Celebrating the 1930s Casual Elegance of Louisa Durrell

Louisa Durrell 1930s casual pink shirt and trousers

Last year I totally fell in love with ITV’s series The Durrells, set in the 1930s and based on the books by the naturalist, Gerald Durrell. At the time I was totally bowled over by all of the costumes used in the show and just had to write a post about my favourites. Well, as you may know, the second season is now well underway and before it comes to a close I wanted to do a more focused post for this one.

Keeley Hawes’ version of Louisa Durrell is very quickly becoming my hero and style icon! Louisa and I are very similar in age, we’re about the same size (well Keeley and I are!) and we both have a particular penchant for 1930s casual separates. Okay, so I don’t have four crazy children or live in Corfu (I wish!) or have multiple men fighting over me (again, I wish!), but we do have similar wardrobes. So, I thought I’d dedicate this season’s post to the 1930s casual elegance of Louisa Durrell. (Warning, it’s rather picture heavy!)

Louisa Durrell pink shirt & skirt

So far in her separates collection I have counted eleven different blouses, four skirts and three pairs of trousers that she wears on a regular basis. This allows the costume team to mix and match the pieces and come up with lots of different outfits.

The pale pink double button blouse in the photos above is a particular favourite of mine and one I have in mind I’d like to reproduce. It goes beautifully with both the deep coral trousers in the first photo and the raspberry pink patch pocket skirt (which reminds me of my mustard one) in the second. Can we just take a moment to appreciate her white 1930s shoes too?

Louisa Durrell burgundy spot blouse

And carrying on with the pinky tones, Louisa also has this simple but invaluable burgundy polka dot blouse. This could easily pass for just about any era, but the puff sleeves plant it firlmy in the 1930s/40s decades. The beige linen skirt is one of her favourites and gets worn a lot, teamed with with any one of her blouses. You can see its classic 1930s seaming below.

Louisa Durrell blue blouse

Louisa Durrell blue blouse

The powder blue pin tuck blouse is probably one of the most worn blouses on The Durrells and I can see why. It’s simple, can be teamed with so many other colours, but has has some really interesting detailing. The scalloped collar is particularly pretty and oh-so-feminine, I bet it would be a right pain in the backside to try and replicate though. Scallops are always excruciatingly fiddly!

Louisa Durrell blue outfit

Louisa has quite a thing for powder blue, as well as single kick pleat skirts. This powder blue skirt also has a stone coloured sister that’s pretty much identical and, although they’re quite simple styles, they ooze the 1930s.

This pretty little ditsy print blouse rarely makes an appearance and I was surprised I managed to find a photo of it. The print makes this blouse special, but the relaxed fit of it plants it firmly in the 1930s casual category. And just look at that stunning handbag! That is so obviously a true vintage piece, just like the majority of the costumes.

Louisa Durrell 1930s casual blue spot blouse

And talking of simple, this dark blue spotty blouse is as simple and as casual as you could get in the 1930s. Louisa wears it in this scene to look more Greek, and less fashionable, so she can appeal to the locals whilst trying to sell her home baked goodies at the market. You could easily find something on any high street today to replicate this look.

Louisa Durrell orange shirt

This orange blouse is a particular favourite of mine too and I think it really suits Keeley’s colouring. Again, it’s quite simple with just one large pin tuck either side of the button placket but the colour is just so rich. I have a blouse I bought last year at the Dig For Victory Show (cannot wait for this year’s!) that is a very similar deep rich orange but is a little more dressier than Louisa’s. I have it planned for a special outfit I will feature on the blog later this year, so do look out for that!

Louisa and Margo Durrell

Louisa Durrell green check blouse

Louisa Durrell white trousers

The photos above show three more blouses that get a regular outing. The vivid mustard one looks like it could be silk rayon as it moves so smoothly. The subtle green check cotton blouse has a beautifully scalloped button placket and sweet Peter Pan collar. Lastly, the deep salmon linen blouse has rather a more feminine feel to it than the majority of Louisa’s other ones. The beautiful puff sleeves and shawl collar help to create this.

I’ve seen all three blouses mixed and matched with other garments, including a pair of navy pinstripe trousers which I cannot seem to find an image of. However, I had to include multiple images of my most favourite item of her entire wardrobe (including the dresses!), her amazing white wide-leg trousers! Look at all those gorgeous details!!

After studying them in great depth, by pausing, rewinding and watching certain scenes a billion times, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only opening is the three buttons at the front. I believe the lacing at the back works like a corset, so to get the trousers on you have the laces stretched out and then you tighten them accordingly to fit you once the front buttons are done up. The two buttons at the top of the front pockets seem like they’re just for decoration and don’t serve any real purpose.

I’ve already had a discussion with the ClothSpot team about what fabric they’re made from and we’ve agreed it’s probably a linen drill. They’re now on the look out for some in white during their future buying trips so I can make myself a pair. Whoohoo! I already have the perfect Louisa Durrell style blouse which I bought at the weekend for £1, and yes, it is genuine 1930s! I just need to get a couple of rust spots out it if possible, so if anyone has any tips on how to do that I would be eternally grateful.

Cate

Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. Lover of all things old, lingerie obsessive, crafter and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.

31 Comments

  1. I was hoping you’d do a Durrell post soon! Thank you 😉 I love Louisa’s wardrobe too, it’s a very accessible look – no huge budgets required. I also identify with Hawes’s body shape/proportions much more than most other actresses, which helps visualise how things might look on me. I’ve been wanting to try more ’30s style in my wardrobe for about ten years but somehow still don’t own much in that style. Maybe sewing my own will help, if I can master the skills. Xx

    • I’m sure you could whizz up a simple 1930s skirt, they’re hell of a lot easier than a 1950s circle one! Perhaps I should create some simple patterns with typical 1930s instructions (which are always easy!) to allow people to create a Louisa look. xx

    • Oh I hope you get it soon, it’s just as good as the first series. There’s some new costumes that appear, look out for Margo’s amazing striped playsuit! xx

  2. I can totally see why you love this show and the clothes, it’s so you! Wow what fantastic outfits. Gosh you have such marvelous shows on your side of the world 🙂

    • Hehehe, yes, it’s very me! Keeley Hawes is my most favourite actress when it comes to period dramas, she does the 1930s so beautifully. I do hope you get this show in Canada, it’s just so lovely. xx

  3. I haven’t watched the series, but I must say I am quite taken with Louisa’s wardrobe. I couldn’t take my eyes off that amazing handbag … xxx

    • Oh Ann, if you do get the chance to see you really must watch it. It’s funny, lighthearted, brilliantly written and, of course, has wonderful costumes! Have I sold it to you yet? 🙂 xx

    • Oh yes, that hat is gorgeous and clearly an original piece. I’d love to do a trim like that on a hat I make, it’s looks so Art Deco. xx

  4. I do so need to watch this series. If it rains as promised over the bank holiday, I’ll look it up on catchup.

    With the double-button blouse, do you think both buttons are functional or just one in each pair. It struck me looking at your photos that nowadays people would simply wear T-shirts instead of blouses, but the blouses look so much nicer. I’ve been lapsing back towards T-shirts myself; that has to stop!

    • Oh, you really should, it’s so good! It’s lighthearted and has lots of sunshine, so perfect for rainy days.

      I believe the buttons closest to the opening are the only ones that function. The others are for decoration but still have buttonholes to make them look like they work. The 1930s blouse I bought for £1 has buttons on the outer placket but it’s actually fastened with press studs, so the buttons are literally just there for decoration. xx

  5. Hi! Great post! I haven’t watched the show yet, but now I know I need to. The clothes are so simple and lovely.

    With regard to those white trousers, I think what you’re seeing is a flap closure like traditional sailor pants, which also commonly have the back lacing. Hers just seem to have fewer than the traditional 13 buttons! Once the three horizontal buttons are undone, the whole front flap drops down to reveal an open area that functions like a very deep fly. Otherwise I don’t think there’d be any way to wiggle into them!!

    This type of closure is also called a “broadfall” or “fall front”. You can google to see lots of visuals for how it works.

    • Thank Natalie. I originally thought they were the type of closure you mention but having really studied these white ones, I’m convinced they’re not. The top of the trousers, where the side buttons are placed, is attached to the waistband, it’s not separate as you would expect from broadfall trousers. I think they’re designed to look like that but don’t actually function like that. By opening the three buttons at the front, and loosening the lacing, the top area would end up wider than the hips, so they should be open enough to get on.

  6. I haven’t heard of this show before, I’ll have to check it out! The costumes look lovely, a great representation of day to day style.

    • Oh wow, yes, you really should. The costumes are amazing! I particularly love Louisa’s because she’s my kind of age but Margo’s (Louisa’s daughter) has some incredible pieces too. xx

  7. Thankyou for such a fantastic piece, l love The Durrells especially for the scenery and the fashions, also can I ask where you buy your vintage clothes especially a vintage blouse for £1.
    Thankyou also for your mention of the Dig For Victory Show in Somerset, I knew nothing about it and my partner and I are now planning a day out.

    • I make a lot of my own clothes from original 1930s sewing and crocheting patterns. However, I tend to buy my vintage pieces from all over, particularly vintage and antique fairs, vintage shops, flea markets and, of course, every vintage gal’s go to place, Etsy. The £1 blouse actually came from a theatre costume company. They were having a huge sale of a lot of their stock and a small amount of genuine vintage was on offer, so I made sure I went along nice and early. It’s always worth looking out for things like that as you just never know. My advice is always be prepared to get down and rummage and as one vintage seller I know says, “elbows at the ready!”.

      The Dig for Victory show is brilliant. This year will be my third year of going and I can’t wait. There’s a lot of vintage on offer to buy, so bring plenty of money! What I particularly like about the sellers here are a lot of them are selling genuine vintage that’s really good quality. Okay, so you have to pay more, but trust me it’s worth it. I hope you have a fabulous day! xx

      • Thanks for the info Cate, much appreciated and really looking forward to going. Am also going to the Vintage Bazaar and Jumble Sale in Frome tomorrow…..really excited xx

      • Hi Cate
        Just wanted to say it was lovely to meet you on Saturday, it was a great day and I saw some ladies with stunning outfits and found a few lovely pieces myself.
        Hope you had a good day too xx

        • It was really lovely to meet you too Sky! I had an amazing day and bought so many gorgeous bargains. I hope you managed to pick up some goodies! xx

          • I picked up some lovely bargains and am so happy with them. Can’t wait for the next vintage fair. SadlyI missed the Dig for Victory Show at the weekend due to a virus, really disappointed. But hoping to get to the Sherborne Vintage Market on 24th xx

    • Me too! This is definitely much more of what I love about vintage, what people wore day to day rather than all of the over the top evening wear. xx

  8. Thanks so much for writing about the fashions on this show! I watched it after the first post you did. I’ve made two hats based on ones from the show and also have plans for making a blouse or two based on Louisa’s from the current series. I love the blue knit(?) dress that Margo wears this season as well and might have to figure out how to make something similar.

    • Oh, I would love to see your hats! Do send me a link if you’ve posted them anywhere. Yes, that blue dress of Margo’s is stunning and I adore her playsuit too. I just think I’m probably too old to wear her wardrobe these days! xx

  9. I still haven’t caught up on this and I really must as I know I will enjoy it. I think I have wardrobe envy! She looks well put together yet comfortable in the heat in these separates and that is something I would love to achieve. I’d have a go at a pattern inspired by her wardrobe if you do decide to produce one. Great idea.

    • Oh you really must watch this, you’ll love it! I’ll have a think about the pattern, I might be giving myself way too much work 🙂 xx

  10. Thank you for this article. Love this show and all the 30s fashion! As a crocheter, can’t believe I didn’t spot the crochet handbag (fourth photo).

    • Hehehe! Yes, that crochet handbag is gorgeous! I’m yet to make any handbags in crochet but I did just buy a vintage one that will appear in my next post xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.