Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Women's Prison Uniforms

Yeah, Yeah!  I know I said in a comment recently that the next posting would be Monday (i.e. yesterday) but when you've got the muse you've gotta write; and I have come across so much recently that has inspired me.

In the comments section of my last offering I have been in contact with - among others - 'WIP Fan' (WIP - Women In Prison):  There used to be a Yahoo Group by that name once - Women In Prison - such a shame so many of those groups got taken down by Yahoo!  Anyway, I digress, as I always do: I suddenly remembered the aforementioned Mr 'WIP Fan' (I think it was, at least) sending me a series of scans or pics of the front covers of various pulp novels dealing with women in prison and so on.  I think the reason was that I had mentioned that despite my best efforts to put over in words the prison uniform-type dresses imposed on certain of my heroines within the INSTITUTIONALISED series (trilogy) I still from time to time receive emails from readers uncertain or unable to fully visualise in their mind's eye the type of look I am trying to put over.  Now of course the setup expounded within the pages of the first three books is not a real establishment-sanctioned penal institution, but is rather an unofficial regime approximating to one, limited in size and residing within the department of experimental behavioural psychology, itself situated within the secure psychiatric wing of a private and exclusive hospital.  

It is also true that I originally based my descriptions on 1960s and early 1970s women's workwear, and have posted examples of influences elsewhere on this site, but one cover illustration in particular came extraordinarily close - considering I walked into the first novel entirely ignorant of such matters - other than that it features short sleeves and a single-buttoned belt (I think such a feature was termed a 'self-belt' if it was attached and so an nondetachable part of the overall or dress), whereas I define a style with long button-cuffed sleeves, two in-line buttons fastening the belt and (in one variant) a high buttoning collar.  The second photo I remember coming across myself the very same day while looking for something entirely different (not even to do with my books) and which I found on The Huffington Post.  The dress is purported to date from the late 1940s, but as to why the pic was on that site I have no idea; I don't remember it having much to do with the story.  Stylistically it deviates to an even greater extent from the ideal but what matters here for illustrative purposes is the sheen the fabric possess.

Other News:  Before I forget  Mr Strict's Intimate Invasions blog (enforced enemas) has moved for technical reasons to http://mrstrict.biz.  I have duly corrected the link in the sidebar blog list.  I also added a few blogs in the lead-up to Christmas but neglected to keep score so it may be worthwhile taking a careful peak at the blog list; there may be something you've missed or not seen before. 

There would have been a third pic - this one to satisfy an anon contributor who wrote a very stimulating piece about locking romper suits (a great idea to tame a recalcitrant teen; paired with terry nappies and regular visits by Madam Sting, the cane).  It is of a nice little frothy PVC number, easily adapted with a little reddesign, requiring a change of fastening system to one featuring a zipper running up the rear and a reinforced collar with a suitable anchor point to slip a little padlock through securing the zipper tab..  I did write to the site I pinched the pic from, requesting permission to feature it, and have been waiting for a response (I had been hoping to set up some sort of affiliate link).  In the interim check out this: 


WIP Fan said...

Yes it was me who set the pics..) I love both examples of prison/institutional uniform (not surprising as I love prison women expecially in the films and pulp novels of the time). Both would look great with white socks/flat shoes or plimsolls.

I always love your writing and choice of pics, Garth and it's always a pleasure to speak to people with the same interests (and good taste)

Toyntanen said...

I thought it was; thanks for that, WIP Fan! I think you actualy sent two or three, but I think this one was the best, and besides; I seem to have mislaid the others! (they are on the computer somewhere, though - never fear). The 'Huffington Post' one is a little weird, though.

WIP Fan said...

I'm sure you havbe the photos of the old Holloway uniform wit the hats somewhere too..It would be good to buy that somewhere..)

Anonymous said...

OK, that could be a good prison uniform. I agree with WIP fan that Plimsolls and white socks could work with that, but I would prefer something like this:


It has no laces, which is sort of an advantage.

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...

And ther uniform could be orange, which is wat a lot of prison uniforms tend to be, at least here in the USA. So the shoes would match.

The Non Victorian Chick

Toyntanen said...

I love orange - but not for a prison uniform. I have a great pair of bright orange strides (trousers – I don’t wear ‘em often coz they have a 31 inch waist; and I quite often haven’t) and a pair of orange jogging pants from Hollister. And when I wear either there is always at least one wag who comes out with “have you run away from Guantanamo Bay again?” Hilarious, huh?

$44? That must be like 30 - 35 squids in proper real money! (British)

I'm not spending £35 on my detainees, the buggers can go barefoot!

I’m up late working on that website thing, by the way. I’ve uploaded lots of stuff easy enough but it doesn’t seem all that flexible when it comes to customising the look of the site and the hyperlinks between pages and so on, but I’m the lower slopes of a learning curve here so we’ll see. I may have to dig down into the HTML, just as I did when setting up the blog (and as I had to the other day to get the text colour right), but HTML has got more complex now too.

Toyntanen said...

To everyone: Just a post script:

I have just this minute published the website in a draft form and you can visit this early - 'under construction' - draft version by clicking on either the title banner the mission statement thingy picture on the latest posting (which I have just edited).

It can be found at:

I am very keen to hear every one's feedback / criticism so feel free to comment here, email, Facebook or Tweet me... I look forward to hearing from you!

Madmonkey said...

I think either white or blue imitation Keds style shoes would be best for inmates. They're cheap and you can throw them in the wash.

WIP Fan said...

Sadfluy, I can't click on Non Victorian Chick's Limk-they sound like suitable prison shoes.

Yes,the unranded keds style shoes would be excellent for prison wear. Novce to see many women weareing them -much better than trainers!

WIP Fan said...

Now I've seen the shoes, Non Victorian Ciick and you will be certainly be issued with a pair of them on admission to my prison (white, orange or blue are the best prison colors).What would be your favorite style uniform to go with them?

I don't like laces either but with lsce up plimsolls there's the advantage on insisting that laces should be tied tightly and are exactly symmetrical!..).

I've just been to a holiday camp -would be good for prison roleplay..)

Anonymous said...

WIP Fan,

I can't actually click on it either. Copy and paste into the browser window.

T, $44 is not expensive as shoes go, at least not here. I'm not sure what that translates into in British Pounds. Wait a minute, I can check on the web...

OK, it's 28 Pounds

SO maybe a cheap knockoff of the same style, done by Pakistani sweatshop labor.

Orange seems to be the preferred color for prison uniforms here in the USA. And WIP fan, the point of issuing her a prison uniform is the YOU pick the color, nor her. She has no choice. About anything.

The Non Victorian Chick

WIP Fan said...

Very true, Non Victorian Chick! So you get the dress on the "reformatory" cover as your uniform with "inmate" in big letters on the back , white socks and cheap versions of the shoes (maybe made in the prison factory with "prison" instead of "Toms"..)

Toyntanen said...

"She has no choice. About anything" That's hitting the nail on the head, Non Victorian Chick! So plastic sandal things, semi transparent plastic, no socks.

But in the sort of prison analogue style of establishment - such as is depicted in Institutionalised volumes 1 to 3 and which in essence exists more or less for the amusement or advantage of others (although excused by all manner of arguments over scientific endeavour and psycho-science investigation) - it should definitely be bare feet all the way!

Anonymous said...

T wrote:

"But in the sort of prison analogue style of establishment - such as is depicted in Institutionalised volumes 1 to 3 and which in essence exists more or less for the amusement or advantage of others (although excused by all manner of arguments over scientific endeavour and psycho-science investigation) - it should definitely be bare feet all the way!"

Which is why I really liked those plastic pajama thingies in Volume 3!

The Non Victorian Chick

Anonymous said...

Although Come to think of it, if we whole thing has kind of scientific or psudo medical aspect, then an examination gown works just fine.

The Non Victorian chick

WIP Fan said...

All-please feel free to e-mail me about WIP , uniforms etc. on womeninprisonguy@gmail.com