Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in fur (32)


Christmas Traditions

One Christmas tradition I never indulge in is the Ugly Christmas Sweater (or Jumper, if you’re from my part of the world) – mainly because it’s summer at Christmastime here in Australia.

I have on occasion seen some fine examples of ugly Christmas jumpers in thrift stores, but while they have made me smile, I have never been tempted to purchase one even as a joke.

Until last week.

I popped into a Salvation Army Opportunity Shop (or op shops, as thrift stores are known here) last week at lunchtime, and just when I wasn’t looking I flicked a rack and there it was. The Christmas sweater to end all Christmas sweaters. Red-and-white, reindeers, snowflakes, fur-trimmed hood, wooden buttons and pockets … what more could your heart possibly desire? (Okay, maybe some actual snow.)

In truth, it’s a cheap quality knit, made most likely from acrylic as it was so pilled (I spent half an hour pulling off tufts), and it is machine-washable. But for $7 – and the opportunity to share it with my Snapettes in a spectacular come-back after several months’ absence – it was too good to pass up.

Merry Christmas Eve!


Thou Shalt Have Fun With Accessories


I am not a basics kinda girl. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: I believe in accessories. I believe in the power of a single awesome accessory; maybe even two. But even just one stunning accessory has the power to make an ordinary outfit extraordinary.

Whether your style is minimalist or maximalist, there are some accessories you will need if only out of sheer necessity. We all need shoes certainly, and a bag of some sort is useful, unless you like to carry everything in your hands. Once, I saw a young girl actually doing this. She dropped her credit card in the middle of a pedestrian crossing, and then nearly had an accident while retrieving it. This is not a good look.

A well-chosen accessory, whatever it’s function, can lift the spirit. 

Accessories can change your look from night to day, and they can make or break an outfit. They express your personality. They can be practical or utterly frivolous and in both be cases utterly necessary – one fills a need, the other feeds the soul. A well-chosen item, whatever it’s function, can lift the spirit. And make a short girl tall too.

Gone are the days when your shoes, bag and gloves had to match however. This is a look that is so far past passé it’s old fashioned. But when this simple and easy-to-follow rule is thrown out, how does one choose the perfect accessories to complement an outfit? 

There are quite a few things to ponder: size, occasion, season, age appropriateness, colour, and quantity as well as quality. Read on to find out more!

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Pink is for Nostalgia

Everything that goes around comes around again. We’ve heard that refrain applied to fashion before. And you know how they say you hate the fashions of the decade you were spent your formative years in? I was a teen in the 80s, and although I have a few fond (and amused) memories I believe it really was ‘the decade that style forgot’. I don’t know who coined that phrase, but it is particularly apt for the brash 80s.

On the other hand, I was a kidlet in the 70s, and look back on those years through rose-coloured glasses. (Pink is the colour of nostalgia.) Of course, the clothes I wore back then were quite different to the vintage 70s garments I own now. A few years ago I even bought a pair of vintage 70s rose-coloured sunglasses with leopard-print frames!

… back in the 70s, my coat was called the ‘Zhivago’ coat (after the famous Russian book of course).

The suede and rabbit fur coat I am wearing in these photos is one of my favourite winter coats. It is vintage 1970s, by old Australian label Stephen Dattner.

A couple of weeks ago I was travelling home by tram very late on a Saturday night after a party. I had boarded the tram, and when I had sat down, a late middle-aged lady addressed me, informing me that back in the 70s, my coat was called the ‘Zhivago’ coat (after the famous Russian book of course). The woman knew this because she had owned one, in tomato red suede and trimmed with black fur. She only had a single tier of fur along the bottom however.

How wonderful to meet someone so dubiously on public transport, and learn such a fascinating tidbit! I told her that I had come upon the coat in a charity shop for only $45 – she was hugely impressed by that price and told me I had a bargain (which I certainly knew already), for the coat had cost hundreds of dollars new. Taking into account inflation rates, that would translate to several thousand dollars at today’s prices.

The original lining was completely shot, and my sister Blossom very generously and expertly replaced it with a plum coloured satin as a birthday present one year. My new acquaintance and I proceeded to talk non-stop about vintage fashion for the next 30–40 minutes as we waited for our tram transfer at the interchange. It transpired this lady had worked in the vintage fashion industry for decades, and had begun her career in a magazine start-up with the Murdochs. Fancy! She knew all the Melbourne dealers, and collected vintage clothing herself, as well as assisting at vintage fairs with styling advice and the like. When I said goodbye to her she urged me to say hello next time I saw her – she had already noticed me before because of my outfits, which was very flattering.

My red bag is also 70s, and though the floppy wool felt hat (Milana), red and purple knit top (Sonia Rykiel) and dusky pink, wide-legged velvet pants (Asos) are all new, they are certainly bathing in the rosy glow of the 1970s.


The Most Beautiful Coat in the World

A Fashion Emergency

Late last Wednesday evening on my commute home, a sartorial tragedy occurred. The last closure on my vintage 70s suede and rabbit fur coat tore from its moorings. Devastated, but preserving a remarkably calm front in the freezing conditions of a Melbourne winter’s night, I examined the mutilated coat. My knees would be cold on the way home, but the damage could be repaired. I breathed a sigh of relief.

The next evening I assembled the tools I would require in the reparation of this fashion emergency: needle, thread, scissors … and a pair of tweezers to retrieve the recalcitrant strip of leather that kept trying to escape its foundations even as it was being sewn back into place.

Fortunately I was able to access the reverse side of the leather as the lining (painstakingly replaced my lovely and charming adored sister Blossom several years ago as a birthday present pour moi) was left open at the base. Let me state at the outset: I am not a seamstress. I loathe needles and thread, and only reluctantly assume the rôle of mender when it is thrust upon me in direst circumstance.

The needle is not made for sewing leather. It’s tough to push through the hide, and my fingers hurt. Bits of fur are caught up in the slit. The tab keeps slipping from my grasp. But intrepidly, I sew on until I am finished. My repair is rudimentary and would probably amuse said lovely sister, but no one will ever see it as it’s on the inside of the coat (ahem). I give the closure a tug, and the stitching is firm.

a stitch in time saves nine and all that jazz …

And voila! The coat is repaired and fit for a princess to wear! In passing I notice that the closure above is loose by a few threads and ought to be reattached (a stitch in time saves nine and all that jazz), but one fit of industry is certainly enough for a single evening and was exhausting for my nerves besides. I must rest from my labours.

It was all worth it though. This coat is unutterably fabulous, and friends and strangers in the street constantly accost me to exclaim and marvel and pat me. I fear however, that it is one of those infamous garments that wears me, rather than the other way around. But I don’t care, I’m persuaded it’s the most beautiful coat in the world and I will love it forever. Or until it falls completely apart.


Plush Piles

Celebrating the Roaring Twenties in a Special Series

Vintage 60s faux fur jacketSince time immemorial human beings have coveted beautiful things, and drawn to adorn themselves in them – for warmth, modesty, status and simple pleasure.

Regardless of one’s stance on the use of genuine fur in clothing, one cannot deny the beauty and opulence of animal fur: gorgeously patterned and gloriously coloured, glossy, reflective, soft and silky, comforting and cosy. In the bitter cold, nothing keeps one as warm as luxurious, natural fur – except perhaps a heated luxury car.

As a matter of survival, sealskin pelts were first used for clothing by Inuits who hunted the animal for food. Archaeological evidence suggests Native Americans and First Nations People of Canada have been hunting seals for 4000 years. The pelt is waterproof – not surprisingly – and was used to make jackets, gloves and boots. The seafaring Vikings were known to have worn them also.

1920s genuine sealskin jacket with bakelite buttons, sold in Etsy shop Delilahs Deluxe The Little Ice Age of 14th century Europe created a great demand for fur – most luxury fur came from Russia. In 1515, the first commercial cargo of fur seal skins were sent from Uruguay to Spain for sale in the markets of Seville. Used for sporting apparel in the early twentieth century, sealskin was beginning to become passé by the 1920s. But it is still used today by a few fashion houses, including Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Genuine sealskin does have a beautiful sheen, but for those who would prefer to leave the fur on the seals and don’t need the boots for that trek across the icy tundra on their way to work in the morning, vintage faux fur is the way to wear. Even panné velvet mimics the look amazingly well, as can be seen in these vintage and modern examples below. So recycle, buy vintage and be nice to the seals and the planet.

A vintage 1920s faux fur sealskin coat sold by Waikiki Kitsch on Etsy, flanked by two silk velvet dresses from Winter Kate, Nicole Ritchie’s label