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My Article in WWII Reenactors Magazine – May Edition


Kitten von Mew by Ade Pitman

I have been terribly lucky with most of the events I have attended so far. Although subject to a dust bath at War and Peace, I would rather this than an impromptu mud wrap from a passing jeep! Although hot and sometimes itchy in their WWII uniforms, men have it reasonably easy at such events as the more dirt they pick up (minus Ketchup, toothpaste and coffee), the more authentic their outfits look. Less can be said as a lady trying to look the epitome of glamour as you stagger around open fields in your 1940’s heels and hippedy-hop down dirt tracks impressed with deep tyre marks. Sometimes you spend more time making sure you don’t fall down than you do enjoying the event. I cannot count the number or times I have staggered across a potholed track in my 40’s outfits, having to save myself from embarrassment by either ending in a light jog or looking over my shoulder and tutting loudly at the lack of health and safety for ridiculous shoe wearers such as myself…It’s as if military events weren’t made for high heeled shoes! The horror!

I always have my survival kit at events – Red lipstick is a must. Even if you wear the 24 hour stay stuff, I personally find myself eating it off my lips, so an emergency supply is always a good idea. Next, a loose powder incase of a down pour of heatwave. I actually use a perfumed powder, which is more like a scented talc on a standard powder puff. I load the puff with powder before I go out and pop it in an empty compact that I pop in my handbag. If you are wearing false eyelashes, bring the glue with you as they may decide to become unstuck at the corners and leave you looking as if a couple of spiders are taking a kip on your eyelids…Next up is the inevitable first aid kit of paracetamol, a couple of plasters in case of blisters and any medication. I bring a small compact camera and my phone of which I keep discrete. There’s nothing worse that ruining the vintage ambience by clamping a modern phone to your ear or texting unnecessarily. Embrace your surroundings and people watch. Remember life before emails and mobile phones for a weekend!

Stockings can be a real issue at events. You only need to catch your fully fashioned nylons whilst posing on a half track and that is a £10 stocking down the drain. They aren’t cheap you know boys, unless a Spiv can get you a good deal! I cheat on occasion and wear special fully fashioned stockings that have elastine in them. I pick them up on occasion in second hand shops in the packet. Made in the 60’s, they still feature the classic keyhole and seam to prove that they have been made on the original machines, but have the benefit of a comfortable fit, no creasing at the ankle and they are little more hard wearing than precious nylons that you can save for dinners, dances and less hazardous pursuits. Don’t forget to slip a spare pair in your bag!

If you are feeling brave and heading out in a scrumptious pair of heels, just remember how much walking there is at a lot of outdoor events. If your partner is gallivanting around like a 5 year old at the Wacky Warehouse, just let him go and play and take your time. The last thing you want is a broken ankle after you rush over to stop him buying an elephant foot plant pot for the living room. Sitting serenely on the grass to ‘take in the scenery’ as your poor throbbing feet have a breather is no bad thing. You can also take these resting points as a water stop as keeping hydrated is very important in the summer season. I always make sure I have a flat pair of shoes in the car and a pair of 40’s Heyday trousers, so that if my outfit does get a little vexatious, I can slip into something more comfortable but equally as fitting to the occasion. Rocket Originals saddle shoes are my usual choice and great for dancing in or if it starts to get chilly!

So you have your handbag sorted and a change of clothing in case of bad weather or uncooperative toes. What are you going to wear? If you are stepping out in a vintage dress then CHECK YOUR SEAMS! Im not talking stockings, I mean the seams of your garments. I once bought a gorgeous vintage dress I was going to wear at a USO Dance it looked almost unworn. When I got to the venue I swung my legs out of the car and hoisted myself out of the car, only to hear the unmistakeable sound of my dress tearing at the back. On another occasion I was at my friends wedding in a vintage dress I had tailored in and as I through myself into the spirit of catching the bouquet, the original thread seams that had not been touched came apart and opened top to bottom at my sides. I was clutching the bouquet but suddenly wearing a silk tabbard. If you are planning to dance, especially Lindy Hop, think of your underarm seams, hips and back. Go over them with a sewing machine and new thread if you have time.

To avoid sunstroke, headaches and as a great excuse to buy more things, make sure you have a headscarf or sun hat to shade your head in hot weather and don’t forget those sunglasses! The more authentic accessories you can add to your outfit, the more fantastic you will look. There is nothing like seeing a lady strolling around an event in an iconic hat.

Lastly, the hair. A strong hairspray is a great idea and I use Tresemme Freeze Hold in a white can. If I am pincurling my hair, I will spray it on as a temporary setting lotion before curling. I spray my hair again once I have completed my style. It is super stuff as my hair doesn’t like holding curl at all and aids my Victory Rolls to stay firm and resolute in gusts of angry wind.

On a final note, smile and enjoy the event! No hoity-toity diva looks, smile and the world will smile with you…Be proud to have made such an effort and there is no greater beauty than the beaming face of a woman who has just spotted a bargain on a vintage clothing stall…

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About Kitten von Mew

Vintage pinup girl in Great Britain, touring WWII events and Blitz Balls with burlesque entertainment and 1940's singing.

5 responses »

  1. I wasnt aware the army act stopped the wearing of any ribbon that isnt being made claim to and have asked my husband who recently completed 26 yrs in the british army and he wasnt aware that the army act 1955 stopped the wearing of ribbons….the act states its an offense to wear AND make claim to….

    I dont believe Kitten with her obvious youth would be trying to make claim to, therefore the ARmy act 1955 doesnt really have any relevance.

    On another note it is people like the beautiful kitten and those of the re enactment world who also wear ribbons ( of which they make no claim to) that keep alive the history of the real men and women who earnt and gave their lives for this country….I only hope that in years to come people will be re enacting and embracing the history, lives and years of the afghan, iraq and falklands years……and remembering our colleagues who continue to give their lives selflessly…

    The beautifull kitten worked alongside the Royal Airforce Squadronaires recently at my charity event raising funds for help for heroes…..All these servicemen have served in Afghan and iraq many on more than one occasion and none found her uniform and ribbons offensive i can assure you…..

    Living History keeps history alive

    surely that cant be disrespectfull

    Reply
  2. I see someone there is wearing service ribbons. She seems awfully young to have accumulated such things. Is she, perhaps, not the owner of them? Does she know about the Army Act of 1955? The act makes wearing any military decoration, badge, wound stripe or emblem without authority a criminal offence.

    It’s quite disrespectful to wear such things when you haven’t earned them. Disrespectful to those who went out and fought and earned their ribbons.

    Reply
    • Hello Bill and thank you for your comment.

      I understand your concerns completely but would like to assure you that there are no laws against wearing surplus uniform (of which both my military corsets are made from.

      If you are talking about Act 197 of the Army Act of 1955 ‘Unauthorised use of decorations’ then I will also direct you towards the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 which also states ‘It makes it a federal misdemeanor offense to falsely represent oneself as having received any military decoration or medal.’ With this in mind I can say that although I represent a military pinup of WWII with the correct ribbon medals of the period and wear costumes made from unwearable military garments, it is quite obvious that I have never received these medals and that my outfits are infact steel boned corsets and not official uniform.

      I am looked upon as a pinup not just of WWII veterans and reenactors but for fighting soldiers of today who all appreciate the effort and detail I go to. I have met a huge amount of WWII veterans and Iraqi veterans or more modern wars who have all complimented my outfits and thanked me for my support. What I do is not disrespectful, I help raise money by performing at charity events for The British Legion and Help for Heroes and those paying guests almost expect me to be in my RAF costume.

      Are you saying that all of the reenactors I have befriended over these past 11 years are also disrespectful as they too wear the insignia, uniforms and accessories? I am confused as they help keep alive (as I do) an important part of history which needs to be respected. We help educate children and adults alike. My part is civilian and the ‘lady luck’ pinups that were important to keep up morale. I collect WWII pinup artifacts and have quite a few original photos of female USO entertainers/ burlesque artists dressed in military outfits that have been doctored to become pinup costumes. I represent these and so many other women trying to bring a little joy into soldiers lives.

      Im sorry you feel so strongly about my outfits. They are all carefully designed and thought out and I am breaking no law by wearing them.

      Reply
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