Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in pink (9)

Monday
May202019

Match-making

PART ONE

Last year when I was shopping in a thrift store off the beaten track, I spotted a Schiaparelli pink grosgrain belt in a display cabinet. It seemed to be composed of a multitude of ribbons, which instantly captivated the more girlish side of my nature (yes I do have a boyish side, admittedly not often seen on these pages).

When it was retrieved for me, I found that it was by the Australian designer Alannah Hill. That discovery did not surprise me at all, for it is a label of extreme sugar-coated, toothache-inducing girlishness. I never shop there, and the only items I own from this brand I bought in thrift stores, most of them being accessories. Just a touch of Alannah is usually enough, I find.

However, when I brought it home, I simply could not style it with any combination of garments. I tried simple shapes, which did not work at all and then moved on to slightly more decorative which was slightly okay (check out my 1940s novelty hat – it has a satin apple on top!).

Then I tried it with a similarly frou-frou polka-dot dress (very much of Alannah Hill ilk, but this is a vintage 1980s dress). I thought, you know, this shade of pink with black is a classic pairing, but I found the combination of the belt with the tiered dress horrible, and I gave up. (My expression in the photo above speaks volumes.)

Disgruntled, I put the belt away and did not think of it again.

 

PART TWO

On another thrifting trip one day, I found a lovely straw hat with a beautiful woven pattern and quirky shape that changes in appearance from every angle. There is no label, but I think it is most likely a modern designer hat – the weave is too complex to have come from a high street brand. The only problem was that the lovely chequerboard woven straw band was broken in several areas. It had such a great shape, and was inexpensive, so I bought it with the plan to refurbish it.

I don’t remember the exact moment of inspiration, but I recalled the failed belt: it could make a great new hat band! Excitedly I pulled it out of a drawer and tied it on, and it was like a match made in hat heaven. The multitude of ribbons put me in mind of an Edwardian beribboned hat, and had the effect of suddenly elevating the straw hat from plain to spectacular. It’s still much less fussy than most Edwardian hats which are loaded down with trim of every description, and that suits me just fine.

it was like a match made in hat heaven

I wear hats all the time, of course, but how perfect would this hat be for someone who does not, and needs a race or wedding hat on a budget? Sometimes it’s worth taking a chance on those items that seem not-quite-right, for a little imagination and some experimentation go a long way.

Photos: November 2018, April 2019

Friday
Apr192019

Easter Pink

I’ve always thought candy pink hair would be a lot of fun, like wearing a halo of fairy floss, but I’m too fickle to commit to such drastic measures as bleaching and dyeing my hair. The next best thing – and even more fun than a wig – is a vintage hat. So this Good Friday, I bring you my first Easter bonnet: a 1960s hat of pink petals! And if you squint your eyes, I look like I am sporting a pink afro.

Happy Easter!

Photo: September 2018

Wednesday
Apr172019

Victorian Glory

Yesterday I was waxing lyrical about my Victorian cape – here it is in all its glory! Isn’t it amaa-aa-zing? I first saw it from the rear, on a mannequin in the window display of a Sacred Heart Mission op shop. I stared at it in amazement and disbelief. At first I thought it was a costume from a theatre perhaps, but when I enquired if I could try it on and swept it away to a changing room, I saw that it was an original piece.

It is wool, with a silk lining and fringe, and cornelli embroidery on the yoke. The label is also still intact, and reads, in gold embroidered script on a cream background: “Mesdames Niblett, Crighton & Burton”, and in smaller text, “75 New St Birmingham”. It does have a few moth bites and holes, which is not surprising considering its age, and a previous owner covered a few up with tiny lace leaves – you can see them in the second picture.

It has a lovely weight to it and a delightful swishy swing.

I am wearing it here with a vintage 1970s mauve dress and 1950s cherry casque, an outfit I wore to my niece’s wedding last year. (I actually wore it with a different cape, one of red cashmere.) On the morning I was very indecisive about which coat to wear, but the red won out as I love that colour it worn with purple. I ended up wearing this cape to the Opening Night of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband – which I thought was an ideal occasion, as the play was written in the Victorian era. I recall it was a cold night, and the cape was very warm – not to mention an extravagant indulgence to wear! It has a lovely weight to it and a delightful swishy swing.

This is the second Victorian cape that I own, the first being a shorter, hooded skating coat of red and white striped velvet, which I bought from Persephone Vintage on Etsy a few years ago. It too has a long fringe, of red and white chenille. I can’t say that I’d want to gad about in weighty Victorian gowns and their even more fearsome foundation garments, but I must say I do enjoy wearing the capes of the era, and how much more exciting than a prosaic duffel coat for example, or some other even more utilitarian coat? Life’s too short to wear a parka.

Photos: July 2018

Monday
Apr152019

New Jools

I am a sucker for jewellery – or in the case of costume jewellery, ‘jools’ – of all kinds, but especially for necklaces. Nearly all my jewellery is vintage or secondhand. Most of it was found in op shops and cost very little, which is why I don’t feel too guilty for my self-indulgence.

Of this selection of necklaces bought in thrift stores in recent months, only three of them are genuine vintage – a chain of white rhinestones, the twisted strand of pink seed beads that resembles a Twizzler, and the white milk glass bead necklace – but all of them are fun. I especially love the giant silvery bauble necklace which looks quite 60s-space-age-inspired.

And considering the embarrassingly large quantity of jools I own, I am quite pleased to reflect that I have worn nearly all of these at least once!

Monday
Dec312018

Shine On, Magpie!

If it glitters, you can guarantee my fingers will get itchy and I’ll be drawn to it like the magpie of yore, which explains why I have so many sequinned garments feathering my nest. I can at least justify this excess by the fact that I actually wear them – working at a theatre allows me to indulge in my, ahem, theatrical sense of style.

… sequins are the quintessential party wear, and an excellent choice to ring in the new year …

In the nineteenth century, sequins were made of shiny metal – I have a late 1920s or early 1930s hat trimmed in tiny metal sequins (they need replacing and will be difficult to source), and also an antique Berber rug, originally worn as a cloak (incredibly heavy), that is interwoven with silver metal sequins. In the early twentieth century, flat or faceted to catch more light, they were made of celluloid, meaning they were dangerous to wear as they are flammable. But by some accounts of vintage sellers I have read, they have a special extra-shiny quality not found in their modern plastic counterparts. In the 1930s, there were even electroplated gelatin sequins. Obviously not very durable, these did not stay in fashion for long!

60s pink and white wool tank, silver velvet skirt by Top Shop, 1980s sequin beret; 1960s red 1960s red sequin wool top, modern skirt by Ojay and red sequin bag (era uncertain); 60s white sequin and red bead wool top, modern skirt by OjaySequins have been used in decoration for much longer than this however: the first evidence for them is in the Indus Valley around 2500BC, when gold sequins were used to trim clothing and other ‘paraphernalia’ – possibly for ceremonial or royal use. [Wikipedia] Note that ‘spangles’ are actually made from coiled wire that is hammered flat, though today the term is used interchangeably with sequins, while ‘paillettes’ usually refers to large, flat sequins.

Black sequins two ways: modern sequin dress worn as top with Bettina Liano puff shorts, Victorian miniature velvet top hat, 60s pearl earrings and modern heeled sandals by Wittner; modern sequin dress worn with rhinestone earrings by Aldo and modern red satin pumps by BarkinsThe modern name for these shiny decorative disks comes from the zecchino, a Venetian ducat coin, by way of the French translation, sequin. After Napoleon’s invasion of Italy in 1797, the coin ceased being minted, but the Conqueror carried the name back to France in triumph (okay, I’m romanticising here), and the term sequin came into use in France for the decorative trim shortly after.

Modern Australian flag sequin souvenir dress, 1980s straw beret, modern plaited white heels by Stefano Stefani. This dress made me laugh when I spotted it in a thrift store – a pity it is not a French flag, to match my story better! It was obviously a cheap souvenir dress, and I paid $6 for it, although I haven't found an occasion to wear it to yet!I have been hoarding this shiny story literally for years, but as sequins are the quintessential party wear, and an excellent choice to ring in the new year, this New Year’s Eve seems an appropriate time of year to finally release them into the world.

In fact, I haven’t even included everything in this collection – I also have a miniskirt of giant iridescent green paillettes, a grey tee of matt sequins, another modern sequin tank trimmed in silk chiffon, and a few sundry accessories. Out of this set, I think either the red sequin top, or the cropped robin’s egg blue tasselled top are my first vintage sequinned purchases. They were both purchased online, the former on Etsy, and the latter at eBay auction. I remember I was on a picnic with friends when I excitedly received the notification my bid had won the top! All the other items were found in thrift stores, except for the black Bettina Liano shorts, an indulgent Australian designer purchase.

Whatever old thing you slip off for this evening’s party dress, shiny or not, I hope you bling in a bright and shiny new year! Here’s to a happy 2019.

50s robin's egg blue sequin and bead tassel wool top, modern skirt by Ojay, vintage jewellery; 60s turquoise sequin and star-beaded wool top, modern skirt by Ojay, vintage jewellery; 60s celadon sequin and bead top, modern skirt by Ojay, vintage jewellery; 60s yellow sequin wool top, 1960s linen blend skirt by La Gonda, sterling silver, lemon quartz and agate earrings hand made by me

View all the items here in my new gallery All the Shiny Things.

Photos: (black set) March 2014, (Australian flag) February 2016; (pink and green sets) March 2018

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Read more about the history of sequins and spangles in this excellent article by The Dreamstress.

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