Monday, 17 June 2013

Call the Midwife: Nurse Jenny Lee

Call the Midwife is a BBC drama about four young nurses working in the slums of London's East End in the 1950s. It's been out for a while but I've just finished watching Season 1 and I really enjoyed it. It's a nice blend of comedy (the nuns that the girls live with in are wonderfully funny) and drama, and is in fact based on the memoirs of a real midwife, Jennifer Worth.

 From left to right: Trixie, Chummy, Jenny and Cynthia.

The four nurses in the show live with four nuns at the fictional Nonnatus House. While they mostly wear (admittedly quite adorable) uniforms, there are a couple of scenes per episode where you see them in plain clothes. Jenny and Trixie have the best clothes (the other two are a bit frumpy) so I thought I'd take some screenshots and do a post today on Jenny's outfits, and another on Trixie's a bit later.

SPOILERS: I'll try not to give too many plot twists away, but if you haven't seen the series and you don't want anything spoiled, maybe come back later. I don't want to ruin it for anyone!


Nurse Jenny Lee is the romantic character of the group. 22 years-old, she is classically beautiful, plays the piano, is well-spoken and comes from a middle-class family. Her clothes reflect her conservative background. Her wardrobe is made up of good quality, classic pieces - in fact Jenny has a perfect capsule wardrobe of mix-and-match separates with a few dresses for "best". Her colour palette is cream, bitter chocolate and pale yellow, with an accent colour of slate blue.

The Suit
We first see Jenny in the classic 1950s wardrobe staple, the Good Suit. Jenny's suit is beige (probably a fine wool) and has a tiny check woven into the fabric (you can just see in the photo below).

It's a fairly utilitarian suit, although it does have few nice touches such as the little tabs on either side of the jacket waist.

These are repeated in the tabs at the top of each side vent in the straight skirt. It looks here as if there is a panel of fabric behind each split, which would be a nice touch. Love the seamed stockings!

I couldn't resist a side view of these beautiful brown suede pumps - you just don't get anything with such an elegant line these days. You can just see her little matching brown suede handbag as well.

A back view of the suit jacket, showing that the sleeves are cut in one with the body rather than being set-in, a very 1950s construction. Strange darts at the back.

Everyday Wear
Jenny favours wool skirts worn with cardigans and blouses, or sweaters. I counted three wool skirts, five cardigans, one sweater and four blouses. This skirt, a full-circle cream skirt with a brown and blue check is seen quite a few times in the series, matched with various tops. 

Here Jenny wears it with a classic fine wool cardigan (I like to think it's cashmere) in a buttercup yellow. The white collarless blouse has a sort-of herringbone pattern down the front. Over it, she is wearing a boxy, cream wool car-coat with large decorative buttons on either side. This too is a often-worn classic piece.

At first I thought the skirt was just cream and brown, but in this shot you can clearly see the blue running through the tartan. It's picked out nicely by the slate blue sweater she's wearing.

The next combo is the same skirt and cream coat, but with a cream blouse and brown cardigan, and the brown suede shoes and handbag that she wore with her suit. 

The cardigan, in a pale chocolate colour, has a collar, breast pockets and large mother-of-pearl buttons. The blouse is cream with self-embroidery decorating the front.

Different day, same skirt. This time she's paired it with a cream sweater with a shawl collar.

This is Jenny's other main skirt - a sensible pleated wool skirt in a blue, yellow and black check on a cream background. The cardigan she's wearing it with is a different yellow cardigan to the one shown before - a paler colour, more of a lemon yellow.

In the close-up you can see that it knitted in a fine lace pattern.

Here's the whole outfit again, you can see she's wearing cream peep-toe leather pumps, and carrying her brown handbag. She's wearing her cream car-coat too, which seems to be an everyday staple.

Jenny also wears this skirt with her blue cardigan.

And her other yellow one. Different blouse too, this one has some delicate embroidery running down the front.

Jenny's third skirt is a grey pleated wool one. She wears it for a funeral, and this is the only time she wears it, so I wonder if it is a bit unfashionable, something she keeps in the back of the wardrobe. It seems shorter than her other skirts too, just knee length.

She has found a black cardigan and a sombre black and white scarf to wear with it, also items that she doesn't wear usually.

She also has black shoes, rather pointy ones, and a small black leather handbag to match. 

Leisure Time
Jenny has a few nice outfits that she wears when she goes out. The first, which she wears in two different episodes, is a floral skirt and sweater. It's pretty but casual, suitable for a picnic or a summer walk along the pier. The circle skirt in fine gathered cotton has a floral pattern in light blue and greeny-yellow on a cream background, matching the colour scheme of Jenny's wardrobe. She wears it with a cream fine wool sweater.

This is a terrible picture, but you can just see her shoes, which look like cream heeled sandals, or slingbacks.

Jenny wears this dress to go to a concert. Again, it's in her signature colours of cream, pale chocolate brown and yellow. The design is very simple, with a high boat neck and a full gathered skirt. Jenny wears it with her yellow cardigan and a pale chocolate belt.

Over the dress Jenny wears a very New Look style coat in a creamy-beige fabric. It's quite long, and is fitted a the waist and flares out again.

The silk scarf that Jenny wears is printed with scenes of Paris in brown and green on a cream and pale yellow background. It's the ultimate in chic, conservative wear.

You can see how long the coat is here - longer that her skirt, which is tea length.

Another pretty dress for attending a luncheon. This one is quite loosely cut, and has a row of tiny buttons down the front. Once again you can see the brown handbag, which matches everything! 

The fabric is cream with a pattern of dots in brown and orange, connected with fine lines in an almost "atomic" print. 

This is the only view of this outfit, which I'm guessing is an embroidered blouse or cardigan. Jenny wears it for a concert where she plays the piano. The colours are very similar to the dress above.

Party Dress
Jenny's "best" dress is perfectly 50s. Sleeveless, with a drop-waist and full skirt, it's classy and demure. The fabric is cream with a fine check woven into it. She wears a long brooch on the left side (you can just see it behind her hand).

The back of the dress. I like the constrast between the high almost cowl-neck front and the deep v-neck back with the little collar. 

The full outfit. Jenny wears her cream jacket and cream pumps. 

All the girls have a dressing-gown, for sitting around the kitchen table and drinking cocoa in (or more realistically, when they have to get up in the night to go to a patient). 

This is the only time you see Jenny's underwear, a slip that she goes swimming in. It's so pretty that I tried to get a few shots of it. Pale pink with beige lace in an asymmetrical pattern.

And you can just see in this picture that the side of the skirt is also lace. Very pretty.

Well, I hope you're enjoyed looking at Nurse Jenny Lee's outfits. Next up I will be doing a post on Trixie's wardrobe, which is full of cute sweaters.