Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in seasonal (153)

Sunday
Jun092019

School Lessons

I have rediscovered a novel way to wear socks! Step 1: don big fat long socks. Step 2: scrunch down to ankle to form monstrous ankle warmers. This is how we actually wore socks as a fashion statement during one mad phase in high school, only our school uniform decreed they were white back then.

I don’t actually walk around like this, never fear. On days which suddenly turn warm and I feel like I’m about to pass out from heatstroke of the shins, I take a surreptitious breather under my desk for a few minutes. In fact I did so this very week. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do!

Photos: April 2017

Tuesday
Apr232019

The History of the Easter Bonnet

1940sIn Australia there is no tradition of wearing Easter Bonnets, except for young school children making their own hats in the classroom and parading them for the benefit of their local community.

As you could imagine, these chapeaux were generally a horribly kitsch conglomeration of brightly coloured eggs, bunnies, and chicks that are rendered charming only by the knowledge that someone’s cute offspring had earnestly and excitedly stapled it together.

So I was most amused to discover that adults were equally adept at assembling hideous Easter bonnets – albeit with more skill and imagination – to parade at Eastertime in America.

1940sMorecambe UK, 1959

The famous Easter Parades had their origin in the 1870s, when people would stream out of churches following the Easter Sunday service, dressed, of course, in their very best. Naturally a magnificent hat topped their ensembles. The very first parade along Fifth Avenue seems to have been an impromptu event, as the upper echelons of New York society poured out of St Patricks Cathedral and strolled up the street. With each successive year, the Parade became more popular and drew hundreds and thousands of spectators.

Easter Parade New York, 1922Easter Parade New York, 1922Prince George and Jane Erdmann, Easter Parade New York, 1933Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1948Early on, people simply showed off their most stylish and newest spring garments, but as the parade grew in popularity, grandiose themed pastiches began to appear – similar to the kind of hideous hats sensation-hunting women sport at various racing carnivals around the world.

1920sOn the other hand, Easter was an opportunity for more aesthetically-pleasing fun: Easter bunny hats or complete outfits. Personally I would prefer to don a pair of rabbit ears than crates of eggs precariously balanced on my head!

For a more detailed history of the Easter Bonnet, visit The Eternal Hedonist; and visit Today for a slideshow of more vintage images of the Easters of Yesteryear.

1920s (my favourite)1940sActress Ruth Roman, 1940sA modern bunny ears rendition

(Imgages from The Eternal Hedonist, Today, Daily Mail UK and Pinterest)

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

Tuesday
Apr162019

Some are coats, some are jackets

Summer is long gone, but Melbourne keeps on rolling out the warm, summery weather; I still haven’t done the seasonal Dreaded And Great Closet Swap because of this. I have, however, completed a seasonal cull, but my wardrobe is still crammed! I’ve been contemplating whether I should try to cull even more, or put some of my precious vintage things that are not worn frequently in storage.

So, it is an appropriate time to look at my collection of summer coats and jackets. I must confess that I actually took these photos two years ago, but never made time to edit them as it was such a time-consuming job – almost as time consuming as seasonal wardrobe maintenance! Some of these jackets have actually since been culled, but since I love outerwear so much, they are still part of this visual library for posterity.

I also have added more coats and jackets to my wardrobe, since I can’t resist adding an amazing historical piece, such as 30s and 40s embroidered silk bed jackets; a 40s plush velvet (imitation fur) jacket, and a velvet evening cloak from the same era; an extraordinary cape in animal-print velvet that I think is probably 60s or 70s; amazing 60s and 70s leather coats and jackets; a 1970s brown tweed wool frock coat; a 1970s hot pink marabou bolero; an oyster-coloured modern leather capelet in a Victorian style; a jaw-dropping mid-nineteenth century Victorian wool cape, floor-length, fringed and cornelli-embroidered; a modern cream silk duster that is fantastically embroidered with flowers in pinks and reds … and probably more that I am forgetting!

Who could resist these despite a bursting closet? Most of these items have been found in thrift stores. But, cataloguing these garments has made me realise I have some gaps, such as a peplum jacket, and some Holy Grail wishes: a 1930s winter coat (which would be a lucky find in an op shop – although one would not expect to find a silk-fringed Victorian cape in a thrift store either), an Edwardian Battenberg lace coat, and a 1920s velvet evening cocoon coat with an extravagant collar.

Here are a couple of pictures of the fronts of two items: a 60s or 70s double-breasted sailor jacket, which is a more recent find, and a 50s satin opera cloak, which is one of my earliest vintage purchases. It is trimmed in with brocade ribbon, which you can see in the rear view in the gallery. I found it in a thrift store in a local shopping strip near the art college I attended, decades ago now, and recall it cost me around $30.

You can check out the gallery here – and look out for more, as I shall be adding all my newer treasures soon!

Photos: January 2017