I have already said that in New Zealand in the 1950s most clothes were home-made. I can really only remember having three 'bought' dresses before I was about twelve, although I will say that our thick winter skirts, made of such things as Harris tweed, were made by a dressmaker. What I remember about her was going to her house for fittings and she had pins in her mouth! At a very early age we had been taught NEVER to do that, which I think is why I have not forgotten. With these skirts we wore hand knitted pullovers (called jumpers in NZ) usually in oatmeal colours. They were generally knitted by my maternal grandmother. My sister and I generally had the same outfits which meant she, as the younger one, had to work her way not only through the one made for her but, when she was a bit bigger, the one in the larger size which had been made for me! I think it put her off 'hand-me-downs' for life!
Anway, I can only remember having three dresses that were not made by my mother. First there was a red and white checked number which was supposed to have been designed by Norman Hartnell. A likely story but it was given to our family by an English family whose daughter did not want it or had grown out of it. I do not have a photo of it. Both the other dresses were bought when I was about eight. We had just moved to Wellington which meant there were department stores and I am not sure why I was privileged to get these two dresses. It was certainly considered a treat.
The second dress was completely different but I was very fond of it.
It was blue denim and came into the category of 'sun dress' although it was quite covered up. It had a heart-shaped neckline and a gathered skirt, I seem to remember. I remember that at this stage of our lives our casual summer wear was generally denim shorts and striped T-shirts or gingham shirts/blouses. In this photo my younger sister who must have been about four, is wearing the standard dress. Although we wore shorts in summer I distinctly remember that for most of my childhood I never wore trousers in winter. Of course, jeans did not exist but I do not know whether the fact that my father hated women in trousers had anything to do with it. I distinctly remember being invited by a cousin when I was about thirteen to stay at their beach house in the the winter school holidays and that my mother set to and made me a pair of trousers for this. I seem to remember they were tartan wool. From then on I had a pair of winter trousers but again, I do not have any photos of them.
Of course, we wore school uniform five days a week so we only had one 'posh' winter skirt for going to church and the trousers. I cannot remember if we had more skirts in the years when I did not wear trousers at all. What I do remember is that we had very few 'mufti' clothes - more for summer because of the long summer holidays but in winter there were only two breaks of two or three weeks from school: one in May and one in August. As there was no Christmas or other festival during this period, what to wear was not important.