Friday, 18 November 2016

Five style lessons I've learned from The Avengers

Which show do you think is/was the most stylish on telly? Mad Men always seems to get a lot of votes, and I loved the look of The Hour - but those are programmes made now and looking back. Costume designers have had a chance to cherry-pick the best aspects of a decade's style and ignore the dodgy stuff. What about programmes set when they were made? Usually TV programmes are more down-to-earth than movies, but adventure series seem to be the exception. Even in a real-world setting, derring-doers are allowed to look glamorous. And so I reckon The Avengers has to be a contender for most stylish vintage TV programme.

As I'm still obsessed with the outfits Linda Thorson wears as Tara King, I thought I'd share some fashion tips gleaned during my watchings...

Always wear trousers for arse-kicking
Right from Cathy Gale onwards, whenever an Avenging lady appears in trousers, fights break out. Luckily they're the perfect garment for kicking, jumping and throwing one's way to victory. Cathy wore leather, but Emma, despite the modern perception of her outfits, favoured more modern crimplene. Many people may sneer at synthetic fibres, but they're hardwearing and it's a lot easier to wash blood out of nylon than cotton after an afternoon thumping villains.

Live life in colour
Purple and yellow. Cobalt and fuschsia. Royal and mustard.  If it sounds wrong, it's probably right. No muddy, murky tones – unless you are actually ponking around in the jungle, when even khaki has its place. But generally speaking, make your fashion world a bright one.

Remember boots, boots, kinky boots
Honor Blackman and Patrick MacNee sang about them, and all the Avenging ladies wore them at some point. (Like trousers, boots come in handy when you're opening a can of Whup-Ass. Shoes can fly off in a fight, but boots stay firmly attached to your feet.) Chelsea boots with trousers, knee boots with mini-skirts, and spike-heeled black leather when the rest of your clothes are a corset, snake and spiky collar. Ay caramba!

Matchy-matchy isn't just for ladies
The Avengers provide good pointers for both genders – witness the gentlemanly perfection from Mr Steed here. Brown suit, brown bowler. Grey suit, grey bowler. Even his umbrellas match. In the gaudy world of the Avengers, Steed stands out as an elegant pillar of calm.

Frumpy is a matter of attitude
Steed's mono-neutral outfits form a frame from which a sparkling and entertaining personality can shine forth. Cathy Gale's chic cannot be buried by a beige suit, nor Tara's sparkle throttled by a high-necked pussybow. The right attitude can make any outfit work. Unless you are actually deathly dull, in which case all the sequins in the world won't do you an ounce of good. Best not to be boring, really.

Do any old TV programmes inspire you, or do you find modern vintage-set ones fuel your imagination more?

14 comments :

  1. What a great read, you're making me want to knock the pub on the head and spend the weekend rewatching The Avengers!
    Proper vintage shows are way better than the remakes, everyone's hair is always too glossy and their teeth perfect. Boring.
    xxx

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    1. I have loads of Avengers on Tivo, in case I need to watch it!

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  2. Is it bad/wrong I've not heard of this show - but I do keep seeing it come up in the tv listings when I'm channel hopping and assuming it meant Marvel and it was probably a cartoon about superheroes... feel a bit dumb now. I need to try to catch this, it sounds fun :D

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    1. Oooh, it's an absolute geek classic, that show. I always think of Steed and Peel and then get disappointed when I realise things are referring to the Marvel Avengers.

      The colour Steed/Peel series are some of the most brilliantly bonkers things you will ever see.

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  3. Tara King had a raincoat and hat in virulent yellow vinyl last week , I have the same outfit for a Sindy doll , so even Sindy was fashionable in her day

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    1. Sindy was ace! I remember buying a Princess Di-style outfit for mine in the 80s, pie-crust collar and all.

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  4. I confess to enjoying watching The Monkees for the crazy clothes, though I don't recall anyone I knew dressing like that at the time.

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    1. Oooh, I haven't seen The Monkees in years, though I loved it as a kid. It used to be on British telly on Saturday mornings in the 1980s. I don't think I realised at the time that it had been made 20 years previously.

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  5. I really enjoyed this post, Mim - thanks!

    Ah yes, the Avengers, always compulsory viewing when I was growing up and I ooohed and aahhed at the wonderful
    clothes.I've not really thought about original versus remakes regarding costumes but I think on the whole I prefer the original. Feasting my eyes on the costumes is one of the reasons I enjoy (some) historical dramas...

    Have a great weekend.

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. I think originals never date, they just become classics (or get forgotten) whereas costume dramas can look very odd in retrospect. Some pass through the 'dated' phase and manage to become classics (eg Hammer films) but plenty of others just look weird (I like the original 70s version of Poldark, but it could never be broadcast on telly now, it would seem so strange).

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  6. Well you can't beat the original stuff can you? The Champions is another good one for fashion, and the original series of Star Trek is amazing - so much '60s space chic!! The hairstyles in particular.

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    1. Oh yes, The Champions: Alexandra Bastedo as Sharron McReady is one of my style icons.

      I should probably do a roundup of my chicest moments in vintage SF... it'd have to be double my usual 'five things' though, as I couldn't limit it to a mere five.

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  7. I do love watching old films from the 30s and 40s but they're not always that easy to find. They're always great sources of inspiration. However, modern period dramas are great for colour inspiration, so both are equally important in my life! xx

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  8. I'm thinking I need a leather catsuit like Cathy Gale should I attempt any feats of derring-do.
    I like watching the old shows for the dodgy stuff too. The teased & shellacked are always fascinating - remember when ladies went to have their hair done once a week? Those do's had to last! Although my sparkle would definitely fizzle if I wore a high necked pussy-bow! Yowza!

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