Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in 1970s (96)

Thursday
Jan042018

Earring in the New Year

Recently I’ve had a real bonanza on vintage earring finds in op shops (thrift stores).

The first pair that caught my eye (below) in a Sacred Heart secondhand shop were red and navy clip on baubles that are suspended on chain. The navy beads have dotted lines around the centre, so that they look like cricket balls. I guessed they were 1960s or 70s, so I thought $5 was a fair enough price for them.

The following four pairs were all bought on the same day, in two Salvos stores.

The very fun French flag hoops are made of enamel (70s or 80s?), and were the cheapest of the lot, costing all of $1. They were actually an afterthought purchase, serendipitously spotted at the counter in a sale bin while I waited for my friend to finalise her purchases.

The gold oval hoops and the snaky knot danglers that you see in swinging action are also metal, and both possibly 1970s. Each cost about $3, and were found at the second Salvos store.

And once more in the same shop, I made an afterthought purchase with the 1950s (or 80s?) jumbo pearl clip-ons. I was actually leaving the store when a staff member, busily stocking a display box near the entrance, showed me them to admire. I laughed aloud because they were so enormous, and immediately decided they were so OTT I had to have them. She and I both agreed they looked much better on than in the hand. I think these were $5–6, and worth it for sheer fun.

I remember when 1970s and 80s fashion was considered so passé, hideous even, but given enough time any era regains a lustre. Old things, taken out of their stuffy or old-fashioned contexts, become new again, especially when they are recombined with modern items or things from quite different eras. Tarnish transmogrifies into desirable patina.

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

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

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