Fashion Passion,Part 3. Furs, Leggings and Hats: Mother and Child

In the 1950’s, little girls got their first handwarmer muffs about the same time they graduated from diapers. Until my sister came along when I was four, I enjoyed the benefits of being an only child. My mother had not yet returned to work, which meant more time for shopping. Now, she not only enjoyed dressing herself, but also got a kick out of dressing me out in the latest fashions. Here, I wear a matching coat and hat outfit, complete with the article of clothing little girls disliked most—the dread wool leggings, which in Baltimore parlance (Balamorese)  is  pronounced  “leggins.” Leggings were cut narrow, and since little girls then rarely wore long pants, mothesr would tuck, or rather cram, the bottom half of the little girl’s dress into the leggings. Under this coat  the leggings came up like overalls, with adjustable straps  and a zipper.  The entire ensemble had the effect of making one feel like a little sausage, packed tight  inside its casing.  To compensate  for the unpleasantness of the leggings, my mother  bought me this little red patent leather purse (more on that later, for it would come to no good), and a white rabbit fur  muff.

My mother has traded her black peplum skirt for a light colored, shorter garment with a sporty little side vent, and she wears her muskrat coat, bought before the war, and altered from its original full-length to this stroller design. In the  early 1960’s , she  had it remade into a cape. Eventually it stayed in the very back of the hall closet in its special furrier’s bag for years, until my sister rediscovered it during her first hippie phase in the early ‘Seventies.

And the red  purse? The summer after this photo was taken, on a four–hour car ride to the shor, I chewed on the strap all the way to Ocean City. The imitation patent  leather must have been toxic, for I was sick for several days with a bellyache, and had to see a pediatrician who prescribed  paregoric. When I wasn’t looking, Mother disposed of the once-beloved purse, dumping it into a trash barrel behind the Hastings Sea-Mist Apartments.

2 thoughts on “Fashion Passion,Part 3. Furs, Leggings and Hats: Mother and Child

  1. Lynne – I love this blog. I’ve been thinking about my own mom a lot since she passed away in March, and digging through a mountain of her stuff. She didn’t care much for fashion, but she used to love to dress me up when I was a little girl, then take a picture of me posing in front of the closet door. I felt pretty special.

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  2. My mother had a hard row to tow with me since I hated shopping. But I loved those rabbit fur muffs. Those leggings? Please. The trauma remains. I have a very long and warm down coat that I don’t wear very often. It is very confining. Plus, getting in and out of it is a trial. It seems that the only way to avoid getting the long zipper fixed all the time is not to pull it up or down very far and then to step into it. like leggings. I embarrassed my sister one day so much that she looked away. Others think it’s fun and have adopted the idea, which was really the tailor’s idea.

    Lynne, I actually have one of my mother’s fur coats. It would fit my pinky, perhaps. Lois has or had a mink jacket of hers. I think she got rid of it.

    In case you didn’t realize, I’m enjoyed all of these entries. The only problem is that I keep forgetting what my password is.

    Happy Fourth, my friend.

    –Martha

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