Chris C.

On reflection we were quite a fabric-focussed family. My father was a textile designer, working almost exclusively with woolen suiting, tartans, pinstripes, etc. My mother's mother, who lived with the family, was a former seamstress, and my mother loved to dress stylishly, so being on a small budget she sewed for herself and for me. Sometimes she would make my dresses from the same material she had used for herself, which made me feel very grown-up.

Part of the family was my Barbie doll. Unlike today, in those days you only had one Barbie and very few of the expensive store-bought outfits. These only arrived at Christmas or birthdays  (and are the only Chanel and Balenciaga I will ever have in my wardrobe!)  So Barbie was also dressed in the same fabric as Mum and I - one of the girls. I don't have my mother's clothing anymore but I still have those outfits of Barbie's, which are very special. I also have my own unusual attempts to make Barbie's clothes. I have never seen another dress made of a purple tube with holes for the arms and feet, but perhaps it will catch on one day.


Dressing up in Mum's clothes was a special treat and the first piece that comes to mind is a flared black skirt with big coloured circles scattered over it. This was dubbed The Gypsy Skirt. I must have been quite young when I wore this to a fancy-dress day at school, floor-length, complete with a ruffled shirt and bandana tied over my hair. We had to walk around in a circle for the grand parade, strutting our stuff. Unfortunately I wasn't able to display my gypsy moves to full effect as the boy in front of me had come dressed as a circular clothes-line (go figure!). One of his spokes was sagging badly, and being the kind-hearted soft-touch that I was, I agreed to support his drooping spoke. I remember feeling rather foolish, parading around carrying half a clothes-line, an accessory to the other kid's costume. However I couldn't abandon my post, so sadly the gypsy effect was lost.

The skirt, however, never lost its allure and featured in many a dress-up adventure game as I grew older. Still brings a smile to my face.