Thursday, 2 September 2010

Vintage Style - Mystery Woman

I've noticed that a lot of old magazines and newspapers have very charming illustrations in their fashion sections on new trends, ways to wear accessories, and the like, so I'm going to start a little series on Thursdays, cherry-picking the best of these for your enjoyment . I'll endeavor to try some of the fashion advice and show you photos too!

Today's titbit is one of a regular series that ran in The Argus, a newspaper in Melbourne, in the 1950s. Entitled, Is This a Drawing of YOU?, their illustrator would sketch a member of the public out and about in Melbourne. If you saw yourself and rang Betty Lee, the Fashion Editor at the newspaper before the following Thursday, and then presented yourself at the office in the outfit you were wearing in the drawing, you would receive a cheque for £5.5s ($225 in today's value) and the original drawing. The following week The Argus would publish who the Mystery Woman was!

This article is from 19 January, 1950. Apparently the day was quite warm, and the Mystery Woman was having lunch with friends. She was wearing a "heavy cotton frock patterned with tan flowers faintly edged in blue on a white background." The flap sleeves, lapels and "swathed belt" were bound in white. It was worn with a "white grosgrain cloche with a tiny rolled brim, trimmed with white daisies with black centres", and a string of pearls.

The Mystery Woman turned out to be Miss Moira Bailey, a nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, who was meeting friends at the Coq d'Or, wearing a dress she designed (and I presume sewed) herself. These photos show the interior of the Coq d'Or, downstairs at 350 Little Collins St, in 1947 (from the archives of the SLV). It looks like a smart but not overly fancy cafe.

I do like the circular booths, and the placemats with roosters (golden one presumes).

Miss Bailey said that although she was "very fashion-conscious", she was quite satisfied with her nurse's uniform. This is a photo of a nurse from the Royal Melbourne Hospital in the 1940s, and I wonder if her uniform looked something like this? Note the picture of the man in army uniform on her dresser, do you think it was her sweetheart?


  1. Great peek into Melbourne history! I wonder what the modern-day equivalent of the Coq d'Or is... and whether a nurse could afford to lunch there now. The fact that she designed her own outfit is pretty awesome.

    Come to think of it, I wonder where Miss Moira Bailey is now??

  2. What a fantastic little snippet. I didn't think capturing street style went back so far. :-D

  3. Oh my I would so love for this to happen to me . Mystery drawing is the most exciting idea.