Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in coats (24)

Wednesday
Apr172019

Victorian Glory

Yesterday I was waxing lyrical about my Victorian cape – here it is in all its glory! Isn’t it amaa-aa-zing? I first saw it from the rear, on a mannequin in the window display of a Sacred Heart Mission op shop. I stared at it in amazement and disbelief. At first I thought it was a costume from a theatre perhaps, but when I enquired if I could try it on and swept it away to a changing room, I saw that it was an original piece.

It is wool, with a silk lining and fringe, and cornelli embroidery on the yoke. The label is also still intact, and reads, in gold embroidered script on a cream background: “Mesdames Niblett, Crighton & Burton”, and in smaller text, “75 New St Birmingham”. It does have a few moth bites and holes, which is not surprising considering its age, and a previous owner covered a few up with tiny lace leaves – you can see them in the second picture.

It has a lovely weight to it and a delightful swishy swing.

I am wearing it here with a vintage 1970s mauve dress and 1950s cherry casque, an outfit I wore to my niece’s wedding last year. (I actually wore it with a different cape, one of red cashmere.) On the morning I was very indecisive about which coat to wear, but the red won out as I love that colour it worn with purple. I ended up wearing this cape to the Opening Night of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband – which I thought was an ideal occasion, as the play was written in the Victorian era. I recall it was a cold night, and the cape was very warm – not to mention an extravagant indulgence to wear! It has a lovely weight to it and a delightful swishy swing.

This is the second Victorian cape that I own, the first being a shorter, hooded skating coat of red and white striped velvet, which I bought from Persephone Vintage on Etsy a few years ago. It too has a long fringe, of red and white chenille. I can’t say that I’d want to gad about in weighty Victorian gowns and their even more fearsome foundation garments, but I must say I do enjoy wearing the capes of the era, and how much more exciting than a prosaic duffel coat for example, or some other even more utilitarian coat? Life’s too short to wear a parka.

Photos: July 2018

Tuesday
Apr162019

Some are coats, some are jackets

Summer is long gone, but Melbourne keeps on rolling out the warm, summery weather; I still haven’t done the seasonal Dreaded And Great Closet Swap because of this. I have, however, completed a seasonal cull, but my wardrobe is still crammed! I’ve been contemplating whether I should try to cull even more, or put some of my precious vintage things that are not worn frequently in storage.

So, it is an appropriate time to look at my collection of summer coats and jackets. I must confess that I actually took these photos two years ago, but never made time to edit them as it was such a time-consuming job – almost as time consuming as seasonal wardrobe maintenance! Some of these jackets have actually since been culled, but since I love outerwear so much, they are still part of this visual library for posterity.

I also have added more coats and jackets to my wardrobe, since I can’t resist adding an amazing historical piece, such as 30s and 40s embroidered silk bed jackets; a 40s plush velvet (imitation fur) jacket, and a velvet evening cloak from the same era; an extraordinary cape in animal-print velvet that I think is probably 60s or 70s; amazing 60s and 70s leather coats and jackets; a 1970s brown tweed wool frock coat; a 1970s hot pink marabou bolero; an oyster-coloured modern leather capelet in a Victorian style; a jaw-dropping mid-nineteenth century Victorian wool cape, floor-length, fringed and cornelli-embroidered; a modern cream silk duster that is fantastically embroidered with flowers in pinks and reds … and probably more that I am forgetting!

Who could resist these despite a bursting closet? Most of these items have been found in thrift stores. But, cataloguing these garments has made me realise I have some gaps, such as a peplum jacket, and some Holy Grail wishes: a 1930s winter coat (which would be a lucky find in an op shop – although one would not expect to find a silk-fringed Victorian cape in a thrift store either), an Edwardian Battenberg lace coat, and a 1920s velvet evening cocoon coat with an extravagant collar.

Here are a couple of pictures of the fronts of two items: a 60s or 70s double-breasted sailor jacket, which is a more recent find, and a 50s satin opera cloak, which is one of my earliest vintage purchases. It is trimmed in with brocade ribbon, which you can see in the rear view in the gallery. I found it in a thrift store in a local shopping strip near the art college I attended, decades ago now, and recall it cost me around $30.

You can check out the gallery here – and look out for more, as I shall be adding all my newer treasures soon!

Photos: January 2017

Tuesday
Apr022019

What I Actually Wore #0148

Serial #: 0148
Date: 04/10/2013
Weather: 22°C / 72°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

The first thing I have to say about the above photograph is: MY HAIR! That bob is immaculate and newly shorn, and I must give another shout-out to my awesome hairstylist Alex from Lady Marmalade, who has been cutting my hair for more than a decade. Secondly, I very, very rarely wear all black – or even almost all black as I did on this day over five years ago.

That is my credo in fact: never to wear all black! And it’s why I didn’t on this occasion – I wore a pair of animal print ponyhair pumps, and a vintage 1970s brown leather jacket.

The third amusing detail about this outfit is that it is quite ill-fitting! The 70s style knit blouson-sleeved top I still have, but the pants I eventually donated to charity because they were too big (you know pants are too big when you don’t have to undo the zip when you go to the bathroom); the shoes, currently buried in a storage bag of footwear intended for eBay, were a size too big for me even with insoles, but I bought them anyway because they were a $10 bargain; and the vintage 70s jacket was too small across the shoulders and in sleeve length, and has long since also been donated to charity.

That was a particularly regrettable loss. The leather was so fine, and it was a chocolate shade of brown that I like. If it had a label, I can’t recall what it was. Sadly, the jacket was missing its belt, which I guessed was a long soft leather tie style. Here, I am wearing it with a vintage 80s plaited taupe leather buckled belt – it was never a pairing I was completely satisfied with, but I had never found a suitable replacement for the original. I had intended to try to sell the jacket, but it was accidentally toted off to a thrift store – whence it had come, so I can’t regret it too much. I hope someone with a smaller frame pounced on it with joy!

Fourthly, I must note that all of these items – excepting the souvenir jewellery, and the shoes which were seconds from a warehouse store – were bought in a thrift store, which is wear I buy most of my clothes and accessories. 

My jewellery is a mixture of vintage souvenirs and boutique purchases. The silver necklace is Moroccan and came with an antique coin attached; I have over the years added a number of mostly sterling silver charms, with the exception of a Victorian cash register key. I have not worn it for some time, so this outfit from the archives is a nice reminder to do so – and to make an overdue appointment at the hair salon!

Items:

Top: French Connection
Pants: Dizingof
Jacket: vintage 1970s
Belt: vintage 1980s
Shoes:
Wittner
Earrings: Mimco
Necklace: souvenir
Ring: souvenir (onyx), Roun (silver)

Photos: October 2013

Saturday
Nov242018

Impressed!

A few years ago, my friend Rapunzel bought this vintage 60s suede coat at a vintage warehouse sale for a fairly modest sum. The clothing, I believe, was purchased unseen by the container-load from America. While all the other clothing at the sale seemed to have suffered no lasting damage, this coat looked like it had been drenched in the brink. It was so wrinkled, and strangely textured as though it was encrusted with salt.

My friend, however, never wore it, saying she had never got round to taking it to a drycleaner, and didn’t like wearing coats for commuting anyway, as she tended to overheat, and so she was reluctant to spend a large amount on professional cleaning. She donated it to me.

I was pleased to accept the coat, but it couldn’t be worn in the state it was. I forgot to photograph it in its original state, but I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball, then poorly smoothed out.

I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball …

I took the coat to my regular drycleaner and asked his advice. With very serious face he examined the coat and remarked that it did look like it had fallen into the ocean. That seemed unlikely, but perhaps it had been splashed at some point in its life. He did not think cleaning it would improve its appearance – the two apparent stains visible on the right side (near the collar and the middle button) were actually abrasions of the leather, so cleaning would have no effect on those. He suggested pressing it instead.

Ironing leather! I have talked before about the importance of ironing, but it never would have occurred to me that it was appropriate to press leather. For a modest sum of $15, I agreed to see if that improved the look of the coat. When I returned to pick the coat up, I was very impressed (pardon the pun) to see the improvement.

This suede, mink-trimmed coat transmogrified from a sozzled 60-year-old harridan into a gently-used dignified dame. Disfigurements became faint scars proudly marking the stately passage of time, and the coat was eminently wearable. Amongst so many coats I already own, I still managed to wear it a few times this past winter, an excellent result.

Photo: August 2018

Monday
Jul162018

What I Actually Wore #0140

Serial #: 0140
Date:
17/08/2013
Weather:
3.3°C / 38°F
Time Allowed:
15 minutes

This evening I was going out to the Astor Theatre, an Art Deco cinema, to see (aptly) the very enjoyable Clara Bow film Wings of 1927. And in fact my choice of outfit was in response to a story I had written that day in homage to Coco Chanel.

I never wear all black, but I almost did this evening, except for my favourite white leather trench coat and white beret. The outfit, otherwise, was chosen for warmth, as the apparent temperature was a chilly 3.3°.

I wear a cowl neck jumper with a tank top underneath for warmth, along with wide-leg wool pants, another wardrobe staple of mine. All my accessories, apart from the aforementioned hat, are also black – except for my tan socks, and one of my bauble earrings. I had deliberately worn one black onyx, one silver, but my notes say I was disappointed that no one noticed!

I still really like this outfit and would definitely wear it today, except I think a few of the items were retired after becoming worn out. Most sadly, the trench coat became so worn it looked grey and dirty and I tearfully donated it to the Salvation Army. But years ago I’d had the foresight to hunt down another 70s white leather coat on Etsy that is almost as nice. It is cut more along princess lines with a flaring skirt, and that is what I don’t like as much. Amusingly, the hat is one I bought in the early 90s, and have owned ever since – it has become vintage since then – and suddenly I feel old!

The shoes have since been replaced by similar patent heels – coincidentally by the same brand, both of which I found in thrift stores, and the French socks became holey and retired to the sock afterlife (le trashcan). The trousers, hat and gloves I certainly still own, and I think the bag is packed away in my closet somewhere too. Perhaps this time I should do an homage to my own homage to Coco?

Items:

Jumper: David Lawrence
Pants:
Ming
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Hat:
boutique, vintage 90s
Gloves:
Faith
Coat:
Leda Spain by Gropper, vintage 70s
Earrings:
handmade
Bag:
vintage 60s
Shoes:
Scooter

Photo: October 2013