Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in leather (43)


Brogues, Pt 2

Summer Brogues

Some are brogues, and others are hybrids of brogues, oxfords, ghillies and spectator shoes. These summer brogues were my all-time favourite brogue shoes I have ever owned.

I can’t recall which brand they were, but I bought them from the same sale site as the brogues in the previous story, but these were fantastic from day one. They were just so comfortable: the leather was soft and the open tops and perforations were cooling for summer. The sole was also quite sturdy and supportive – more so than the taupe Urge brogues, and they certainly lasted longer. I also really loved the colour combination.

I wore these shoes to the death of the laces. They were so well-loved one simply broke in half one day. It was as strangely difficult to find off-white shoelaces as non-synthetic ribbon in this town, especially as I needed a particular length for the criss-cross lacing required by the shoes.

I eventually ran some to earth in a shoe-repairers near my workplace. The shopkeeper searched through a box of what resembled a decade’s worth of random shoelaces, and triumphantly produced these for me.

It meant that I could squeeze a little more life out of these beloved brogues, although you can see in the second picture just how worn they had become more that three years after the first photo was taken. The new laces were a bit too long, and quite a bit thinner, so they didn’t look as neat tied on. But at least it meant I was able to get one more season’s wear out of them before they finally well and truly ‘carked it’ (a bit of Australiana equivalent to ‘bit the dust’).

I was able to get one more season’s wear out of them before they finally well and truly ‘carked it’ …

I still have not found adequate replacements. I thought I had, for a few weeks, when I purchased a pair of brown tan shoes that were made of plaited leather, creating a kind of lattice effect. I thought they would be brilliant for summer. They came from the same sale website as these, but the delivery was suddenly cancelled, presumably because they had oversold their stock. I am still bitter about that, although with the refund I bought a red and white gingham dress on eBay, which has mollified me somewhat (it arrived), and I love it.

Photos: January 2013, April 2016


Brogues, Pt 1

Brogues with Bows

I have loved brogues for a long time. I don’t know from whence this love affair sprang, but it has mostly to do with the punctured leather they are made from: decoration that belies practicality.

While the word ‘brogue’ derives from the Norse brök (leg covering), the shoe itself has its origins in seventeenth century Scotland and Ireland. They were designed for walking the peat bogs of those countries, the tiny holes perforating the leather allowing water to drain out.

A guide to brogued shoes (illustrations from Toni Rossi)They started out as very rudimentary shoes made from raw hides with the hair inwards, to leather tanned with oak-bark. By the eighteenth century they had evolved into a heavier shoe with hobnailed soles, and in the following century the shoe gained a second layer which was pinked to allow water to drain out, with an inner layer that was not, preserving water resistance.

Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, popularises brogues by wearing them as golfing shoes (image via Pinterest)In the twentieth century, it was Edward, Prince of Wales, who took these traditional shoes out of the countryside and into the city, playing golf in them in the 1930s and thereby making them exceedingly fashionable. Women’s versions soon followed with the addition of a heel. Half-brogues, hybrids of Oxford and brogue, were next, with heels rising higher and higher in the first decade of the twenty-first century, making the most practical walking shoe less so. But they sure look good!

When I purchased this pair of dark taupe brogues by label Urge online from a sale website, I was quite surprised when they arrived sans shoelaces. I decided that I wanted nothing so prosaic as that. I had seen brogues tied with satin ribbons before, and liked the look – there is something storybookish about them. Immediately I seized a ribbon out of my sewing box to test out the look.

The tiny eyelets were a hindrance, but I dealt with that by wrapping the ends of the ribbon with sticky-tape and thread it through. I liked it (though not so much the mauve colour, which inadvertently matched my carpet)!

It is almost impossible to purchase non-polyester ribbon in this paltry town (unless presumably one is a denizen of the fashion industry and has secret sources) so I went shopping on Etsy. A natural fibre would be more flexible and fall more prettily. I found a peach rayon ribbon and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once more I went through the tedious process of threading the eyelets, but I was very pleased with the result.

After all that effort, I must confess that the shoes themselves were not the most comfortable, being a little narrow in the toe. But wear made them give a little and they became more comfortable for commuting to work in, which is what I bought them for. Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles, and after a winter or two of hard wear, I ruthlessly (but sadly) put them in the bin where their holey-ness belonged.

Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles …

I’ve since owned other brogues, and this past winter have been often wearing a pair of dark tan vintage 70s oxfords, with a two-inch stacked heel, that I found in an op shop for around $12. They were in pristine condition and had even been resoled by a previous owner. I have already roughed them up a little on toes and heels, but that’s what shoes are for – and then it will be on to the next pair!

Photos: July 2012
References: Shoes, by Caroline Cox, New Burlington Books, 2012; Shoes, by Linda O’Keefe, Workman Publishing NY, 1996


The Scary Shoes

A few weeks ago I bought a pair of Dalmatian print pony-hair loafers in a thrift store for a song. I don’t recall how much, but they were under $10.  They are actually a size smaller than my usual (but only a little tight), so I have been wearing them at home with a pair of thick socks to stretch them out a little.

That is, until, the day my cat noticed them and was terrified, especially when she saw their ghostly reflections in a glass door. She was persistently jumping up onto the kitchen bench in fear, and trying to cower under the wooden dish rack! She had me completely mystified until I realised what was going on, and as soon as I took the shoes off, she calmed down. She is quite disinterested in them as long as they’re not on my feet.

Photo: July 2017


Twice Vintage Bag

Three years ago, on June 1st, I bought a vintage 70s handbag made from stripes of genuine snakeskin from some op shop – I don’t remember where now. But I do remember I fell in love with it, as much for the plastic tortoiseshell frame and link strap as the patent leather.

I immediately began using it, but alas, tragedy struck exactly four weeks later, and one of the plastic links that attached the strap to the bag snapped in half! I was very disappointed, but at least it would be relatively easy to repair with a new strap.

I sourced some new and very similar chain link on Etsy, but there were quite a few different styles, and I could never decide which ones to buy. Then while I dithered, they would sell out, and I’d have to conduct a new search. I put the bag aside for a while, and forgot about it. I have no shortage of other bags after all.

Then nearly exactly three years later – on June 3rd – in a different op shop entirely, I found a scrap of chain link with a few little wooden, leather and mother-of-pearl doodads attached. Immediately I saw the possibilities of repurposing this remnant as a bag strap. It would be easy to take off the charms.

In the end, after reattaching the new strap, I decided I liked the dingle-dangles – they add a touch of whimsy. It’s quite possible it was actually a strap in a former life, as the charms are all quite low so that they don’t impede the shoulder. The bag is now a shoulder bag rather than hand-held, and looks quite jaunty.


Mediterranean Dreams

This morning I had to go to Albert Park for a photoshoot location reconnaissance, and as I walked through the streets I managed – brilliant multi-tasker as I am – to fit in some window shopping.

This adorable bird bag by Minä Perhonen in the window display of Scarlet Jones instantly drew my eye, and I immediately started fantasising about toting that around. That is, however, until I called the store and discovered the price: $1000 exactly, just a tad out of my price range. My little daydream instantly collapsed.

Since 2000, Japanese label Minä Perhonen has been producing a single Tori bag every season, a collector’s item which is made from quality thick leather. This bag from Spring/Summer 14/15, literally draws its inspiration from the Mediterranean sea with hand painted ocean-blue swirls. You can ‘add to cart’ here, but on reflection, I think I would prefer to invest the money into a holiday on the Mediterranean!