Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Wednesday
Apr172019

Victorian Glory

Yesterday I was waxing lyrical about my Victorian cape – here it is in all its glory! Isn’t it amaa-aa-zing? I first saw it from the rear, on a mannequin in the window display of a Sacred Heart Mission op shop. I stared at it in amazement and disbelief. At first I thought it was a costume from a theatre perhaps, but when I enquired if I could try it on and swept it away to a changing room, I saw that it was an original piece.

It is wool, with a silk lining and fringe, and cornelli embroidery on the yoke. The label is also still intact, and reads, in gold embroidered script on a cream background: “Mesdames Niblett, Crighton & Burton”, and in smaller text, “75 New St Birmingham”. It does have a few moth bites and holes, which is not surprising considering its age, and a previous owner covered a few up with tiny lace leaves – you can see them in the second picture.

It has a lovely weight to it and a delightful swishy swing.

I am wearing it here with a vintage 1970s mauve dress and 1950s cherry casque, an outfit I wore to my niece’s wedding last year. (I actually wore it with a different cape, one of red cashmere.) On the morning I was very indecisive about which coat to wear, but the red won out as I love that colour it worn with purple. I ended up wearing this cape to the Opening Night of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband – which I thought was an ideal occasion, as the play was written in the Victorian era. I recall it was a cold night, and the cape was very warm – not to mention an extravagant indulgence to wear! It has a lovely weight to it and a delightful swishy swing.

This is the second Victorian cape that I own, the first being a shorter, hooded skating coat of red and white striped velvet, which I bought from Persephone Vintage on Etsy a few years ago. It too has a long fringe, of red and white chenille. I can’t say that I’d want to gad about in weighty Victorian gowns and their even more fearsome foundation garments, but I must say I do enjoy wearing the capes of the era, and how much more exciting than a prosaic duffel coat for example, or some other even more utilitarian coat? Life’s too short to wear a parka.

Photos: July 2018

Tuesday
Apr162019

Some are coats, some are jackets

Summer is long gone, but Melbourne keeps on rolling out the warm, summery weather; I still haven’t done the seasonal Dreaded And Great Closet Swap because of this. I have, however, completed a seasonal cull, but my wardrobe is still crammed! I’ve been contemplating whether I should try to cull even more, or put some of my precious vintage things that are not worn frequently in storage.

So, it is an appropriate time to look at my collection of summer coats and jackets. I must confess that I actually took these photos two years ago, but never made time to edit them as it was such a time-consuming job – almost as time consuming as seasonal wardrobe maintenance! Some of these jackets have actually since been culled, but since I love outerwear so much, they are still part of this visual library for posterity.

I also have added more coats and jackets to my wardrobe, since I can’t resist adding an amazing historical piece, such as 30s and 40s embroidered silk bed jackets; a 40s plush velvet (imitation fur) jacket, and a velvet evening cloak from the same era; an extraordinary cape in animal-print velvet that I think is probably 60s or 70s; amazing 60s and 70s leather coats and jackets; a 1970s brown tweed wool frock coat; a 1970s hot pink marabou bolero; an oyster-coloured modern leather capelet in a Victorian style; a jaw-dropping mid-nineteenth century Victorian wool cape, floor-length, fringed and cornelli-embroidered; a modern cream silk duster that is fantastically embroidered with flowers in pinks and reds … and probably more that I am forgetting!

Who could resist these despite a bursting closet? Most of these items have been found in thrift stores. But, cataloguing these garments has made me realise I have some gaps, such as a peplum jacket, and some Holy Grail wishes: a 1930s winter coat (which would be a lucky find in an op shop – although one would not expect to find a silk-fringed Victorian cape in a thrift store either), an Edwardian Battenberg lace coat, and a 1920s velvet evening cocoon coat with an extravagant collar.

Here are a couple of pictures of the fronts of two items: a 60s or 70s double-breasted sailor jacket, which is a more recent find, and a 50s satin opera cloak, which is one of my earliest vintage purchases. It is trimmed in with brocade ribbon, which you can see in the rear view in the gallery. I found it in a thrift store in a local shopping strip near the art college I attended, decades ago now, and recall it cost me around $30.

You can check out the gallery here – and look out for more, as I shall be adding all my newer treasures soon!

Photos: January 2017

Monday
Apr152019

New Jools

I am a sucker for jewellery – or in the case of costume jewellery, ‘jools’ – of all kinds, but especially for necklaces. Nearly all my jewellery is vintage or secondhand. Most of it was found in op shops and cost very little, which is why I don’t feel too guilty for my self-indulgence.

Of this selection of necklaces bought in thrift stores in recent months, only three of them are genuine vintage – a chain of white rhinestones, the twisted strand of pink seed beads that resembles a Twizzler, and the white milk glass bead necklace – but all of them are fun. I especially love the giant silvery bauble necklace which looks quite 60s-space-age-inspired.

And considering the embarrassingly large quantity of jools I own, I am quite pleased to reflect that I have worn nearly all of these at least once!

Tuesday
Apr092019

Cross My Heart

In August 2014 I visited the Heide Museum with an old friend to see a Mirka Mora exhibition. We also wandered around the extensive grounds to look at the sculptures, which is when my friend took some snaps of me.

I was going for a 30s or 40s aesthetic. As usual, I am wearing a mix of modern and vintage items, and like the colour combination very much. The halo beret is 1940s and was bought from The Vintage Hat Shop on Etsy; the lilac silk blouse (1950s, I think) with the amazing details was bought in a thrift store for around $5; and the black 1960s bag was also bought in a thrift store many years ago. All the other items are modern, the skirt by Witchery and the wedges by Oxford, both Australian brands. I’m also carrying some souvenirs: a black agate bangle from Spain, and a striped cashmere shawl (in my bag) from Sharjah, part of the UAE.

… who remembers the childhood chant, “CROSS MY HEART, HOPE TO DIE, STICK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE”?

I am also pleased to reflect that all the items are still in circulation. In fact, I wore the sunglasses today after a very long hiatus, as I have been wearing my various 1930s and 40s sunglasses exclusively for the better part of a year. I remember spotting the shades online somewhere, and they made me laugh – who remembers the childhood chant, “CROSS MY HEART, HOPE TO DIE, STICK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE”? Round lenses are my favourite shape to wear, and I managed to track them down to some random online retailer and bought them on the spot.

Scroll down to see some pictures of the Mirka Mora exhibition.

Photos: August 2014

Tuesday
Apr022019

What I Actually Wore #0148

Serial #: 0148
Date: 04/10/2013
Weather: 22°C / 72°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

The first thing I have to say about the above photograph is: MY HAIR! That bob is immaculate and newly shorn, and I must give another shout-out to my awesome hairstylist Alex from Lady Marmalade, who has been cutting my hair for more than a decade. Secondly, I very, very rarely wear all black – or even almost all black as I did on this day over five years ago.

That is my credo in fact: never to wear all black! And it’s why I didn’t on this occasion – I wore a pair of animal print ponyhair pumps, and a vintage 1970s brown leather jacket.

The third amusing detail about this outfit is that it is quite ill-fitting! The 70s style knit blouson-sleeved top I still have, but the pants I eventually donated to charity because they were too big (you know pants are too big when you don’t have to undo the zip when you go to the bathroom); the shoes, currently buried in a storage bag of footwear intended for eBay, were a size too big for me even with insoles, but I bought them anyway because they were a $10 bargain; and the vintage 70s jacket was too small across the shoulders and in sleeve length, and has long since also been donated to charity.

That was a particularly regrettable loss. The leather was so fine, and it was a chocolate shade of brown that I like. If it had a label, I can’t recall what it was. Sadly, the jacket was missing its belt, which I guessed was a long soft leather tie style. Here, I am wearing it with a vintage 80s plaited taupe leather buckled belt – it was never a pairing I was completely satisfied with, but I had never found a suitable replacement for the original. I had intended to try to sell the jacket, but it was accidentally toted off to a thrift store – whence it had come, so I can’t regret it too much. I hope someone with a smaller frame pounced on it with joy!

Fourthly, I must note that all of these items – excepting the souvenir jewellery, and the shoes which were seconds from a warehouse store – were bought in a thrift store, which is wear I buy most of my clothes and accessories. 

My jewellery is a mixture of vintage souvenirs and boutique purchases. The silver necklace is Moroccan and came with an antique coin attached; I have over the years added a number of mostly sterling silver charms, with the exception of a Victorian cash register key. I have not worn it for some time, so this outfit from the archives is a nice reminder to do so – and to make an overdue appointment at the hair salon!

Items:

Top: French Connection
Pants: Dizingof
Jacket: vintage 1970s
Belt: vintage 1980s
Shoes:
Wittner
Earrings: Mimco
Necklace: souvenir
Ring: souvenir (onyx), Roun (silver)

Photos: October 2013