My Sixties Wedding Dress – a Memoir

All very trendy. Mother disappointed that I refused the bouffant-style bride gown. I have never done bouffant except with my hair.

Bet you don’t recognise me, eh? The skinny one with chestnut hair and the amazing silver leather sling back gorgeous shoes with diamante and silver leather flowers.

Bell-shaped sleeves, A-line dress shape with rainbow shape seam shaping the bodice. The fabric was treebark satin with a lovely sheen and texture. Mine caught the ultra violet light in the fabric creases. My Mother had always been a good dressmaker. She made underwear from damaged silk parachutes during the war and kept her sisters looking glam at the wartime dances.

She never knew that my favourite dresses were the ones she made. An ungrateful daughter aged ten, I complained that I didn’t want home made clothes any more, but over my teenage years she finished off many a hem for me on the dresses I made from the latest patterns. Great grandfather was a successful tailor, Grandma çrocheted and taught me. Creating with fabric was in the blood.

Love the pearl and waxed flowers headdress. Pity it doesn’t show here. The three-tired veil came to my waist at the back and that layer had little cotton appliqued flowers. Very delicate. My granddaughter had it for dressing up when she was little and thought she was a princess.

My Mother was understandably reluctant to sew my wedding dress, but it was important to me. Hopefully it showed my appreciation for her skill and all the love she sewed into our clothes that she did not voice. Satin-lined, it fitted perfectly and was so comfortable. No, I was adamant that it din’t need pearls or crystals around the neckline, but I settled for a large single pearl on a gold chain, and that was perfect.

.I was 21 when I married, and we bought a very modern house. That was what you did in my area in 1967. My marriage was a disappointment, aren’t they all? 16 years we lasted, my life a combination of Shirley Valentine before we emigrated to Australia and Educating Rita as the Seventies stirred up Women’s Liberation.

I thought I was marrying Heathciffe from Wuthering Heights. He fitted the description. He thought he was marrying a grateful housewife. Well the poor man got that wrong. Between us we have two wonderful sons, and what I refer to on forms an ‘amicable divorce’. We never married again. But on the way we did a lot of amazing things that only happened in the Sixties and Seventies.

By pure coincidence the dress sits next to me as I write, in a wooden chest made by my younger son. I was 21 when I wore it. I turn 75 in September, all being well. In all those years I have never seen a wedding dress I liked better.

Love you Mum

In memory of Kathleen English. Passed away aged 91. Adored by her husband Tom every day of their lives together. Made her own wedding dress during wartime in 1944. From net lace  curtains.
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