Good evening, readers! Firstly, thank you to everybody who has been following our blog. It's been so much fun to do and we've got some great posts planned for you. Tonight's post is not related to the sunny weather- no picnics or cycle rides on bikes with baskets, or Marilyn Monroe moments in the summer (ish) breeze. Oh no. That would be a wee bit predictable. Instead, we're going to reveal our true colours and show you that we have grouchy pyjama days just as much as we do frivolous floral frocked ones.
But we couldn't show you that. One, it would be cruel. And not in the least bit interesting. So we decided to do pyjama day vintage style! In this post, we've taken inspiration from Ginger Rogers in Top Hat, and are going to look at what women wore to bed in the thirties.
Women have a history of dressing up for bed. Anne Boleyn was famously bought a black satin and velvet nightgown by Henry VIII in 1532. In those days, you would greet your adoring public in your privy chamber, so being caught in your nightie was a regular occurrence. Remaining regal and exquisite was an absolute must. But now, let's skip forward a few centuries to 1935, where Top Hat awaits!
For those of you shameful lot who haven't see Top Hat, go and watch it. Find it, somewhere, and bask in the wonder that is Astaire and Rogers onscreen together. The scene in which we want to talk about is their 'meet-cute'- the bizarre and beautiful way the couple meet. Staying in the same hotel, Astaire is dancing around his hotel room which happens to be above hers. Woken up by the racket of his tap-tap-tapping shoes, Rogers storms upstairs and complains. Struck by how beautiful she is, instead of stopping dancing, Astaire spreads out sand on the floor of his room...and tap dances her a lullaby.
And no wonder he falls in love. Just look at her nightdress! To anybody, that could be an evening gown for a grand party. But for the Hollywood screen sirens of the thirties, these extravagant costumes were all about keeping up appearances. The thought of being on-screen and looking anything less than desirable was unheard of. According to Lucy Worsley (bow down to the Queen of Curators), they were put in these remarkable costumes so they would shimmer under the lighting. Then, as these films grew in popularity and the A-line gowns became famous, cheaper, nylon versions were released so that women could emulate these styles. Hollywood began to pop up in the bedrooms of Britain. In fact, Lucy Worsley has written a stonkingly great book on the history of the home, and talks at length about the history of the bedroom wardrobe. Thank you, Queen Lucy!
Et voila. Whilst Rogers looked sultry, I look silly. But there is a heart-warming story behind this beautifully embroidered, 1930s-style nightdress and matching gown. Three years ago, I was struck down with a mystery illness and bedridden for over a week. It was horrendous, but one day, a parcel arrived. Upon opening it, folds of turquoise silk slithered out onto the duvet, and in it a note from our aunt- 'Saw these and thought of you. If you're going to be in bed, you might as well look beautiful'.
So, here's to the screen sirens and all those in the centuries before them who make us want to look our best for bed. They might have been replaced with joggers, and why not? We don't always have to look our best.
But sometimes, when you're feeling blue, it's nice to look brilliant even from the comfort of your own bed, and maybe, just maybe, someone will be there to tap dance you to sleep.
Sweet dreams and pleasant thoughts,
The Time Machine Twins