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Before the Xmas Sweater: Christmas Fashion and Happy Hull-idays Past

December 20, 2019

December’s big holiday is full of family, friends and Christmas cheer. Traditionally an occasion to dress up we look back on style from the years Mirelle was around. Pour something warm and take a trip down memory lane, here’s our retrospective of fashions from those years.

Ah how lovely! This scene conjurs up the scent of mulled wine and a mouth-watering turkey roast. This is the 50s when women dressed for the time of day and rules governed fashion. Mum wears a tailored sea green cocktail dress with an off the shoulder cowl neckline skirt finishing below the knee. Lush and expensive its patina suggests satin or silk. Finished with pearls, son in grey and daughter in red and white it’s a traditional Christmas scene.

A woman wearing a 1960s kaftan next to a white faux christmas tree

A few years into the 60s this woman stands by a faux Christmas tree. Matching perfectly her off-white jacket has a mandarin collar, small gold buttons finished off with a belt at the waist buttons echoed in a long gold chain. This Christmas happened in 1967 – 1969 when an Indian mood permeated fashion and it became OK for women to wear Nehru-style trouser suits for evening wear.

Think Pink A woman wears a bright pink evening dress by a Christmas tree

Pink chiffon with a dyed trim, low neckline and a back panel falling from the shoulders with cat-eye make up and high blonde hair this lady’s chosen a full 50s Marilyn. Posing in the late 1950s or early 60s women often bought a style they felt comfortable in after it was first fashionable knowing it worked for their figure and taste. “Occasion Wear” with a designer label and altered to fit was bought from shops like Mirelle and had a price tag to match. We admire her statement to Think Pink!

1940s Christmas Fashion Woman wearing a full length gown

These were the war years recalled in black and white. She wears a one-tone skirt with contrast blouse, shoulder pads and Victory Rolls curling on her head.  Elegant and feminine the waterfall hem runs off-centre to the floor. Her cheery smile remains a sign of optimism and hope no matter what’s happening in the air, sea or sky on this Christmas Day.

1960s shift dresses at Christmas

With a high backcombed Shingle hairdo and sleek sleeveless shifts this could be the White House on Christmas Eve. Three women show the best of early-decade styling with one-tone dresses a more demure pattern on the right. Girdles kept them slender and jewellery attracted attention to the face and neck. Shift dresses were fashionable in the early 1960s when the trio partied with glasses of Christmas cheer. Transatlantic television, magazines and travel meant American and British fashion was similar by these years.

1960s christmas blouse and brightly coloured pants

This lady takes the blouse and cigarette pants she first wore in the 50s into a new decade. With a brightly coloured textile in blue, yellow and red she teams her trousers with a shiny russet blouse long cuffs, shirt collar and a tie at the waist. A deceptively simple ensemble the blouse has a well-made, classy air. The Aztec-textile in her trousers reminds us of the 1980s when it returned in a home furnishing trend.

Before the Xmas Sweater in the 1970s there was this Christmas Fashion

Not for the faint-hearted this was advertised as a winter wear in the beginning of the 1970s when before the Christmas sweater there were blouses like on the right. This decade saw mini skirts and platforms, A line skirts and a 1930s retro theme. Wear them stomping to Slade at the Trog Bar on Hull’s George Street to celebrate Christmas Eve!

1960s ski suit at Christmas

Light hearted and jolly this dolman-sleeved 60s catsuit – or thermals – is as striking as her glasses and very slim. Worn with boots seen everywhere mid-decade Mum rocks the look made famous by Emma Peel in the Avengers TV series while her son dressed in a country and western style outfit joins in.***

Oh so tinselly 1960s shift dress for Christmas

Tinsel, baubles and a shiny dress. A  very different scene from that worn by the White House trio, this lady did Christmas matching a greeny-gold shift in a synthetic metallic with all the fun of the day.  Artificial – synthetic fabrics became more popular in the 1960s. Although this dress is as glitzy as 1930s metallics it is a bold and humorous statement of the modern era.

back to the 1970s Christmas party

Christmas isn’t Christmas without the big night out. Pictured at the pub guys and gals gather in a few select fashion pieces including a red blouse hung with tinsel and a tiara on her head. She’s making the most of the atmosphere, her husband in the blue suit and hat getting merry with friends. No longer governed by the same rules of the 1950s informal clothes were worn at this party by men and women, tartan a big 1970s trend.

Everyday people in the 70s at Christmas

The 70s was a different decade from earlier glam years. Mass-production saw chains like C&A, Miss Selfridge and Richard Shops on the high street where clothes were affordable and quickly made. Hostess-style maxi on the left, a sky blue trouser suit and a short sleeved dress with a white trim these double-knits, printed cottons and synthetics show everyday people making an effort on the day.

Paragon Jewellers Kingston Upon Hull at Christmas

We finish with a tour of festive Hull from years gone by this picture of Paragon Jewellers from before 1963. On Jameson Street and King Edward Street corner it was demolished to make way for the Co-op bringing Alan Boyson’s 3 Ships mural to the city the campaign to gain Grade 2 listing saving it in time for Christmas 2019.

The whole of Hull was decked with lights dotting shop fronts. Prospect, Savile, George, Paragon, Jameson, Whitefriargate and King Edward illuminated with decorations along its main shopping streets.

Penny Fountain Kingston Upon Hull at Christmas

Across the road from the House of Mirelle Fletchers half-circle windows displayed cakes, buns, sandwiches and bread throughout the year. Outside a mother balanced her daughter on the rim of the penny fountain clasped tightly, the lights of Christmas dancing, coins shimmering below the water in a magical scene. She’ll never forget that special Christmas moment and neither will we.

Merry Christmas everybody and a very happy new year!

© HouseofMirelle.uk 2019

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** Between 1965 and 1967 when playing Emma Peel in the Avengers TV series actress Dame Diana Rigg was dressed by designer John Bates then as the series turned to colour Alun Hughes. Inventing a catsuit called the EmmaPeeler Hughes and Bates transformed television fashion using op-art fabrics, abstract designs and mini-skirts.

The character has been descibed as an icon of feminism with fashions to match. If your interest is tickled by what our Christmas lady wore and how her catsuit echoes the TV series try The Avengers Forever where you can see how ground breaking its style was for Emma Peel and her partner in sixties crimebusting John Steed.

The Avengers Too Many Christmas Trees 1966 Emma Peel
Emma Peel and John Steed fighting bad with a good dose of sartorial elegance. The Avengers TV Series. “Too Many Christmas Trees”. 1966.
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