Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1960s (52)

Monday
Feb262018

A Tribute to Turquoise

I’ve often rhapsodised about one of my favourite colours, turquoise, on these pages; it is such a summery colour for me. Scrolling through my archives of fashionistamatics, I was amused to see quite a large number of items that had not yet seen the light of day: here are five of them, to celebrate the waning of the season.

First up is a picture of me on last Christmas Day, wearing a 1960s sequinned wool tank top (despite the how sunny the photo looks, it was not excessively hot that day in Melbourne) and a 1950s feather bandeau. I had decided to go full Christmas, and am wearing these with a red silk skirt, red heels, and candy-cane jewellery (my diamanté earrings are actually candy-canes!).

The woven straw bag I think is 50s or 60s and was a recent purchase in a thrift store, and the next snap is a detail of another beaded and sequinned 60s top, this time in a t-shirt shape. (I actually have a third as well, which has tassels, because why stop at one or two?)

The patent heels are a favourite pair of summer sandals that have that strange property of some hues that seem to change tone depending on what they are worn with. These, when paired with a slightly different shade of turquoise suddenly seem green – quite a magical effect! These shoes were bought on a sale website.

Finally, the little leather wallet was something I actually purchased retail. I loved the colour so much (unfortunately not captured very well on the iPhone 3S), and its convenient tiny size, I willingly paid quite a lot for it. I wore it out until the lovely turquoise turned grey – a bit like summer skies changing to autumn.

Photos: December 2017, February 2018, January 2018, May 2013, December 2011

Thursday
Feb222018

Summer Easy to Wear

No matter how many hats I own (and at current count, well over 100), I could never have enough. There is just something about this most practical and most frivolous accessory that never ceases to delight me.

These two straw hats, one modern, one vintage 60s, are both fairly recent acquisitions – I bought them this last spring from separate Melbourne op shops (or thrift stores), each for about $5. Constructed from natural straw in neutral colours, they don’t look entirely frivolous – but they are not exactly practical either.

On the left is an open-weave mannish Homburg style, which does not at all keep off the sun … but then, neither does the little white Breton hat that perches on the top of the head.

The Breton has been more of a wardrobe success for me as I have worn it far more often as it seems to be more in keeping with my style. Possibly the woven Homburg makes me feel an uneasy twinge of boho or festival fashion, neither of which hackneyed looks I wish to emulate. But perhaps I haven’t yet found the right ensemble to top it off with.

Simply, some hats are easy to wear and seem to go with everything; others need exactly the right outfit to make them work. That’s the real difference between practicality and frivolity.

Tuesday
Aug152017

Animal Prints Through the Decades

Model in leopard-print bikini featuring lacing on the sides, 1955Animal prints have been perennially popular through the last century or so, as you can see scrolling through these images, taken from Style Book – Fashionable Inspirations, by Elizabeth Walker (Flammarion 2010). Real pelts, a symbol of wealth and luxury, were once insouciently worn without any consideration for animal conservation; now prints are worn purely for fashion’s sake – from the beach in Wilma Flintstone style togs, to stepping out in Cannes in glittering sequins.

Most of these fashion images show animal prints only, and mostly faux fur, although there are a very few showing genuine fur, including one eye-opening and rather grim archival image of two women casually shopping for pelts in the 1940s in Africa.

Cheetah and leopard are reminiscent of spots, and although I love graphic stripes too, not even Lauren Bacall (my favourite actress of her era) in a zebra print can reconcile me to the look of it.

(Click on the images for larger versions.)

Actress Ava Gardner in leopard print costume, surrounded by swathes of fabric in the same pattern, 1952Woman in zebra-print bikini, 1955Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor draped in leopard fur shawl, at the London Palladium in 1956Model in leopard-print waistcoat with matching muff and cap all in faux fur, London 1951Actress Lauren Bacall sports a zebra print blouse, 1944Model Jackie Collins mixes zebra and leopard prints matching the car interior; outfit by Car Robes, at the Motor Show, London 1956 Model in zebra tabard by furrier Calman Links, Bond Street, London 1965Men's street style in 1956: a dandy accessorises his three-piece suit complete with pocket-square with a cheetah print flat-crowned hatPhotographer Norman Parkinson wearing an extravagant leopard print scarf, 1970Model wearing sequinned leopard-print gown, Christian Dior A/W 1953A woman in a sequinned gown that owes much to the 80s fashion of Dynasty, at the Hotel Carlton during the Cannes Film Festival, France 1998Flapper style with a circular theme in 1925: leopard-skin coat trimmed with fox furA stewardess in the 1971 uniform of National Airlines: faux fur accessorised with a real baby Bengal tiger In Africa in 1947, women shop for leopard pelts

Monday
Aug142017

Spot the Difference

Vintage cheetah print wool fedora by Laura Ashley; vintage leopard print earringsAnimal prints, while they are an acknowledged classic print in the fashion lexicon, have never been something I have gravitated towards. In part it is because my minimalist leanings find the patterns too visually overwhelming and ‘messy’, but it is also because to me they smack of an old-fashioned as opposed to vintage style.

As British Vogue put it in their 100th anniversary June 2016 issue (below), a scent of trophy wife developed in the 1960s, when wealthy and famous women like Sophia Loren and Ursula Andress adopted the signature print.

British Vogue, June 2016

I don’t mind a touch of animal print in accessories, such as hats and shoes – it’s only when a wall of animal print approaches me that I flinch.

It is the great cats that provide inspiration for the most classic of animal prints: leopard and cheetah print are the two most popular in clothing and accessories. They look very similar to one another, so how does one discern between the two?

Cheetah

The cheetah’s coat is yellow-orange or golden, and the oval or circular spots are dark brown or black. This is the pattern used in both of my hats, although the background colours are quite different. The fedora is by Laura Ashley, and the vintage beret of unknown provenance; I suspect both are from the 80s.

Cheetah-inspired print vintage wool beret; the pattern is actually a bit of a hybrid, with some areas that feature shapes that almost form the distinctive rosettes found on a leopard's coat

Leopard

The pattern on the leopard’s coat is more complex, consisting of black or brown spots that cluster together closely, in a pattern that is called a rosette. The fur in the centre of the rosette is usually a deeper colour than the tawny background fur. The rosette pattern provides excellent camouflage for the leopard.

The vintage earrings I am wearing in the first photo show a leopard print, as do the modern heeled sandals by Guess. The shoes are printed pony hair, as in fact are the earrings (although they may be faux).

Leopard print pony-hair and patent leather heels by GuessVery occasionally one sees other animal prints come into fashion – tiger, zebra, giraffe – but their appearance is usually trend driven and fleeting. Too bold and brash, they simply don’t possess the same vintage pedigree; they are the vulgar cousins of the sleeker cheetah and leopard. But the latter are still a bit wild, not for the entirely tamed woman. As Christian Dior put it, “Leopard print requires a kind of femininity which is a little bit sophisticated. If you are fair and sweet, don’t wear it.” Well, there are plenty of blondes who have chosen to wear it, but I’d hazard a guess none of them are sweet.

How to wear animal print

Because animal print is just so bold and statement-making, I prefer it worn against solid block colours, and my choice would be any of the neutrals: black, white, grey, camel. Practically speaking, denim is also a neutral – see Kate Moss in the tearsheet above. Or, if you are a maximalist, and more is more is more, you could pair it with matching boots (see Ursula Andress) or tights and heels like Lola Todd, who I suspect may be wearing genuine fur, which makes it rather bad taste to match it to a live leopard pet! Don’t do that.

Photos: August 2016

Thursday
Jun012017

Grin and Bear It

Melbourne has really turned on the cold weather for us on this first day of winter. There is nothing to do but to rug up and turn up the collar. Winter also is the perfect season to indulge in lots of accessories: hats! Scarves! Gloves! Legwarmers and armwarmers, stoles and tippets! Balaclavas!

But even Melbourne winters are not usually cold enough to warrant wearing vintage fur; this one might turn out to be an exception.

In the summer, I found this tall fur cap in an op shop and was so tickled by it I decided to buy it. I am guessing it is vintage 1960s, since that era was fond of exaggeratedly outsize hats. As soon as I saw it and tried it on, I was reminded of those Queen’s Guards protecting Buckingham Palace, although of course their hats are black.

These military hats are called bearskins, traditionally worn by grenadiers. While the original grenadiers of Europe’s armies of the 17th century wore cloth caps trimmed in fur, by the second half of the 18th century, they were donning high fur hats with cloth tops. The main purpose was to make them appear taller and more intimidating on the battlefield, and impressive on the parade ground. Today these hats are made from the fur of the Canadian black bear, and if well cared for, can last for decades.

My hat is made from rabbit fur – an introduced pest in this country, so I don’t feel guilty. I may not wear this eccentric hat often, but it is certainly a collectible piece of fashion history. It may even keep me warm this winter.

Photo: March 2017

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