London…Paris… Milan… New-ton Abbot… we asked our residents what they remember about their favourite styles and trends. 

The jewel in the British style crown, London Fashion Week is upon us and no doubt the streets of the capitol will be bursting at the seams with style.

While the weird and wonderful outfits being sent down the catwalk in 2018 will be raising eyebrows, we asked our glamorous grans at St Andrews House residential home in Ashburton about what the styles were when they were the trendsetters and if the latest trends made much impact in Devon.

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Pre-war fashions

First off, in the 1930s Great Depression, fashion was anything but depressing. Leslie who was born in 1922 remembers it well, with her icon Joan Crawford dazzling in glamourous gowns and recalls wearing a pink bolero jacket, which was the must have item of the day, even in the countryside. Certainly in the 1940s we saw a drastic change in fashions and by 1945, gloves and hats had become unavailable or too expensive. Even stockings were no longer considered an essential, every day item. Jane was a teenager during the war, so her fashion was very much geared towards functionality and the ‘make do and mend’ mentality. “I was so tall, I had to have my clothes specially made and even make them myself” she recalls.  In Devon, outdoor clothes were the priority, with starched underskirts, except for Sundays where she would wear a dress and cardigan.

The stylish ‘50s and swinging ‘60s

Betty fondly remembers the 1950’s when she was a 20 something. “I quite liked fashion and wanted all my clothes to match” “I still think 50’s clothes are a flattering style, although I was never keen on hats despite them being all the rage.” For a distinct decade filled with revolutionary style, it gave us two of the most memorable fashion icons of all time in Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. These styles still live on today, with nods to these iconic eras featuring heavily in fashion collections in the noughties.

Hemlines were creeping north in the ’60s and space age colour trends white and silver were the result of advancements in fabric technology. Carole, who was in her 20s in the 1960s remembers American royalty Jackie O and one of the world’s first supermodels, Twiggy being her icons of the day. She can still remember her belted green corduroy A-line, V-neck dress with a rolled collar and being told to wear Navy blue because it was slimming.

From Jumpsuits to Shoulder Pads- the ‘70s and ‘80s

The 1970s continued the androgynous styles of the ‘60s but with added polyester, spandex and… Jumpsuits, alongside a new love for even brighter colours and more glitz and glam. Brenda who was in her mid 20’s in 1970 says “I remember having quite big hair in the day and the ABBA ladies outfits still stand out for me.” “Flares and bright colours were my favourites and this summer I’ve kept the 70’s alive with my selection of yellow and orange clothes.”

Finally, by the 1980s it was our resident’s children who were taking charge with the edgy fashions of the day This period was one of the most experimental periods in style history thanks to enduring style icons from Princess Diana to Madonna. The residents recall arguing with their children over the new styles that looked overly skimpy and lots of their daughters having Princess Diana style shoulder pads. One person’s son went on ‘Top of the Pop’s’ and spent weeks choosing his outfit of… jeans and a t-shirt.

After speaking with people who lived through decades of different fashions, it’s clear that while some things never go out of style, the experimental attitude with new trends is usually too liberal for the older generation of the day. While the residents at St Andrews House are unlikely to be wearing the velour tracksuits and shutter shades of recent times, in their day they were most definitely rocking the looks you’d expect to see coming from the catwalks of fashion week. From New York to Newton Abbot, Devon never missed a beat with the avant-guard.