Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in colour (64)


What I Actually Wore #0157

Serial #: 0157
Date: 21/11/2013
Weather: 22°C / 77°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

My cousin, with whom I worked at the time, suggested I had donned a safari look this day. While the garments themselves aren’t suitable, the colour combination of white and tan certainly are evocative of safari ensembles. I don’t think it was my intention, but I have always been fond of mostly, if not completely, monochromatic outfits, and white is a particular favourite shade.

I still own all these items, except for the wool knit, which I think either became too big for me, or perhaps was damaged in some way, as it has long vanished from my wardrobe. I’m not sure where it came from, perhaps the thrift store, nor can I find anything out about the label. Those leather faux lace-up boots (they have a zip on the inner side) are always admired whenever I wear them; they were a good investment. I’m not sure how old the belt and earrings are – I bought them in a thrift store, but I don’t think they can be older than ten or fifteen years.

I see here I am wearing my beloved Kenneth Cole chain watch – the stretched-out chain near the lug is visible in the close-up. I’ve had this repaired twice already: the first jeweller cursed me and practically threw it at me when I went to pick it up, but the second was more polite in his disgust; I haven’t yet dared to take it back to him, and it’s been years! It’s currently languishing in a jewellery box full of other watches that also need repair. I’m down to one functioning watch, and I do like to have a few watches to match to different outfits. Time to bestir myself!


Top: A.M. St
Skirt: Witchery
Belt: op shop
Boots: Joanne Mercer
Earrings: op shop
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Ring: Roun

Photos: January 2014


Strong and Bold

In honour of the Australian Rules Football Grand Final match today, I bring you this yellow and black vintage 1950s dress, in the team colours of the Richmond Football Club, a club that has been running for more than a century. They are playing Greater Western Sydney Giants; in contrast, a modern team formed only a decade ago, whose colours are a rather odd combination of orange, black and white.

I don’t barrack for (that’s Aussie for ‘follow’) Richmond except for today, although I live next door to the inner-city suburb in which it was formed, and in fact Richmond East is my local stomping ground.

This is an outfit I wore in the summer of this year, with a 1950s cello hat, a 1960s bag, and modern patent shoes and belt. Richmond’s club mascot is a tiger, and I’m rather pleased the way this dress emulates a tiger’s claw slashes … if a tiger had decided to dip its claws in black paint and do some textile design! Previously I’d thought the pattern reminded me of the grasses of an African savanna, which is also apt.

Today I shall finish with Richmond’s club song:

Oh we're from Tigerland
A fighting fury
We're from Tigerland
In any weather you will see us with a grin
Risking head and shin
If we're behind then never mind
We'll fight and fight and win
For we're from Tigerland
We never weaken til the final siren's gone
Like the Tiger of old
We're strong and we're bold
For we're from Tiger
Yellow and Black
We're from Tigerland.

Go Tiges! Oops, the game is starting, bye!

Photo: April 2019


What I Actually Wore #0156

Serial #: 0156
Date: 31/10/2013
Weather: 18°C / 64°F
Time Allowed: 12 minutes

First of all: LOOK AT MY HAIR! I have no idea how I made it look so perfect regularly, because I am pretty damn lazy low maintenance about hair styling.

It was Halloween, and I decided to go not at all thematic (it’s not really a big holiday in Australia) and wore bright pops of colour instead. The outfit started with the teal leather skirt (the brand on the label is Suede); the ribbed jumper I am wearing is actually a real ultra-violet, but the hue is impossible to capture with a camera (the shade is captured better in the close-up below); and the shoes are cobalt. I like to mix colours that are close in hue, but slightly off or unexpected – the violet and teal are an unusual combination.

The really standout item is the tights; these are not traditional fishnets, but rather skin-toned illusion hosiery with the fishnet pattern applied as flocking. I managed to wear the pair a few times before they laddered.

I’m wearing sterling silver hoops, a cuff and a ring (since lost!), the latter two by the jewellery brand Roun, which is now defunct. I bought quite a few pieces from them in my minimalist phase – I considered the cuff a real investment, although I rarely wear it now.

I’ve been carrying a small bag as well as a larger work tote these days, but back then I was usually only carrying a large tote, which is why there is no handbag in this picture. This day I wore my beloved vintage 70s white leather trench coat that has long since died, and a white leather oblong tote by Elise Carrell, which has also worn out. In fact, the only item from this outfit that I still have in my wardrobe are the suede and patent wedges, and the jewellery, as the jumper and skirt have gone in my most recent cull just last week. Still, overall I like this look.


Jumper: op shop
Skirt: Suede, vintage 80s
Tights: Leg Avenue
Shoes: Mollini
Earrings: Baku
Bangle: Roun
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Ring: Roun

Photos: January 2014


Marvellous Mauve

A couple of years ago I wrote a story about different shades of purple, and I touched on the discovery of the first aniline dye in 1856 that became known as mauve, the French word for mallow flower after which the colour is named. Originally it was probably a darker shade than contemporary notions of it, as it was first likened to Tyrian purple which is much darker. The first mauve dye was replaced with other synthetic dyes in 1873: a lighter, less-saturated shade that we are familiar with today. As Wikipedia succinctly describes it, ‘mauve contains more grey and more blue than a pale tint of magenta’.

Three shades of mallow flowersHowever, while it was a synthetic dye, in the 1850s it was still quite expensive to process, and if not for Empress Eugénie, wife of Napoleon III, taking a liking to it because it supposedly exactly matched her ‘violet’ eyes, the colour might have disappeared. Queen Victoria subsequently gave it the thumbs-up, and for a time it was all the rage, reaching its heights of popularity in the 1890s.

… for a time it was all the rage, reaching its heights of popularity in the 1890s

As with many trends, however, it soon reached over-saturation in the market and eventually it became passé, synonymous with ladies of a certain age. Even in the twentieth century, it was associated with aging, as it was one of the shades white-haired ladies chose to rinse their hair with to remove unlikable yellowish tones. Today of course that trend has been turned on its head and grey hair tinted with pastel shades is all the rage with young people!

Empress Eugenie, 1854, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter – Franz clearly thought, "Pfft, purple eyes, MY EYE!"

Wait, what about the purple eyes?

I was interested in this notion of the Empress’s supposed violet eyes, and some research lead me to learn that Elizabeth Taylor was another celebrity famed for her violet eyes. Paintings are not necessarily true to life, and photographic evidence is obviously unreliable as it is too easy to digitally enhance hues or use colour filters in-camera.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1960 (ph unknown) and 1985 (ph Helmut Newton); she definitely seems to have naturally blue eyes that have been enhanced by the colour processing in the first photoAfter a lot of reading, I can state definitely that the human eye does not naturally come in shades of purple; ie people cannot be born with it. Put simply, the colour of an iris changes depending on how much light reaches it, and can be enhanced by coloured clothing or makeup surrounding the eyes; both Empress Eugénie and Elizabeth Taylor had blue eyes: one wore purple garments, the other purple eyeshadow. [See Further Reading below]

Back to fashion …

Since my original story, I have since found new mauve items in differing shades all from thrift stores: a merino wool jumper, a prettily hand-knitted vintage wool cape, and a vintage angora, pearl-beaded beret. The jumper is modern, but I am not sure of the age of the latter two; the beret was missing pearls when I bought it, but the cape is pristine and could be a modern knit made using a vintage pattern. My printed velvet pants are modern, by the Australian label Charlie Brown.

Scroll down and check out some more mauve outfits from the Victorian era to the present.

Further Reading

The biology behind eye colour in humans

Were Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes really violet?

But wait, Liz Taylor had double eyelashes!

Just how did Lizzie make her blue eyes look purple?

Photos: August 2019

Victorian walking dress, 1896Victorian evening dress, 1896Victorian silk striped walking dressSilk taffeta evening dress, 1860-18651930s fur jacket (sold)1930s bias gown (for sale)1940s catalogue – how I would love to buy this set, especially at those prices!Model Evelyn Tripp, wearing a dress and matching hat, ph Frances McLaughlin-Gill for VogueModern outfitRosie tote in mauve


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