Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in leather (39)

Saturday
Nov242018

Impressed!

A few years ago, my friend Rapunzel bought this vintage 60s suede coat at a vintage warehouse sale for a fairly modest sum. The clothing, I believe, was purchased unseen by the container-load from America. While all the other clothing at the sale seemed to have suffered no lasting damage, this coat looked like it had been drenched in the brink. It was so wrinkled, and strangely textured as though it was encrusted with salt.

My friend, however, never wore it, saying she had never got round to taking it to a drycleaner, and didn’t like wearing coats for commuting anyway, as she tended to overheat, and so she was reluctant to spend a large amount on professional cleaning. She donated it to me.

I was pleased to accept the coat, but it couldn’t be worn in the state it was. I forgot to photograph it in its original state, but I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball, then poorly smoothed out.

I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball …

I took the coat to my regular drycleaner and asked his advice. With very serious face he examined the coat and remarked that it did look like it had fallen into the ocean. That seemed unlikely, but perhaps it had been splashed at some point in its life. He did not think cleaning it would improve its appearance – the two apparent stains visible on the right side (near the collar and the middle button) were actually abrasions of the leather, so cleaning would have no effect on those. He suggested pressing it instead.

Ironing leather! I have talked before about the importance of ironing, but it never would have occurred to me that it was appropriate to press leather. For a modest sum of $15, I agreed to see if that improved the look of the coat. When I returned to pick the coat up, I was very impressed (pardon the pun) to see the improvement.

This suede, mink-trimmed coat transmogrified from a sozzled 60-year-old harridan into a gently-used dignified dame. Disfigurements became faint scars proudly marking the stately passage of time, and the coat was eminently wearable. Amongst so many coats I already own, I still managed to wear it a few times this past winter, an excellent result.

Photo: August 2018

Monday
Nov052018

How Now, Brown Cowhide

Many years ago – maybe ten or fifteen – I bought a cowhide bucket handbag from a market in Hong Kong. It was quite an expensive purchase, but I rationalised that it was such a classic leather and style, I would be able to use it forever. Well, it hasn’t been quite forever yet, but I think I have justified my belief by now.

Then last autumn, when I was hunting high and low for a classic tote bag to use for work, I came across a cowhide version on the online sale site, Ozsale, and was instantly struck by how similar it was in looks to my old bucket bag. I don’t remember the name of the label, and there is none inside the bag, but it was a homewares brand that used recycled wood and canvas from vintage French army and postal gear.

My main stipulation – besides being stylish – was that the prospective tote had to be large enough to fit my office shoes, my lunch, iPad and other sundry items I deemed necessary to schlep to and from work every day. I also wanted to be sure that the colour would complement most outfits, without resorting to something boring like – ugh – black.

It’s like those tents in Harry Potter … I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams.

This tote was enormous – the biggest one in the sale – and looked tough and hard wearing, suitable for Melbourne’s winter weather. It would work for summer too, except that I had already found a large straw bag to use in the warmer months. Even better, I had some credit owing me on the sale site, so I was able to purchase the tote for very little extra.

I’m happy to report after several months use so far, the tote has measured up to my expectations, even exceeded them. It’s like those tents in Harry Potter – deceptively enormous. I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams. I love that I can slot in even a longish umbrella through the end because the zip hasn’t been sewn down all the way to the ends. So much do I like it I haven’t even swapped over to the straw tote yet even though we are well into spring!

Photo: August 2018

Monday
Oct292018

What I Actually Wore #0143

Serial #: 0143
Date:
30/08/2013
Weather:
19°C / 67°F
Time Allowed:
7 minutes

Aww! These pictures make me nostalgic! All these items, except for the beret, wool knit top and some of the jewellery have completely worn out and are long gone from my closet. On this day it was a mild and rainy, and almost spring so I dressed suitably in woollens for the weather. I do still really like the colour combinations here: beige, red, white, black – you can’t go wrong.

The loss of the 1970s vintage leather trench coat makes me the saddest. I loved that coat to death, literally. When I bought it on eBay, years earlier, it was pristine. By the time I had finished with it, it was so worn that it looked grey and dirty. I took it to a professional cleaner and he shook his head sadly: nothing to be done about it except have it ‘recoated’ in white paint (no pun intended).

I already knew this was a dubious option because I’d had the forethought to purchase a replacement white leather coat on Etsy (similar in style, but with a fuller skirt, which is not as cool), but the seller never told me it had been refurbished. Tragically it sheds white spots of paint every time I wear it that looks like DANDRUFF! The horror.

The loss of the 1970s vintage leather trench coat makes me the saddest. I loved that coat to death, literally.

So the coat was donated to a thrift store, as was the beloved white leather tote, which suffered the same fate from wear. The silk camisole got shabby; the well-darned wool/cashmere socks eventually became holey beyond rescue; the watch chain-strap hopelessly unraveled; the shoes wore out; and another favourite item, the wool skirt, was chomped through by an evil and hungry moth. What a litany of sorrows!

At least I can reflect that I really did get good wear out of these garments. The beige wool knit, which originally came from a thrift store, has definitely been an excellent basic in my wardrobe. And while the shoes wore out, I actually found replacements in a thrift store that are exactly the same except they are brogued versions. I’m pleased too because both were by a brand I always liked, Scooter, which now seems to be defunct.

I still own all the jewellery, even the broken watch, which awaits the patience of a jeweler when I remember to take it for repair. And the armchair: I still have that!

Items:

Camisole: Enamel
Jumper:
Kookaï
Skirt:
Anthropologie
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Hat:
vintage
Coat:
 Leda Spain by Gropper, vintage 1970s
Earrings: handmade by me
Ring: souvenir from Vietnam
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Tote:
Elise Carrels
Shoes:
Scooter

Photos: September 2013

Monday
Jul162018

What I Actually Wore #0140

Serial #: 0140
Date:
17/08/2013
Weather:
3.3°C / 38°F
Time Allowed:
15 minutes

This evening I was going out to the Astor Theatre, an Art Deco cinema, to see (aptly) the very enjoyable Clara Bow film Wings of 1927. And in fact my choice of outfit was in response to a story I had written that day in homage to Coco Chanel.

I never wear all black, but I almost did this evening, except for my favourite white leather trench coat and white beret. The outfit, otherwise, was chosen for warmth, as the apparent temperature was a chilly 3.3°.

I wear a cowl neck jumper with a tank top underneath for warmth, along with wide-leg wool pants, another wardrobe staple of mine. All my accessories, apart from the aforementioned hat, are also black – except for my tan socks, and one of my bauble earrings. I had deliberately worn one black onyx, one silver, but my notes say I was disappointed that no one noticed!

I still really like this outfit and would definitely wear it today, except I think a few of the items were retired after becoming worn out. Most sadly, the trench coat became so worn it looked grey and dirty and I tearfully donated it to the Salvation Army. But years ago I’d had the foresight to hunt down another 70s white leather coat on Etsy that is almost as nice. It is cut more along princess lines with a flaring skirt, and that is what I don’t like as much. Amusingly, the hat is one I bought in the early 90s, and have owned ever since – it has become vintage since then – and suddenly I feel old!

The shoes have since been replaced by similar patent heels – coincidentally by the same brand, both of which I found in thrift stores, and the French socks became holey and retired to the sock afterlife (le trashcan). The trousers, hat and gloves I certainly still own, and I think the bag is packed away in my closet somewhere too. Perhaps this time I should do an homage to my own homage to Coco?

Items:

Jumper: David Lawrence
Pants:
Ming
Socks:
Philippe Matignon
Hat:
boutique, vintage 90s
Gloves:
Faith
Coat:
Leda Spain by Gropper, vintage 70s
Earrings:
handmade
Bag:
vintage 60s
Shoes:
Scooter

Photo: October 2013

Sunday
Mar042018

What I Actually Wore #0137

Serial #: 0137
Date: 25/03/2013
Weather: 14°C / 58°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

It was a cold and very windy day, with gale force winds forecast for the afternoon. I had a hair appointment after work too, so I knew I had to dress warmly as I would be making my way home in the evening.

My old favourite Sonia Rykiel wool sweater! I loved how the stripes on the attached scarf tie were narrower than the body of the top. Sadly by this time the sweater was quite worn, and had a couple of holes in it that I had darned – one of the reasons I layered the cotton tee over it; the other was for extra warmth. And how I adore this vintage suede and rabbit fur coat, the ‘Zhivago’ as it was called in the 1970s – one of my all-time favourites.

I pulled my outfit together quite quickly, but as I had just written the accessories story for the Ten Commandments the night before, I deliberately thought about how I matched my accessories. I originally wanted neutral socks, but my favourite French brown ones were in the laundry basket, so I went with the red. A bit more lurid than desired, but only a little of them would be glimpsed (and you can’t see them at all in the photos). They annoy me all day as they’re supposed stay-ups that don’t stay up! The earrings are striped ceramic (they are not visible either, sadly in this case) and the ring turquoise – they were both souvenirs from Barcelona.

The tan leather lace-up boots are old favourites. My oldest sister has told me that in the 70s, lace-up boots really were lace-ups: there were no cheating zips up the sides like today. They took forever to take on and off, so you didn’t remove them until you had to.

At my hairdresser, the receptionist raved about my outfit – she said I looked gorgeous, like a little doll, and so creative. Hmm, not so sure about the doll part, but gorgeous and creative I’ll take! I still have all these items except for the two tops, but I actually still like this outfit.

Items:

Tee: Oxford
Jumper:
Sonia Rykiel
Skirt:
Ojay
Stockings:
The Sock Shop
Hat:
boutique
Coat:
vintage 70s, Stephen Dattner
Scarf:
souvenir
Earrings:
souvenir
Ring:
souvenir
Watch:
Kenneth Cole
Boots:
Joanne Mercer

Photos: October 2013