Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in 1950s (97)


A good hat is (not) hard to find

Hats – as we all know – were once, along with gloves and stockings de rigueur on any trip from home. Such accessories added a certain level of interest to a woman’s outfit that sadly few of us take advantage of these days, except perhaps out of practicality in the blaze of summer or the depths of Melbourne’s arctic winters.

I’m certainly not suggesting a return to the days when one was obliged to follow society’s sartorial decrees or be branded a brazen hussy – like poor Jean Shrimpton at the Melbourne Cup in 1965. With the Spring Racing Carnival galloping into view however, could we regain a sense of adventure; a little modish bravery? Or, dare I say, return to elegance?

Flocks of women will undoubtedly descend upon Cleggs, or Lincraft to take advantage of the sudden influx of plain straw hats, bedeck them with multi-coloured ribbons and feathers galore. And God save me from seeing yet another excuse for a hat: the ubiquitous fascinator!

Yet all these creations have a sad commonness about them: at the one time of year when many women feel confident enough to wear a hat, few stand out as originals.

It’s true spectacular hats are expensive. They’re locked safely behind glass like birds of paradise, in department stores and exclusive boutiques alike, and bespoke hats are beyond the reach of most women (including myself). Occasionally however, one can get lucky wandering amongst the hat stands in David Jones. Vintage shopping also offers brilliant opportunities to score an original piece: at markets, op-shops or vintage emporiums such as Chapel Street Bazaar; eBay is also a fantastic source. This is where often you will find quality at a price that won't make you wince.

“Oh, hats just don’t seem to suit me!” is another disclaimer I’ve heard many times. The truth is, hats work on the same principle as hairstyles: different ones work with different face shapes – one just needs to find which suit. Most importantly – and this is often overlooked – one’s hairstyle needs to work with the hat, not against it! Many hats look terrible with long hair casually worn down; hair and hat fight one another for attention, and then nobody wins.

So no more excuses: scroll down and take some inspiration from the pages of Vogue

Hat, 1946 (uncredited), from In Vogue, Georgina Howell, Condé Nast Books, 1991. Photo: Horst P. Horst


‘Paris night looks – needed in London’, British Vogue, January 1947. Photos: Coffin

British Vogue, June 1960. Photo: Uncredited


British Vogue, June 1960. Photo: Henry Clarke


British Vogue, June 1960. Photo: Rutledge


Out of black, into the pink

Melbourne, it’s spring! It’s time to shed those dark layers and wear something pretty and light. It doesn’t have to be girly, or frivolous and frilly. It doesn’t have to be this colourful, and you don’t have to be that brave! But for goodness sake, let’s put an end to this tiresome rumour that Melburnians wear black all the time!

If wearing top-to-toe colour seems a trifle frightening to you, why don’t you try swapping the black for dark grey, or even – gasp! – light grey? In fact, I think this lovely neutral looks even better teamed with colours than does black, which seems a very eighties combination to me.

I know! I have a wonderful idea… why don’t we start a fashion revolution and give Sydney a run for its money?

(And if a pink sash is not enough for you, try a pink coat on for size…)

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