Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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A Thrifty Kindred Spirit

Welcome to Clementine, a stylish woman with an independent and eclectic sense of fashion, a keen op-shopper, all-round lovely person, and a true kindred spirit. Her outfits always catch my eye at our shared workplace, and this floral number she’s wearing had me smiling reminiscently of Eighties fashions.

How did you put this outfit together this April morning Clementine?

I actually packed this outfit into my yoga bag the night before – I was planning to get up and go to an early morning class … but then I slept in. Oops! But it was nice to have an outfit pre-organised. Pre-packing means I need things that won’t crease, and the skirt and cardie are good like that. But I started putting the outfit together around the tights.

I’m enjoying the change in seasons at the moment, and it’s nice to feel snug on these cool autumn mornings. I was a bit stuck on which top to put with it, and then I saw this one on the drying rack – my sister just passed it on to me recently and it actually goes rather nicely with the skirt I think.

The outfit does seem very ‘you’.

Yes it is actually very representative of my whole wardrobe – a lot of op shop finds and ‘pass-alongs’ from friends and family, with a few new pieces thrown in here and there.

When you aren’t pre-packing, how long does it usually take you to get ready?

Time to choose an outfit depends on how awake I am … some mornings I just stare at my options and can’t decide! I guess this was an outfit of convenience more than anything – I really should try pre-packing (or at least pre-selecting) more often.

I bought the heels on the same day I found my antique wedding ring, so I always have happy thoughts when I put them on!

Can you tell us a bit more about the individual items?

The apricot knit top was given to me by my sister; I think it’s from a Postie party.

What is that?

Postie parties are just like Tupperware parties – you shop from someone’s home, and there is a stylist to give advice.

I can’t believe I’ve never heard of them – clothing exchanges, but not this. [You can read more about Postie parties here.] What are your other items? That floral skirt has a particularly retro 80s vibe.

This skirt is from Forever New, from a revival a few years ago. The cardigan doesn’t have a label, but was given to me by my cousin in Italy. I think it belonged to a friend who cleaning out her cupboard, and she snapped it up. It’s travelled all around Europe with me. The heels were from an op shop in Camberwell [an inner-Eastern suburb of Melbourne] – I think they are RMK. I bought the heels on the same day I found my antique wedding ring, so I always have happy thoughts when I put them on!

And what about the stockings that started the whole outfit? I am partial to cable knit too.

They are from Sportsgirl. (Opening in 1948 Sportsgirl is an Australian chain store that has been around for nearly seventy years!)

I know you and I share a love of op shopping (thrifting), but before we get to that longer discussion, tell me where else you shop.

I’m actually struggling with mainstream brands in Australia at the moment – I feel too old for some high street shops, and too young (or too casual) for others. But I tend to buy jeans and pants from Sussan [another Aussie standby, around since 1939], as I find their cuts flattering for me – I like that the waistband sits above the hips! If I’m going past a shop I like, I’ll stick my head in. I rarely go out specifically to find a particular item.

And do you shop online much?

Yes! My favourite shop would have to be Anthropologie – I’ve bought quite a few things online, in spite of the expensive postage. I’ve found almost every item I’ve bought from there to be really well made, and I like that the designs are a bit different to what we find here. I’m a sucker for a beautiful email, catalogue image etc.,which is probably why Anthropologie always wins me over.

They are pretty gorgeous. So: let’s get onto op shopping. Why do you like it?

I’m definitely a browser style of shopper – I just find it very relaxing to flick through the racks. The atmosphere is so much nicer than the bright, noisy stores at shopping centres – the music is usually quirky, the volunteers are relaxed and genuinely pleased to see you – and when you find something unique, you feel like you’ve won the lottery!

I also enjoy knowing that in some small way I’m helping the community a little, by recycling and supporting charity. That’s very important to me.

… when you find something unique, you feel like you’ve won the lottery!

That’s great – you are a woman after my own heart! Good shopping ethics.

When I do buy new clothes, I’m conscious of buying quality items that will last, rather than cheap things that can only be worn a few times – and when I do have a wardrobe cleanout, I take as much as possible back to the op shop. And I’m not afraid to donate a really great piece if I’m honestly not wearing it – because I know there’s probably someone else out there that can enjoy it. And I think it brings good op shop karma!

Is there anything special you are currently looking out for?

I could currently use a couple of new tops for work – but I’m sure I’ll find them at some point. I’d love to support more independent Australian designers, but I haven’t found a style I love at a price I can afford just yet. But I’m keeping my eyes open.

On that note of hope, Clementine you bright young thing, I shall thank you for agreeing to appear on the pages of SNAP. Happy treasure-hunting!

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