I just love it when a show captures the look and feel of an era gone by. Enter “Call The Midwife”, a BBC/PBS award winning drama based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a public health nurse-midwife with the NHS (National Health Service) who served in London’s East End in the late 1950s. This is a dodgy area I’m guessing; I’m American and have only been to London once. I just discovered this gem on DVD at my local library and I’m hooked. I don’t have cable TV in my house so sometimes I’m behind the times with Pop culture. I also just discovered that PBS.org has an app and I can watch the new episodes as they air on my iPad. Woo Hoo!!!
In “Call the Midwife”, the first season opens in 1957, when the post war baby boom made it necessary for Britain turn to her corps of nurse-midwives and deploy them where there was great need: in the low-income urban areas desperate for maternity care.
The cast in their official Midwife uniforms.
The main character, Jenny Lee, in one of my favorite dresses in the series. A pale yellow windowpane check-like dress. I like the slightly dropped waist too.
The back view of the same dress showing the fold-over collar dipping low down her back.
Jessica Raine looking very winsome in character as Jenny Lee.
Miranda Hart as Midwife Chummy Browne in her meet-the-parents dress.
Chummy’s imperious, titled mother comes for a visit and is appalled that her daughter, despite her very posh upbringing, is now wearing Crimplene!!! Horrors!!! I had to look up Crimplene. According to Wikipedia it’s a type of polyester made with a thick yarn and the resulting cloth is heavy, wrinkle-resistant and retains its shape well. Britain’s defunct ICI Fibres Laboratory developed the fibre in the early 1950s and named it after the Crimple Valley in which the company was situated. Crimplene was used in garments that required a permanently pressed look, such as skirts and trousers. The fabric enjoyed popularity upon introduction in the 1950s in response to its convenient ‘wash-and-wear’ properties. Crimplene was often used to make the typical A-line dresses of 1960s. Likewise, it was popular amongst men in British Mod Culture for use in garish button-down shirts. In the early 1970s, Crimplene fell out of fashion as other, lighter-weight polyester fabrics replaced Crimplene for their ease of movement and ventilation.
Here is Chummy in her wedding suit (possibly made of Crimplene). She and Officer Noakes (played by Ben Caplan) had already done the horizontal mambo, so she felt (as she told her mother with a great big smile and a twinkle in her eye) that she was no longer entitled wear white.
The midwives taking a break for an outing in the countryside.
Here’s a better view of Midwife Trixie’s casual and stylish tight ’50s green sweater, capris and flats ensemble.
Some of the cutest dresses are worn by the unwed mother Cathy Powell (Tina O’Brian) in Season 1 Episode 6. And even though she is pregnant with triplets, she still looks adorable in this colorful frock. In this scene, she explains to Midwife Jenny Lee that she would never give up her high heels, even in an advanced stage of pregnacy. Ah, what a girl will do for fashion.
If you enjoy British Period Dramas, Call The Midwife is a must-see!