Bloomsbury Group-FashionAugust 12, 2015
“Everyone should be free to live as they please.” Vanessa Bell. As we’re halfway through the BBC series “Life in Squares” it seems pertinent to take a brief look at Bloomsbury Group fashion, because if you’ve paid attention to the series you’ll have noticed the way they dress.
Well, you will have done, if you love fashion as much as we think you do.
The series takes a look at the lives of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey and the rest of the Bloomsbury group, who rebelled against the strict confines of society and the behaviour that was expected of them.
The Bloomsbury Group and its members
Their relationships were complicated and their ideas were before their time with the sophisticated writing of Virginia Woolf, John Meynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey, and the paintings of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant.
Their work wasn’t widely celebrated at the time, but would receive recognition in later years.However, the series will give us a better look at the complexity of their lives, today, we are going to focus on the fashion.
1900s and a strict dress code
As you can imagine there was a strict dress for women in the 1900s and up until the First World War, with high necklines, tight waists held in with corsets and long skirts.
For Bloomsbury fashion, the look was more relaxed, without any of the harsh lines and pulled in waists.
Bookish, intellectual, artistic
This is a bookish, intellectual, Bloomsbury Group look, rather than a glamorous and high maintenance, well-groomed appearance.
This was about women dressing as they pleased without the corsets and formal dressing.Think high ruffle necklines with beautifully printed dresses with an empire line.An empire line is usually where the bodice is just below the bust with a gathered skirt.
Thing a little looser with florals and complicated designs. Throw over a large, chunky cardigan held together at the waist with a belt or a tie.
Bloomsbury group fashion –vintage style
If you want to source vintage clothes to achieve the look, then the 1970s might be a good place to start, with Laura Ashley and hippie, ethnic and a more bohemian look being a real trend setter at the time. Here, you may find the kind of prints that would not have looked out of place with the Bloomsbury Set.
You want to try long baggy androgynous jumpers that you can wear with calf length skirts or over a long exquisitely printed dress.
Long baggy cardigans that come with their own tie belt, or a slim leather belt taken in at the waist over the cardigan.
Catwalk Bloomsbury Group Look
Alessandro Michele for Gucci and Christopher Bailey at Burberry showed their love of the Bloomsbury look in their autumn/winter looks for 2014/15.
And it’s a look that will easily fit in with the 70s vibe for the rest of this summer and early autumn.
For accessories think long strands of beads, flat shoes, brogues or boat shoes worn beneath a longer length maxi skirt or dress.
Then think about wearing your hair in a loose bun taken in at the nape of the neck, with loose strands around your face, no tight or severe buns, this is a soft and relaxed take on the hair bun.
Make-up is minimal and fresh with softer pastel colours for lips and cheeks and neutral eyeshadows with minimal mascara.
Match with berets and large glasses, and you’ve got yourself an Bloomsbury Group, intellectual, bohemian look that wouldn’t look out of place at Charleston, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s country home.
So source clothes from the late 30s, early 40s for jewellery and belts, and take a look at the 70s, because here there are some gorgeous printed maxi dresses that help create the free, bohemian, intellectual Bloomsbury Group look.
Virginia Woolf, 1941
Bloomsbury Group – Lady Ottoline Morrell by Adolf de Meyer, circa. 1912
Dora Carrington, Ralph Partridge and Lytton Strachey
Virginia Woolf and Angelica
Lydia Lopokova, 1921
Lady Ottoline Morrell