Tuesday Night Club: Clothes to travel in

Our group of crime fiction fans has this month chosen a theme to write about on Tuesdays: we picked Travel and Holidays/Vacations – in any way the blogger chooses to interpret it.

TNB picture

New and casual participants are always welcome: just send your link to me or one of the others, or put it in the comments below. Or you can do a guest blog for one of the regulars.

Thanks to Bev, as ever, for the excellent logo – that’s us going up the gangplank to murder…

Curt listed all the Tuesday Night Bloggers’ links over at his Passing Tramp website here, for week 1.
Week 2 links here.
Week 3 links here.

I’ve looked at a couple of different items this month - a Josephine Bell book, an Agatha Christie, and an obscure (but great) 50s book by John and Emery Bonett, set in a holiday hotel.

This week, in line with the theme of my blog, I’m going to take a look at clothes to go travelling in….

Let’s start with the train station. Big journeys tend not to start there these days, but they did in the Golden Age. So here is The Mystery of the Blue Train, Agatha Christie, 1928

Travel fashion 1
Very perfectly dressed in a long mink coat and a little hat of Chinese lacquer red, she had been walking along the crowded platform of Victoria deep in thought.
The picture is Woman in Coat and Hat at train station, from a 1920s fashion magazine, from the NYPL.

Crime connection: she is also travelling with some very expensive jewels.

Or - this was my choice for a fashion editor travelling to and from Paris for the collections (see Murder a la Mode by Patricia Moyes).

Travel fashion 2

--- photo by Toni Frissell from the Library of Congress: it is widely described, and has been for years, as being taken at Victoria Station. But in the world of crowd-sourcing correction, and in an unlikely conjunction of high fashion and trainspotters, it is now claimed for Paddington.

Crime connection: Who is smuggling the fashion designs?
But perhaps you, the murderer, the victim and the witnesses are all travelling by boat? With a pool and sunshine? You’re going to need some appropriate clothes:

Travel fashion 3travel fashion 4

These were chosen for the excellent Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh.

Crime connection: there’s a serial killer on board.

Meanwhile, wealthy Linnet Doyle has a deceptively simple frock for her cruise down the Nile in one of Agatha Christie’s finest:
travel fashion 7
crime connection: Linnet should never have pinched her friend’s boyfriend…

Last week’s Tuesday Night entry showed some excellent beach outfits for your days on the sand, but we’ll just add this picture of holiday footwear:
travel fashion sand

But perhaps, like Harriet D Vane in Have his Carcase by Dorothy L Sayers, you want to go on a hiking holiday? People have told me that they remember Harriet as wearing trousers, but this is not the case – she is in a sensible skirt and a jumper.

Travel fashion 5

Murder interrupts her holiday, and she needs more clothes – a dinner and dancing dress to please Lord Peter, and a vamping outfit for getting info from a suspect.

Travel fashion 6
crime connection: Harriet has a murder to solve

Delano Ames published Murder Begins at Home in 1949 – contrary to the title, it is about a couple going away to stay on a ranch in New Mexico, and what I looked at in my blogpost was contrasting ideas of what constitutes proper riding clothes for those trips out into the hills - the world was changing just after the war:
travel fashion 8travel fashion 9

crime connection: it’s very embarrassing when your holiday hostess is murdered...

One crime film. If you look like Grace Kelly, then you can be a ‘wealthy tourist’ in Hitchcock’s film To Catch a Thief and dress in this – possibly the most fabulous beach/holiday outfit of all time.
travel fashion Grace

crime connection: jewel thieves again.

So there you have it – fashion bloggers and instagrammers often post pictures and collections of capsule wardrobes, or suggested packing lists: I think Clothes in Books readers can be confident that if they assemble all the outfits pictured today then they will be ready for anything, whether it’s sitting on the beach reading a crime book, or planning something heinous yourself.

However – one last tip – beware of: beach pyjamas, velvet stoles, large hats, distinctive shawls. And that's just the clothes. Also avoid: people who swim up to you in a quiet moment and somehow don’t seem to be helping you, professional dancers at the posh hotel, standing on cliff edges or under loose rocks. (H/T to fellow Tuesday-Nighter Kate Jackson - see her similar advice, channelling the Sainted Agatha, on her armchair reviewer blog).

Then you’ll be fine.


  1. Brilliant post - my summer wardrobe is now sorted! And your additional holiday advice is also very pertinent - I had forgotten how many people in stories get killed by falling rocks or masonry. Pity hard hats aren't that chic...

    1. I think we have a marketing idea here - big summer straw hats with a hard hat built in - elegance and safety for the likely victim!

    2. I've just returned from three weeks in Houston... too hot for the fur, but the little red hat would have been fine.

  2. What a wonderful look at clothes for travel, Moira. I remember the outfit in Have His Carcase (I mean, the hiking clothes), and always wondered at the skirt. I did just a bit of hiking as a kid and wouldn't have dreamed of wearing anything but jeans for it. And clothes are such an interesting topic in Mystery of the Blue Train. I like that visit to the dressmaker's shop towards the beginning of the novel. I could go on and on, but you've done a fantastic job of showing how clothes really did matter. Funny people don't dress as formally as they did for a lot of things these days.

    1. Yes to all Margot! Skirts surely were never as practical as jeans, and yes, Blue Train has a great dress shop/makeover scene. And it is a pity we don't dress up to travel these days.

  3. I feel oddly bereft that you didn't include advice for the well-dressed gentleman murderer/victim . . .

    Grace Kelly is one of my all-time favorites, especially through the lens of Hitchcock, who clearly worshipped her. Her introduction in Rear Window, from the slow motion kiss through the suggestive dialogue to the tracking shot that slowly reveals her outfit as she turns on the lights and says "Lisa . . . Carol . . . Fremont," all truly gorgeous! Thanks for the great post and pics, Moira!

    1. When I'd finished the post I suddenly realized there was nothing for the elegant holidaying male crime fan! My apologies, I will try to do something in future.
      I think Rear Window is one of Grace Kelly's finest moments.

  4. Lovely post, Moira, and excellent advice. Agreeing to swap hotels room (or your seat on a train) for whatever reason is also rarely a good idea.
    I was just thinking that I would love a little hat of Chinese lacquer red, when I remembered that I once had a lovely hat that colour: it was wrecked by the cat sleeping on it.

    1. Oh yes, and there's a swapped cabin in Man in the Brown Suit, and surely a swapped train compartment in something?
      I feel I could travel elegantly if I had enough porters carrying my luggage, and a maid to look after me. So I'm never going to find out...

  5. You haven't crossed paths with a mankini in your reading then? (Thankfully!)

    1. When I said above I wished I'd done some male clothes - well, that wasn't what I had in mind!

  6. One of the little holiday games that I play if I'm dining communally is to surreptitiously look at my fellow diners and decide which ones are 'Murder Victim' 'Killer' 'Most Likely Suspect' 'Amusing Character' 'Red Herring' and 'Eccentric Amateur Detective'. It can make even the dullest meal breeze by.

    I've always loved that portrait of the woman in green that you use in the Harriet Vane section. Very, very striking.

    From a blokes point of view, the holiday seems to be the last refuge of men's hats. It's very difficult to get away with male headgear unless you're not worried about looking strange, but no-one minds you wearing a nice panama hat in warmer climes, especially when worn at the regulation 'rakish' angle.

    1. At the beginning of Death on the Nile, Christie introduces the characters on the boat through the eyes of nice Mrs Allerton - she looks at the passenger list, tries to match them with the people she can see, and passes comment on them. I always thought it was a brilliant opening scene, because we all do it, and it told us about the characters in a non-boring way.
      Yes, proper summer hats for men are excellent. I must do something on this...

  7. Some very lovely images all gathered here Moira. Shows one reason why traveling is so expensive.

    1. Thanks Tracy - I think then (as perhaps now) there were people travelling in luxury and beautiful clothes like this, and then there were the rest of us..


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