Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1970s (94)

Sunday
Jul232017

Twice Vintage Bag

Three years ago, on June 1st, I bought a vintage 70s handbag made from stripes of genuine snakeskin from some op shop – I don’t remember where now. But I do remember I fell in love with it, as much for the plastic tortoiseshell frame and link strap as the patent leather.

I immediately began using it, but alas, tragedy struck exactly four weeks later, and one of the plastic links that attached the strap to the bag snapped in half! I was very disappointed, but at least it would be relatively easy to repair with a new strap.

I sourced some new and very similar chain link on Etsy, but there were quite a few different styles, and I could never decide which ones to buy. Then while I dithered, they would sell out, and I’d have to conduct a new search. I put the bag aside for a while, and forgot about it. I have no shortage of other bags after all.

Then nearly exactly three years later – on June 3rd – in a different op shop entirely, I found a scrap of chain link with a few little wooden, leather and mother-of-pearl doodads attached. Immediately I saw the possibilities of repurposing this remnant as a bag strap. It would be easy to take off the charms.

In the end, after reattaching the new strap, I decided I liked the dingle-dangles – they add a touch of whimsy. It’s quite possible it was actually a strap in a former life, as the charms are all quite low so that they don’t impede the shoulder. The bag is now a shoulder bag rather than hand-held, and looks quite jaunty.

Monday
Jul032017

Plaid: A Blanket Term

Plaid or tartan, what is the difference? Nowt indeed! Tis but semantics: plaid is the American term for the traditional Scottish fabric, but, funnily enough, in Scotland a plaide is an accessory to the kilt – a piece of tartan fabric slung over the shoulder – or a plain blanket.

Tartan is a multi-coloured pattern of criss-crossing horizontal and vertical lines. The different coloured pre-dyed threads – originally wool, but now encompassing many other fibres – are woven at both warp and weft at right angles to each other, which creates diagonal lines where they overlap. Here they appear to blend and create additional colours. The repeated pattern of squares and lines are called a ‘sett’.

Tartans should not be confused with gingham (a simple check pattern usually in white and one colour), or houndstooth (a tweed pattern of broken checks; learn more here), as they commonly are. And a windowpane check is just a check.

(Left) Soldiers from a Highland regiment, c. 1744: the private on the left is wearing a belted plaide; (right) a man wearing tartan, c. 1875Today we are familiar with the notion that tartan patterns are associated with particular clans, but before the nineteenth century, this was not so. The distinctive patterns were associated with geographic regions, and the colours with the natural dyes available in that district. Chemical dyes were non-existent, and transport of different dyes from other regions was prohibitively expensive.

The word ‘tartan’ is most likely derived from the French word tartarin, meaning ‘Tartar cloth’, which sounds dubious to me as the Tatars were a Turkic-speaking people living in Asia and Europe. Seemingly more plausible is the theory that the word has its origins in the Scottish Gaelic tarsainn, meaning ‘across’.

Black Watch tartan, worn by a couple with a very cute story (click through to read)!I prefer the more generic description ‘plaid’ as it has little apparent association with an ethnic tradition (since I have not an iota of Scots blood in me). The traditional Scottish plaide, meaning ‘blanket’, first referred to any rectangular garment worn on the shoulder, which was often a plain weave, and sometimes a tartan. (And here the origin of the classic plaid blanket for the bed!)

The ubiquitous Burberry plaid, designed in the 1920s.I must confess I do love plaid, and have managed to amass quite a collection of different plaid garments (and blankets). I prefer the simpler colour combinations, with red and white being a particular favourite. Some of the most famous tartans are Royal Stewart, Black Watch, and of course the ubiquitous Burberry check, which was created in the 1920s. My favourite red and white appears as Clan Menzies. (You can scroll through a long list here.)

Tartan upon tartan! The Royal Stewart is the mainly red plaid on the topmost layer. (Image from Pinterest.) My vintage 70s wool jacket is made up of navy and yellow on a cream background, and is a fashion tartan. When I decided one autumn that I needed to acquire a wool plaid jacket, I luckily came upon this one within a week or two. I do love it, but at thigh length it doesn’t cut the mustard for this cold snap Melbourne is currently suffering through. I do however have a very warm, heavy wool skirt in cream and navy large plaid pattern, which, considering the etymological origin of the word blanket, I very aptly dubbed my ‘blanket skirt’!

Photo: July 2015

Thursday
May042017

May the Fourth Be With You

On this auspicious occasion who could go past a homage from one princess to another? This is actually a throwback to a photoshoot I did more than six years ago, when I attempted to recreate Princess Leia’s iconic buns. My hair was very long then, and my home hairstyling was a complete failure – I found it harder than expected to twist my hair into buns of the requisite size! This time round I’ve used an outtake from the shoot, and inflated my floppy buns with the aid of Photoshop. Vale Carrie Fisher, and …

Photo: January 2011

Tuesday
Apr182017

What I Actually Wore #0131

Serial #: 0131
Date: 03/07/2013
Weather: 16°C / 61°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

On a chilly day I decide wool is necessary. A new Anthropologie dress is the easiest choice; I had recently purchased it secondhand on eBay. I had picked it out because of the geometric pattern, which was very Art Deco, even if the minidress had a more modern shape. The knit is quite thick and sturdy, and surprisingly warm. I like the belt which is made in the same fabric too. Matching belts are one thing that so often go astray from their dresses in op shops – it’s maddening! Contrasting ones sometimes never look quite right.

Underneath the dress I wear what I always thought of as my black Guinevere knit, because it had a medieval look with the little puffed shoulders and fitted sleeves. I purchased this Max Studio top in Hong Kong in, I think, 2006, so it had been in my closet for a decade before being culled at the end of last winter. The stockings are also wool for warmth, and my sparkly red Dorothy heels add a splash of colour.

Over this outfit I wore my beloved but fragile vintage 70s Zhivago coat, suede with rabbit fur trim, a vintage velvet and fur-trimmed cloche cap, and carried my black patent vintage 60s/70s handbag. It’s quite a vintage look, but once the coat is off this is a fairly simple outfit, which I like. My hair looks freshly-bobbed too. As it’s growing out now from my current pixie cut, I have been wondering whether to get a bob again, but I am a long way off from this length still.

Photos: July 2013

Items:

Dress: Alice + Olivia for Anthropologie
Top:
Max Studio
Coat:
Stephen Dattner, vintage
Stockings:
Columbine
Hat:
vintage
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Jewellery:
souvenirs (bangle, ring), handmade (earrings)
Bag:
vintage
Shoes:
Wittner

Friday
Mar172017

What I Actually Wore #129

Serial #: 0129
Date: 01/07/2013
Weather: 18°C / 64°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

This is a very cute outfit! While there are a lot of quirky items, the minimal colour palette of tan, gold, grey and white keeps it from looking too over-the-top, especially when you remember in the office I would have shed the coat, hat and bag. Nearly all of the items are still in my closet too. The socks wore out, and the skirt I gave away to a friend, and only now that I look at it fondly again do I wonder if I should have kept it.

Because the skirt is quite wild, I deliberately chose to wear a neutral grey jumper, and picked out the pompom bandeau to match the circle print on the skirt. I continued the circular theme with my silver bauble earrings and a pearl ring.

The vintage 70s suede and rabbit fur trimmed coat is a beloved favourite. I’ve told the story before, but years ago I learned from a random stranger on a tram that this particular coat was inspired by the 70s film Dr Zhivago. Apparently it was very expensive, and that stranger had it in red. She was so impressed to see that I had found one in such good condition, and urged me to take good care of it.

The truth was that the coat was in terrible condition when I bought it: the original lining was completely shredded, the fur trim was coming away from the suede panels, and some of the buttons were detaching; I paid only $40 for it.

I persuaded my oldest sister Blossom to remake the lining for me as a birthday present (she has been a seamstress since way back). That turned out to be a labour of pure sisterly love as it was a huge job. I managed to fix the buttons myself, and also the detaching trims (that occurred some time after the coat left my sister’s loving hands) by gluing scrap leather on the reverse to reinforce the weak seams. Fortunately my sister had left the bottom of the lining open, so I was able to access the inside easily.

Now I wear the coat only occasionally in order to preserve its life as long as possible – I just have to wait for the weather to cool down and autumn to finally begin!

Items:

Jumper: ink
Skirt:
Anthropologie
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Hat:
vintage 50s
Coat:
Stephen Dattner, vintage 70s
Earrings:
handmade
Ring:
Autore
Tote:
Elise Carrel
Boots:
Roc

Photos: October 2013

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