Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in feathers (47)


A hat retrospective

Father has a business strictly second hand
Everything from toothpicks to a baby-grand
Stuff in our apartment came from father’s store
Even things I’m wearing someone wore before
It’s no wonder that I feel abused
I never get a thing that ain’t been used

I’m wearing second hand hats
Second hand clothes
That’s why they call me
Second hand Rose…”

Unlike Barbara, I do not find it such a tragedy to wear second hand clothes, nor do many others these days. In fact, I would be overjoyed if my father owned a second hand shop. What fun!

A while back a friend suggested I write a post on the difference between antique, vintage and retro. Many people probably don’t know the difference, and possibly don’t care. A few might be interested enough in the question to research it; I can point you in the direction of a succinct article on Wikipedia. For those of you who can’t be bothered clicking on the link, read on.

I decided to illustrate the definitions by comparing apples with… er, hats with hats. I thought about using other items, but as I am obsessed with hats, and actually own many from different eras, they seemed the obvious choice.


First up we have a hat c. 1910. Anything manufactured prior to the 1920s is considered antique. This wool felt hat is trimmed in the original ostrich feather and netting, very tattered. I used to wear it more often than lately, but you can see it here in context. I bought it many years ago in Castlemaine from a strange elderly woman who ran a vintage shop in an old building that was once a stately home, or perhaps a hotel.

My sister, who lived there for a while, took me there, whispering that the old lady kept a doll in a pram, and talked to it as though it was her baby. I found three hats there that I wanted to buy: a black 1920s hat and a gold straw bonnet of unknown provenance trimmed in Parisian roses, the lady told me, as well as this hat. I put this hat on the counter, and continued to look at her merchandise. When I turned round, I found she had put the hat back in its cabinet. I retrieved it. This happened a few times until I finally convinced that I did indeed want to purchase it.


The second hat is from the 1940s, and falls under the distinction of vintage, as does any clothing made from the 1920s to 1980. I can’t recall where I found this little cap, but it’s very sweet and perches just at the back of one’s head. The two little flowers on either side make me think of mini Mickey Mouse ears.


Retro, which is short for retrospective, usually refers to items that imitate those from another era, for example props from a costume department (which is what I guess this 1920s style hat is), or emulations, such as the Art Deco style prevalent in the 1970s. (Just think of Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde: set in the 1920s, but unmistakably made in the 70s.)

In the last twenty years or so we’ve seen every style of fashion from every era inspiring our modern designers. It’s certainly fascinating, and I gasp in awe at the creators and image-makers, but in real life, as much as I love vintage clothing, I don’t want to feel like a stray from a film set. I’ll still mix in some vintage into my wardrobe, but I’ll do it circumspectly. I’ll do it ‘My Way’.


Please, ruffle my feathers

I am very lazy when it comes to mascara. Not putting it on; although I have done some stupid things whilst doing so, like being too lazy to remove my hat, losing my grip on the mascara wand, splodging black on the inside of the brim, and then spending five precious minutes trying to clean the stain. I did this two mornings ago.

Rather, it is the process of removal I find unutterably tedious. I only want to go to bed, but – no matter the formula of my remover – the tiresome stuff defies eradication, so most days I just don't bother with it. Plus, have you noticed mascara makes your eyelashes feel like straw? No-one likes hair product that does that: “Darling, let me run my fingers through your hair.” … “Ouch! Get your fat hand out of my hair, you oaf!”

That’s not hair sweetheart, that’s a blackberry thatch lying in wait to ensnare some unwary man. Oh hang on; this might not be altogether a bad thing…

Although, I suppose gentlemen don’t usually caress one’s eyelashes, do they?

But just cast your peepers over these pretty little things: false feathers! Aren’t they darling? They were so cute I had to buy them. The only thing that could have made them even more irresistible would be if they were iridescent like real birds' feathers. (I suspect they will one day cause me more frustration than mascara, however.)

They do bring new meaning to fluttering one’s eyelashes though, don’t they? Now, I just need to find a man who would be willing to ruffle them a trifle…

All in a Flutter fashion lashes by The Beauty Case, $8.95.
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