Favourite Summer Suit

Epaulette of the Strawberry Suit

Epaulette of the Strawberry Suit

When the summer comes, some women turn to shorts and vest tops, some go for swishy skirts and gypsy-boho tops. I have a third option – to turn to my grandfather’s old tropical uniforms, which are in lovely sturdy cotton drill softened by all those years of washing, and very nearly indestructible. I’ve dyed two sets, and painted paisley patterns on one of those, but I’m completely outclassed by my mother, who embroidered one set when I was a child.

Collar Details

Collar Details

The designs are based upon very stylised strawberries, strawberry leaves, and flowers. The jacket has short sleeves, epaulettes, and a standing collar, decorated with rows of chain stitch using all the colours used elsewhere in the design. The usual uniform buttons were replaced with vibrant pink mother-of-pearl effect buttons, which make the whole thing markedly more frivolous-looking..

Trouser Embroidery

Trouser Embroidery

Most of the embroidery is near the hem of the trousers. The strawberries are worked in trellis couching, and the rest of the embroidery is in stem or satin stitch.

I have memories of thinking my Mam looked fabulous in it when I was a child – so much so that I wrestled it from her a few years ago, and feel fabulous myself, every time I wear it.

What I don’t recall is what my Grandfather thought of the transformation…


  1. Alex Hall says:

    What a fabulous idea and it has turned out gorgeously. I never dare wear white – even embroidered white. I am far too much for a dirt magnet to dare!

  2. Terrie says:

    Such beautiful works of all memories, father, mother and all. You have genes of mum.

  3. jenclair says:

    Oh, I love that collar!

  4. CathieJ says:

    This is beautiful. How wonderful that three generations have been able to where that outfit.

  5. Penny Baugh says:

    Oh, its beautiful! No wonder you feel so good wearing it.

  6. Carolyn says:

    How wonderful. Firstly being able to source something from your Grandfather. My Grandfather’s clothes were those of the Grazier not at all suitable. Then having some work your Mother did as well.

  7. Jenny Benton says:

    What a lovely read – that’s certainly family reclyling at it’s best. Thanks for sharing this lovely story.

  8. Lin says:

    What a great idea – it would be lovely to see the whole suit? The embroidery looks gorgeous. xx

  9. Mam says:

    I don’t remember what your Grandad thought of it either, but Grandmama was very chuffed!

  10. Sue Jones says:

    Isn’t that brilliant? They built uniforms to last in those days, obviously. Your talented mother gives you a lot to live up to, Rachel.

  11. Cynthia says:

    The embroidery is lovely, what a great idea. It’s amazing that the uniform lasted so long. It would be great to see a photo of the whole ensemble.

  12. Meredithe says:

    What a great idea! The work is beautiful. Any chance of a photo of you wearing it??

  13. Lady Fi says:

    The details and colour are exquisite.

  14. Beautiful!! Moms are the best,aren’t they? How does it look when worn?

  15. Karen says:

    it seems your mother was a fine example of how to execute skilled needlework and it’s evident it has rubbed off on you.