Spring into summer…via Easter

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine

My earliest memories of Easter are not so much of hand painted hard-boiled eggs, of chocolate eggs, or of hot cross buns. What I recall most during my growing years of the 1950s was that regardless of whether the Easter weekend fell in March or in April, it was a symbolic time to shed the winter clothes and showcase those for the summer.

Brrr….Freezing cold legs and short ankle socks! That’s what I remember most.

The aunt I was named after, Nan (usually called my Nana) generally made my sister and I an Easter outfit every year. She was a kilt/ tartan clothes maker to trade and worked in the Glen Har factory in Hillington, Glasgow, Scotland. Glen Har was a prestigious clothing outlet which sent tartan and tweed products to worldwide destinations. Highly skilled seamstresses worked there, so Nana’s wages weren’t brilliant but they were a little above average for the sewing trade.

Nana was my mother’s unmarried sister. She looked after my grandfather who was 78 the year I was born, my grandmother having died in 1950. Regardless of having her full-time 5 days a week sewing job and caring for a cantankerous old man who lived till I was eight in 1960, Nana also loved my sister and me to bits, spoiling us rotten whenever she could afford it. This was just as well because my mum and dad couldn’t buy many new clothes for us; everything we wore was well cared for and intended to last a long time.
NanaUnfortunately, I’ve no photographs of any of our full Easter outfits but this first photo is of my lovely Nana, my older sister and me. I’m about 5 years old in this one: our skirts made by Nana were no doubt quite stylish for that year. (1957?)

But every Easter, Nana went the whole hog. Our brand new outfit got its first airing on Easter Sunday at her local Church of Scotland where my sister and I were enrolled in the Sunday School. Rain, hail or shine …and maybe even snow… we wore our new outfits on Easter Sunday regardless, Nana included as she kitted herself out as well! She would have been ‘black-affontit’ if we weren’t presentable from inside out so, on Good Friday, our cosy and well worn liberty bodices went into storage for the next winter. Nana replaced our scratchy woollen winter vests with strappy white knitted-cotton ones which sometimes had a lovely, but itchy, lace edging. Below that we had brand new knickers. Don’t ask what they were like – lets just say they were cotton utility with wide elastic!

Even though my sister is four years my senior, we tended to get the same design in a pretty cotton dress, or a matching blouse and skirt set. On top of that we would be given a new cardigan, often ones Nana hand knitted. A new cotton jacket or coat completed the outfit, generally shop bought, though I do recall the ‘Duster coats’ she made for us on at least one occasion.

The following photo isn’t an Easter one but my sister and I are wearing blouses and kilts made by Nana. Margaret and Nancy StaffordThe kilts Nana made for this photo are Dress Stewart (I think) although we technically only can claim to be affiliated to the Mackenzie, or the Fraser clans. I’m guessing that Nana couldn’t acquire Mackenzie or Fraser tartan at that time because I also remember wearing a Dress Stewart, Mackenzie and Anderson tartan kilts when I was older.

Woollen socks were the order of the day for the kilt outfit and though not in the photo she knitted us Aran style zipped wool jackets with matching Dress Stewart panels to the front of them. I think I’m a bit less than 4 years old in the photo and the kilt outfits were probably part of our Christmas present from her.

But back to those freezing legs memories. At Easter, we got brand new white cotton ankle socks, sometimes with a little frilly pastel lace edging, and new shoes. Into the storage cupboard went the knee length woollen or cotton socks that had done their turn for us over the winter months. (We had no thick tights or leggings in those days)

Clarks Torflex red
Wikimedia Commons

My hard wearing Clark’s Torflex winter shoes were replaced by summer sandals, or finer summer shoes. I remember at least one pair of my summer shoes being made of fine white kid leather which had to be carefully buffed up with a special white polish. Scratches on those shoes were a nightmare to remove. The summer sandals below were more usual and came in different colours. I remember loving a royal blue pair. My mother, on the other hand, hated them because the blue polish for them dyed her fingers for days after the application.

Wikimedia Commons
Of course the Easter clothes and shoes didn’t magically appear at the Easter weekend – a lot of preparation went into the affair. For reasons I now understand better since I became a grandmother myself, my sister and I were taken to Nana’s to ‘stay over’ most weekends while my grandfather was alive. This meant both he and Nana could see us regularly. Deposited every Friday night at Nana’s meant we could go out on Saturday to buy anything that was shop-bought for our new Easter outfits. Nana claimed to love shopping with us and always made it fun.

Reading the descriptions of our outfits above, you might be thinking that Nana liked cotton an awful lot and you’d be correct! As well as ensuring we looked neat, and were a credit to her, she was also extremely practical. She knew that after Easter it would be my mother who had to wash the clothes and that was quite a palaver in the 1950s. My description of that washing process runs to a lot more pages with images but not here! (If you’re interested in reading about my first childhood home (aka slum tenements of Glasgow) and my mother’s laundry woes you can read about it on my BLOG  )

dunoon 1961ish

But back to my lovely white ankle socks. Nylon ones were available by the early 1960s, as you see in the photo at left taken maybe in 1962 at Dunoon, on the west coast of Scotland,  but they tended to go all stretchy after a few hot washes and they lost their pristine whiteness fairly quickly.

On the other hand, those trusty cotton ankle socks could withstand a lot of boiling, battering and could be bleached to a new whiteness over the months of use.

We did have some sunny warm days back in the 1950s and 1960s but for some amazing reason I remember the cold leg feeling a lot more!

As I write this my laundry is birlin’ aroon nicely on my drying line in the garden. However…it’s only around 8 Deg C/ 46.5 F and I really don’t fancy getting out the ankle socks this weekend.

Did you get a brand new outfit at Easter? 

Have a lovely weekend whatever you’re doing. 

Nancy Jardine writes:

3 mysteriesContemporary Romantic Mysteries




CFS End Sept 2015 Historical Romantic Adventures





Time Travel Adventure for Teens…and older

You can find Nancy at the following places:

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.





26 thoughts on “Spring into summer…via Easter

  1. Being a guy, I never much thought about new outfits for Easter. But I do recall that going to church always required dressing up, wearing a suit and tie. I’ve an old photograph of me wearing a bowtie. That’s a great column, Nancy, and I enjoyed seeing how you looked when you were a kid. You have some great memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah the days of matching dresses and hair cuts. My sister and I are only 18 months apart and new matching outfits always arrived at Easter. While we were at school Mom would create. I distinctly remember Easter dresses with bunnies on them. The bunnies had a big white pom,pom for the tail. The down side of matching dresses was I was the younger sister so I had twice as long to wear clothes. As we got older Mom would make matching dresses, but each creation was in our favorite color.

    As for shoes here in the US it was black patient leather shoes for every special occasion. They were stiff and uncomfortable and needed to be shined with Vaseline before we wore them. Thanks for sharing and sparking a few memories of my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. S.J. -Thank you for sharing similar memories! I also had black patent shoes at some point and I remember hating them getting scuffed because they tended to ‘peel’ after that and their brilliance was sadly gone. The bunny dresses sound fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Funny how you write about your memories of the clothing changes for Easter. I was just reminiscing myself over the past couple days of hats, and white dresses and new Easter outfits when I was young. I even wondered what people would say if I went to church in one of my mother’s old hats which I have hanging on a wall in the family room. That was such a fun “coming of season” ritual, it seemed to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring, no matter the date or the weather, as you remarked. What a fun post and loved seeing pics of you and your nana.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Neva. Nana always wore a hat to church but I can’t be sure about me getting a hat or bonnet. My sister may remember, though, since her memories are better than mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother used to make my outfits, and I don’t remember it being very cold. However, until about the age of 8 I was probably in the hospital with some illness. Later I started making my own, I think around age 10.

    I loved sharing your memories, and what a gift, cold legs and all. Doris

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Doris. That’s sad to hear your were often in hospital but like you I was making things by around 10 as well. Nana taught me how to sew on her old Singer Treadle machine and later I used an electric Singer machine that was bought for me when I was about 14.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, Sarah. I have only a few photos from when I was young so those are quite precious to me. Not sure we were adorable though. My sister might look lovely but she was often a challenge and had a bit of a temper compared to me. I tended to be very laid back about things.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I remember new Easter outfits purchased by my grandmother (or at least I believe she provided my mom the money) and when I was a teenager, I sewed my own clothes and I would make a nice Easter dress for myself. As a young college woman, I LOVED buying new clothes and even decked myself out in hats for Easter. I’m not so much into that these days, but I do try to look nice for church, especially at Easter and Christmas. Perhaps it’s the materialism of society that dictates we should “dress up” on Easter — or maybe, it’s the idea of getting out of the winter sweaters and feeling more spring/summer-like at this time of year — whatever “it” is, I do see lots of people “decked out” for Easter. Fun to have the memories — thanks for sharing yours, Nancy! LOVE THE PHOTOS!! 🙂


    1. I think that ‘shed the winter and move on’ did, and still does, have a lot to do with it. I can’t say that I notice people ‘decking out’ for Easter around me but sometimes I’m such a recluse that it maybe does happen. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Your aunt sounds wonderful, Nancy! No new clothes for me. Just hidden plastic eggs with treats inside or baseball cards as I got older. Next year should be fun for our daughter. This year she got to pet a dog for the first time (and she had new dress on.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you’ll make new Easter traditions for your little one, Travis. It’s such fun when they realise that something nice is happening for them- even if they don’t know why! Yes, Nana was my surrogate grandmother and totally adorable.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What an interesting post Nancy! I really enjoyed reading about your Nana – she must have been a very special aunt. Every Easter as a child I got a new Easter outfit and as my sisters came along Mom always made three little outfits exactly alike, with matching bonnets and shoes. We were always told we needed to dress our best on Easter because it was such a special day. We wore those clothes until they literally fell apart. All the kids at school were always jealous, but with my mom’s love of sewing and her thrifty shopping for fabric, we were very lucky little girls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you had the same thing at Easter to remember, Linda. The really special part is that we know how much time and personal effort went into the thought and creation of the items.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Is that you as a teen, in the last photo. You were such a cute kid. I did get a new Easter/Church dress and shoes and socks. I don’t remember an Easter bonnet, but one year I got a wide cloth band that had spring flowers on it. I loved Easter. Little kids got a chocolate bunny, big kids got an egg, I think they were coconut inside. It was usually raining on Easter, ,and a couple of years snow. I was in snow this Easter in Utah. Thanks for the memories, and the photos. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I think I was probably 11 in that photo and the skirt was definitely made by Nana. I remember her showing me how to add the wavy trim to things and I made doll dresses to match when Nana made for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Nancy,
    I did not get a new outfit for Easter but besides a basket filled with jelly beans, chocolate candies and a large hollow chocolate egg we also got a present. The present usually consisted of a new shirt or even underwear – but some kind of garment.
    Thanks for sharing
    – Stephen

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your post brings back a lot of memories, Nancy. My mom made most of my clothes after I started school, but a great-aunt who lived up the street sewed for me, too. The best of all worlds. And I remember those socks–wore them for years. There was always an Easter dress. When I was very small, I had a hat; it was white and I think it had white cloth lilies of the valley on one side. And that year’s dress had organdy sleeves that itched. In Central Texas we have what my mother called the “Easter spell,” a cold front that blew in, often in the middle of the night, making it necessary to wear a cardigan over the Easter dress, which, as far as I was concerned, ruined the effect. And Easter eggs were hidden in the kitchen and the living room, which was a disappointment, since it was more fun tramping through wet grass in the back yard to find colored eggs nestled beside the propane tank. No sweater for the legs, though. They just had to endure the cold.


    1. It’s lovely to know that cold legs weren’t just a Scottish thing! We Scots ‘borrowed’ the idea of chocolate Easter eggs from the U.S. -but I don’t remember getting them before the mid-1950s. In our summer we rarely get to take off that cardigan because it’s sometimes as cold as in winter at 12 Deg C (~53 F) 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s