Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in funny (146)


Animal Instinct

If anything epitomises a Gorgeous Useless Irresistible Little Trifle, it must be this beaded coin purse made in the shape of a Dalmatian dog that I found in an op shop recently.

I find it hard to resist cute and kitsch things that make me laugh. In practical terms, though, I suspect it could prove quite vexing if one is in a hurry, with coins and the like becoming stuck down its legs. But it’s so much fun – a little piece of eye candy – that I obeyed my first instinct to claim it for my own. It can live in my beach bag and become a holiday purse, for on a proper holiday one is never in a hurry.

Photo: Today



Over two years ago, one blissful Saturday afternoon I was shopping in a Sacred Heart Opportunity Shop and unexpectedly hit the jackpot. Against the rules, I had taken so many promising garments into the change room (only four were ostensibly allowed) and was frantically shedding clothing as speedily as possible in case there were impatient customers waiting outside and champing at the bit.

One of the items I was excited to find was this silk pleated dress by Parisian brand Suncoo. (At least the label boldly states Paris.) It had never been worn, for the label was still dangling attached. It was priced at a pittance, a mere $10. I adored the colour, and I adored the flouncing pleats, the pin tucking, the details on the cuffs – everything about this dress I adored! I wore hearts for eyes. That’s probably why I didn’t notice one important detail …


I did not notice this frivolous circumstance until the day I desired to wear it to work for the first time. There it was, a little innocuous white bowling-pin-shaped receptacle of indelible ink obstinately attached. I wore something else.

Some time passed before it occurred to me that the lovely and clever ladies and gentlemen of the Wardrobe department at work might be able to assist in ridding me of this embarrassment. I took it with me one day and sheepishly explained the situation while they grinned at me. Another colleague walked past at that moment and scoffed at my protestations of innocence.

The learned costumiers scratched their heads and confessed they had never seen this particular style of device before. So probably it was from France, and I was forced to wonder whether the original owner had liberated the dress from a store (they are excessively fond of liberté in gay Paree, after all). Wardrobe declared confidently, “Leave it with us.”

Happily for me, one brilliant seamstress had the idea to unpick the stitches at the waist, ease off the device, and then sew the seams back together. It was lucky the device was attached to a seam, for miraculously this shifty operation worked! Voila! they said triumphantly.

But the story does not end here. I took the dress home, and the next time I decided to wear it, I discovered that some of the stitching on the back had torn, and the concertina effect was ruined. What next! I despaired, and I repaired the stitches.

What next! I despaired, and I repaired the stitches.

What next indeed … Pleased, a couple of years later I finally got around to photographing the dress in order to write this story, and after the shoot as I was lifting it over my head, what should I do but smear scarlet lipstick on the front?! Hélas! What a series of unfortunate events! Was the dress hand-washable? Would I ruin the pleats (as I have done before) by willy-nilly ignoring a ‘dry clean only’ instruction?

Hélas! What a series of unfortunate events!

But the dress was indeed hand-washable. After applying an oil-free make-up removing tissue to the stain, removing as much as possible, and leaving a large oval-shaped mark on the panel of buttons, I hopefully washed the dress. (This useful tip I gleaned from a make-up artist once upon a time.) I cringed a little as I immersed it into water.

But hey presto! The stain came out, the pleats did not, and finally, finally, the dress is prêt-a-porter!

Photos: February 2016


Scots x Italia

A couple months ago I visited my sister in the country, ahem – OUTER MELBOURNE (I like to tease her about the distance as often as possible) – and we spent a day together op shopping. We zipped around to four or five different stores, large and small, chain and independent, and I managed to snag quite a few bargains.

One of these good finds was this wool pink plaid scarf for which I paid around $4. It comes from Italy, in one of the typically traditional tartan designs that country is renowned for … Wait, what?

och, I do love plaid, wherever it hails from.

There is an embroidered insignia at the end (right about where the fingers of my left hand are holding it), and at first I thought it said ‘Castle Something’ until I brought it into brighter light and read ‘Carlo Visconti, Italy’. I suppose there is nothing new in the designers of one country appropriating the traditional styles of another, and – och, I do love plaid, wherever it hails from. (I’m not convinced the label’s name has anything at all to do with the fifteenth century assassin of the same name, but maybe it does! You can read all about the court official’s colourful history here.)

Why would anyone get rid of such a lovely scarf, I wondered? Did they find out about the womanising, murdered Duke of Milan and conceive an unreasoning distaste for the scarf? Unfortunately, I can’t find any less apocryphal information on this Italian label, and have only spotted men’s ties and cufflinks, and fountain pens online.

It must remain an eternal – and possibly unsavoury – mystery.

PS. I am not wearing my top inside out. In case you were wondering. Ok, I am. Also, apologies for the disturbingly fluffy hair.

Photo: July 2016


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


Weather Ears

As a Melburnian, born and bred, I have learned to always keep an eye on the weather and to be prepared for any contingency: umbrellas in winter, cardigans in summer. Sometimes a cardigan and an umbrella in summer. Australians all round the country can instantly recognise a Melburnian tourist because we are the only ones assiduously checking the weather forecast.

It is absolutely possible for Melbourne to be hot in the morning and cold and thunderstorming in the afternoon. In the rainy seasons I am always prepared, carrying an umbrella at all times – and if I am caught unawares (a rare occurrence), then I have an emergency collapsible umbrella in my desk drawer at work.

In the entirely likely event the meteorologists have told the most shocking, bald-faced lies and I am OAA and brollyless, I pull out my rain hat, which I bought from high street store Sportsgirl. My mum used to say to me in all seriousness that in an emergency, I could pull a plastic bag over my head. But I think this rain bonnet is a much cuter option!

Photo: July 2016

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