Fashion and the military look: it’s a permanent fling.
Classic lines, authenticity, distinctiveness, the whiff of romance… and let’s not forget function. These clothes keep their promises. Swoon.
Hidden in the inside pocket, this coat’s fabulously utilitarian label indicates it’s West German, 1960s. My good friend and German to English translator Adam Ramsey tells me "Altenkessel – Saar" is the location of the manufacturer “Werner Mahlberg”.
I picked it up at my local Oxfam shop for £5 (in international currency, the price of two Starbucks lattes). Yes, I am rather smug about that.
I have spent some time imagining a colourful history for it, but I suspect it was army-surplus. Un-issued. No derring-do has been done.
In soft grey wool with a full satin lining, it’s tapered at the waist and surprisingly small. Eye-catching on a boy but jaw-dropping on a girl, especially one with an hourglass figure and pepper-red lipstick. The enemy will surrender; willingly.
Look at this! Isn't it gorgeous?
My great grandmother, Elsie May, left this bracelet in her button box, in pieces. My mother inherited the box, picked out the pieces and threaded them on knicker elastic to make the lovely whole you see here. It fits snug on your wrist for an authentic dash of Victorian Gothic Whitby Jetness. Just the thing when you're evoking Mina Harker.
Elsie was a young woman in the 1900s, so I think it's safe to say her bangle is late Victorian. But is it real Whitby Jet? If it is, it would be worth a small fortune.
I've researched a lot, I've found a lot. What follows are the highlights of that research and my take on...
How to Identify Whitby Jet
"Like Whitby Jet But Not" comes in many forms: modern plastic, glass (known as French Jet), bog oak, coal, Bakelite, horn or Vulcanite, from the planet Vulcan. OK I made that last bit up, but the Vulcanite is real, an early plastic that turns a sepia colour with age, it was branded with the…