Dress Down Sunday: Take off those wet things...

Dress Down Sunday:
what goes on under the clothes

the book:

The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith

published 1965 set in the 1920s

[Mouse and her friends are caught in the rain, and find their way into an empty house to dry off]

The girls instantly took off their wet dresses and stockings, and practically forced me to take mine off too…

The nursery blinds were pink, and all the furniture was pink. With the electric fire on, the room was cosy. We wandered round looking at old toys and pictures. The girls, having found their crepe de chine cami-knickers as wet as their dresses, had taken them off and were wearing only the tight silk brassieres that coerced their busts into fashionable flatness, and pink girdles from which suspenders dangled and jangled. My underwear was still childish and there was a good deal of it. Had I been as scantily clad as Molly and Lilian were I could not have behaved with the complete unself-consciousness they had probably learned in the theatre dressing-room.

observations: That first line sounds like some man (Joey from Friends, as it might be) having a fantasy light porn dream. The three young women are about to meet Zelle for the first time, the fourth of their little group. In Valley of the Dolls, in The Best of Everything, in the film How to Marry a Millionaire, there are three girls together in the big city and getting going on the world, but in this book there are four, though Zelle never quite cuts it as one of the group. They all have nicknames – including Moll Byblow and Madam Lily de Luxe, so they’re all set should they ever need stripper or drag queen names – though their real names are either never mentioned or dismissed. The book has got a structure, but still it feels like a collection of autobiographical anecdotes from Dodie Smith’s own early days in London – the events leading up to their finding themselves in this house are strange, and so un-plot-like that you think it must have been a real situation she found herself in at some time.

Links up with: this book has
featured before, and in the entry you can find the connections with the other, similar, girls-getting-going-in-the-city books. Sylvia Plath’s Esther also lived in a group with other women.

The picture is from the State Library of New South Wales via
Flickr . These women are mannequins for a Sydney department store called Grace Bros – an eye-catching name for UK readers, who remember a camp classic sitcom called Are You Being Served?, set in an apparently imaginary shop called Grace Brothers.


  1. Great photo. Cheers

    PS Did you know that your word verification stuff/are you a robot etc is turned on? It would make commenting much easier if you got rid of it.

  2. thanks Carole - and no, I had no idea, and it was not intentional! I think I have changed it successfully...


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