Friday, 6 July 2012

More Shades of Grey - Re-using Old Shop Assistant Uniforms for Disciplinary Purposes

Harking back to my ‘Brighton  Shock’ posting of last week; I've been surfing the net trying to find a colour photo of the shopgirl uniform mentioned - i.e. an adapted vintage 1960s Marks & Spencer's staff uniform dress - as I imagine many of you will have been left in the dark despite my floundering attempts to paint a picture in words.  This was the best I could come up with.  I've had to play around with the colour balance a little as the original had a noticeable red cast to it, possibly due to the original photograph having been exposed to light and having faded over time.  In so doing I've relied on memory to try to get the dress colour right as the priority rather than worry about skin tone (possibly a mistake, I don't know).  The odd thing is that I recall from the period (although I was rather young) a thin light-blue plastic belt being worn with it – and indeed it was such a belt that was threaded through the belt loops of my shopgirl chum’s dress, not the broad dark belt as shown in the photograph.  It was all man-made fibres - a woven terylene and nylon blend, I believe - practical but not exactly comfortable.  In the summer the staff must have sweated buckets, especially with a girdle or corsellete beneath – but what wonderful discipline for a girl of today to undergo.  

The reason I am so fascinated is that many years ago (mid to late 1980s) my wife of the time and I had a girl in her late teens living with us in what developed into something of a genuine D/S lifestyle (I have written about this before - albeit rather sketchily - and it can be found in the blog archive using the search facility in the right-hand sidebar and a little imagination).  Anyway, to cut a long story short the deal was that she did the housework in return for room and board and a little pocket money (and I mean a little).  With Penny (the girl's name) acting as housekeeper and cleaner and day by day becoming noticeably more firmly under my wife's authority it just began to seem right that something be done to make clear her position within our household.  

For purely practical reasons a pinafore apron had been procured (from a very traditional small independent department store in the Holloway Road, North London) but never looked right over jeans and T-shirt nor even the old skirt Penny sometimes wore.  Then one day - perhaps a few months in to the relationship, I can't quite remember exactly - a friend of the wife's who happened to work for Marks & Spencer brought around an old shopfloor uniform dress (M & S were just updating their uniform to a new look at the time), a cream coloured polyester dress with a green and ochre lattice check pattern (I just looked it up that uniform changeover on the Marks & Spencer's archive web page and it would date the period to 1986).  

There was much whingeing and moaning from an outraged Penny but my wife's somewhat domineering personality won the day and despite the girl's complaining that besides anything else the dress just didn't fit - she was rather a plump young thing and it was true that the buttons could hardly constrain her bust and the fabric did stretch at the seams over her bottom and hips - coupled with pinafore apron worn over the top, it soon became her daily outfit.  I seem to remember the dress had long sleeves with fitted cuff s and it definitely buttoned up the front, even though the closest I can find from that period on the Marks & Spencer's archive website is short-sleeved and zip fronted - and to be honest I can’t explain the discrepancy.  It also came with a plastic belt threaded through belt loops - I later used  to use it across her bottom; but that's a different story! 

The problems with the ill fitting dress, incidentally - which I personally found quite charming - were later solved when a visit to a charity shop unearthed a genuine vintage Playtex girdle (which of course became an excuse for insisting on stockings, and it all went on from there).   

In hindsight I think I would have given anything to have seen Penny in one of those 1960s dresses (Although I did get to see her put in a nylon overall from that same period - furnished by the same charity shop as I recall!).


Anonymous said...

Did your wife control her undwear to?

How long each day was she in uniform?

Fascinating account

Anonymous said...

Sounds almost like the infants school uniform - lots of polyester - that one of your posters has Elise Douglas in their comments on one of your bloga at the end of March. She is then moved on into something more formal and uncomfortable - lots of buttons and wool.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what London is like in the summer, but in my part of the USA, an outfit like this, in polyester, in the middle of summer would just about qualify as torture. (90s and humid for days on end. Todays high was 98. That's 37 C.) So yeah, it would be serious discipline.

The Non Victorian Chick

Madmonkey said...

Have you read the untitled story about a woman named Elise posted by Anonymous back in March? You might have missed it as it was posted weeks after the other comments, but I think you might want to take a peak at as it is over twenty pages long and goes into some very interesting detail about an adult woman's stay in a reformatory style institution for having poor job performance, and is worth a read.

Charles said...

Hey madmonkey

Thanks for the tip I thought that was very good. That's my sort of reformatory! I wonder if there any more parts?
The writer used to post on this site and if you look in the comments section you will find more of his/her work
Also if you look on the 'school punishment forum' website there's more there as well in a similar vein.
Couldn't tell you the writers name though, although I would like to know it if anybody else knows perhaps?

Toyntanen said...

Charles has left a new comment on your post "More Shades of Grey - Re-using Old Shop Assistant ...":

Hi Charles and Madmonkey!

Thanks for the reminder, Madmonkey. Yes I had seen the posting you are talking about and yes I too found it both intriguing and entertaining (in a dark sort of way, of course). The most inventive part, I thought, was the girl being obliged to keep a sheet of paper trapped between her nose and the wall. Corner standing has been a favorite topic of the genre for years of course. I myself have played around with various variations on the theme within my scriblings, within both domestic and institutional settings (and it suits both) – most notably in my latest volume, but more so in that volume's upcoming follow-up, as hopefuly you'll see at some point.

Personaly I love reformatory storys! And I too was wondering if there were any more sections to come. It seems a shame folk can't post using some sort of unique identifier, so we don't have this problem of refering to half a dozen or so folk all calling themselves 'anonymous'. Just make something up... For example, the name I publish under in this genre is an anagram of my given name – not that I have anything to hide.

Charles, you suggest the writer has posted more in a similar vein on something called the 'school punishment forum' website. I did a search yesterday during a spare moment and the forum best fitting that critereon I came across seemed to deal with the scene existing in India (I didn't know there was one!). Any chance you could provide a couple of links or so?

Meanwhile: I had always intended to re-post the reformatory piec as a main post – but then it slipped my mind. But now I have been reminded and have re-read it I will do so as soon as I have a spare moment. I'm hard at work on a new book at the moment (set in the early sixties and nothing to do with any of my previous stuff – other than I have re-used a couple of character names) and I am away from home for the weekend using the portable machine, which has 'issues when it comes to creating blog entries – but I'll see what I can manage.

Perhaps the writer might care to step forward and identify his / her self. It would be great to get involved in some sort of colaboration for example. I suggested the same to someone else I came across recently, but have yet to be in a position to press forward with it – but watch this space

charles said...

I know it's huge but if you start from the bottom and scroll upwards you'll soon find it

The poster calls herself either guest or catherine

Orage said...

"I had a girl in her late teens living with us in what developed into something of a genuine D/S lifestyle (I have written about this before - albeit rather sketchily - and it can be found in the blog archive using the search facility in the right-hand sidebar and a little imagination)"

Garth, are you joking? That's a rather tall order! What can we search for when we know you are prone to digressing and to top it all you mention it's sketchy?
Or perhaps you expect us to read your blog all over again? ;))

WIP Guy said...

The old M&S uniform would make a perefect prison/reform school dress espercvially with flat shoes or plimsols and maybe a uniform hat
My psaresnt bwere really into S&M (soory that was M&S).