Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in asymmetry (17)



One of the most enjoyable aspects of treasure-hunting in thrift stores is when serendipity conspires with persistence and rewards unites two things long separated that were clearly meant to be together. Once such example is these two wooden sculptural bangles, bought months and miles apart. I came upon the brown wood bangle first, in a Sacred Heart Opportunity Shop in South Melbourne, and then many months later, its candy pink mate, in a Savers thrift store in Berwick.

It was a delightful surprise to discover how well their twisted asymmetrical shapes blend. They are, clearly, quite cumbersome however, so are not practical workwear; they are still waiting for their night to shine.

Photo: July 2016


What I Actually Wore #0085

Serial #: 0085
Date: 17/08/2012
Weather: 11°
Time Allowed: 12 minutes

I am currently busy writing the text for the Fourth Fashion Commandment (Thou Shalt Not Own Any Ugly or Dowdy Raiment), and looking at this picture now makes me regret throwing out this dress, because it would be the perfect example of Ugly or Dowdy Raiment to remodel for you (in such a way so as to expose its full dowdiness to you). Admittedly, this is a subjective viewpoint, for two of my friends protested my proposed ruthless intention to bin it. I ignored them though, because I Know What I Know.

The dress was vintage, cotton knit, asymmetrically cut, and grey – all pluses in my book. The unusual neckline featured an ordinary collar on the left, and a large lapel/shawl collar on the right, which was an amusing detail. But it had one big bad minus: it was baggy and ill-fitting. It really ought to have had a tiny percentage of elastane in that fibre mix, that’s what the problem was. Still, I decided to give it one more chance.

Perhaps I could brighten it up with some accessories: a jaunty periwinkle blue velvet 50s cap, black crocheted stockings and dove grey suede boots (I like mixing my greys) and some silver and enamel bauble earrings. However, the only way to make the dress itself work was to cover it up and belt it. But what would happen when I became too warm?

This story is going from bad to worse, isn’t it? For of course I couldn’t remove the cardigan – I would have to suffer heat exhaustion in the accumulated afternoon heat of the office.

Painful but beautiful shoes I will put up with (up to and including blisters, though I draw the line at bleeding), but there are limits to my willingness to suffer for fashion. Feeling hot is not an option: the dress was out. Also, it didn’t fit properly.

This time, accessories did not save the day.


Dress: vintage
Camisole: Enamel
Cardigan: Anthropologie
Hat: vintage
Alta Linea
Stockings: Columbine
Earrings: handmade by me
Rings: (onyx) souvenir, (silver) Roun
Boots: Roc


What I Actually Wore #0069

Serial #: 0069
Date: 14/06/2012
Weather: forecast 15°C, cool day, rain in the evening
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

This winter I had determined to make more effort to wear my hats. I am usually in such a rush in the mornings that I don’t have time to go delving into different hatboxes – that’s my only excuse for sartorial laziness. Well, that and an antipathy towards mending, and a lamentable procrastination in ironing clothing. (Yes, I firmly believe in ironing garments that need it – I’m not one of those modern women who wear clothing straight from the clothesline.)

On the 14th of June, I made time to pick out a striking 1940s black wool felt hat, with a chartreuse feather cunningly tucked into the sharply angled peak. The architectural design of the hat is a marvel. 

I matched the hat with a chartreuse pleated wool tank by Veronika Maine. I love the details in this top, but I loathe and abominate its babydoll shape, so I always belt it. I believe that is also how the top was shown in the brand’s season campaign. Under it I wear an old cherry-blossom print top and a wool skirt made from a suiting fabric. I choose the cloisonné earrings (a cheap souvenir from my last trip to Sydney) particularly because the floral design contrasts with the print on the top. I love the contrast of textures and patterns in this outfit. Over it all goes my white leather trench.

I brace myself for stares on the commute, but the daring hat is obviously a success …

I brace myself for stares on the commute, but the daring hat is obviously a success, for I garner two compliments from passers-by, and a chorus of delighted exclamations from the girls at work. (See it from other angles here.) The latter can’t believe I bought the hat on eBay for a relatively inexpensive price (around $80). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you live in Australia and you love to shop vintage: go online. There is so much more available overseas, and a hat of this caliber would cost several hundred dollars if purchased from an Australian boutique (online or brick-and-mortar).

Sadly, the shoes have since been tossed in the trash, having been deemed too worn-out to keep for another winter. It’s a shame, for although they were not cutting-edge at all, they were truly comfortable to walk to work in.

One subtle detail I really love in this outfit is the zip on the skirt: the black teeth are interspersed with silver. The skirt is by now-defunct Melbourne designer label Ammo, and it really is a detail you just won’t see in high-street brands. Plus, the skirt is many seasons old, bought long before the recent craze for giant, exposed zippers, and it still seems contemporary. This skirt won’t get tossed aside like an old shoe – I’ll be holding onto it for yet awhile.


Blouse: Bracewell* 
Tank: Veronika Maine
Skirt: Ammo
Hat: vintage, eBay
Belt: Alta Linea, from department store David Jones
Earrings: souvenir
Ring: souvenir
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Shoes: Naturalizer

*Unfortunately, Sydney label Bracewell may also be defunct as I am unable to find any live URLs. 


When Vintage Goes Bad

A couple of evenings ago I made a horrid discovery. I was going out to the theatre with Rapunzel and Amelia-Jane, and looking for a little bag to carry.

I said to Rapunzel (who was patiently waiting while I rummaged around in my closet) that I seemed to have quite a number of large, casual bags for daywear, and many tiny little glamourous evening purses, but not much in between. Finally I pulled out a black asymmetrical leather bag I had bought years and years ago. I hadn’t used it for years. (I know, I really should clear out my wardrobe more often.)

It was when I tossed in the usual suspects – lipstick, keys, etc – that I made the horrid discovery. My fingernails inadvertently scraped the interior lining of the bag, and were filled with some kind of black gunk! The lining was disintegrating. What on earth? Whatever it is made from, it is most definitely not fabric. Why would you even do that? They just don’t make them like they used to. 

So while the exterior leather of the bag is still in quite good nick, and I have a sneaking fondness for the early 90s looking shape, I am ruthless: the bag must go. 


What I Actually Wore #0048

Serial #: 0048
Date: 05/10/2010
Weather: forecast 21°, mild and muggy
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

The outing: a trip to the Melbourne Museum, to see the Titanic exhibition. The theme: turn-of-the-century ambiance. Although I wanted to dress somewhat thematically, I didn’t intend to slavishly follow the fashion of 1912. Just a vague suggestion was all that was necessary.

My asymmetrical long skirt is voluminous (actually the opposite of the era’s narrow silhouette), and made of indigo denim; an old favourite by the New Zealand label Obi. The dusky pink silk blouse I paired with it has cute little puffed sleeves, three buttons along the neckline, and is finished with a bow. It is so quaint and picturesque, like something from a vintage storybook.

As the skirt is a little big for me, I cinched in the waist with a butter soft leather belt I bought overseas. The large round buckle is silver and inset with red leather, and the belt is long enough to be worn slouchy around the hips, or tight around the waist. It was an expensive purchase, but worth it because its bright colour lifts any outfit.

Also mandatory was a hat. Although I do have one hat reputably from 1910, it was a little dainty for this huge skirt. Instead, I went for this modern red wool felt fedora trimmed with grosgrain ribbon. Black stockings were typical of the times, although the patent black shoes with Louis heels, and three straps with little silver buckles that cross the foot above the vamp are more Twenties-style.

The plait is the finishing touch – it’s practical (a bun or low chignon doesn’t fit under the hat), and it makes me look like a turn of the century schoolgirl. And in fact, we are given a ‘boarding pass’ when we enter the exhibition, and mine reads I am a young schoolgirl, one of the real passengers who was lost at sea.


Top: Cue
Skirt: Obi
Belt: Mango
Hat: Milano
onyx baubles, handmade by me
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Shoes: Nine West