Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in pompoms (38)

Wednesday
Jun242009

WHITE FOR WINTER

After my recent post on clothes as sculpture, I was inspired to put together some of my favourite pieces of clothing, all with quite different textures. I love wearing white in winter. The old decree of ‘wearing no white after Labour Day’ that I have often read about in American fashion magazines seems bizarrely restrictive. There are several theories of its origin, but for most people, obeying that law is no longer in fashion.

So from the top, some of my favourites, old and new:

  1. A hand-embroidered scarf bought on my recent trip to Vietnam really is a summer piece, but apparently I could get away with it if I was a winter bride and wore it as a veil.
  2. This vintage white leather pencil skirt was unearthed at the Salvos and is alarmingly tight at the waist.
  3. An amusing skirt by Marty Samuels looks and feels like it is made from crumpled paper. The actual construction is 42% polyethyle, 25% cotton, 22% polyurethane, 11% polyester – meaning I’d probably go up in flames if I stood too close to a heater, so best I leave this narrow, ankle-length skirt for summer also. (It fastens with snap buttons, a sure risk of wardrobe malfunction if I sit down too violently!)
  4. Truly perfect for winter, this scarf is formed by four rows of fur pom-poms, very soft and warm.

Hmm, one out of four. Maybe there is something to that rule after all…

Monday
Mar022009

Getting out of the noonday sun

I am a firm believer in the efficacy of a pretty parasol, and for years now have been almost single-handedly determined to bring them back in fashion – if only for their practical use. Even my mum uses one. The day I wore this outfit I was meeting her one very hot day in a local park; I was amused to find she was carrying her own blue umbrella. Like mother, like daughter.

Hand-coloured etching of an English walking dress by an unknown artist, for Rudolph Ackerman's ‘Repository of Arts’, 1812. Image from ‘The Fine Art of Fashion’ by Julian Robinson, Bay Books, Australia. When I first started using a parasol, I was about 20, and on holiday in Queensland. It was a lovely cream sunshade made from Battenburg lace – you can find them easily on eBay these days – but I picked it up in a gift shop at the Pacific Fair shopping centre for a tidy sum. I still have it in fact, though it’s a trifle water-stained. At the time it accessorised a fabulous cream shell top and wide-legged pants that were micro-pleated in the Fortuny style, and I wore my hair in a bob. I thought I looked bohemian – my conservative friends would undoubtedly have used the term ‘outlandish’.

I thought I looked bohemian – my conservative friends would have used the term ‘outlandish’…

Hand-coloured fashion photograph by Talbot of the actresses Mlle De Gonet and Mlle Alice Guerra in dresses by Drecoll, for ‘Les Mode’, 1913. Image, Ibid.

I found the pink umbrella above about three years ago, in a charity shop, by employing one of my friend Rapunzel’s old adages: “always look up”. Hanging from the ceiling by their handles were two parasols. Almost breathless with delight, I asked to see both of them. They were both so bright and frivolous I was sure they must be props from an old costume department somewhere.

It did not take me long to decide which I would buy: they were each $35, but I couldn't possibly pass over black pom-poms! The other umbrella was blue and beige, and not nearly as pretty; I would leave it for some other lucky prospector, who would think they had struck gold.

Centuries ago, women used parasols to protect their complexions from the sun – brown skin indicated one was a member of the lower orders, doomed to toil the fields. Then Coco Chanel burst onto the scene sporting a tan, and ever since parasols have been out of fashion. But I feel the cool breeze of a change.

Pochoir fashion print by Jean Saudé of a dress by Martial et Armand, published in ‘Luxe de Paris’, 1913. Image, Ibid.Over the past few summers I have seen more and more women in Melbourne using sun umbrellas, and never more so than during these past few blazing hot weeks. We pass one another in the city streets and smile with superiority: we’ve discovered the secret to beating the scorching heat, and carry our own shade with us. Not to mention reducing the threat of skin cancer.

I’ve collected a few images of vintage parasols here. Italian Vogue’s images below must be from some time in the 90s; unfortunately I don’t have clothing credits so I can’t tell whether the umbrella is vintage. However, what’s important to note is that the shoot has been styled with a romantic, vintage theme. It is certainly lovely to look at, but few people dress like this in public (not even me!). What I would love to find are images of sunshades worn by thoroughly modern women.

Ellen Von Unwerth, Italian Vogue.

…we’ve discovered the secret to beating the scorching heat, and carry our own shade with us.

This article from British Vogue is also from the 90s, I believe, with some modern examples of parasols. I particularly love the yellow one on bottom left. Sadly, it would not afford much protection from the sun, see-through as it is.

From British Vogue.

An excerpt from the article above:

The parasol, that most charming of accessories, has emerged after decades of neglect as this summer’s frivolous plaything. Since the twenties, the bottle of sun oil has been the skin’s only fashionable protection: now the new pursuit of the lightest, safest of tans has brought the flirtatious parasol back to the catwalks…

Although it is officially autumn now (my favourite season) there may be a few more hot days to come, so put up your umbrellas ladies. It is past time parasols had their day in the sun!

Thursday
Sep252008

What I Actually Wore #0001

Serial #: 0001
Date: 25/09/2008
Weather: sunny, 24°C
Time Allowed: 5 mins

Knowing that today’s temperature was forecast at 24° and time being a factor, I speedily decided this morning that a dress was in order. Fortunately my wardrobe is organised (by item, colour etc) so I was able to quickly grab this dress from the rail. It is completely sheer so a full slip is imperative. I don’t have many transparent dresses, so I hang the dark blue slip with it, which makes it easy to find rather than wrestling through a lingerie drawer every time I want it. [On a side note, the dress originally came with a slip sewn in, but it was very poor quality and developed runs after a few wears. I unpicked the stitching and discarded it. Although I originally intended to dye a plain white slip, I was lucky enough to find a blue vintage one with pretty design details.]

I bought the dress from a quaint vintage boutique on Greville St (the last survivor) last summer on a whim. It was inexpensive, and the colour looks great on me, although I was dubious about the style – bit girlier than I ordinarily go for. The dress had also come with its own matching patent vinyl belt, which I immediately discarded. I have since found a cobalt blue leather belt (thanks David Jones stock-take sale!), but this morning chose to wear it with a tan leather belt and suede sling-backs as I didn’t want to go overboard with cobalt – I also own two different pairs of cobalt suede shoes! (I deliberately did not wear the belt over the cardigan, as the latter is too short for that look to work.)

TIP: Hang your full slips with the dresses you normally wear them with to save time in the morning.

I briefly toyed with the idea of wearing my beautiful, oatmeal-coloured linen coat that my sister had made for me from a Montana Vogue pattern. I decided I would be far too warm in it, and with about 30 seconds to contemplate the options I grabbed this cardigan as it was nearest to hand.

Bit too much blue, I thought in the rush to leave, but at least I hadn’t also gone for the blue belt and shoes – that would have been ridiculous!

I’ll call it a forties-inspired look. I generally don’t like to mimic any particular era, but the outfit has the virtue of not being black at least, on such a lovely spring day!

Items

Dress: Lovelygirl
Cardigan: Cotton-on
Belt: Country Road
Shoes: Urban Soul
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Earrings: hand-made by myself from Indian beads and sterling silver
Sunglasses: Roc

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