Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Monday
Apr012019

Tiffany Surprise

Look what I got! A Tiffany & Co surprise! … But wait … No, it’s just a little trifle from a thrift store!

Recently I bought a pair of carved blue shell earrings in a thrift store, and while I was paying for them I expressed my concern that these fragile earrings should not break on the way home. The sales lady agreed, and said she would find a box for me. She disappeared under the counter for a moment and when she popped back up, lo and behold she was holding a Tiffany & Co box in her hand! We were both quite tickled by the incongruity.

I have already worn these once, but I did not notice until after I photographed these today that one of them is actually damaged – one of the flowers is missing a leaf. I suspect the ladies in the op shop didn’t notice either, as the break is quite neat and not immediately obvious. The shimmering, reflective surface is quite distracting too.

I guess I am the April Fool after all! (But I still think they are pretty.)

Tuesday
Mar262019

Fashion Follows Sailor Suit

Late last spring, just as the warmer weather was beginning in Melbourne, I amused myself (and my work colleagues) by adopting a nautical theme for a week. I have long loved stripes – a nautical staple – and the classic colour combination of blue, red, and white which I very often choose to wear, nautical theme or not.

Traditional sailor suits … influenced the design of the new bathing suits and other clothing …

Nautical fashion has for many decades been popular for the warmer seasons, with its obvious link to seaside activities. The fashion first took off in the mid nineteenth century, when ‘sportswear for the new woman’ first started being produced. Traditional sailor suits, ie, naval uniforms with flap collars, stripes and bellbottoms, influenced the design of the new bathing suits and other clothing designed for regattas, yachting, boating and seaside promenading.

Coco Chanel in the interwar periodFrench sailors; the marinière or tricot rayé (striped sweater) is a cotton long-armed shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes, characteristically worn by quartermasters and seamen in the French navy.Coco Chanel was another enormous influence after adopting the sailor-collared top (as opposed to Breton striped tees) worn by the local fishermen and sailors in the resort town of Deauville, where she opened her first store on the coast of France in 1913. At the same time, ‘Middy’ blouses, inspired by the uniform of midshipmen were worn by school children for gym activities; by the 1920s they were a huge women’s fashion trend.

1920s middy shirtFashion in the decades after followed suit, adopting the look not just for sportswear, but for daywear, and to the present day we are still wearing nautical influenced garments (although it still seems chiefly only for daytime). Every nautical motif once can think of has been deployed by fashion designers in both blatant and subtle iterations, from the triumvirate of the three most popular colours of blue, red and white; stripes and flag graphics; middy tops and sailor collars; neckties and pussy bows; every type of nautical hat – boaters, fisherman and sailor caps; high-waisted bellbottoms; to naval trim such as gold buttons and braid, and rope, anchor and sailboat motifs. 

It’s fun, it’s sporty and casual, easy and breezy, and denotes summertime and carefree holidays so very particularly – no wonder nautical fashion has remained popular!

Click through to view my gallery of all my nautical looks of the week, and keep scrolling for nautical looks throughout the decades.

Read more about nautical Fashion

Stories on nautical fashion by Vintage Dancer and Blue Velvet Vintage are worth a read – both include some great images from different eras.

Genealogy Lady has written a short history on the middy blouse.

Frenchly reveals that Coco Chanel did not make Breton stripes a thing!

For seaside fashion of the nineteenth century, visit Mimi Matthews.

Nautical fashions through the decades

Victorian era, c 1890sEdwardian wool bathing suit1920s swimsuit1930s nautical daywear fashions1940s dress (LIFE magazine)1950s1960s1970sMarch 1982February 1992, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington wearing Ralph Lauren on Vogue's coverLes Indes galantes collection, Lascar dress, Haute couture, spring/summer 2000, Jean-Paul GaultierZuhair Murad, RTW Spring 2016All images found on Pinterest unless otherwise indicated with direct links.

Tuesday
Feb262019

Hello, Hats!

This enormous red straw cartwheel has no label, but it is probably a modern hat. I purchased this in a thrift store while on a beach outing, and quickly discovered it threatened to be carried off by the slightest breeze. I subsequently added a vintage navy satin ribbon, which answered the problem effectively.I have taken a long but unintended hiatus from posting on these pages, but I promise you I have not slacked off in fashionising! I’ve been hunting high and low for new old treasures over the summer, and I have stumbled over so many wonderful things I couldn’t list them all, but they include vintage hats (naturally); 1950s and 1970s skirts, dresses and ballgowns; quite a few 1930s style items (my favourite fashion era) and an incredible hand embroidered modern silk coat.

One of the most heart-stopping of the 1930s style accessories is a pair of handmade green leather heeled sandals, by the label Jolie – a holy grail item for me! I haven’t heard of the brand (and can’t find any information on it), but the swirling script logo on the insole looks very 1970s. I must confess they are a half-size too small, but I can squish my Cinderella’s sister’s feet into them, and there was no way I was leaving them behind in the thrift store where I found them! Someone had had them resoled, but subsequently never worn them.

Another thrift store find and also lacking a label, this 30s-style conical or coolie style hat is hard to age definitively. It's in such good condition, I suspect it is from the 70s or 80s.But here are some of the hats I have worn in the last month or two – some of these are very new to me, some not, but I don’t think any of them have appeared on these pages previously. Information on each one is within the captions of the photos. I’m still looking forward to taking more summer hats on outings – though the season is nearly over, it doesn’t look like Melbourne is going to cool down any time soon.

Photos: December 2018, January 2019

With an unusual clamshell shape, this hat also features black and white cord trim and a black bead decoration that emulates a hatpin. This 1940s straw hat also came from a thrift store in Albury, a large country town in NSW just over the Victorian border. I spotted it for $12 and couldn't snap it up fast enough!I bought this cute little red straw 1930s derby hat from a Facebook seller named Bonita Markwick. The hat is trimmed with black bows at the back and net.Yet another thrift store find, this modern cloth beret with trapunto stitching is by the Australian label Mimco. Another purchase from the Facebook seller Bonita Markwick, this whimsy hat of black net with red silk roses is vintage 40s. I am wearing it here on Christmas Day with a deep red 50s knitted ribbon dress, bought from Birthday Life Vintage on Etsy.This 40s raffia and straw pom-pom hat is by Sally Victor – another holy grail find for me! I purchased this on eBay.

Sunday
Dec302018

Auld Lang Sock

On this penultimate day of December, we have at last arrived at that time of year when we start to reminisce fondly of auld lang syne, (or consign those evil days to the devil), and to look forward to a new leaf, a clean slate, a fresh start and all those other clichés.

This is also a good time to give old things their marching orders, such as socks that fall down just as ever so soon as you pull them up, no matter how cute and stripey and cosy they are. These are Evil Socks. Gird your loins, Snapettes, and chuck ’em in the bin!

The New Year is also a good time go shopping for new socks. Hello Chicstocking—hurrah!

Photo: September 2018

Wednesday
Dec262018

Three Christmas Kings

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts, we traverse far
Field and fountain
Moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Oh, star of wonder, star of might
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading
Still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light …

Boxing Day is traditionally – I’m talking about medieval traditions that is – the day the ruling lords rewarded their serfs with boxes of presents. In places of worship, alms boxes collected donations for the poor. I wonder if this tradition could have been inspired by the three kings (or wise men) who followed a star and traversed a vast distance to present their gold, frankincense and myrrh to the baby in the manger?

More recently of course, Boxing Day traditions have us all rushing to the shops to buy discounted presents for our well-deserving selves!

The carol tells the story of the three wise men in the Bible who had seen a star in the east and travelled to Bethlehem in search of the baby born King of the Jews. The song – both words and music – was penned in 1857 by the American John Henry Hopkins Jr, and the opening verses are beautifully lyrical. Sung in rounds it sounds both solemn and joyous.

I hope you all enjoyed both giving and receiving gifts yesterday … excuse me now, I’m off shopping!

~

Fashion Notes

Amazingly I actually already owned all these vintage maxi dresses, hats and wigs which were perfect to illustrate three wise (wo)men. On the left, I am wearing a 60s silk dress, with a vintage 40s black and white turban, and beaded slippers by Mollini; in the centre, is a green 70s lurex gown, with a vintage 60s velvet turban decorated with a vintage rhinestone bird brooch, and the slippers are by Sarti; on the right is a vintage 60s striped empire line dress, with a vintage 40s pink jacket, 60s silk petal hat and beaded slippers which were a souvenir from Vietnam. I am standing in front of the entrance to the King's palace, in Fes, Morocco, where I visited in 2011.

Photo: December 2018