Russell, although she thinks of herself as being above such things, is a secret devotee of the fashion world. She dresses by preference in men’s clothing, some of which are castoffs from her late father’s wardrobe, and is occasionally amused by the reactions of others to her attire (see, for example, the first chapter of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice)
As it happens, Russell is built for the Twenties, being, as she herself says, hardly voluptuous. However, when we first meet her in 1915, the practicality of the war years is only just beginning to penetrate society, and the norm is still long hair and a womanly shape draped in many yards of fabric. Women working in factories, on the land, or in the many jobs requiring heavy physical skills wore trousers and often cut their hair, but by preference, the Edwardian era still reigned in fashion.
After the war, however, dresses slimmed, and Coco Chanel’s vision of boyish simplicity emerged from the bustles and stays. Hair grew short, and disappeared entirely beneath the cloche hat, and although Russell keeps her long hair on top of her head well into the Twenties, she is definitely among the minority among women her age.