Things I Steal: 1926


I expect you’ll open your eyes at this title, and think: “Is this a confession by a Baby Vamp?” (writes Isa Grieve). But there are lots of things I steal—not the sort of things I could ever be put into prison for, of course but very exciting things all the same —ideas!

There is a chic little hat shop in an arcade, for instance. Whenever I want a new hat, I go along there and feast my eyes upon the three or four guinea confections in the windows. There’s sure to be a new way of trimming a hat—something that makes it different from all other hats. Many a time I have gone away, and after much search (this part is really hard work), I have found a suitable shape for a few shillings, and made it look like one of those arcade confections.

Clothes are the same. The other day I noticed a girl wearing a particularly pretty woollen coat. She happened to be sitting opposite me in the tram, and gradually I realised that her coat was knitted at home. The original touches at the bottom and sleeves were achieved by wool fringe, and darning in Oriental colourings on a dark background. I stole that coat of hers. I went home and made one just like it. only the colourings are a little different, to match the colour scheme of my clothes.

Then a friend of mine possesses a really large pouffe covered with silk, which I much admired. She told me that she had merely filled two canvas bags with shredded rags, and then sewn them together, and covered the whole with really nice silk. The pouffe had cost less than eight shillings, and you could not hope to buy one like it anywhere for less than thirty shillings at least. Yes, I stole that idea, too.

But —just one word here —do be careful what you steal, in case you should bring anger, swift and remorseless, upon your own head. Don’t, for instance, copy your friends’ dresses, even if they are very original.

Still, there are heaps of ways in which you can profit by someone else’s brainwaves. and so make a little money go a very long way. We can’t all be original, but we can recognise originality when we see it. It is very silly to go through the world blindfolded, for all around us are to be found all sorts of interesting gadgets that actually keep our money in our pockets.

All my friends think I must spend far more upon my clothes than I do.

‘You are always so well dressed!” someone said to me the other day. That was a real compliment, although she did not know how greatly I prized it. But then—she does not know how much I really spend upon my clothes. You see, I’d rather spend brain, than money!

Otago [NZ] Daily Times 19 October 1926: p. 14

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Earlier this week, Mrs Daffodil published a post on Fashion Pirates. One wonders where the author draws the line between actual theft of proprietary designs and “profiting from someone else’s brainwaves.” She is on very shaky moral ground when she blithely reproduces a stranger’s coat, yet warns against copying a friend’s dresses.

It was a widespread problem. Young ladies did not scruple to borrow one another’s clothes, then rush to their dress-maker to have them copied. See this post on “The Very Worst Thing,” for shocking examples of this depravity.

To be Relentlessly Informative, the term “Vamp,” comes from “vampire,” and, at this time, was common usage for an unscrupulous lady who appropriated other ladies’ husbands with the same, gay insouciance of the author.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s