Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in gloves (47)


Dancing Shoes & Don’t Forget Me Blues

Somehow, red shoes always find me. I don’t go looking for them – they dance before my eyes and bedazzle and bewitch me with their loveliness. And then I wear them out, knowing more will throw themselves at my feet before long.

Here is the most recent pair that paraded before me in a Salvos Store. Soft leather with 2½" cone heels, the shoes by Akira have never been worn, and still had their price sticker on the soles – €65. I paid only $12.65 (or some odd price like that), which is a pretty good bargain. I call that a height fairly comfortable for walking about in too, without feeling hobbled by the end of the day.

The 1960s gloves are vintage, and are more of a deep periwinkle than they look in the picture. As much as I love the look of gloves, I often tend to forget to wear them, unless for warmth in winter. Made from nylon, these are certainly purely decorative, rather than practical – although mere decoration does not normally hold me back. What I need is a pair in forget-me-not blue!

Photo: August 2016


Nights of Shining Glamour

Yesterday while I was frantically looking for historical images of women bedecked with bows (that I didn’t use anyway), I came across this lovely fashion editorial from a 1987 issue of Australian Vogue. It looks so quintessentially Eighties, doesn’t it, but a more sophisticated style than one usually thinks of – or perhaps that is just a trick of photography?

On the opening page of the fashion section, the fashion editor has written:

“As though by design – exactly what it is – dressing this winter has crystallised into two distinctly different images, as different as night and day, each counterbalancing the other, in an ideal blueprint for a modern woman’s life. There is the pared-down polish of looks made to move upward in corporate realms, to aid you in confronting your day with authority and competence. And clothes for nights of shining glamour, fantasies in taffeta and velvet, tulle and sequins, clothes cut out for nothing but pleasure.

There’s no better way to signal the flip side of your workday self than by the way you look. Shed your corporate carapace and emerge as another kind of creature, more fantastic than earthbound. Your transformation may come as a surprise to those who know you as a no-nonsense competent. Good. Who wants to be predictable? More important still, you may surprise yourself.”

Now I’m imagining a sturdy little caterpillar, working away by day, and a shining butterfly, frivolously beating through the night. Wearing bows, of course.

Tearsheets from Vogue Australia, May 1987; phographed by Claus Wickwrath


Box Clever

Ever since I collected these vintage leather lace-up gloves from my old club one clean-up day, I have wanted to do a boxing story especially for Boxing Day. Originally I wanted to wear the gloves, but was never quick enough to organise a friend to come press the shutter for me (as I obviously could not operate a camera shutter remote wearing gloves). Finally I decided to go ahead anyway, as I love the way the laces allow the gloves to hang around the neck – a classic look not possible with modern gloves that fasten with Velcro.

Hattie Stewart, from the Bronx, New York (image from Pinterest)Researching women’s vintage boxing attire was extremely entertaining as of course with the Victorian mania for keeping women as covered up as much as possible during sporting activities, this meant donning all sorts of paraphernalia, such as silk sashes around the waist, ribbons in the hair, and pretty frilled socks and shoes. The image of Hattie Stewart from the Bronx, New York was my main inspiration for my outfit – it was the ribbons and the multi-coloured sash that sold me on it.

The only vintage items I am sporting are the gloves themselves, the silk ribbon in my hair, and a silk kimono I bought in an antique store in Vietnam years ago. I had to make do with a Gap tank and Adidas shorts, and leather fold-up ballet flats by Yosi Samra (super soft and comfortable, by the way). I laugh every time I see the lace socks paired with running shorts!

The Bennett Sisters, c1910–15

I haven’t done any boxing classes for a year or two – martial arts having given way to fine arts – but I still do a bit of shadow-boxing as part of my warm-up when I go running. Doing this shoot reminded me how much I miss sparring, although if I do take it up again in the New Year, I think I will be wearing more practical garments!

Photos: A few days ago

Clara Bow in Rough House Rosie, 1927Women boxing in heels in the 1920s (click through for more images of women boxing)Fraulein Kussin and Mrs Edwards fought on 7 March, 1912


The Gloves are On!

Vintage 60s periwinkle nylon gloves, worn with modern silk blouse Except in winter, or other special occasions, gloves have long since been a discarded accessory. Once upon a time, they were an indispensible component of a woman’s sartorial arsenal. And then decades ago, women became emancipated from fashion diktats, and the gloves – along with the hats and stockings – were joyfully tossed aside.

What a pity! All these additional accessories are one of the main reasons I welcome cooler weather: so many more opportunities to express oneself through fashion! Of course in summer there are still hats, and I’ve adopted the parasol too for pragmatic reasons, but in hot, sultry weather as we often have here in summer in my hometown of Melbourne, I am reluctant to load myself down with decorative accessories, such as scarves, or gloves.

Once upon a time, [gloves] were an indispensible component of a woman’s sartorial arsenal.

However, I really have no such excuse in spring, for this season is one of the most changeable in this climate. One day in the last month we literally went from morning sunshine, to noon thunderstorms and imminent hurricanes, and then less than half an hour later, the sun was gloriously shining again. In such a climate, it really is necessary to be prepared for anything, every day. So why not gloves?

Vintage 1940s buff leather gloves, worn with 1940s hat and 1970s dressIt is difficult, I have discovered, to find new gloves that are anything more than pedestrian or basic in design. Colours, lengths, styles, trims – everything is extremely limited. Even in Spain and Portugal a few years ago I found nothing very unusual, and I visited a specialist glove store in Lisbon only to be bitterly disappointed.

So I have turned to vintage gloves. I am lucky that I have quite small hands (about a size 7), so that I can find many that actually fit me. As Valerie Cummings, author of Gloves (B. T. Batsford, 1982) writes in her introduction: For several hundred years gloves were worn throughout the year, they were bought in dozens rather than pairs, and they came in a wide range of materials, colours, styles and sizes. This is why there are so many to choose from when purchasing vintage, although you’ll probably have more luck finding gloves that fit from the last five or six decades of the twentieth century.

I have amassed quite a large collection of really lovely vintage gloves; here are two pairs: buff kid leather 1940s French gloves – never worn – bought on Etsy, and a pair of periwinkle 1960s nylon gloves made in Hong Kong, purchased in a vintage bazaar in Geelong (a small city not far from Melbourne). Admittedly, I have not worn my collection as often as I should: just for fun, and at least occasionally. This must change – like the weather!

(Photo: March, 2014)


The Other Green Fairy

Shamrock green (not to be confused with shagreen, which is rough, untanned sharkskin) – otherwise also known as forest green. Or even emerald. But what’s in a name? It is a lovely shade of viridian (that is blue-green to you layfolk who never opened a tube of viridian oil paint).

Once upon a time leprechauns were depicted wearing red, not green, but now of course they are associated with St Patrick’s Day and Ireland’s national colour, green. According to folklore, a leprechaun is the son of an evil spirit and a degenerate fairy, and is not wholly good or evil (does this mean there are no leprechaunettes?). What an origin though! How would you live that down?

The leprechaun spends his time making shoes (my kind of good fairy), and his favourite pastime is counting his gold coins that are usually stored in a pot at the end of the rainbow. One account of the etymology of his name originates in depictions of the leprechaun working on one shoe – a brogue. I like to tie mine with peach silk ribbon, and if the eyelets weren’t so narrow I would have switched to green just for today.

Happy St Patrick’s Day, Irish!


Read more about Irish ó ceallaigh green here