Pippa Dee and the Tupperware Mountain

Guest Blogger Joanne Fox is back for another trip down memory lane

When I was growing up in the seventies, it felt like the boom-time for party-plan selling. Few weeks passed without my mum and our neighbours visiting one another’s homes to swoon over the latest ranges of clothes, make-up and kitchenware that could be bought on a party-plan basis.

The concept was simple but effective. Imagine you make an innocent comment to the lady who’s just moved in along the road. “That’s a nice blouse,” you say, privately thinking the swirly orange pattern reminds you of your lounge curtains.

“It’s from Pippa Dee,” she replies. “Would you like to come to my next party?”

70's style pink nylon nightdress for sale at www.retrochicvintage.comTo be friendly, you go to the party, noticing how the menfolk of her household have made themselves scarce before guests arrive. The hostess’s daughter models a few frilly tops. You feel obliged to purchase a serviceable bra so that your hostess will make enough sales to receive her free gift.

Just when you think you can escape, a couple of other guests decide they will arrange parties – and of course you are invited. Now you have to go to their houses and buy more overpriced clothes so they can get their free gifts too. But never fear, because you can always have a party of your own and it’ll be your turn for the free gift. Hurray! You’ve only spent a small fortune on clothes you’ll never wear to get that lilac baby-doll nightie which will give you a shock of static every time you put it on.

When I was about ten I had two pink nylon Pippa Dee nightdresses. I can still remember how I detested the feel of the cold material, which did much to put me off man-made fabrics for life. To me all their clothes looked terribly old-fashioned, but one guest who found inspiration at a Pippa Dee party was Jacqueline Gold, now chief executive of the Ann Summers chain. Back in the eighties she saw how the concept of party-plan selling might revive the Ann Summers business, which was then owned by her father.

Tupperware party invitation At your Pippa Dee party you would be expected to provide a few nibbles, and what better to serve them in than your extensive collection of Tupperware? Following its invention in the 1940s by Earl Tupper, Tupperware became king of the party-plan circuit. Any time that people thought they had enough pastel-shaded bowls, boxes and cruet sets to build a Tupperware mountain, out would come some new item that nobody realised they needed until it was demonstrated by the party organiser.

I particularly remember we had a round, white Tupperware dish which was divided into half a dozen sections. There was a handle which screwed into the centre, and the dish had its own lid. It was used a lot for peanuts and crisps if we had visitors, or for bits of salad for Sunday tea. The second Tupperware item that sticks in my mind is a pale green beaker, again with a lid. Whenever I went on a school trip the beaker would come with me, filled with orange squash which never tasted very nice. During holidays, Tupperware really came into its element. Picnics on the beach would feature hard-boiled eggs, pickled onions, cheese and cucumber sandwiches, and other delights, all packed neatly into every possible size of Tupperware container.

In the late 70s Tupperware’s popularity began to wane and I remember a brief fad for stainless steel parties instead. However Tupperware has since regained its place in the party-plan market, with the result that there was recently estimated to be a Tupperware party held every 2.5 seconds!

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Wrangler

Wrangler promo on www.countrymusicacrossamerica.comWrangler can refer to a whole host of things. Check out the Wikipedia disambiguation page. But no, I’m not referring to a Tenth Century Bavarian duke in this post, I’m talking about jeans.

Denim didn’t arrive in our village until the Seventies, or perhaps it was just my mother refusing to allow me to dress like a cowboy. There were plenty of cows in North Warwickshire but not many rodeos.

However, something changed in the late Seventies, with the arrival of a regular ‘cowboy and western’ night in the local working men’s club. She’d always loved listening to country music and the chance to watch groups performing live (albeit Brummie boys with fake Texas accents) produced a complete turnaround on the denim front. She bought herself a cowboy hat and me a pair of jeans. Yay!

Why do they chop the heads off the models? Still, yum-yum!Even now when I see a woman in jeans and a white teeshirt, Wrangler jacket on or slung over the shoulder, I go mad with lust.

Strangely when men are wearing this costume, I think of striking miners. But what with me being a fag hag, Brokeback Mountain did the trick.

What it is about these items of clothing, I’ve no idea, perhaps the hint of rebellion? Perhaps the connection with manual labour? Whatever it is, my murky memory has it starting in the back of the club to the strains of The Crystal Chandeliers.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Flyaway Collars and Kipper Ties

Me in my favourite shirt with giant collar, aged 8

None of the material excesses of the eighties can compare with kipper ties and wide shirt collars. These really were ‘material excess’. I loved that shirt though, and the collar only seems big in retrospect (funny how that happens, isn’t it?).

Also the flowers seemed subtle to me at the time. Compared to other girly shirts I was forced to wear, this one was more masculine and me being a tomboy meant that I preferred it.

 
Kipper tie fancy dress at www.chickenshop.co.ukI wanted a kipper tie, but by the time I was old enough to choose what tie I wore (i.e. not school uniform) they had gone out of fashion and were used as jokes.

This one is from a fancy dress website www.chickenshop.co.uk, but you can also get genuine retro ties from seventies clothes stores listed on www.retrosellers.com

 


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

The Cream Suit

Saturday Night Fever costumeAnother fashion disaster of the Seventies – the cream or white disco suit. Flared trousers (of course), waistcoat and jacket which looked like a suit you might wear to the office except that it was white not grey.

Why was it a disaster? Well because it would get dirty so easily what with the sweat from disco dancing and the possibility of spilt drinks. A stained white suit is not sexy. There was also the open black shirt with white jacket aspect of the cream suit which was totally revolting, especially with all the chest hair. *shudders*

I am so glad that my dad never owned a cream suit. I think if he had then I’d have been so embarrassed I’d have disowned him. But I did sometimes see other people’s dads in cream suits. I had a white jacket myself in the nineties when I was at my butchest, but didn’t wear it for very long as the dirty aspect soon became apparent.

The only thing I can think that would have caused the cream suit phenomenon was Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta looking like your dad at a wedding. Oh dear.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Hotpants

Melanie Day won the Caistor Miss Hot Pants title in 1971. She had a handbag for her prize - I kid you not. Isn't google wonderful?Among the fashion disasters of the Seventies, the Hot Pants were the most idiotic to my childhood mind. If you wore them because you were hot, why didn’t you just wear shorts? Why have that added bib? I didn’t understand it at all. Of course as an adult I can see that the word ‘hot’ had a different meaning to the reference to the summer temperature.

Wonderwoman wore hotpants apparently, though they were the shorts kind and without a bib. When you see Wonderwoman’s costume now she looks like she’s wearing granny knickers.

It’s amazing to think that anyone thought that this was revealing and daring. But they were, especially when worn with thigh-length boots.

A photo of my little sister in her yellow hotpants (taken from inside her head)My little sister had a pair of bright yellow hotpants and she wore a bright orange teeshirt with them. She thought she was fabulous because she looked like one of the women in Brotherhood of Man (never understood why there were women in that band).

She used to pose in the living room singing Save All Your Kisses For Me. And even though everyone used to have to wear sunglasses when they looked at her, they all thought she was cute as well and I was the only one who thought she was a monstrosity.

Thank goodness the yellow hotpants went out of fashion and now if we’re hot we just wear cutoff jeans. (Which were also called hotpants strangely) Modern hotpants are much sexier, show a bit of bum, and are generally used as underwear.

Modern hotpants from www.hexus.net

 

 

 


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room