Style crush – The Hour

There’s a lot to love about the BBC’s The Hour.

Set in the 1950s, The Hour gets behind the scenes of a groundbreaking current affairs programme at the BBC in (fictional) times gone by. While it’s very much a generalisaton to call it such, ithas been dubbed the UK’s answer to Mad Men. Except you have nosy journalists chasing stories rather than high-profile advertising executives chasing clients.

What’s not to love?

Of course, the characters and story have got me hooked, but can we please, please talk about the clothes. Please?

Part of what made most of the sewing world fall head over heels in love with Mad Men was the impeccable costumes. I think we’ve all wanted one of Joan’s wiggle dresses in our lives. Admittedly, it plays a lesser part here in The Hour, as tricky stories and conspiracies rule the roost.

But the costumes really are a treat, from roving reporter Freddie’s shabby suits to the more polished flounce of housewife Marnie Madden. But my absolute favourite wardobe is that of ambitious producer Bel, filled with jewel toned skirts and dresses. Sleek and professional.

As you all know, I’m not a fan of quick-fire fashion and Bel’s work wardrobe, full of practical yet professional favourites, harks back to a time when clothes were meant to last. She basically owns my ideal working wardrobe.

I’m not quite pulling off this level of classy just yet, but I’m only a few months into the working world, give me time! Streamlined and sophisticated, her wardrobe screams efficiency. Just the thing you need if you’re in charge of a hard-hitting news programme, wouldn’t you say?

In terms of sewing, it would actually be fairly simple to stitch up. Only yesterday, I ordered a copy of Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing, which includes a suit jacket pattern as well as a pencil skirt. Just add a vintage brooch and you’re sorted.

Have any of you watched The Hour? What do you make of the new series? If you’re in the UK, you can catch up with it on BBC iPlayer.


Where do your clothes come from?

Do you know where your clothes come from?

Click on the image to see the interactive version

As sewers, generally the answer is a resounding yes. You’re not likely to forget after hours of stitching now are you? But if you’re anything like me, your wardrobe is probably mostly made up of mass-made and high-street clothing – and this is where the answer becomes less clear.

I tuned into new documentary Mary’s Bottom Line the other day, featuring high-street guru Mary Portas’s attempts to bring clothing manufacturing back to Britain. As you know, this isn’t the first time Portas has featured on this blog – this time, I wanted to see how my own wardrobe measured up to the issues she faces in her programme.

It was simple really, I just checked the labels to see where my clothes were made, jotting up the totals. I left out underwear, but counted garments I’d bought in charity shops. Obviously self-made garments came under their own category.

To be honest, the first thing which struck me was the sheer amount of clothing I own! I counted about 70 garments – who really needs 70 items of clothing?

As for where they came from – in terms of where I bought them, the vast majority come from high-street names like New Look, H&M and Topshop. With the exception of clothing I bought while living in Germany, the majority of it was bought here in the U.K.

But my clothes come from parts of the globe I’ve never even been to. Truth be told, I wasn’t overly surprised. After all, in the UK, 90% of our clothing is manufactured abroad. There just aren’t a great deal of British companies making clothing at home anymore.

When you actually break down the contents of my wardrobe, no less than 18 countries are represented. One blouse bought from New Look came from Bangladesh while another garment hailed from Turkey. The only British garments in my wardrobe came from small clothing labels Rare, Love Label and Quiz. Ironically, a dress I own from Lipsy London was made in China.

As I said, it’s not particularly surprising, yet it wasn’t anything I’d really considered before. Generally I don’t have a problem with buying something made abroad if it was made by people being paid a fair wage (and that’s a topic which deserves its own blog), but I didn’t quite realise how little I own is actually made in the U.K.

On the plus side, the self-made portion of my wardrobe is growing, slowly but surely. Progress!

What do you think? Does it matter if most of my clothes weren’t made in the U.K? Where do your clothes come from?

Could you spend five hundred pounds on clothes?

On Monday, I wore almost £500 worth of clothes.

FIVE. HUNDRED. QUID. Never in my life have I spent that much money on an outfit. Before you all start thinking I went and blew my pledge on an epic shopping spree, I should probably explain.

Over the past few weeks at Cardiff we’ve been working on different features for a Christmas supplement we’ll be putting together next week. Secret Santa style, we had to pick our articles from a hat! My friend and colleague Ellie was lucky enough to pick out women’s fashion, a topic I think all the girls were eyeing up!

A couple of us were asked to be models for the feature, so off we popped to John Lewis (where I saw Ellie Williams from the clothes swap again!) in Cardiff to get suited and booted in some donated clothes for a quick photo shoot in the furniture section. It was a bit surreal trying on various clothing from the department store, because I haven’t been shopping in so long!

mango reiss carvelaCheeky mirror photo while our lovely make-up artist Nicola does her own war paint!

What I wore:

This all added up to a whopping £495.80!

Ok, so this includes the shoes and accessories, but even £300 or so on a jacket, top and leggings seems a bit much to me. Before the pledge, I’d hesitate before spending £30 on a dress, let alone £120 on a top alone!

I did wonder… could I possibly re-make this outfit myself? The leggings would be easy if I found the right fabric, as there are plenty of leggings patterns around. Take this one at BurdaStyle for example!

The peacock top would be fairly easy to make, but I’d probably go for a cheaper fabric than silk, but with a similar drape! This pattern would actually be pretty easy to draft myself! I’ve already tried my hand at drafting a skirt (more on this soon…), so it’s about time I tried to draft a top! Otherwise, I’d probably use a lengthened version of Goldfinch and Eagle’s Port Elizabeth Pattern.

As for the trickiest part of the outfit… the jacket. I’ve eyed up a certain biker jacket pattern at BurdaStyle since they released it a few years ago, but have always shyed away because I just don’t have confidence in my sewing abilities. They’ve used a very thick woolen fabric for their version here, but the Mango jacket was made out of quite a thin leather. If I could find some leather look fabric which was as soft and comfortable, then theoretically be all set…

Have you ever remade a garment you saw on the high street? How did it go? If not… ‘fess up and tell me what’s the most you’ve ever spent on clothes in one go!