By the Time we got to Woodstock…

So, it’s the fourth of five in the series of Analyses of the Trends for the Summer.

This time it really is the Summer look, because where would Summer be without the Festivals? New York State had Woodstock, The West Country has Glastonbury and Huntingdon? Well, Huntingdon has the Secret Garden Party in Abbot’s Ripton.

I’m always intrigued by the festival goers who come into our local Tesco Supermarket on the fourth day of the festival. I always keep my distance because, with the best will in the world, patchouli oil can never be a good substitute for soap and water, but I am fascinated by the clothes these people wear. I wonder if there are special shops for festival goers – perhaps and I speculate on whether those people still wear those kind of clothes when they go back to their day jobs as Insurance Agents or Admin Clerks.

But this season we need to look no further than our faithful M&S for inspiration.

Well, to get us in the mood, let’s play Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock in the background, because this look is definitely more Stateside than English as, although Laura Ashley would recognise a lot of it, there’s not a rain-mac or pair of wellingtons in sight! Not content with getting back to the garden there’s more than a hint of the good ol’ country wild west to the flavour and I’ll give you another suitable song when we get there.

Natural is the word that springs most readily to mind when you think about this look. There’s lots of linen (yes, I’m sorry, all you Classics; again, this is not one for you), loosely woven cottons, even some crochet. Patterns, with the possible exception of some country ginghams and stripes, are florals with a heck of a lot of butterflies. In fact, just looking round M&S the other day, there were more butterflies than would fit on a buddlia bush in August. Colours, are for the most part, soft and muted. Autumns get it pretty much their own way here, but there’s quite a lot of denim and soft white for the Summers out there. Shapes are mainly loose and flowing and the concept that a hemline should be the same all the way round has occurred to only one in three of these designers. Yes, Classics, I saw that wince. Just you treat this as entertainment and try not to pass judgement; horses for courses and all that. Oh, and we’ll be coming back to horses later.

So let’s look at some real clothes out there.

Dresses are sweetly innocent, even if the hemlines are higher than some of us may be comfortable with.


I warned you about the florals, didn’t I? and the butterflies…


OK – I have to admit – I really like that one.

It gets even more cloyingly sweet with Broiderie Anglais


And then heads straight on out West to the home-spun charm of the Little House on the Prairie


Well, G’night John-Boy. G’night y’all.

Oh, and we have a quick glimpse of the dress Dorothy might have worn to her prom after she defeated the Wicked Witch of the West.


Well, that’s enough dresses for now, although, as this is a very feminine look, dresses do take centre stage – in the accoustic set with  close harmony work, of course.

So, dresses are very closely followed by skirts. Just as a change from butterflies, we have some pretty birds here


Yes, that is slotted ribbon-work in the seams there: well spotted. Watch out for the crochet round the hems in a little while. Now, don’t I remember, way back when in 1978 having lace bottoms to my skirts? Here it comes….


You see, you just can’t keep a good style down! It may have taken thirty years, girls, but the lace petticoat look is back – and doesn’t it just take me back too…

Although I can’t help feeling that my skirts were just a little more full back then…



Yes, just like that! Oh, happy days. Well, actually, days full of teenage angst, so, looking back,  maybe we’d better move swiftly on to another style – the playsuit.

Oh yes, the playsuit. This is available in three styles: boudoir, boudoir meets Daisy Duke meets the Waltons and just  “Them Duke Boys” (I always liked Beau best. What do you mean – you’ve forgotten which one Beau was? Hey – shut down Joni and watch the intro to The Dukes of Hazzard. Beau’s the blond one.) You take your pick. Hand on heart, as a lady past the 50 mark, I’ll take the boudoir option and restrict its viewing to a very private audience. There are some things that just shouldn’t be taken public at my age!


Boudoir in geranium pink. Mmmmmm….

Then the cute one…


And then the one that I would have worn back in 1979 when I would really have liked to have met Beau Duke, and Daisy Duke was my idea of style nivana.


Which brings us nicely into the rodeo look. Apparently it’s there, girls, but the nearest I found was this embroidered take on the denim jacket. Maybe our English tastes run rather more to the horses than the cowboys!


But now that our minds are firmly in the Mid-West rather than tromping around in that Glastonbury/Woodstock mud, let’s take advantage and listen to Big and Rich singing “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy”. Well, thanks for the invitation, boys… By the way – be warned – I’m not letting my girls watch this video until they’re at least thirty, so if your sensibilities are delicate, you may want to skip this rather naughty song.

Is there anything with this look I haven’t covered? Ah yes – the great grandmother theme. It’s all a one with the Prairie look, I guess: just look at the smocks, the sweet collared blouses, the embroidered yokes…




And that’s it for now. Please remember that, for all the mid-west rodeo influences that are the most enormous fun, this look is principally about floaty cotton dresses with uncertain hemlines, granny’s crocheted detailing and the naturally crumpled look as if you’d just stepped out of a tent and sleeping bag (not necessarily your own) on a summer’s morning with the mist still on the ground and the rooks cawing high up in the elms.

So, Dutch Elm disease got the elms, our days of camping are far behind us, but hey – a girl can dream….




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