Working Lives

Shelley Gibson 1960s to 80s (part 2)

Shelley Gibson started work as a clerical assistant at John Lewis in 1979

60s Revolutions

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By the time, Shelley went to school, education for girls was pretty much the same as for boys (not to mention school uniforms), and more and more young women were going to university. But though more women were following full-time careers, only a very small number reached high positions in their companies. Shelley left school at 18 after taking ‘A’ levels in Maths and Art, an unusual combination, but one that would be very useful at John Lewis.

Daniel Neal advert showing a variety of outfits for young ladies (1963)
Daniel Neal's spring collection (1963)

The birth control ‘pill’ had been available on prescription since the 1960s. Couples could now time their children’s arrival to suit their personal circumstances. Some couples chose not to have children, so they could both follow their careers. Others saw no point in getting married. They lived together and brought up their children without a wedding. This was the case of Shelley and her partner Bobby Moss. As Shelley’s family were strict Catholics and Bobby’s family were Protestants, the young couple decided that the best way to avoid arguments about what kind of wedding to have was to have no wedding at all.

Illustration from Peter Jones advertisement showing two feamle models wearing fashioanble 1960s clothes
Peter Jones fashion 1960

They did, however, have an unofficial ‘honeymoon’ in Spain when they first moved into a flat together in 1981. Two weeks in Torremolinos gave Shelley the chance to show off her fashionable string bikini, just like the one Bo Derek had worn in the hit movie ‘10’ the previous year. Shelley’s granny Beryl thought it was a bit revealing, but then again, she’d never worn a swimming suit in her life! Mum Maria liked it though. “I wish I’d had something to wear like that when I was your age instead of the stiff swimming costumes and playsuits I used to wear,” she said. “Mind you, it was a bit colder in Southend than Spain.”

In 1983, Shelley and Bobby bought their own flat in Tottenham, the first time either of them had lived in their own property. Shelley’s mum had lived all her life in a council house, and her granny had always lived in a rented flat. Tottenham was a great location for Shelley as she could catch the underground at Seven Sisters Station directly to work at Oxford Circus.

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