Screens: BBC

What Not To Wear (When Your Friend Gets Kidnapped By Maltese Gangsters)

And other design lessons from the most recent Bletchley Circle.

Soooo, Alice is having some problems getting work after the whole murder-trial thing. She points out that she got acquitted -- and also that she's wearing a crisp plaid-suit/pearls combo -- but her prospective employer seems more horrified that she was "in the news-papers" than that she might have killed someone.

So she makes this face:


...Seriously. Back at the flat she's sharing with Lizzie, she gets an invitation to put on her "glad rags" and join Millie for a cocktail. Please to note the world's tiniest throw rug at the bottom of the frame. It's the Smart Car of scatter carpeting.

Screens: ITV

Screens: ITV

Alice raids her daughter's wardrobe and jewelry box. A solid move in the latter case...


...and I like the cropped jacket, but I don't know about that dress (you can't see the ruched bodice in this shot, but imagine formalwear the Joan Allen character would have worn in Peggy Sue Got Married. No bueno).


Millie's dress isn't just va-va-voom; it's POCKETY! Just the thing for doing a bit of black-market perfume-and-hosiery business at a posh hotel. Love the Mondrian-y print on her contact's dress as well.


And what the contact is saving on fell-off-a-truck nylons, she's spending on jewelry. That top brooch is killer, plus the beads (look like real crystal) AND the throwback flapper jet earrings. Fabulous.


As Millie places her order with Jasper, I drool at all the barware. From left, the seltzer bottle; the cut-glass tumbler; the cigarette case and old-school tap lighter (a bitch to fill and even worse to fix, but so worth it if you can find a working model), the champagne-cocktail glass, and what I believe is a match dispenser.


Cheer up, Alice; I know Millie got you butt-wasted, but that brooch is eh-vuh-ree-thing.


Not a great color story on Alice here, but the cut of the blouse is cute. The real story is Lizzie's short-sleeve sweater, though. That's a tough brown, but I like it on her.


Alice heads to Millie's to see about maybe catching on with Jasper herself, since she can't get a straight job as a secretary. She gets into the building thanks to this lady and her awesomely fastenered frock...


...but she finds the place ransacked and calls the cops. I agree: it's a crime to have broken that glass in the foreground. Love the handbag, too, though I'd go for a shinier leather.


Another lovely brooch, this one an everyday circle pin that's perfectly of the era. Note also Millie's artsy mirror in the background.


The law is skeptical that Millie's run into foul play. He's happy to inspect that cocktail shaker, though. In the background: how to do a lace curtain that doesn't look cheap.


Jean's cheap buttondown and Lucy's brilliant coat aren't a hundred percent on your police work, there, Nigel.


Because Millie did get kidnapped, and her problems pale in comparison to Czech refugee Lishka, who manages to communicate via broken English and mime that the big boss's main trade isn't fencing grey-market goods; it's human trafficking. Lishka couldn't warn her little sister in time, so she has to stay and work there until Sis gets there, at which time the big boss will sell them both as sex slaves. For now, she's bringing meals to debt prisoners like Millie -- who got grabbed up because Jasper was skimming the take -- while wearing a cute Boden-esque shirt dress and crochet-inlay apron.


Lucy, meanwhile, is working the dude who has a crush on her at the office for case info, some of which she has in her chic pocketbook here. (The typewriter in the background is great too.)


Maps: possibly the best decorating shortcut ever. You can get a ten-pack on eBay for like four bucks. Cut 'em up, hang 'em in time-zone order, decoupage 'em to a door. A million uses, and educational too.


Great blouse on Alice; much improved silk number on Joan. I appreciate that they didn't forget she got shot in the kneecap.


Meet the big boss, Marta. She's just going to hang on to Millie until Jasper pays his debt. I'm going to admire her Carmela Soprano jewelry combo, and the range of mid-century canisters behind her.


Jasper will get the money, he swears! He might start by selling those design-y boxes on the shelf behind him on Etsy.


Lucy has to go to dinner with her work crusher in exchange for getting information, but when she asks about active cases that might help them track down the active Maltese black marketeers who might have snatched Millie, she hits a wall. The shirt's the problem, if you ask me: no cleavage, and it covers that cute sweater.


I wish I could have gotten a better shot of Alice's tile-print dress here; I wonder if it's not covered up because it's a bit too contemporary. No such issue with Jean's sweater vest, which is hideous. It's like a spaniel with buttons.


I am OBSESSED with that little calendar on the desk (the "11"). Millie's just trying not to get killed, since apparently Jasper already paid up, but she's still stuck there.


"Can I offer you a drink from this fabulous flip-top bar that looks like a converted sunken stereo system before I sell you into slavery?"


Another shot of that bar, as well as the asymmetrical button bodice on Marta's dress, and the best clock in the entire world over her shoulder there, which tells Marta that it's time to accept Millie's cut-out-the-middleman offer to take Jasper's place.


Marta goes for it, apparently understanding that anyone with access to that amazing bracelet is not a trifler. Millie is taken home in the back of a van, then groped by a dicky henchman who threatens to rape her. Gross.


In the background, what looks like a rick-rack sweater (love), held down by a dented hatbox (also love), with a cream suitcase next to the desk/bar (spoiler: love, even though those things are a pain to carry). Not shown: Millie, passed out in the middle of the mess on her bed.


While the others straighten up Millie's place, Jean and her suspiciously modern-looking handbag counsel Millie, who's rocking another delightful headscarf. Tying her belted jacket instead of doing up the belt for real = effortless cool (adore the box-pleat pockets, too -- roomy!).


That scarf looks so comfy, and like it wouldn't need pins, which is key. Not a hundred percent on the sweater in that grey, but in a peacock green? Sold.


Like the suit, like the shawl collar, troubled by the hair, which is too Susan for me. I would like a straighter bang (or just all of them pinned to the side) and a lower chignon.


As Millie tells the others what's really going on at Maltese HQ and hopes to save Lishka and her sister, Lucy sends us out on a floral-cut-out dress with white accents, and I covet Millie's chair.

Almost all readers liked this episode
What did you think?