Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in coats (26)


Ensemble Disassembled!

A few weeks ago when I was visiting my sister in the hospital I experienced an unfortunate outfit malfunction: one of the two buttons holding up my suede wrap skirt detached!

“I don’t have a safety-pin to give you,” my sister apologised, but I waved that off, as I would not want to pierce the suede anyway. “Don’t worry,” I declared insouciantly, “I’ll be fine! It’ll stay up.” I tucked it in firmly.

Shortly afterwards, I left her room in the ward to go home and discovered my optimism was misplaced. As I entered the lift, I saw my reflection in the mirrored back wall: the skirt had already come down as demonstrated in the photograph above. Horrified, I quickly hauled it up, hoping none of the other passengers entering behind me had seen me come undone.

Then I remembered what was in the tote bag I was carrying: that morning’s secondhand purchase, a grey wool dress by Australian designer Arthur Galan. I can’t ordinarily afford to shop in that store, so I was quite pleased to have found this merino wool dress in a Red Cross op shop for a fraction of what must have been its retail cost. (Red Cross op shops are one of the more expensive chains however, so at $30 it wasn’t super-cheap, though inexpensive for what it was.)

While I have long loved pleats and draping, I had been a bit hesitant about this purchase, as the dress was baggier than I would normally choose to wear. But, I reasoned, it was wool, and warm and a stone grey that I liked (grey is my black) and its roomy fit made it a good choice for those days when one desired a comfortable, relaxed silhouette. So I bought it. I certainly didn’t expect to be so grateful so soon! I made a quick change in the bathroom on the ground floor, and luckily the dress worked with the other elements of my outfit.

Grey dress to the rescue indeed – thank you very much!

Photos: July 2016


Almost Boho

While I have never identified with boho style, I do have quite eclectic taste, which includes embraces of boho’s defining characteristics: patterns, embroidery, ethnic costume, colourful beads, etc.

I have been attracted to embroidery for a long time, partly because of my Slavic background, and had always wanted to own a traditional embroidered blouse. (I only wish my grandmother had taught me to embroider before she died, but that occurred long before I was even interested in needlework.)

I came across this blouse in a vintage store, though it was a more modern piece, probably originally from an inexpensive high street store. Made from cotton, with a crochet trim, and colourful floral embroidery, it was cut in a smock style, and had three-quarter sleeves. Of course I wanted to wear it immediately (despite the chilly winter) so I slipped it over a black wool turtleneck. The combination has a hippy, almost boho flavour.

But I only wore the blouse once or twice more after this occasion in June, 2010 – because I never felt quite right in it. It was just too boho for me! The blouse eventually was donated to charity; the beloved grey cords died; and I don’t recall what became of the black turtleneck. The coat is the only survivor of subsequent wardrobe culls.

Amusingly, I currently have an even nicer embroidered peasant blouse, this one a warm yellow-cream, and I have not worn it once! It’s too pretty to toss though.

In My Dreams shrugBut for a truly beautiful, designer embroidered garment I know where I would go: Nevenka, a label designed by Croatian-Australian, Rosemary Masic. She is inspired by the same traditional embroidery, but her stunning designs are modern and exquisitely cut from lovely fabric – the lace alone is jaw-dropping, and distinctly Eastern-European rather than the French or Belgian style lace such as Chantilly or Valenciennes (typical bridal fabrics) that we might be more familiar with. Being half-Croatian myself, these fabrics really resonate with me.

Luxe though these garments are, they are certainly bohemian in style.

Fierce Warrior skirtLive in the Moment dressWater Runs Deep dress



Saucers, platters, pancakes – these were all names for the same style of flat, wide-brimmed hat that was popular in the 1950s for winter and summer wear. I own many such examples, and here are two of them: one in sumptuous blue velvet, and the other in a wavy-brimmed green wool.

I always prefer Fifties hats with either short hair, or hair in an updo – the proportions always seem to look better, which is hardly surprising as they were originally designed to be worn with the popular hairstyles of the era. I am wearing these with long hair rolled into a bun, and with a Fifties velvet coat.

I feel too prim and ladylike in them!

Although these hats are part of my collection, they are not ones I generally wear – in fact I don’t think I’ve ever worn either of them out of the house. Why? Because I feel too prim and ladylike in them! It is a pity, since they are quite pretty after all. This seems mad considering some of the other far more insane things I have worn in my time. Perhaps I should consider this a style challenge?

Photo: August 2012


What I Actually Wore #115

Serial #: 0115
Date: 10/04/2013
Weather: 25°C / 77°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

This outfit is a pick‘n’mix of quite a few vintage eras! It’s just as much fun mixing decades as it is clashing patterns. I was quite gratified, too, at the end of the day on my walk home through the botanic gardens, when a woman walking her dog told me I looked fabulous, like someone in a French film.

I am covering the Thirties, Fifties, Sixties and Teensies in this ensemble. The white straw hat is the oldest piece, and I remember the pleasure of buying it on eBay: it was a Buy It Now auction, and there had been more than one offer made, which had obviously been refused. I was surprised, for the asking price (around $30 if I remember correctly) for a hat of that age and good condition was not high. On the contrary, experience had taught me that was very low. I took great enjoyment in immediately clicking the BUY IT NOW button, wondering who I was disappointing. Snooze, you lose!

The Fifties coat is a standout cobalt colour. I love the three-quarter sleeves and the funnel collar. It has a matching dress too, the short sleeves of which I had altered to cap length after I tore one of them on a fireside poker after slipping and falling at a wedding (I was not all that inebriated either)! Anyway, the knee-length shift dress looks much better with the cap sleeves, so it was a fortuitous accident.

The Fifties coat is a standout cobalt colour … it has a matching dress too

I have very often carried that vintage Sixties patent bag, and it has featured many times in this journal. Despite being made of mere vinyl, it has lasted the test of time and is still in quite good condition. The grey leather shoes, by Finsk, were relatively new. I still remember when the package arrived at work, and how I struggled to deal with the multitude of straps – I felt like one of Cinderella’s sisters.

Underneath the dress I was wearing a printed Marni blouse, since given to my sister, and a finely-striped mint and white skirt that I donated to charity a year or so ago (I did not photograph them in this instance). All the other items are still present and accounted for in my closet.


Top: Marni
Veronika Maine
vintage 1950s
vintage 1930s
vintage 1950s
Kenneth Cole
vintage 60s

Photos: April 2013


What I Actually Wore #113

Serial #: 0113
Date: 02/04/2013
Weather: 19°C / 61°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

Still inspired by the costumes of the Ballet Russes, prints were a big part of my wardrobe back in winter 2013. I used to pair prints with neutral items and colourful and quirky accessories.

I adored this silk blouse that I bought second hand in a Red Cross op shop, especially for its dramatic lantern sleeves with the gathered cuffs. I did love the print and colour too. For most of my life I hated purple (because my dear mother, whose favourite colour it is, foisted it on me at too early an age), and only started wearing in the last few years. Lilac with red is a particularly lovely and startling combination to wear.

The only sad thing is that the blouse has torn away from the back seam – I put too much strain on it one day stretching perhaps. It is repairable, but it will make the blouse a little narrower.

Interestingly, this vintage 1920s velvet cap that I bought on eBay from an English seller a few years ago is actually supposed to be worn sticking straight up, like a garden gnome. When I first received it, I was doubtful, assuming surely it wasn’t worn that way, but I have since found contemporary photographic references of hats in similar styles indicating that indeed they were! Not a hat for a wallflower …

Apart from the blouse tragedy, all the items are still in my closet – shoes, bag, jewellery – all have been stayers. The earrings have remained particular favourites. The vintage 60s coat I still like, though I have not worn for one or two winters (I own so many coats they all go in and out of regular wear). This one is a velvet designed to imitate sealskin, but the fur collar is real.

As fun as it is, I am unlikely to wear this ensemble in its entirety these days however; my outfits are a little more minimal. If I thought about it, I’d probably split this outfit into three different ones, which would be an interesting exercise in itself – perhaps for another time.


Coat: vintage 1960s
Veronika Maine
Blouse: Target Limited Edition
vintage 1920s
vintage 1960s
Bracelet & Ring:
souvenirs (Barcelona and Vietnam)
Kenneth Cole

Photos: April 2013