Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Monday
Sep092019

Roll-Up, Roll-Up!

Another type of cuffed sleeve is the classic roll-up. A tab on the inside of a long sleeve attaches to a button on the exterior when the sleeve is rolled up. Depending on the stiffness of the fabric, one can neatly fold it (literally roll it up) or simply gather it and allow it to fall in natural folds as I have done in this example.

This cuff should not be confused with the dressy cuff often seen on more formal sleeves and pant legs (both shorts and full-length trousers). Unlike the roll-up, which reveals the seam, this cuff is decorative, created from a separate piece of fabric and attached with the front side of the fabric facing outwards.

The roll-up is a casual sleeve, but also quite practical when you need to get your hands dirty. My silk smock blouse takes that concept to the nth degree with a paint splatter print!

Review all the sleeves in the gallery thus far.

Wednesday
Sep042019

Capricious spring!

How fickle is the Melbourne spring! Like this glorious 1970s dress, it has two faces. You don’t know what weather it will bring: one day it will be sunny and balmy, and the next a howling gale will lash about unsuspecting flesh – and sometimes this will happen all in one day. In fact, the last day of winter was more springlike than the first day of the new season.

From the front this dress is wonderful. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw its sleeves in the op shop. They were perfect for my sleeve story, for the pagoda sleeve (multiple tiers) was yet a gaping hole in my lexicon. In great delight, I took the gown into the changing room with me, but a nasty suspicion nagged at me that fate would rain on my parade.

In great delight, I took the gown into the changing room with me …

Thunder rolled as I was engulfed by rustling fabric, which I think it is most likely polyester, or perhaps a poly/rayon blend at best. I was right: the dress fit me to the waist – but that darned zip would simply go no further, and the back gaped open. (Because of this, in the first picture, the bodice is loose and should appear much more fitted.) There is a snowflake’s chance in hell that my torso would ever shrink so much, no matter how much weight I lost!

I would not ruin the dress by having it altered to be made backless, for instance, so now that I have photographed its splendour for posterity, I shall prepare to sell it and the income can go toward something in my Etsy wishlist.

Unlike the gown, the season cannot be traded in. This week will see a return to wintry weather, and we must grin and bear it – but perhaps not bare it all just yet!

Photos: September 2019

Saturday
Aug312019

Winter Takes a Bow

Hooray! It’s the last day of winter! I farewell the cold season with this charming 1930s black wool felt calot – a cap that sits on the back of the head – featuring a bow on the front, and decorative top stitching in gold thread on each side. It is simple, but stylish and versatile since it goes with multiple outfits. I found this hat last year in an op shop (thrift store) for only $5! Hat bargain of the year.

Goodbye Old Man Winter, we won’t miss you.

Photo: June 2019

Wednesday
Aug282019

Marvellous Mauve

A couple of years ago I wrote a story about different shades of purple, and I touched on the discovery of the first aniline dye in 1856 that became known as mauve, the French word for mallow flower after which the colour is named. Originally it was probably a darker shade than contemporary notions of it, as it was first likened to Tyrian purple which is much darker. The first mauve dye was replaced with other synthetic dyes in 1873: a lighter, less-saturated shade that we are familiar with today. As Wikipedia succinctly describes it, ‘mauve contains more grey and more blue than a pale tint of magenta’.

Three shades of mallow flowersHowever, while it was a synthetic dye, in the 1850s it was still quite expensive to process, and if not for Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, taking a liking to it because it supposedly exactly matched her ‘violet’ eyes, the colour might have disappeared. Queen Victoria subsequently gave it the thumbs-up, and for a time it was all the rage, reaching its heights of popularity in the 1890s.

… for a time it was all the rage, reaching its heights of popularity in the 1890s

As with many trends, however, it soon reached over-saturation in the market and eventually it became passé, synonymous with ladies of a certain age. Even in the twentieth century, it was associated with aging, as it was one of the shades white-haired ladies chose to rinse their hair with to remove unlikable yellowish tones. Today of course that trend has been turned on its head and grey hair tinted with pastel shades is all the rage with young people!

Empress Eugenie, 1854, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Franz clearly thought, "Pfft, purple eyes, MY EYE!"

Wait, what about the purple eyes?

I was interested in this notion of the Empress’s supposed violet eyes, and some research lead me to learn that Elizabeth Taylor was another celebrity famed for her violet eyes. Paintings are not necessarily true to life, and photographic evidence is obviously unreliable as it is too easy to digitally enhance hues or use colour filters in-camera.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1960 (ph unknown) and 1985 (ph Helmut Newton); she definitely seems to have naturally blue eyes that have been enhanced by the colour processing in the first photoAfter a lot of reading, I can state definitely that the human eye does not naturally come in shades of purple; ie people cannot be born with it. Put simply, the colour of an iris changes depending on how much light reaches it, and can be enhanced by coloured clothing or makeup surrounding the eyes; both Empress Eugénie and Elizabeth Taylor had blue eyes: one wore purple garments, the other purple eyeshadow. [See Further Reading below]

Back to fashion …

Since my original story, I have since found new mauve items in differing shades all from thrift stores: a merino wool jumper, a prettily hand-knitted vintage wool cape, and a vintage angora, pearl-beaded beret. The jumper is modern, but I am not sure of the age of the latter two; the beret was missing pearls when I bought it, but the cape is pristine and could be a modern knit made using a vintage pattern. My printed velvet pants are modern, by the Australian label Charlie Brown.

Scroll down and check out some more mauve outfits from the Victorian era to the present.

Further Reading

The biology behind eye colour in humans

Were Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes really violet?

But wait, Liz Taylor had double eyelashes!

Just how did Lizzie make her blue eyes look purple?

Photos: August 2019

Victorian walking dress, 1896Victorian evening dress, 1896Victorian silk striped walking dressSilk taffeta evening dress, 1860-18651930s fur jacket (sold)1930s bias gown (for sale)1940s catalogue – how I would love to buy this set, especially at those prices!Model Evelyn Tripp, wearing a dress and matching hat, ph Frances McLaughlin-Gill for VogueModern outfitRosie tote in mauve

Tuesday
Aug272019

What I Actually Wore #0155

Serial #: 0155
Date: 30/10/2013
Weather: 20°C / 68°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

Right on theme is this outfit out of the archives: it is very graphic with the stripes and stars, and I still like it. Stripes are one of my outfit go-tos – a default, if-in-doubt wardrobe staple. I still own all these items in fact, except the starry tights ran off and have been replaced, and the shoes are in storage as they are actually quite uncomfortable because of the inflexible glitter fabric of the uppers. I still love the idea of the glittery Dorothy-inspired shoes so I can’t bring myself to sell them online, as was my original plan – nor do I want to inflict them on some unsuspecting buyer!

I happen to be wearing a few souvenirs from my trip to Spain: the skirt is by a Catalonian designer, and the ceramic earrings and ring were both bought in Barcelona; the ring always seemed to me to be a suitable memento of Gaudí’s famed and fabulous sculptural architecture in that city. The herringbone skirt looks wintry, but it is made of a linen and rayon blend. (The skirt looks like it has a rosy tint on one side, but that is actually the reflection of the sunset.)

According to my notes for this outfit, I also wore my vintage 60s black velvet and fur trim coat, and a matching vintage hat, a soft velvet cap with fur trim that pulls down over the head like a turban, which I think may be even older – possibly even 1910s or 20s. I also carried a favourite white leather tote from a now sadly-defunct Melbourne designer label. I don’t know why I omitted to photograph them!

Items:

Top: Meredith
Skirt: Celia Vela
Hat: vintage 1920s
Coat: Fashion Gems of Melbourne, vintage 60s
Earrings: souvenir
Ring: souvenir
Stockings: Leg Avenue
Bag: Elise Caarels
Shoes: Wittner

Photos: January 2014