Whitehouse, she comissioned hot designer Oleg Cassini, (ex boyfriend to Grace Kelly) to create a personalised wardrobe for her and he continued to influence her public fashions until 1963.

Arriving in Dallas
Cassini and Jackie's fashion choices were for clean, uncluttered lines - sleeveless, tailored dresses in beautiful fabrics and colours and pert, short-jacketed suits with three-quarter sleeves, which were teamed with pristine gloves and modern pillbox hats. The striking pink Chanel suit and hat she wore on the day of her husband's death became etched into the US national consciousness as well as inspiring a range of Air Hostess uniforms.

Wisely, Jackie never went over the top with her fashion choices and even in jewellery, she kept it discreet (though she had a large and beautiful collection), often wearing exquisite brooches and her signature triple-stranded pearl necklace.

As a hostess, the President's young wife excelled and she was famous for her dinner parties and social events - her life-long, avid interest in the Arts meant politicians and diplomats could mix freely with poets, writers, photographers, artists and musicians. Of course, Jackie's time at the White House ended all too soon, cut short by the assassination of JFK. Long after, however, she remained a much-watched fashion icon, albeit one that gaurded her privacy and even her measures here did not escape attention. The large dark glasses and trenchcoat she obscured herself behind became a fashion combo icon. Jackie O it seemed, just couldn't help being watchable.

Mr. Whippy

No, I'm not referring to some sort of underground S&M character but rather the wholesome ice-cream vendor franchise Mr Whippy, that in the 1960s used to drive around lonely suburban streets luring children from their homes with the promise of soft-serve ice-cream with sprinkles on top.

Image from Whippy kiosks
Recently these old-fashioned vans  have made a comeback in Australia and frankly I feel sorry for the operators. It's a hard job for the contemporary Mr. Whippy man when you consider that now people can buy boxes of whatever ice-cream they fancy relatively cheaply at the supermarket, as opposed to the exhorbitant price of a van-served ice-cream, that's if they buy ice-cream at all in these health conscious times.

Moreover, the noise of that music-box "Greensleeves" pumping monotonously through the van's loudspeaker can get downright annoying...and Mr. Whippy's not the end of it...now there's now another wanna be Mr. Whippy company doing the rounds, called Home ice-cream. The Home ice-cream van doesn't even have the distinction of the tinkling Greensleeves music...just a penetrating clang, clang, clang, that goes right through you.

At first I thought they were charming, these quaint reflections of a past era  but now I'm beginning to cringe when I hear the Home ice-cream van coming. . and heaven help you if you ever make the mistake of venturing out to buy an ice-cream. Here's why...

There's a house a couple of doors away from mine with small children and ever since they bought ice-creams a couple of times over summer, the ice-cream van has haunted them most evenings, just after  dinner time - hovering out  the front of their house with his shrill clang, clang clang piercing the airwaves, motor running and rerigerators humming. That van has even been there during winter - it's tragic really. How desperate must he be for a sale? They never buy anything from him..in fact I  strongly suspect when they hear him coming, they draw the blinds and hide under the bed. I know I would...

The Yo-Yo Museum

Roy Rogers collectable yo-yo box
I'm sure there's some yo-yo enthusiasts out there and if so, this unique website, The Museum of Yo Yo History is sure to please. The popularity of the yo yo has gone  up and down over the decades (pardon the pun), but it's still a classic, enduring little toy.

Although it's still a work in progress, the museum, run by skilltoys.com boasts "the most comprehensive archive of yo-yo images, historical memorabilia, and information in the world"...now, that's sure to whet the appetite.

An early yo-yo fan (called a bandalore then), from a French fashion journal, 1791
The user can browse an archive of yo-yo  images by manufacturer, model or category and there's a forum and some historical information.

The sites mission statement is to to "archive and preserve as much yo-yo history as possible" and with a little help from yo-yo fans contibuting their images, stories and memories,  they hope to be the number one site for yo-yo collectors:

The Museum of Yo-Yo History

The TV Generation

The Box
Before the tech revolution..ie; computers, mobiles, ipads, x boxes etc...parents and *experts* used to worry about the brain rotting effects of too much television on young, impressionable minds.

Television was one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century and its effects were widespread and deep. It changed the way we thought and acted.  It gave us, through advertising, new desires and wants, opened up windows to new worlds that few had seen before, educated us, entertained us, made us passive observers in the evenings instead of active participants, fed us large amounts of crapola, diced up our attention spans, increased the power of the media, reduced politics to two minute sound bites and popularity polls, made us unsavoury voyeurs to other people's discomort...but apart from all that, was it harmful?

The first baby-boomer TV generations are now in their  50s and 60's..which should be plenty of time to judge whether or not they turned out ok. Did all those hours of watching The Patty Duke Show and reruns of Gilligan's Island rot their brains? Well according to resentful Generation X, baby-boomers are the most self-obsessed, greedy, I want-I need group on the planet. If it's true, is TV at least partly to blame? Would they have been better people if they'd read books, played games, talked and sang songs around the piano at night instead of watching the The Love Boat? Who knows....

Ironically, that same TV generation now worries about the brain rotting effects of computer games and mobiles on their own children and grandchildren. Ah, it seems technology is just a worry, full stop.

Kids today may not even have the concentration span to passively watch TV for too long, as their minds are used to darting around  a computer screen and can't easily follow a linear train of thought. According to neurologist Susan Greenield, a new generation of children are having their brains rewired by technology: The Plastic Brain

History of the Donut

Bad, bad donut
Never was there a food so designed to tempt the taste buds via visual stimulation - pink ones, chocolate ones, jam ones, cream-filled ones, custard filled, cinnamon flavoured...zebra striped ones with coloured sprinkles on the top and coated in sugar. Yessirreee..doughnuts are a decadent entity, full of vile things like sugar, salt and fat..and yet, so delicious while your eating them, though they might sit in your stomach like a bag of rocks when you're done.

Where did they come from, this evil incarnate that is so very popular in the Western world? Some say they have been around since the beginning of time and the fossilized remains can be found in the prehistoric ruins of Southwestern America.  Could there have been a very early Donut King civilization that was wiped out by a meteorite? Hmmm...

Leaving that intriguing theory aside, reports vary and no-one is entirely sure whether they should be spelt donuts or doughnuts but the general consensus seems to be that they are a true American invention with Dutch origins. In the 19th century Dutch settlers in the US popularised a kind of sweet cake cooked in fat, called an olykoek and in 1847, an American, Hansen Gregory laid claim to punching a hole in the middle because he objected to the soggy centre. Whatever the true origins, the round, delicious donut has been around since the very early 1800's, when it began appear in stories and contemporary records.

By WWI donuts had ingratiated themselves as a national favourite in the US and in the following decades they began to be mass produced to satisfy the country's  growing appetite for them. In the 40s and 50s when the great tide of post-war consumerism and fast food swept over America, donut chains began to spring up - big names like Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme and Randy's Donuts (now defunct) populated the urbanscape. Donuts caught on internationally and as the decades wore on some of these chains spread to other countries. The donut was now officially everywhere, making resistance futile...besides, they're just so darn good with coffee...

A quintessentially American site. 1953 donut joint.

In Australia we have our own home grown Donut King chain and our most popular line in donuts is a hot jam filled, heavily sugar-coated version known simply as The Jam Donut.

Vintage TV Table

Early Sixties Bernard Hesling "TV" table
When television hit the Australian market in the late 50s, new products came on the market to compliment the new craze. The small table above was designed by Australian enamel artist Bernard Hesling and enamelled in Australiana motifs- a kangaroo, emu, platypus, snake and fish. Hesling was clearly inspired by the dot art and colours of indigenous Australians, as the artwork has a distinctly Aboriginal feel.

The top of the table lifts out to become a handy tray, so the avid TV viewer can enjoy dinner in front of the box. Just an interesting little piece of Australian design history...

Bernard Hesling

Bermuda Shorts and Socks

Incredible as it may seem, in the 1960s and early 70s there was a craze for men to wear  suit pants in a shorts form, ie; cut off at the knee and teamed with long thickish, ribbed socks, cuffed at the top. Originally adapted from the British colonial military look (think Dr. Livingstone), the fashion began with businessmen living and working in steamy Bermuda, where long pants were just a tad too hot to wear and spread to other countries, albeit for a limited time...it wasn't a lasting fashion. There's a fetching picture of period Bermuda shorts and socks in action at allposters

In summer, office workers, salesmen, real estate agents and other miscellaneous businessmen would trundle off to work in their respectable Bermuda suit shorts/socks combination and no-one would bat an eyelid. On weekends the jacket and tie could be abandoned and the shorts and Bermuda socks could be worn with a casual top. Somehow I just can't see that style happening today, though I believe they are still commonly worn in Bermuda...

Must have forgotten to put his socks on

The Snood

Attractive? If you want one, contact the Snood Lady
A kind of half cap and half hairnet, the snood was a popular fashion accessory of the 1940s and could be worn casually for day wear or fancied up to pair with an evening dress.

Ugly name and in this writer's opinion at least, an ugly style. It seems some things just aren't destined to make a return appearance on the everturning wheel of fashion reycling and I'm hoping the snood might be one of them, though in truth, I have to admit some people do love them.

In any case, the snood was a very popular fashion item in the 1940s, not least because of the practical aspect.  When you consider the large numbers of women moving into traditionally male factory jobs, working with machinery, they were a convenient solution to keeping pesky female locks under wraps. Another saving grace of the snood was, what with such complicated, fiddly hairstyles as those of the 1940s, the snood was a great way to hide those bad hair days.

Still don't like it. Vintage crochet pattern from Etsy

Snoods for sale...

 Snood / Crocheted Hair Net (Red)Snood (Hunter Green)S150bb, Hand Crocheted Black Gimp Large Snood with Black Beads.S153bw, Hand Crocheted Black Large Hair Snood with White Beads All OverS156ww, Hand Crocheted White Rayon, Cotton Gimp Large Snood with White Beads for Women.Triple Thread Snood Hat Vintage Crochet Pattern EBook DownloadVintage Crochet PATTERN to make - Snood Hairnet Hair Net Fishnet. NOT a finished item. This is a pattern and/or instructions to make the item only.Sn125, Hand Crocheted White Gimp Large Snood with Pearls and Sterling Silver Long Chain Necklace with Semiprecious Stonesfor Women and Teens

Vintage Bras

Modern bras or brassieres to be formal, haven't really been around all that long - certainly not in their present form of two supportive cups and versatile stretchy straps. This is not to say women through the ages haven't been using devices to keep those mammary glands in check..they have. In fact there's some evidence of bra-like devices dating back to the ancient Minoans. However the widespread use of the modern bra, which offers firm hold, lift and oomph - is mainly a 20th century thing. Prior to that, for around 400 years women primarily used a various array of corsets to keep themselves uplifted.

In the late 19th century various bra-like devices were invented and there seems to be no general agreement on who came up with the first modern brassiere. Frenchwoman Herminie Cadolle  did invent  a  two-piece corset with a bra-like top in 1889, however credit for the invention of the stand alone, modern bra is generally given to New Yorker, Mary Phelps Jacobs, who couldn't stand her corset anymore - those whalebones (which gave corsets their structure) could get pretty annoying, especially when they start poking out of your evening dresses.  The enterprising Mary took two handkerchiefs, sewn to ribbons and cord and tied them around her neck and shoulders...aah, relief!  Mary took out a patent on her  "Backless Brassierre" in 1914, called her creation the Caresse Crosby and sold the patent to the forward thinking Warner Brothers Corset Company for $1,500, who needless to say, did quite well out of the deal.

Image courtesy of aslipofagirl.
In the 1920's though, the boyish figure was all the rage and the new bras went quiet for a while. The flapper ideal was a slim, straight figure and bigger busted women took to bandaging their chests or purchasing a Symington Side Lacer, a kind of bodice with laces at the sides to squeeze those breasts into oblivion.

As the decades wore on and a new voluptuous look came into vogue, bra designs changed in accordance with the new fashion. Bra manufacturers began to make promises about form and shape, such as Hickory's ambitious Perma-lift shape-shifter in the 1940s, with the 'magic inset' that claimed to take breasts to new heights of perfection...the lift that never lets you down.


The 1950's in particular, heavily emphasized breasts and desirable bras were ones that made women look pointy and perky and offered plenty of cleavage. In this decade, they were less a natural formation and more an architectural construction. By the 1960's though, which took inspiration from the pre-war era, the androgynous look was back on the fashion table and once again breasts were de-emphasised.

In the 70s,  breasts were again ok but the look was natural and women rejected, even resented, the artifice of a structured brassiere, some disposing of bras altogether (it was the decade of the feminist revolution after all).  From the 80's on, breasts starting creeping back into the limelight, so much so that by the 2000s, breast enhancements became the No.1 cosmetic procedure or women under the age of thirty and padded and push-up bra's are selling like hotcakes. It seems that in the 20th century, breasts have come in and out of fashion like crowds through a revolving door. At the moment they are well and truly in and thanks to Mad Men and the vintage clothes revival, looks like pointy breasts are even having a resurgance. Still,  in the fickle world of breast fashion, who knows what tomorrow will bring..?

If pointy is your thing Dollhouse Bettie has some beauties and for a look at some tasteful vintage lingerie, check out A Slip of a Girl

50's pointiliism. Lisbeth Scott

Long Hairstyles of the 1950's

British actress, Diana Dors. Image from Posters Guide
1950s hair cuts weren't all about poodlecuts and bouffants with bangs..there were longer, glamorous styles too, that reflected the over-the-top but structured sensuality of the 50s.

The PageBoy 

One of the most popular styles of the era was the long pageboy, so called because the rolls resembled the hair of  sweet English pageboys of old. The lower hair was curled underneath in a fat roll and sat on the shoulders or just below, while the top was swept to one side with a low side  part and kept in place by pins, a slim headband or a clasp. This style looked great with evening wear and tight-fitting, sexy clothes and showed off sparkling earrings.

The Long Ponytail

Picasso was so enthralled with a young girl's ponytail in the 1950s that he did a series of paintings about it. The girl was 15 year old Sylvette David, daughter of a prominant art dealer, who became the model for a series of Picasso paintings, including the one below...Girl With a Ponytail

Sylvette David with Picasso in the artist's studio
The long sleek pontails of the 1950s were worn very high on the head, either with everything pulled back and encased in an elastic or worn with a fringe/bangs.

This was a flattering style because it pulled everything in an upward direction and revealed the sculptural planes of the face.

The Twist

The French twist is a classic hairstyle for any era but was particularly popular in the 50s, as it offered an aura of elegance and kept everything in place.

The twist was largely a matter of hairpins and spray; the hair had to be brushed thoroughly to create smoothness and shine, then it was scooped back into a kind of hand-held ponytail and twisted around until it could be comfortably tucked under itself on one side and secured with the pins, followed by generous squirts of lacquer.

One of the salient features of all 50s hair was its 'structural integrity', that is, whatever style was chosen had to stay in its place, either through pins and hairspray or preferably both.  Long hair was rarely worn flowing loose- the freewheeling, wild-child hair generation was still a decade away.

Short Hairstyles of the 1950s


Dear old Csirac...Australia's first computer and only the fourth to be built in the world, the grand old boy of  computation now resides in the Melbourne Museum and apparently has the distinction of being the oldest computer still operating, albeit primitively. Csirac ran its inaugural program in 1949 and its existence is a startling reminder of just how rapidly exponential the ascendance of technology has been in the last 60 years.

An ancestor to the laptop...Csirac. Image from Wiki Commons

Csirac was huge -the size of two Winnibagos side by side and had the brain power of your average low market electronic organizer but back in its heyday, it was the fastest mechanical brain in the country - a thousand times faster than anything else that was around at the time. During Australia’s first computer conference in June 1951 it wowed the attendees with a world first, by beeping out a song in its charming electronic drone - Colonel Bogey was the song. Over the next decade, changes and improvements were made and eventually Csirac could manage over 700 programs, including computing weather forecasts, helping to design skyscrapers and calculating home loans, which I'd guess was impressive at the time.

In the 70's and 80's, unable to keep up with those flashy new electronic kids on the block, the old boy was put in and out of storage the next 30 or so years, until finally finding a permanent home at the museum. For the tech heads, Csirac's technical specs can be found here:


Gerry Gee

Ron Blaskett and Gerry Gee, sipping Tarax
America had Charlie McCarthy, aka Edgar Bergan, England had Coster Joe, aka Fred Russell and Australia's most well known ventriloquist act was Gerry Gee, aka Ron Blaskett.

Gerry appeared in the 1960's on a Children's Televsion show, that was in reality, a lemonade promo called The Tarax Show, Tarax being a popular brand of lemonade that was around at the time.

The show begn in 1957 as The Happy Show, hosted by the congenial Happy Hammond and was changed to The Tarax Show not long after, running until 1969. Due to the popularity of the act, a limited range of Gerry Gee merchandise was launched, including mini versions of Blaskett's dummy and a companion doll, Gerry's sister, Geraldine Gee, who wore long blonde plaits, tartan skirt and a green or red shirt.

Geraldine Gee. Image from the Melbourne Museum website

In 1998, Blaskett sold the original Gerry Gee through Leonard Joel Auctions for $17, 000. Cheap at the price I'd wager, for though the act was a little hokey/corny, Gerry Gee was after all, a significant icon in Australia's early TV history.

In the image below, Gerry Gee, looking just a little bit spooky, wears a Richmond Football club jumper...

Image from the Melbourne MuseumWebsite

 Interested in spooky dummies? Check out..... Disturbing Ventriloquist's Dummies

Skipping Girl

Melbourne's iconic Skipping Girl.Image from Kingston Historical Website
Old Melbourne
Since 1936,  the Skipping Girl Vinegar sign has been an iconic and much loved landmark for Victorians. Dubbed "little Audrey", the Skipping Girl began in the imagination of Jim Minogue, who won a competition to design a logo for Skipping Girl Vinegar in 1915. Minogue's 8 year old sister Kitty, was the inspiration.

In 1936, a neon sign was created by the Electric Sign Company- believed by some to be Melbourne's first - although according to Neville Michie, whose father, AI Michie, was General Manager at Nycander's from 1928 to 1954, the Skipping Girl was not the first animated sign, as "Kraft had a sign with a "K" composed of three letters K, of three sizes, that were illuminated in turn. "As kids we knew it as Panting K".

Interestingly, Neville Michie also recalls that the Skipping Girl had a Swedish cultural connection. As he explained to me:

My Father, A.I.Michie,  worked at Nycanders from 1928 to 1954 when he was manager. He explained the Skipping Girl was Nycander's idea. Nycander was a Swede, in Sweden the cruel, cold winters keep children indoors for months , until in Spring there is a day that is warm enough for the children to go out and play. The first "Skipping Girl" of the year is a sign that Winter is over and Spring has arrived. So just as the English wait for the first cuckoo, the Swedes wait for the first  skipping girl.

At a time when brands were promoted by logos, like Aeroplane Jelly and Submarine Candles, Nycander chose the "Skipping Girl" from his Swedish heritage as a trading logo. Notice that the dress that she wears is a Swedish traditional design.

Skipping Girl was placed atop of the Nycander  Co’s Skipping Girl Vinegar factory, opposite the end of Burnley Street in Abbortsford. However in 1968, at a time when, sadly,  many of Melbourne's historic buildings were being mercilessly ripped apart to make way for high rise developments, the factory faced demolishment and the Skipping Girl was dismantled by Whelan the Wrecker and sold to an Auto yard for £100. (Comedian Barry Humphries later tracked down the decayed original skipping girl and wrote a song, an An Ode to the Skipping Girl.)

By that time Skipping Girl had become a part of Melbourne's collective psyche and her abscence caused a public furore. Outrage was so strong that the factory owner had a replica made, which was placed atop of the Crusader Electroplating factory in 1970, 100 metres away from the old Vinegar Factory. That wasn't the end of the story though, as in the 1980's, there was more controversy when the Crusader factory was turned into trendy apartments.

The Skipping Girl survived the transisition and remained on top ...I mean, who wouldn't want to live in a building below the Skipping Girl?

By the 2000s she was looking a little distressed and once again in danger of annihilation. Fortunately the Heritage Trust launched an appeal and funds were raised to restore the sign. Her neon function had been turned off for several years and it's only since 2009 that she's been lighting up the Melbourne sky again at night and powered by 100% Green Power energy no less.

Old Nycanders factory, - original home of the Skipping Girl. Many thanks to the Michie family for the use of these photos.
AI Michie, industrial chemist at and Nycanders and later, General Manager from 1928 to 1954
To many Melbournians, the city would not be the same without their Skipping Girl and she has proved to be an attraction for artists, photographers and even inspired the name of  a Melbourne acoustic band,  Skipping Girl Vinegar. There is something strangely moving about that old image of a carefree girl skipping gaily amid the aggresive architecture, chaos and stress of a modern city.

Isn't it Iconic?

Solar switch
As of 2012, the Skipping Girl is no longer powered by electricity but rather twenty-seven solar panels, keeping her in step with an environmentally conscious world.

Speaking of old Melbourne. Remember Foy and Gibsons..?

Vintage Handbags

Vintage inspired kiss clip purse bag

Although handbags have probably been used in various guises for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, the modern  "ladies handbag" or purse, as we know it, really only came into vogue at the beginning of the 20th century. Handbags are so incredibly popular it would be hard to find a woman who didn't own one. Of course, men use them too, in a "manbag" form but by far the most avid fans of the handbag are women. 
Vintage inspired purses to make yourself from Victorian Purses by Sue

A lady and her reticule
They are such a handy item, I wonder how most men can do without them - the right sized bag can hold tech stuff, pharmaceuticals, make-up, money, notebooks, pens, hairpins, brushes, tarot cards, a kitchen sink..no not really but you get the drift. The precursor to the modern handbag was the reticule. a type of drawstring handbag that was carried by elegant ladies in the 19th century - very Jane Austin. Prior to this, most women had used large pockets to store their essential items, such as perfume, a handkerchief, smelling salts or a needle and thread. Interestingly, these pockets lay under a womans skirts, suspended by a belt and the wearer could access it via a slit in the outer skirt. As slimmer cut, under the bust empire dresses made it difficult to access pockets under the outer clothing, the reticule became a necessity.

The term "handbag ' didn't come into common usage until the 20th century and then it was used to describes a man's bag or satchel. Hmm...how things change, as these days few men would be prepared to say "pass me my handbag". By the 20s however, the handbag had become an accessory for independent women about town. In previous centuries, it wouldv'e have been considered a definite no -no for a woman of style and substance to lug around anything bigger than a reticule - after all, that's what servants were for.

Bags in this era were very much influenced by the Art Deco style - geometric lines, often with motifs and/or decorative beading. Art deco favoured the use of earthy and dramatic colours such as black, cream, green red, and orange.

Fabulous 20s/30s handbag from Suziefloozy.com
During the 40's and 50s, the popularity of handbags grew exponentially and they came in a variety of styles - clutch, evening, drawstring, shoulder strap, purse, tote, pocket book, although the traditional short strapped, clasp bag remained the most ubiquitous. In the 60's and 70s the more traditional bags went out of vogue somewhat and new designs tended to more androgynous.. The mod era, with it''s ironic use of traditonal icons,  ushered in a "rebellious" look that was carried into the 70's. Young women often carried army surplus bags, leather satchels and later, back packs.

A woman on her wedding day in 1941, holding a clutchbag

With the 80's glam, the classic handbag made a return, with a distinctly glitzy, lush look. Clutch purses featured on TV show like Dynasty and the big, roomy bag was also popular. "Designer bags", with their distinct brand styling and hefty price tags became a status symbol, for the aspiring yuppy.  In the 90's funky little box bags made an appearance, as everyone wanted to look like Audrey Hepburn or Jackie O. Handbags are really so versatile and now so multifarious, that in the 2000s, women can wear any style in any size...there's no single defining style.
A modern bag in a retro inspired style. From stylehive.com
Modern vintage. Love it.

The Old Milk Bar

RIP Peter's Ice-cream sign
Once upon a time in Australia every suburb had a little Milk  Bar, often with a luscious looking Peter's ice-cream neon sign out front. Customers went in to buy milk and bread and maybe a newspaper and sundry grocery items...or even a milkshake and a four and twenty pie. They were a focal point for the neighbourhood...a hangout and a place where customers developed a relationship with the shopkeepers.

Al Bowlly and Ray Noble

My father was a great fan of music of the 1930's, an appreciation buoyed by a great collection of vinyls, as well as old 78's and as a result I grew up listening to music by the greats, such as Fats Waller, The Mills Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Duke Ellington. With unfailing regularity, every saturday, morning Dad would rustle through his collection and dance around the lounge room floor to the music of his choice, always uplifted by the melodies. Many a saturday morning I would awake bleary-eyed to the cheerful, sometimes too cheerful, strains of George Gershwin's Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries.

Ray Noble
One of my favourites from this vintage musical treasure trove was  singer and jazz guitarist Al Bowlly. Bowlly was a prodigious artist, making more than 1,000 recordings between 1927 and 1941 and his sweet, warm but nonetheless strong voice appealed to a wide range of listeners. In the 1930 he teamed up very successfully with fellow Englishman, (another of my favourites), Ray Noble and his Ray Noble Orchestra and it proved to be a great boon to both careers.

The Songs
Love is the sweetest thing, The Very Thought of You, You're So Desirable, The Touch of Your Lips, Goodnight Sweetheart, Isle of Capri are just some of the songs British bandleader Ray Noble has left to the world. Noble too, was immensely popular in his day and his beautiful tunes are still used in various productions, more than seventy years after their inception; notably in a cat food advertisement, as the theme for a British television series and in the films of Woody Allen, a fellow 30's music fan.

Perhaps the most striking feature of a Ray Noble song, besides its warmth and simplicity, is its 'humanness'.  Bowlly and Noble seem to have been able to tap into something basic and uncomplicated about human love and extract the essence, which is perhaps why they are still enjoyed, despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that the peculiarly sweet innocence of the lyrics jars with the more aggressive tendencies of modern song. There is nothing convoluted or pretentious about a  Noble song; his lyrics are timeless, evocative and utterly relatable. These songs, enhanced by the sweet vocals of Al Bowlly, have been a consistent thread in my life and a musical backdrop to many old memories of childhood. They always add a little Springtime to my heart....

Pert Pedal Pushers

Doris Day pushing the pedal in pedal pushers
Pedal pushers, which were a variation on Capri pants, were a hot fashion item in the 1950's - they projected a perky, fun image, were less cumbersome than jeans and could be plain, cuffed or embellished with buttons or braiding.

Also known as clam diggers, the three quarter length pants were often teamed with a loose shirt, tied at he midriff or a stripey top. Pedal pushers appeared frequently in films from the 1950's and were worn by such leading ladies as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day and Sophia Loren.

Grace Kelly's clothes were never better than they were in the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film, Rear Window, (except maybe in To Catch a Thief) and in the final scene of the film she wears a classic combination of dark blue, cuffed denim pedal pushers, navy loafers and a tangerine shirt, tied at the waist.

Grace Kelly in Pedal Pushers
The costumes for both films were designed by the legendary Edith Head, who was nominated for more academy awards (for costume design) than any other woman in Hollywood - thirty-five in all. She won eight.

50's rockabilly legend Carl Perkins liked pedal pushers so much - pink ones, in particular, he wrote a song about them...

Poster from Amazo

Read a longer version of this article about pedal pushers...