Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in gloves (47)

Thursday
Jan232014

Shady Lady

He watched her, that incredibly annoying – yet deliciously done-up (he’d like to be the one to unbutton her, he would) – lady detective as she moved stealthily through the shadows. He just couldn’t seem to shake her trail. Or, he thought as he glared at her pausing to listen in the passage, maybe she’d figured out more than he’d bargained for? And how in damnation did she move so silently across the stones in those dangerous high heels? 

From the top of her head (on which a fetching French blue vintage 1940s hat perched), on down her cute little tweed jacket, past that slinky caramel leather pencil skirt and the sexy fishnet stockings, to the tip of her black suede pumps, she was a piece of perfection. (Never mind her piquant little face, with the big eyes that caught too much, and kissable lips that asked too many pointed questions.) 

And then he saw something else that made him draw a sharp breath – something else far more dangerous than those curves. It instantly made him wriggle further back into the niche, behind a colossal statue of St George defeating a dragon or something or other. Peripherally he noticed she was wearing pretty sky-blue vintage gloves (he was an observant man, and he liked to keep abreast of ladies’ fashions), and clasped in an ominously determined-looking grip was—a Colt .38 revolver! And, he suspected grimly, she was fully prepared to use it on him ...

~

Many thanks to my friend Sapphire for yet another guest appearance on SNAP. See Sebastien Hart’s last collaboration with her here.

Saturday
Aug242013

New Look, Old Rules

Reminiscent of the full-skirted New Look of the 40s: silk blouse by Veronika Maine, wool skirt by Sü, 40s hat and gloves, 60s bag, stockings by Levante, shoes by BCBGOh how times have changed, and thank goodness for that! Though there is much to love about vintage fashion and style, I am so happy that the all-pervading enslavement to fashion rules and regulations that once held sway over women has been laid to rest.

Once, an elegant woman could not venture upon the street without her matching hat, gloves, shoes and bag. Moreover, there were separate sets for town and country, for sporting kit and dressy ensembles. These sets were comprised of all black items, (in addition, if possible, a set all in brown) and beige shoes with a straw handbag for summer.

In A Guide to Elegance (Harper Collins, 2003 ed.), Genevieve Antoine Dariaux opens the section on accessories with: ‘The accessories worn with an outfit – gloves, hat, shoes, and handbag – are among the most important elements of an elegant appearance. A modest dress or suit can triple its face value when it is worn with an elegant hat, bag, gloves and shoes, while a designer’s original can lose much of its prestige if its accessories have been carelessly selected.’

This sounds fine … at first glance. But read on and learn, for instance, that alligator was only worn with casual outfits (it would be vulgar and nouveau riche to carry an expensive alligator bag with dressy clothes); trousers should never be worn with a heel, rather ballerinas or moccasins; and coloured shoes were suitable with evening dresses and nothing else, while white were worn only in summer with a white dress (and never in the city, except in the tropics). Preferably, gloves should be glacé kidskin, followed by suede and antelope (which need to be replaced often to remain fresh), and good quality nylon. Crocheted lace or transparent nylon gloves were an abomination. As for novelty handbags: Out.

These are the shoes Dariaux lists as having no place in the elegant woman’s wardrobe:

  • too high heels (vulgar – 2.5 inches max);
  • open-toed shoes (toes might get stepped on, or wet in the rain);
  • wedge heels (awkward, with transparent heels being in particularly bad taste);
  • ankle straps (unflattering and cheap-looking);
  • extra pointy-toed shoes (the empty toes curl skywards with wear);
  • and all other kinds of shoes that attract too much attention (they attract too much attention).

She decrees: ‘Shoes should be the complement of an ensemble, never an end to themselves.’

How thankful I am we are freed from this kind of sartorial tyranny today …

A (mostly) proper all black set: vintage 40s wool felt hat and suede gloves, vintage 60s vinyl bag, patent Mary-Jane shoes by BCBG (new)Oh dear. While I don’t know her view on millinery (the chapter is mysteriously omitted from the re-edition of her book), I fail on every other count. A Guide to Elegance was first published in 1964, the era of the Youthquake and the mini, which I find surprising – perhaps it was Dariaux’s response to all the shocking sartorial vulgarities and blunders she saw around her. Though her book does contain many gems still applicable today, and it is an entertaining read, she must have seemed fossilised even then.

How thankful I am we are freed from this kind of sartorial tyranny today – we are able to express our personality and choose our accessories a little more lightheartedly. Life’s too short to take fashion so seriously. Vive la liberté!

Saturday
Jun222013

Texture Tactics

As evidenced by the pages on this Journal, I have very eclectic taste in fashion, and while I would never wear an outfit like the above day-to-day (it’s far too costume-y), what I do like about it is the contrasting textures. As visually appealing as they are though, the real experience is tactile.

Even when colour is minimal, interest can be created with a judicious mix of fabrics and textures. Here herringbone tweed contrasts with various types of lace: butter-soft leather gloves with lace cutwork (amazing!), a Battenberg lace parasol, and crocheted lace inserts in the cotton dress. A blue satin sash adds colour and a sensuous shine against the tweed.

Tactile fabrics are of course always more appealing when they are made from natural fibres. They drape beautifully (think of a genuine silk compared with a cheap polyester fabric), and they also breathe better, keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer. Invest in them and your sense of style will benefit too.

Friday
Mar292013

Easter Wishes

Happy Easter dear readers! Today I bring you fashion inspiration courtesy of Peter Rabbit. Now I don’t wear bunny brown all too often, but when it’s offset by a blue 1950s silk jacket, a vintage hat with a saucy feather, and lace-inset gloves, then staid beige becomes quite pretty.

I hope you all have a lovely and peaceful Easter, and as Peter would say, don’t stuff yourselves with too much chocolate – chew on a carrot instead! 

Vegie patch image from Northern Gardener.

Monday
Feb252013

The Bohemian History of the Polka Dot

Where do polka dots come from, and why do they have such a quirky name? As strange as it seems, the pattern is named for the dance of the same name.

In the mid nineteenth century, with the advent of machinery in textile factories, the spotted repeat pattern had come into fashion. Prior to this – in medieval times for example – dotted fabrics had not been worn, for without machinery it is difficult to create a spotted pattern with evenly spaced dots, and random spots were associated with disease.

Polka dotted smock top over black skirt by Balenciaga, ph Gordon Parks, LIFE magazine March 1951In the 1840s–60s, dancing the energetic polka was a craze that swept Europe. The dance is of Bohemian origin, associated with Poland and Czechoslovakia.  Manufacturers – being as sly then as they are today – wishing to cash in on this craze, named a plethora of unrelated products after the polka. There was even a polka pudding, a boozy confection of orange-water flavoured cream, drizzled with sherry polka sauce!

Two fashions collided, and thus the polka dot fabric was christened.

Godey’s Lady’s Book dubbed the dotty pattern the ‘polka dot’. The pattern was popular with both men and women. Soon there were polka curtains, gauze, jackets, hats, neckties, shoes and vests.

Mary-Jane Russell wearing Christian Dior, ph Louise Dahl-WolfeWhile the craze for naming everything under the sun after the polka eventually wore off, the name as it applied to the pattern did not. The polka dot pattern has gone in and out of fashion, and it can now be considered a classic, especially when rendered in black and white. A while back when I was researching artists’ smocks, I came across a 1951 photograph of a Balenciaga outfit featuring a polka-dotted smock top. It struck me as extremely similar to a vintage top I own, so here is my little homage both to Balenciaga and the polka dot.

Read more detailed histories of the polka dot pattern here and here, or view a slideshow featuring fashions from 1865–2010.

Marilyn Monroe in a polka dot swimsuit, 1951

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