Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1970s (96)

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

Thursday
Aug152019

Of the Same Stripe

Bathing suit, c. 1910sI love a stripe, it’s no secret. The other day while browsing on Pinterest, I spotted a nineteenth century black and white striped skirt (below) that was part of a beachwear set, and I was smitten. I would wear this off the beach today if I could but find one!

The skirt that bowled me over: Beachwear, late 1860s–early 1870sStripes are the simplest pattern of all, and when they are bold they make the most graphic and eye-catching statement. I’ll take stripes of any colour, but especially white with either black, blue, red or green.

Here are some other amazing black and white striped garments and accessories to bowl you over.

NB All images were found on Pinterest, but where possible I have traced them to their ultimate source – click each image to jump through.

Jacques Doucet, 1890sParasol, 1897 (image originally from The Met)Petticoat, c. 1900Underskirt, c. 1900Jeanne Lanvin, 1930sEvening dress, Madame Grès, c. 1975

Monday
Jun102019

What I Actually Wore #0153

Serial #: 0153
Date: 23/10/2013
Weather: 16°C / 61°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

I wore this outfit to work, and to Cinematheque, a club for cinephiles in the evening. I was glad of the coat and scarf going home, for it was freezing.

I like to sometimes dress in almost all monochrome – as long as it’s not all black, which is very un-Melburnian of me. If you’re not confident about mixing colours, going monochrome is a nice easy way to put an outfit together, with perhaps one or two other complementary colours in your accessories, such as the red I have used here. Black and white are of course non-colours, and they go with everything.

Whenever I do a story on these archival outfits, I amuse myself discovering how many of the items are still in my closet. (I am photographing current outfits, but I am running years behind!) In this case, some of these items are still in my closet, and the others have replacements.

I still mourn the loss of this vintage 70s white leather trench coat that I won for a song maybe a decade ago on eBay ($40) – I wore it out until it looked more grey than white, not from dirt but from actual wear. I still sort of regret culling that, although I would not wear it even if I still owned it, so that’s silly. (Call me sentimental.)

The red wool beret was a gift, but it was actually too small for my head; maybe it was a child’s hat. I have replaced it with another from the thrift store. The shoes, which I originally bought in an op shop, wore out, but I found a pair by the same brand that were almost exactly the same except for having a punctured brogue pattern – also from the thrift store, and never worn. Such a bonus because this Aussie shoe brand no longer exists: some kind of fashion miracle! These socks were a favourite cashmere blend; while I darned the toes several times, they eventually wore out beyond repair.

All the other items I still own, although the cardigan (note the Juliet sleeves) has been in a darning basket for some time, with moth holes in the tie belt that need repair. Emptying that basket out is one of my winter resolutions, so this picture is a timely reminder.

Items:

Top: Kookaï
Cardigan: Nanette Lepore
Skirt: Celia Vela
Coat: vintage 70s
Hat:
vintage 80s
Scarf: souvenir
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Shoes: Scooter
Earrings: self-made
Necklace: souvenirs
Ring: Roun

Photos: January 2014

Thursday
May092019

Delicious Apricot

You will not be surprised to read that the colour apricot, like orange, takes its name from the fruit. The word first used in English to describe the fruit was abrecock, from Middle French, but it was not used to describe the colour until 1851.

Orange, on the other hand has been around for a little longer, first coming into use three centuries earlier. But before the descriptor ‘orange’, such shades were described by English speakers as giolureade – ‘yellow-red’*.

Apricots and agate‘Apricot Candy’ rose, and paint swatchesFour different swatches for the colour apricot found in Google Images

Imagine then having to describe pale yellow-red! It’s no surprise that so many colours are simply named after an object – the only problem is that such things can vary in tone. Apricot is no exception – the fruit is variegated, and there are many variations of swatches available, but the shade is generally accepted to be much paler than the actual fruit. It is more yellow in tone than its sister shade, peach.

Apricot is a colour that I have never liked. In fact, the original concept of this story was ‘colours I hate’! For me, as I imagine for many others, it has always had connotations with bland, sickly 1980s interior décor (see below). Hideous – like a nightmare you couldn't wake from.

80s apricot interior design But a funny thing happened one day when I was browsing in a vintage bazaar with a friend. We conceived the humorous plan to each find the ugliest dress we possibly could, and try it on for a laugh. The chiffon apricot 70s dress is what I pulled out of the racks.

Unexpectedly however, once I had put it on, preened in front of the mirror and done a few twirls, it began to grow on me. Even my friend protested that I had chosen a dress that was not nearly as ugly as the one she had picked out (see below). 

My friend Sapphire and I try on some 80s dresses in a vintage bazaar in Geelong

The dress – the label declared it was by Elegance, which I have never seen before – was inexpensive, so whimsically I decided to buy it. I have even actually worn it out to an Opening Night at the theatre, with my pink Victorian cloak.

If you have light skin, there is a risk of looking naked wearing apricot and other such shades (who can forget Carrie and her ’naked dress’ in that episode of Sex and the City?), but there is no danger of that in this dress with its billowing sleeves and skirt. The dress has belt loops which are sadly bereft – I imagine it once had an extravagant sash. 

These sweet and pale tones were favoured in the 1920s to the 1940s for women’s lingerie – in such use, made from georgette, chiffon and satin and trimmed in pretty lace, were apricot and peach at the height of their powers. Delicious!

The colour has been seen in fashion since of course, especially in the 80s, when pastels, and brasher shades of coral and watermelon were the rage. It’s akin to Pantone’s 2019 Colour of the Year, Living Coral, and is already popular in interior design, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a renaissance of full-blown apricot-hued revival soon. I bet you can’t wait!

1930s lingerie1970s jumpsuits, Brooke Shields in the 80s

*From The Secret Lives of Colour, by Kassia St Clair, John Murray 2016)

Images found on Pinterest
Photos: March 2017

Monday
May062019

What I Actually Wore #0150

Serial #: 0150
Date: 09/10/2013
Weather: 27°C / 81°F
Time Allowed: 5 minutes

I don’t wear all black like many Melburnians are purported to do, but I do happily wear all white, or white and black together. Here is an outfit born of my minimalist phase, although that enormous vintage 70s cartwheel hat is rather maximalist, as are the gladiator boots. Both of those accessories were problems. But let’s start from the top, meaning clothes first, accessories second.

The white cotton dress was a favourite for many summers. It is by Australian brand Witchery, and I remember buying it in a warehouse sale. It was only retired when it started looking worn. It’s actually a little bit too long for these boots, and that was the problem: I didn’t really own any dress short enough for the boots that was also work-appropriate (some might say the boots weren’t work appropriate, but luckily I work in a theatre, so no one really blinks an eye at what I wear), so I wasn’t 100% happy with this pairing. But I was desperate to wear these new boots that I had paid remarkably little for in another warehouse sale.

I do remember wearing that very light straw hat that day because it was so blustery the hat simply would not stay on my head as the brim is so wide. It behaved like a sail catching the wind. A hat to be worn on dead calm days, I decided.

The sunglasses were also another warehouse find, while the vintage 60s bag, one I’ve owned and used for many years, came from a thrift store. The silver jewellery was from a now-defunct label called Roun, where I bought a few pieces. I loved to double up the concave silver ring with my onyx band on one finger, but tragically the former slipped off my finger one day en route to work. I never saw it again.

Vainly I still look for it even today, with someone’s anecdote in my mind – I think this was my brother-in-law’s mother’s tale – of losing a ring in the bush and stumbling upon it nine years later. So I still have hope: it’s only been five or six years since I lost it after all. I walk to work with fingers crossed now – for two reasons!

Items:

Dress: Witchery
Hat: Josephine Tripoli, vintage 70s
Sunglasses: Calvin Klein
Bag: vintage 60s
Shoes: Zoe Wittner
Earrings: handmade
Cuff: Roun
Ring: Roun (silver), souvenir (onyx)
Watch: Kenneth Cole

Photos: January 2014