Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1970s (94)

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

Monday
Apr292019

Bags for Every Day

In modern life, a small handbag is not very practical for day-to-day activities. It is a sure indicator of a leisure occasion, when only the essentials required: perhaps a lipstick, a purse (or loose money or card at least), tissues, a phone.

When I am at work I always like to go out at lunchtime to run errands, or shop, or merely for some air. I don’t like to lug my large work tote with me, so I always bring a small handbag everyday as well. I make an effort to change them daily to match my outfit.

It’s a challenge sometimes, simply because I am always in a hurry dressing in the mornings. I tend to rely on a small selection of practical bags that are easily accessible because they are in regular rotation.

Here is a small selection of vintage and antique handbags that belong in my collection. All of these are woven from a different material, and they were all found in thrift stores. These are bags that are more special, and less practical for day-to-day use, and they are all indicative of an age when women perhaps did not work, and did not feel compelled to lug around her entire life with her every day. Incidentally, nearly all of these would fit that crucial modern-day item, the phone!

The little hat-shaped bag of straw and velvet trim is a particular favourite. When I bought it, one of the staff in the store, a Frenchwoman, told me the bag was antique, and was a specialty from a particular town in France (stupidly I neglected to ask her for details). I’m not sure of its age, but the looped handle suggests 1930s or earlier. The straw is quite soft to touch, and more intricately woven than one generally sees today.

The other rather singular bag is crocheted from silk, and is likely Edwardian. It’s very finely crocheted, delicate, and in pristine condition, and as with the straw hat, I am scared to use it for fear of ruining its shape! Its style is reminiscent of a reticule, a kind of pouch bag that was carried by women during the Regency period (1795–1820), many of which were home-made. 

And though the 70s jute bag is nowhere near as old, it too is fragile. I did carry this a lot as a summer lunchtime bag, and all that carting about has made some of the strings fray – it is in retirement now.

More sturdy are the mid-century structured bags, one of smoke-grey beads, and the other of raffia in robin’s egg blue (one of my favourite colours).

When I bought it, it was filthy and horrid to touch, but that is another shade of blue I love so I was sold. 

The periwinkle blue nylon crocheted bag is practically indestructible, however. When I bought it, it was filthy and horrid to touch, but that is another shade of blue I love so I was sold. A good soak worked wonders. I also changed the original translucent white plastic handles to vintage bamboo handles – after I found another unworthy handbag in a thrift store and butchered it!

Recently I realised I was very boringly carrying the same red handbag nearly every workday, so I have recently been making much more effort to dip into my large handbag collection daily. It’s madness to collect them and never use them, after all, and it makes dressing much more fun.

Photos: March 2018

Tuesday
Apr022019

What I Actually Wore #0148

Serial #: 0148
Date: 04/10/2013
Weather: 22°C / 72°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

The first thing I have to say about the above photograph is: MY HAIR! That bob is immaculate and newly shorn, and I must give another shout-out to my awesome hairstylist Alex from Lady Marmalade, who has been cutting my hair for more than a decade. Secondly, I very, very rarely wear all black – or even almost all black as I did on this day over five years ago.

That is my credo in fact: never to wear all black! And it’s why I didn’t on this occasion – I wore a pair of animal print ponyhair pumps, and a vintage 1970s brown leather jacket.

The third amusing detail about this outfit is that it is quite ill-fitting! The 70s style knit blouson-sleeved top I still have, but the pants I eventually donated to charity because they were too big (you know pants are too big when you don’t have to undo the zip when you go to the bathroom); the shoes, currently buried in a storage bag of footwear intended for eBay, were a size too big for me even with insoles, but I bought them anyway because they were a $10 bargain; and the vintage 70s jacket was too small across the shoulders and in sleeve length, and has long since also been donated to charity.

That was a particularly regrettable loss. The leather was so fine, and it was a chocolate shade of brown that I like. If it had a label, I can’t recall what it was. Sadly, the jacket was missing its belt, which I guessed was a long soft leather tie style. Here, I am wearing it with a vintage 80s plaited taupe leather buckled belt – it was never a pairing I was completely satisfied with, but I had never found a suitable replacement for the original. I had intended to try to sell the jacket, but it was accidentally toted off to a thrift store – whence it had come, so I can’t regret it too much. I hope someone with a smaller frame pounced on it with joy!

Fourthly, I must note that all of these items – excepting the souvenir jewellery, and the shoes which were seconds from a warehouse store – were bought in a thrift store, which is wear I buy most of my clothes and accessories. 

My jewellery is a mixture of vintage souvenirs and boutique purchases. The silver necklace is Moroccan and came with an antique coin attached; I have over the years added a number of mostly sterling silver charms, with the exception of a Victorian cash register key. I have not worn it for some time, so this outfit from the archives is a nice reminder to do so – and to make an overdue appointment at the hair salon!

Items:

Top: French Connection
Pants: Dizingof
Jacket: vintage 1970s
Belt: vintage 1980s
Shoes:
Wittner
Earrings: Mimco
Necklace: souvenir
Ring: souvenir (onyx), Roun (silver)

Photos: October 2013