Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in accessories (579)

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

Thursday
Apr252019

A Poppy for Remembrance

Today is Anzac Day, an Australian day of remembrance, commemorating Australians and New Zealanders who ‘who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations’.

The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower that has traditionally been used as a symbol to commemorate the war dead since 1921; it was inspired by the WW1 poem In Flanders Fields written in 1915 by the Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae (1872–1918). Here is the first verse:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

My poppy is an enamel ring that I found in a thrift store in the last few months. I love enamel jewellery, and poppies as a flower, and today this ring is a perfect remembrance.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

For the Fallen, 1914, Robert Laurence Binyon (1869–1943)

Photo: April 2019

Monday
Apr222019

Easter Plum

Out of my archives comes this 1920s style beaded turban, from the 1960s. This was a very early thrift store vintage hat purchase which unfortunately I no longer own – I culled it in a fit of ruthlessness as it was a size too small for my head. It ought to have sat much lower, but in fact it took a ruthless tug to pull it down, and resulted in temporary deafness as my ears were squashed!

Turbans did not really fit in with my style back then however, so I donated it back to the thrift store with not much regret. It’s only now that it seems a shame: such a rich colour with the fabric swathed just so, and the beading going all the way around … What a pity, as it was pretty.

Photo: November 2012

Saturday
Apr202019

Easter Violet

The Easter bonnet series continues with this amazing 1940s pixie hat made from purple velvet. It embodies so many things I love in a hat: a sculptural shape, bold colour, sumptuous materials, originality, and whimsy. It is the embodiment of all that a hat should be!

This pixie hat is just so much fun. The main body is constructed of one long spiral of silk velvet, and the profusion of grosgrain ribbon at the top resembles an orchid or other exotic flower.

It is the embodiment of all that a hat should be!

I bought it last year from a collector, The Golden Age of Vintage on Instagram. I suspect it was never worn, not only because it is so pristine, but as there was nothing to indicate how it was held on the head. I sewed in a hatband, and attached an elastic to it, and took it on its first outing to the theatre. I’m looking forward to wearing it again this autumn/winter.

Photo: September 2018

Friday
Apr192019

Easter Pink

I’ve always thought candy pink hair would be a lot of fun, like wearing a halo of fairy floss, but I’m too fickle to commit to such drastic measures as bleaching and dyeing my hair. The next best thing – and even more fun than a wig – is a vintage hat. So this Good Friday, I bring you my first Easter bonnet: a 1960s hat of pink petals! And if you squint your eyes, I look like I am sporting a pink afro.

Happy Easter!

Photo: September 2018

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