Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in pattern (189)


The Determined Recycler

Anyone who as ever gone op- or thrift-shopping must surely be familiar with that sinking feeling one gets as soon as the shoe rubs or the sweater itches or the zip pinches: That’s why this lovely item was in the thrift store! One either discards in turn, or resolves to repair the issue. This is where we separate the determined recyclers from the dilettantes …

I am a determined recycler. I don’t give up on garments or accessories I really like: like Scarlett O’Hara, I will find a way! (I have not tried making clothes out of curtains yet however.)

I am a determined recycler. I don’t give up on garments or accessories I really like …

I really liked the colours in the pattern of this vintage 1970s tweed jacket. The herringbone is made up from chocolate and caramel shades of brown with cream, and scattered amongst the chevrons are minute flecks of blue, yellow and red. The effect is very subtle. I bought the jacket a couple of winters ago during a day of op-shopping with my sister, despite the fact that it was a little too big for me, and it was missing its belt. I felt sure that I must be able to find a belt in my huge collection that would work with the jacket. A long flexible leather tie-belt, perhaps.

In fact, I knew that I did not own any such tie-belts, but very fortuitously I found two in subsequent op-shopping trips shortly thereafter. This was promising! It was certainly unlikely that I would ever find one that exactly matched – that would be a thrifting miracle. What else could I pull out of my hat?

The first belt I tried was a thin tan stitched belt. While I liked the colour, I immediately saw it was too insubstantial for the bulk of the jacket.

Next came a vintage stretch red and white belt, with a leather and brass buckle. I liked how the stretch belt really pulled the waist in. This contrast was rather good, and unexpected! It also put me in mind of Gucci, which is not a bad thing – even better without its brash designer logo emblazoned everywhere.

Perhaps another patterned fabric belt might work? I had a houndstooth wool tie-belt, but that looked terrible. Scratch that idea, I instantly decided. Sometimes I like mixing patterns on patterns, but these two did not harmonise at all. Next!

A very long black leather tie-belt also looked quite good, I decided. It was so long, wide in the central area and tapered to the ends so that I suspect it was designed when obi fashion belts were the trend. The leather was supple and soft however, and the black was a pleasant counterpoint against the tweed.

The last belt I tried was the other leather tie-belt, this one a khaki-tinted brown. Unfortunately that shade clashed somewhat, and it was not as long as the black one, so did not form as nice loops. It transpired that this belt worked very nicely with a pair of tweed pants that need cinching, so the belt stays permanently on them.

That left the black leather belt, and the figure-flattering red stretch belt, the unexpected alternate winner. I tend to wear that one more often than not. The only drawback with it is that if I undo the belt, it won’t stay in both belt loops, so I have to keep an eye on it so as not to lose it. But compared with not wearing a likable jacket at all because it’s too shapeless, it’s a small ask. The Determined Recycler wins again!

Photos: July 2016


Blue Girl

When I was growing up, I was never into Holly Hobbie. I was of course I familiar with the image of the famous blue girl, mainly through collecting swap cards (the Australian version of trading cards).

Holly Hobbie, the eponymous character of the artist, was created in the late 1960s and subsequently sold to American Greetings who disseminated her throughout the world.

The original Holly HobbieHolly – the character – was famous for her rag dress and giant bonnet, and when I first spotted this patchwork 1970s maxi dress at a giant vintage warehouse sale, I immediately thought of her. The dress tickled my fancy, and although I doubted I would ever wear it in public, I bought it as it was priced at only $10. It is a great pity the belt was missing; I have substituted a silk scarf.

When I recreate these dress-ups, I like to challenge myself to create costumes out of items I already own. My bonnet is actually a modern hat designed to look like a headscarf and bonnet hybrid; my boots are also modern, recent op shop purchases, and my umbrella is vintage 50s or 60s. The umbrella is not authentic to Holly Hobbie, but rather inspired by other cutesy 70s characters – it made a more interesting picture than without.

I’ve owned the dress for nearly two years, and have yet to wear it out. I am trying to make a conscious effort to wear all the vintage clothes and accessories I have collected over the years – it feels wasteful otherwise. Perhaps this colourful dress is simply waiting for the right occasion.

Photo: May 2018


Spring has Sprung!

This is it! Spring is here, at last. How glorious! Just the thought makes me want to leap into the air and click my heels together, to break into song. The days are getting longer, blossom is blooming everywhere, the sun is shining, and the breezes are balmy.

It’s time to throw off the woollens and embrace vintage printed pleats instead. I don’t demand they be florals by any means, although this pinky-mauve 1940s skirt is printed with a black floral pattern. The off-pink and black are a less sweet alternative to traditional pink pastels, especially when worn with a sassy black backless halter and high suede peeptoes.

I actually have an array of 70s printed dresses that I am looking forward to wearing in this inbetween weather – most of them are polyester so they won’t do for really warm weather. Many of the prints are geometric rather than floral, but there is something so cheerful about graphic prints they suit this uplifting time of year.

Of course, Melbourne is traditionally quite rainy in the springtime too, so one must carry a brolly under the arm and be prepared for four seasons in one day – that’s why we love this town.

Photo: March 2014


Twin Leopards

Just when you thought I couldn’t possibly have anything more to say on animal prints (as did I!), I came across this little trifle in my collection of unpublished stories: a leopard print hat made from sinnamay. I’m not quite sure what to call this shape, except perhaps a modified trilby, with the narrow brim folded up on one side and down on the other.

I bought this in a thrift store for around $4, and what delighted me was that it is like the fraternal twin of a hat I bought many years ago (at a much higher retail cost, I may add), only in a more refined shape. In the shop I also thought the print was exactly the same, but when I pulled the other out I saw they were quite different. They still do look like they came from the same milliner, don’t they? The trilby is by Italian label Caterina Lucchi.

I’ve pulled a picture out of the archives of the other hat, which is in fact by Jendi, an Australian brand. This one is quite definitely a fedora as it has a broader brim (you can see other angles here). Now that I have both to compare, I’m not sure which I prefer after all – I’ll keep both!

Photos: March 2017, January 2010


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