Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in funny (146)


Bye, Brolly

I am so sad! I’ve seen things you wouldn’t have believed. An MNG umbrella blown inside out by fierce wind. I watched another mangled near the Botanical Gardens Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears … in … rain.

Okay, that’s a ribald joke referencing the speech Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, makes at the end of the film Blade Runner. But still, I am devastated my favourite glen plaid umbrella has a broken wing. Once more it was the mischievous wind playing havoc, bending one of the spokes. It was still usable however, and did last for quite some time before the rubbish modern metal snapped in two. But now no more. It is trash.

[Vintage umbrellas] have a pointy steel spike on the end, which is extremely handy for self-defence in an emergency situation.

I remember the day I got it, one boiling hot summer day a few years ago. The brand is Shelta, and they usually retail for $40 or more. I found it in a thrift store for $6 and snapped it up. You can never have too many umbrellas is one of my maxims. My niece on a recent visit demanded to know why I own so many umbrellas. This is why.

I do prefer vintage umbrellas, because they are made from steel and have twice as many spokes as modern umbrellas, which makes them much sturdier in a violent wind. They also usually have a pointy steel spike on the end, which is extremely handy for self-defence in an emergency situation. (It is an actual fact that muggers are more wary of people carrying long umbrellas.) Remember this next time you go vintage shopping and spot an umbrella: Spokes and Spikes.

Photo: This week.


Time Waits for No Fashionista

Feast your eyes upon this beautiful and buttery soft light grey leather moto jacket for a moment …  Be astonished and elated when you learn that I purchased it for a trifling sum – $15 – in a charity store! Sigh with anticipation on hearing how I waited with bated breath until the seasons turned and the temperature was right to don this garment with appropriate reverence …

And then weep and gnash your teeth in lamentation as you look upon its ravaged surface, wantonly desecrated by some unseen and malignant foe! Let us mourn together!

weep and gnash your teeth in lamentation as you look upon its ravaged surface …!

For a thing of beauty is not a joy forever, as the poet John Keats so optimistically phrases it. I cannot hazard a guess as to what distressed this leather so that such disastrous holes formed on the back of the jacket. The blistering and cracking was visible on the arms too, and it was easy to see that more tearing would occur with only a little encouragement.

This was worse than the time I gently hand-washed the vintage cashmere cardigan and watched the pearl coating float off the beadwork, or the time in my green youth when I washed a fringed silk shawl too vigorously and tangled the long fringing past redemption … then I could blame my ignorance.

Yet this time I had done nothing but hang the jacket in my closet! I was very disappointed since I had not had a chance to even wear it once.

We all have those beautiful clothes in our closets that we save for a special occasion – and we shouldn’t. I am sure you’ve heard this dictum before, but at the sight of this particularly abject lesson, you must surely be convinced.

Wear the antique silk gown you inherited from a stylish great-aunt, slip on those bejewelled cobalt silk Manolos you have hidden on the top shelf in your wardrobe waiting for their moment in the sun (ahem, that’s me), don sequins and satin from nine to five – don’t save them for a time that may never come.

Like ephemeral mayflies that live only from sunrise to sunset, some pleasures last only for the shortest time and ought to be enjoyed without delay. Seize the day!

Photos: December 2015


The Hidden Truth About Eelskin

Last year I bought this vintage 70s eelskin handbag in a charity store. It is not the only eelskin bag that I own: I also have a soft red pouch. However, I have not often used them in the belief that the softness of the skin meant it was quite fragile. Research lead me to discover that the opposite was in fact the case. But it was not the only thing I learned …

I found out the real truth about eelskin. I was so shocked I consider it my duty to expose the infamous lies of the fashion industry.


It is in fact the skin of an unpleasant and unattractive scavenger that lurks upon the ocean floor, eats dead and dying fish, and kills its enemies with slime.

Yes, slime. I am not joking. (If you want to read more about this revolting defence mechanism, click here.)

The creature is the Pacific hagfish, one of few jawless (Agnathan) fish, and it does resemble an eel, being long and thin. Perhaps it was simply a poor and inadvertent translation into English that produced the misnomer, or perhaps it was a deliberate marketing ploy, but whatever the truth of its origin, ‘eelskin’ is certainly a more appealing name than ‘hagfishskin’!

… whatever the truth of its origin, ‘eelskin’ is certainly a more appealing name than ‘hagfishskin’!

This jawless fish is eaten in Asia, so its skin is a culinary by-product, which is ethically pleasing. The resultant leather is highly prized, being very smooth (it feels like silk) and exceptionally strong, making it almost maintenance-free, and is used in the creation of every kind of accessory, clothing, and even furnishings.

Clean & Care

While eelskin can be conditioned occasionally with colourless shoe wax, this is not recommended for lighter-coloured items as over time added oils can darken the pigment of the skin.

For oil stains (grease, suntan oil, lotion etc) apply rubber cement (available from art and craft stores) sparingly to the stain, let dry and peel off. Many applications may be necessary, but it should eventually come out.

For liquid stains, let dry naturally overnight. Water will not stain, but in the case of some other liquid, splash with water to thoroughly rinse out. Blot excess water, but do not rub.

For ballpoint ink stains, rub with clean finger, or if that does not do the job, try a pencil eraser, rubbing very gently. It’s best to attempt this while the mark is fresh. Permanent ink cannot be removed. [Tips from Coast]


To buy new, check out Maiden Voyage, Sova Leather, and Coast.

Photos: January 2015, April 2016


Eleventh Hour Resolutions

QUICK! You (if you live in Australia) have about six hours left to complete your 2015 resolutions! I am piling on the scarves today (despite the blistering 39°C heat) in an effort to scrape a passing mark.

I have tallied up my own score for your edification:

Resolution #1: Do Not Get Sunburned
Score: A-
Remarks: Was ‘sunkissed’ only a couple of times; no irreparable damage

Resolution #2: Wear Scarves More Often
Score: D+
Remarks: Average grade was brought up only because of winter layering; last-ditch attempt to raise score utterly ridiculous

Resolution #3: Keeping On Top of Ironing
Score: B+
Remarks: Basket perpetually full; no sooner one lot was done, clean laundry refilled it only to languish for a week or two before being attended to; however, it was getting done despite slowness

Resolution #4: Keeping Up with Mending
Score: B-
Remarks: Pretty good but more consistency required; final grade achieved by skin of teeth: last batch completed on penultimate day of year

Well, apart from the scarves I did not do too badly. How did you go with your own promises?

All of these resolutions are still keepers, and I am busy rustling up new ones too, just to keep me on my sartorial toes.

I hope you have had a great year, and here’s to a fabulous last night celebrating!

Photo: Today


Don’t Mess With Me

Don’t mess with me on Boxing Day. I mean business. I have fists and I know how to make fisticuffs. I AM READY TO DO BATTLE.

Oh … what? It’s not that kind of boxing day? Boo. Hiss.

Traditionally, Boxing Day was when the feudal lords gave out gifts, known as a Christmas Box, to their peasants, and also leftovers from Christmas Day feasting. I am afraid I am eating all my leftovers myself, and I don’t have any peasants anyway.

As for that other revered tradition, attending the Boxing Day sales – I have eschewed them this year. The crowds and the rampant commercialism are more wont to make me break out with a quick one-two to get people out of my way! I am spending a relaxed day at home perusing presents given me yesterday (a lovely vintage 1930s book, and a great art book), watching films, and eating the aforementioned cakes. I really ought to fit in a workout to work off all those extra desserts …

Photo: Today

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