The one time during series 2 when I felt that the show lost its beautiful trademark “understatedness” was at the beginning of episode 7. Perhaps they needed to set the scene and define characters quickly since there were three storylines running concurrently - those of Monique Hyde, the Laceys, and the ongoing story of Sister B and Doctor T.
(Once I stop yammering,) the point I’m actually trying to get at is that, while today’s society, perhaps unconsciously, discriminates on socio-political status (see: state/privately schooled students accepted into top universities, benefit-claimants looking to rent a house, for instance), racial discrimination was more obvious in the 1950s. Perhaps especially in Poplar, an overall poor area.
The show makes it very clear from the beginning that Monique is originally from a well-to-do family: she wears hats, and not only on Sundays, since we know the ante-natal clinic is on Tuesday afternoons; her clothes are vivid, bright colours and patterns, indicating that they have perhaps not been put through the wash so many times; her skirt is voluminous, implying the maintenance of underskirts. Rita Bailey, in contrast, wears simply cut clothing (tailoring still arguably better than today’s High Street) in either washed out or utilitarian colours. However, little Sylvie is dressed in a dainty, patterned dress, bright teal coat, and matching ribbons in her hair, which could represent a bridge crossing the gap between the two mothers, or a more equal future generation.
I don’t know if the bright-colour/vivid-pattern theme for forward-thinking can be extrapolated across the whole episode: the most straight-forwardly sartorial example would be Trixie in her woodland green sweater and bright lipstick, as she is presented as a character that keeps up to date with the latest fashions. Even Mrs Lacey swaps her old shirt for a berry-coloured blouse at the prospect of her son coming home.
…or perhaps I’m looking for something that isn’t there.
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