Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Monday
Aug192019

When Wearing Stripes Becomes Optical Art

If any of my readers want proof of my devotion to stripes, behold this dramatic dress of striped jersey!

The dress, by Olivaceous (a brand I’ve never heard of) has a halter neckline formed by two extremely long ties that lift to create the bodice, cross my back, wind around waist a once or twice and then tie in a huge bow at the base of my back – and the ends still dangle to my knees! In addition, the maxi skirt is so wide and long that I have to carry it like ladies of yore so that I don’t trip and fall on my face. I like to think it evokes 1930s style a little. 

Maximum drama makes it the perfect dress to wear to an Opening Night at the theatre last January, and making doubly-sure I turn heads, I pair with it a 1940s black and white satin veiled pillbox hat. The fabric is made of viscose, so it has flows beautifully; almost mesmerisingly. I feel like a piece of Op Art wearing it!

Photo: April 2019

Thursday
Aug152019

Of the Same Stripe

Bathing suit, c. 1910sI love a stripe, it’s no secret. The other day while browsing on Pinterest, I spotted a nineteenth century black and white striped skirt (below) that was part of a beachwear set, and I was smitten. I would wear this off the beach today if I could but find one!

The skirt that bowled me over: Beachwear, late 1860s–early 1870sStripes are the simplest pattern of all, and when they are bold they make the most graphic and eye-catching statement. I’ll take stripes of any colour, but especially white with either black, blue, red or green.

Here are some other amazing black and white striped garments and accessories to bowl you over.

NB All images were found on Pinterest, but where possible I have traced them to their ultimate source – click each image to jump through.

Jacques Doucet, 1890sParasol, 1897 (image originally from The Met)Petticoat, c. 1900Underskirt, c. 1900Jeanne Lanvin, 1930sEvening dress, Madame Grès, c. 1975

Monday
Aug052019

The Cuffed Sleeve

One of the most basic sleeve styles is the cuffed sleeve. The cuff can take many forms, from the familiar ‘man’s shirt’ sleeve cuff, to simple band or piping cuffs.

This first cuff (above) is a band cuff that fastens with a single button in a narrower variation on the standard shirt cuff. It has pleats on either side of the button and a short placket opening that enables the hand to slide through.

Band cuffs without fastenings at the wrist are of course loose enough to allow the hand to slip through – piping cuffs are a very narrow type of cuff in this style – while band cuffs on the upper arm (such as on short puffed sleeves) often don’t have fastenings.

Another variation in the man’s shirt cuff is the French cuff, which is doubled in length and folded back. On a man’s shirt, cufflinks are used to fasten the two ends together. This is a more formal shirt worn with a suit by groomsmen or high-powered businessmen for a very debonair look. My silk gingham shirt has French cuffs that are simply folded back with the ends left loose – a contrast with the informal sash tie at the waist.

A more interesting type of cuff is the multi-buttoned style. These cuffs are usually quite fitted. I am wearing a silk blouse with four-button cuffs, but two-button cuffs are more common to see. In the Victorian era, very long, fitted, buttoned cuffs up to the elbow were a popular style, and were usually topped with a blouson shoulder. This type of sleeve is called a gigot – French for the back leg of an animal, a prettier name than ‘leg of mutton’ – or even Gibson Girl sleeves after the Victorian era archetype, who wore gigot sleeves on the classic pigeon-breasted blouses – we’ll visit those as soon as I find one to add to my wardrobe!

Refresh your sleeve knowledge by visiting the gallery for the whole set so far.

Wednesday
Jul312019

The Little Red Cap

Red is one of my favourite colours, and has been since childhood, and I am instantly attracted whenever I see it, from clothes and accessories to interior décor and make-up. There is something so delicious about this rich hue: perhaps it reminds me of cherries and raspberries and the rosy apples of Snow-White fame.

Last year I missed out on purchasing a 1940s knit cap that sported two large crocheted pompoms by the ears, creating an effect of Princess Leia hair buns! It was adorable, and I adore pompoms too.

Then early this year this hat – also vintage 1940s – popped up on Etsy at Scarlet Willow Vintage, and I was immediately reminded of the knit cap, except in this instance this hat had two large bows by the ears instead of pompoms. It also featured the same kind of criss-cross lacing at the back of the head as had the other cap.

I lost no time in claiming this one for my own. (Interestingly the seller had photographed it upside-down, but I immediately recognised how it would look worn correctly.)

I own a lot of hats and try to wear as many different ones each season as humanly possible, but still I have managed to wear this one a few times already over the autumn and winter. There is something so delightful about its neat design – wearing a hat like this makes the day magical. It is such a source of wonder to me that hats are largely out of fashion and that more people never experience the joy of a topper  – but equally, that leaves more vintage hats for me!

Photos: June 2019

Monday
Jul082019

What I Actually Wore #0154

Serial #: 0154
Date: 26/10/2013
Weather: 14°C / 57°F
Time Allowed: 15 minutes

I remember nothing about putting this outfit together, but I do recall an amusing incident at the end of this evening – but I’ll get to that later. I was going out to dinner and the theatre with a friend, and dressed up accordingly.

I really liked this black wool dress. I bought it in a thrift store, and had never (nor have since) heard of the designer, Charlotte Eskildon. It had some pretty ruching on the cuffs and around the waist – I say had because it didn’t take me long to admit that the dress was simply too big for me, and it returned to the op shop whence it came.

It’s pleasing to note though that I still own almost all the other items, although the polka dot tights inevitably became holey and ran. They have been replaced however with an identical pair that I confess I am reluctant to wear for fear of ruining them also! The op-shopped shoes died as well, but I fortuitously was able to replace them with an identical pair that were also from the op-shop and unworn. (How lucky am I?!)

The cashmere coat is a marvel, and I will never get rid of that – I am often likened to Red Riding Hood when I wear it. Parts of the label are very worn, and I have only now bothered to examine it closely with the aid of a magnifying glass, and have managed to make out it says ‘Weil der Stadt’, in addition to the fibre content and the ‘Made in Germany’, which I had read previously. Weil der Stadt is a town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and is often called the ‘Gate to the Black Forest’, which is a very evocative origin for my fairytale coat. I bought the coat in a vintage store in Melbourne many years ago, in celebration of winning a pitch for a freelance job. I suspect the coat is not that old at all however, for some time after I bought it, I came across a Vogue magazine ad for designer coats in which there was one almost identical.

What does make me chuckle however, is the memory of travelling home by tram that evening: the tram driver – a regular bloke – had to stop the tram and access some interior maintenance panel. It was late at night, and there were few passengers on board; on his way through the tram, he saw me and exclaimed loudly, “It’s Miss Fisher!” That was at the height of Miss Phryne Fisher’s fame, and a few people nearby smiled, while I imagined his wife inveigling him to watch Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries with her, and him feigning disinterest. Although I am sure I had not thought of her when I dressed, I knew Phryne indeed had a coat very similar to mine – the tram driver was clearly paying attention to the show!

Items:

Dress: Charlotte Eskilden for Designer Remix Collection
Coat: vintage
Headband: Morgan & Taylor
Bag: vintage 60s
Tights:
Basque
Shoes: Scooter
Earrings: self-made
Necklace: souvenirs
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Ring:
souvenir

Photos: January 2014