Frocks and fiction

Ever read a novel where the description of fashion makes you want to frock up in a 1920s flapper dress, reach for a mini skirt or adorn yourself in sprigged muslin?

I am celebrating frocks and fiction in this post, as well as my dear friend, Leane Flynn, who has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of ovarian cancer since her diagnosis three and a half years ago. You can read more about her story in this post here.

Frocktober is a chance to raise both awareness and funds for women with ovarian cancer through the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. There is currently no early detection test for ovarian cancer and as there are no obvious symptoms, many women are diagnosed too late. One woman dies from ovarian cancer every ten hours. The recurrence rate is extremely high and the survival rate is extremely low – only one in every four women diagnosed will survive five years.

You can donate to Leane’s fundraising page here.

Thinking about fashion, here are some of my favourite fashion in fiction moments:

  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery – Anne desperately wants a dress with puffed sleeves (and hasn’t that fashion come back in!) but Marilla thinks it’s a waste of material. Matthew asks Rachel Lynch to sew a dress for Anne – ‘a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pin-tucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves – they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown silk ribbon.’ Anne thinks it is exquisite!
  • A kiss for Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester – Natasha’s books are all full of fashion. In one scene, Evie wears a dress of ‘sapphire blue. It had a tulle skirt that fell to just below the knee. The bodice was sequinned and the neckline dived gracefully to end at her sternal notch. An inset of semi-sheer flesh coloured fabric was artfully placed over the middle of her chest, but even knowing that, Evie blushed when she looked in the mirror.’
  • Fancy Nancy written by Jane O’Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glass – Fancy Nancy became a role model for all little girls in the last decade or so. Who can argue with a pint-size heroine who tells us ‘lace-trimmed socks do help me to play football better’?
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – remember the small scene where Ma is in such a hurry that – heaven forbid – she accidentally ties Mary’s blue ribbons onto Laura’s brown braids and Laura’s pink ribbons onto Mary’s golden braids? The sisters smile at each other and toss their braids to the front of their shoulders so they can admire their ribbons, for Laura is tired of her pink ribbons and Mary tired of her blue ones.
  • Bird by bird by Anne Lamott – this is a book about writing, not fashion but there is a brief line where Anne talks about putting on her girl-writer dress for an important meeting with her editor. There’s no description of what a girl-writer dress looks like but in my head, it’s similar to my red wool dress with the cream trim and gold buttons!
  • All our shimmering skies by Trent Dalton – this book has a wonderful twelve-year-old heroine, Molly Hook, who has her eye on a sky-blue satin dress in the window of Darwin’s Ward’s Boutique in the 1940s. It’s a ‘teenager’s dress and a going-out dress that Molly could wear to a dance or to a Hollywood premiere on the arm of Gary Cooper, if only she wasn’t so busy digging graves in Darwin, Australia.’

Thank you for supporting research into ovarian cancer by educating yourself or donating to Leane’s fundraising page here. Leane and I are grateful for your support.

6 comments

  1. I just loved Anne in Anne of Green Gables and was ecstatic when Matthew bought her the dress with puffed sleeves.

    Warmest wishes to Leane in her ongoing battle with ovarian cancer.

  2. I loved Wendy in Peter Pan and her blue dress. Mum made me a dress like it to wear when I was home sick. I was about 8, I think.

  3. Wonderfully written Karen! Thanks so much for supporting research into an early detection test for ovarian cancer 🙏🏻💋

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