Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in bows (13)

Wednesday
Jul312019

The Little Red Cap

Red is one of my favourite colours, and has been since childhood, and I am instantly attracted whenever I see it, from clothes and accessories to interior décor and make-up. There is something so delicious about this rich hue: perhaps it reminds me of cherries and raspberries and the rosy apples of Snow-White fame.

Last year I missed out on purchasing a 1940s knit cap that sported two large crocheted pompoms by the ears, creating an effect of Princess Leia hair buns! It was adorable, and I adore pompoms too.

Then early this year this hat – also vintage 1940s – popped up on Etsy at Scarlet Willow Vintage, and I was immediately reminded of the knit cap, except in this instance this hat had two large bows by the ears instead of pompoms. It also featured the same kind of criss-cross lacing at the back of the head as had the other cap.

I lost no time in claiming this one for my own. (Interestingly the seller had photographed it upside-down, but I immediately recognised how it would look worn correctly.)

I own a lot of hats and try to wear as many different ones each season as humanly possible, but still I have managed to wear this one a few times already over the autumn and winter. There is something so delightful about its neat design – wearing a hat like this makes the day magical. It is such a source of wonder to me that hats are largely out of fashion and that more people never experience the joy of a topper  – but equally, that leaves more vintage hats for me!

Photos: June 2019

Wednesday
May222019

Did Someone Mention Giant Bows?

Bows are practical, and bows are frivolous. From one’s shoelace, to a pussy-bow blouse, to a multitude of non-functioning bows decorating a ballgown. They just look pretty, especially when they are tied with a luxury fabric. Or they look louche, à la those blouses on the Gucci runway.

My t-shirt is made from cotton and silk chiffon – the sleeves are so delicate and pretty. It is by Bettina Liano, an Australian label that launched in the 1980s and is famous for its denim line. I bought this tee in a thrift store, however, as I did the bow headband for amusement’s sake – I have not actually worn it out.

It is a big bow. Alas it is not quite as big as the giant bow on the Edwardian hat on the cover of Ladies Home Journal that I shared yesterday. I think I would feel more comfortable wearing an enormous bow on a hat than as a headband; or even a scarf tied in a huge bow would fit my style better.

Scroll down for a few bows of the past.

Photo: December 2016

Mon Vignon, Paris, 1860s Bubblegum pink silk two piece, self-fabric bow trim to shoulders and skirt hemLucile afternoon dress, 1917–20Balenciaga, 1951Yves Saint Laurent haute couture, 1983Gucci Fall/Winter 2011-2012
Pussybows at Gucci Fall/Winter 2011-2012

Monday
May202019

Match-making

PART ONE

Last year when I was shopping in a thrift store off the beaten track, I spotted a Schiaparelli pink grosgrain belt in a display cabinet. It seemed to be composed of a multitude of ribbons, which instantly captivated the more girlish side of my nature (yes I do have a boyish side, admittedly not often seen on these pages).

When it was retrieved for me, I found that it was by the Australian designer Alannah Hill. That discovery did not surprise me at all, for it is a label of extreme sugar-coated, toothache-inducing girlishness. I never shop there, and the only items I own from this brand I bought in thrift stores, most of them being accessories. Just a touch of Alannah is usually enough, I find.

However, when I brought it home, I simply could not style it with any combination of garments. I tried simple shapes, which did not work at all and then moved on to slightly more decorative which was slightly okay (check out my 1940s novelty hat – it has a satin apple on top!).

Then I tried it with a similarly frou-frou polka-dot dress (very much of Alannah Hill ilk, but this is a vintage 1980s dress). I thought, you know, this shade of pink with black is a classic pairing, but I found the combination of the belt with the tiered dress horrible, and I gave up. (My expression in the photo above speaks volumes.)

Disgruntled, I put the belt away and did not think of it again.

 

PART TWO

On another thrifting trip one day, I found a lovely straw hat with a beautiful woven pattern and quirky shape that changes in appearance from every angle. There is no label, but I think it is most likely a modern designer hat – the weave is too complex to have come from a high street brand. The only problem was that the lovely chequerboard woven straw band was broken in several areas. It had such a great shape, and was inexpensive, so I bought it with the plan to refurbish it.

I don’t remember the exact moment of inspiration, but I recalled the failed belt: it could make a great new hat band! Excitedly I pulled it out of a drawer and tied it on, and it was like a match made in hat heaven. The multitude of ribbons put me in mind of an Edwardian beribboned hat, and had the effect of suddenly elevating the straw hat from plain to spectacular. It’s still much less fussy than most Edwardian hats which are loaded down with trim of every description, and that suits me just fine.

it was like a match made in hat heaven

I wear hats all the time, of course, but how perfect would this hat be for someone who does not, and needs a race or wedding hat on a budget? Sometimes it’s worth taking a chance on those items that seem not-quite-right, for a little imagination and some experimentation go a long way.

Photos: November 2018, April 2019

Monday
Aug062018

What I Actually Wore #0141

Serial #: 0141
Date:
21/08/2013
Weather:
14°C / 57°F
Time Allowed:
10 minutes

It is a sunny but chilly day, and I build my outfit around my over-the-knee socks this morning! I could not bear the thought of wearing tights again. Horrid things. Tights that have lost their tightness and fall down are the worst, aren’t they? Usually I choose my outfit rapidly, often deciding what I’ll wear while I’m showering.

The super-soft cashmere blend socks were a pair by French label Philippe Matignon that I bought on a sale on the website Ozsale. I always wished I had bought more than one pair, for one of them I wore completely to death over the years. These dark browns I still own, and since my sock collection has grown vastly, I wear them sparingly now. I have to purchase most of my socks and tights online, as the socks available in retail stores in Australia are utter, utter rubbish. I cannot emphasise that enough. The selection is really poor, mostly black and navy, with the odd bright fashion colour making a brief appearance. I don’t know why this is so. I know our market is smaller, but our buyers, I believe, suffer from extreme lack of imagination. (Yes, I’m passionate on the subject, but onwards!)

The other driver of this outfit is the vintage 1940s hat, which I purchased on eBay because I fell in love with the magnificent bow. The cool grey and mauve I match with a softer mauve knit, and a warm grey asymmetrical skirt by now-defunct Melbourne designer label Ammo. I bought that knit on sale years ago because I fell in love with the epaulets; I’ve since stopped wearing it, mainly because I dislike the ribbon trim on the shoulders, and am contemplating butchering the epaulets and attaching them to some other knit.

The suede heels by ZU – another vanished brand; it closed in 2015  – in what I’m flatteringly calling donkey brown have since been donated to the charity store, but the jewellery I still own and wear.

I do still very much like this colour combination – I like to mix varying warm and cool shades of one or two tones. It’s more interesting than exact matches, and an elegant change from contrasting hues.

Items:

Tee: Kookaï
Jumper:
Sabatini
Skirt:
Ammo
Hat:
vintage 40s
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Earrings:
Etsy
Ring:
NGV museum shop
Shoes:
ZU

Photos: October 2013

Monday
Sep252017

Brogues, Pt 1

Brogues with Bows

I have loved brogues for a long time. I don’t know from whence this love affair sprang, but it has mostly to do with the punctured leather they are made from: decoration that belies practicality.

While the word ‘brogue’ derives from the Norse brök (leg covering), the shoe itself has its origins in seventeenth century Scotland and Ireland. They were designed for walking the peat bogs of those countries, the tiny holes perforating the leather allowing water to drain out.

A guide to brogued shoes (illustrations from Toni Rossi)They started out as very rudimentary shoes made from raw hides with the hair inwards, to leather tanned with oak-bark. By the eighteenth century they had evolved into a heavier shoe with hobnailed soles, and in the following century the shoe gained a second layer which was pinked to allow water to drain out, with an inner layer that was not, preserving water resistance.

Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, popularises brogues by wearing them as golfing shoes (image via Pinterest)In the twentieth century, it was Edward, Prince of Wales, who took these traditional shoes out of the countryside and into the city, playing golf in them in the 1930s and thereby making them exceedingly fashionable. Women’s versions soon followed with the addition of a heel. Half-brogues, hybrids of Oxford and brogue, were next, with heels rising higher and higher in the first decade of the twenty-first century, making the most practical walking shoe less so. But they sure look good!

When I purchased this pair of dark taupe brogues by label Urge online from a sale website, I was quite surprised when they arrived sans shoelaces. I decided that I wanted nothing so prosaic as that. I had seen brogues tied with satin ribbons before, and liked the look – there is something storybookish about them. Immediately I seized a ribbon out of my sewing box to test out the look.

The tiny eyelets were a hindrance, but I dealt with that by wrapping the ends of the ribbon with sticky-tape and thread it through. I liked it (though not so much the mauve colour, which inadvertently matched my carpet)!

It is almost impossible to purchase non-polyester ribbon in this paltry town (unless presumably one is a denizen of the fashion industry and has secret sources) so I went shopping on Etsy. A natural fibre would be more flexible and fall more prettily. I found a peach rayon ribbon and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once more I went through the tedious process of threading the eyelets, but I was very pleased with the result.

After all that effort, I must confess that the shoes themselves were not the most comfortable, being a little narrow in the toe. But wear made them give a little and they became more comfortable for commuting to work in, which is what I bought them for. Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles, and after a winter or two of hard wear, I ruthlessly (but sadly) put them in the bin where their holey-ness belonged.

Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles …

I’ve since owned other brogues, and this past winter have been often wearing a pair of dark tan vintage 70s oxfords, with a two-inch stacked heel, that I found in an op shop for around $12. They were in pristine condition and had even been resoled by a previous owner. I have already roughed them up a little on toes and heels, but that’s what shoes are for – and then it will be on to the next pair!

Photos: July 2012
References: Shoes, by Caroline Cox, New Burlington Books, 2012; Shoes, by Linda O’Keefe, Workman Publishing NY, 1996