Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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« Mary, Mary | Main | Thou Shalt Know Thy Style »
Wednesday
Jul312013

My Evolution in Style

I am 13 or 14 in this picture I think, and was wearing a vintage 70s tiered dress, made of cheesecloth, and embroidered on the bodice in black. I suspect the dress had belonged to one of my sisters.As a teenager in the 80s I wore what most teenagers around me were wearing – hello Molly Ringwald, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper! I recall the first time I deliberately and consciously styled myself (borrowing from my sister Star’s wardrobe) rather than merely wearing something my mum had bought for me. That was a revelation, particularly in the reception my outfit received (an enormous white man's work shirt, light blue stirrup jeans that were printed with a white paisley pattern, and some kind of white canvas kicks).

Around 8 or so, I was dressed here for a wedding in an outfit I absolutely loved – all navy and white with a touch of red. I was thrilled to have my hair curled. I look it too!It’s the 80s, I’m in my mid teens and wearing an embroidered denim skirt and my sister Star’s tee.Sweet 16 and am wearing a gingham balloon skirt and elasticised corset belt; I’m also sporting a spiral perm (slightly dropped out) and those 80s staples: cut-out sandals.However, it was not until I reached art college at age 18 or 19 that my true sense of style kicked in. I began to wear a lot of vintage – although I had long been shopping second hand stores already – influenced by the many thrift stores and vintage boutiques around my college. I majored in graphic design, but my wardrobe probably more closely resembled that of the painting students.

By my late twenties and my third job, my wardrobe underwent a renaissance. Suddenly I tired of vintage eclecticism. I made a 180° turn and switched to minimalism – a drastic change. I sold most of my vintage garments and accessories, and regret the loss of only a few.

Aged 21 here, I’m attending a friend’s 21st birthday party, and wearing a somewhat gothic-influenced black chiffon and crimson velvet dress. It was one of my most expensive purchases of the time, from a boutique called Lost Vegas near my art college. My cousin and I (the same as in the first photo) dressed up in vintage for a costume party while on camp. That magenta dress cost me all of $6, a lot less than it would fetch today. I also styled my cousin with charity store finds – how she hated that lurid jumpsuit!Here I am with my sisters, sporting a 20s- and 30s-influenced look. I owned a lot of these long floral dresses at the time.A rather bohemian vintage look to go with the house I shared with my friend Rapunzel. The jacquard dress had a fitted bodice, which is not quite visible. And how bedraggled is that scarf – it literally looks like something the cat dragged in behind herself!A vintage ensemble: 70s lurex dress and dance shoes, with a vintage faux fur stole, 50s beaded bag and 40s rhinestone jewellery.My minimalist streak was influenced by Peta Wilson’s character in the 90s TV show La Femme Nikita, especially in the latter seasons. Most of her wardrobe was very minimal; sharp and edgy with interesting and unusual details, in a limited colour palette of mostly black and white with the odd burst of jewel colours. I remember buying a floppy 70s style black wool hat because it was similar to something Nikita wore; ditto white-framed sunglasses.

It was not until five to six years later that I introduced vintage into my wardrobe again, and today I wear both new and old clothes. I much prefer this mix to looking like I stepped out of a time machine or movie set.

Although I could not pinpoint my style to a particular look, I would define it as eclectic.

Although I could not pinpoint my style to a particular look, I would define it as eclectic. The most important keys are striking accessories (in particular hats, shoes and jewellery), interesting and contrasting textures, asymmetry, unusual details such as pleating or gathers, volume, bright colours and lots of stripes.

I deliberately choose to wear very little black, in favour of bold or atypical colour combinations – I particularly enjoy combinations that are unexpected or a little bit wrong, such as red and purple together. Striking colour is a trend for S/S 2013 in fact. I rarely wear prints, except perhaps in summer – for the longest time I wore them very little.

Of course all these characteristics do not merge in one outfit, but proportion and contrast is important – in shape, as well as colour and texture. Sometimes the contrast of a vintage item with something entirely minimalist and edgy is just right.

Rapunzel and I take a drive up the Victorian coast to the Twelve Apostles. My costume: vintage 70s cloche, 50s wool coat (it was freezing), and underneath a ribbed black poloneck and fiercely striped wide-legged pants. It was the early 90s and the grunge influence was big.Another beach holiday – I loved those little ruffled bloomer style shorts. They were brown with a yellow, red and green floral pattern. My hair is quite similar to how I wear it now too.Last year I was mad for mixing as many prints together as possible, à la the Ballet Russes, although it was hard to find such items without raiding the wardrobe department at the theatre I work at. Now, if only I could afford it, I would very likely lean toward minimalism again and go shopping at labels like Akris, Calvin Klein, Balenciaga and Jil Sander, although I would probably still work in the odd bit of vintage and the less fussy designs of Miu Miu and Marni. As far as vintage goes, my favourite eras are 20s, 30s, 40s and 70s – the latter probably because it was heavily influenced by the Art Deco period itself. Balenciaga in the 1950s is awesome too. My least favourite decade for fashion is the 60s, which was not always the case – I wore a lot of 60s dresses at art school, and even wrote a paper on the era.

My biggest fashion regret? Yes there were some awful outfits, but I wish I had taken more photos when I was younger of some of the pearlers I remember. Now I regret there’s just not enough time to wear them all – perhaps it’s time to return to the days of yore when we changed several times a day! Ironically there’s not enough time for that either. 

This photo made me laugh very much – it was my Marisa Tomei moment. I loved an outfit she wore in the rom-com ‘Only You’ she starred in with Robert Downey Jr (so many funny moments in this film): a billowing white shirt and a red scarf. My hair was quite short too under this navy straw hat.

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