Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in seasonal (153)


Let it Rain!

In a Melbourne spring, one must be prepared for rain at all times. Melburnians are famous for vigilantly checking the weather forecast no matter what the season, and many of us keep a tiny folding umbrella in our totes, or in our drawers at work against sudden need. I am no exception to this rule, and I own a formidable array of vintage umbrellas in different colours so that I can match my outfits.

This vintage 60s frilled umbrella is one of my favourites. I have owned it for a long time. I love vintage brollies for they are generally sturdier than their modern counterparts because their skeletons have more ribs, made from steel unlike the flimsy aluminium contraptions manufactured today. They are therefore much stronger in a high wind. However, mishaps can still occur, and last year they did.

I felt a bit dreadful about this, like a vintage murderer …

First of all, I lost the tip of one spoke, which meant that the covering pulled away. There are no umbrella repairers these days, so I came up with my own solution: find another vintage umbrella in an op shop and cannibalise it for parts! I felt a bit dreadful about this, like a vintage murderer, but I managed to find one – in a vivacious shade of lime green – that was already broken: it was unable to be opened. This made me feel better about hacking off its limbs. (It annoyed me that the op shop was still charging $5 for it, the same price as a functional umbrella, but I supposed it possessed, after all, what I required.)

Naturally, while I was doing this photoshoot and after amputating the silver tips, the umbrella suddenly operated normally! Typical. However, it must have been aggravating for the original owner if the umbrella was randomly becoming stuck – most inconvenient at the sudden onset of a shower. But I had what I needed and repaired the blue brolly, squirreling the remaining tips away.

… some time later another freak accident tragically occurred.

After all these misadventures, some time later another freak accident tragically occurred. One day, when I was walking along the street with the blue umbrella dangling from my wrist by its tassel, an aforementioned high wind suddenly gusted along and bizarrely caught the umbrella against my own limbs and snapped off the handle! Who would even expect such a thing to happen? I was quite indignant.

Fortunately I work at a theatre that has a Props department, and I paid a visit to its manager. He is an amiable man, and was happy to be of assistance. A few days later, my umbrella appeared on my desk, and when I saw him, he told me he had reinforced the shaft with a length of steel, and then had glued the plastic handle back on. What a miracle worker! He warned me to treat it gently henceforth, but it certainly seems very sturdy again – not that I plan a bout of play sword-fighting or anything anytime soon.

Hurrah! LET IT RAIN.

Photos: March 2017, September 2018


Yellow All Year Round

Bright sunshine yellow is one of my favourite colours just because it is so cheerful and joyous, reminding me how glorious summer can be. It is even more wonderful to wear in winter, when sunshine is rarer, and one’s spirits – dampened by winter – need cheering. (I wrote this opening paragraph having forgotten the title of the last story, Yellow is for Summer—yellow most cdertainly is for winter also!)

This vintage 1940s hat is a recent purchase from the Etsy store Roads Less Travelled 2. After admiring it in my wishlist for a long time, I took advantage of a sale it had a few months ago and snapped it up at a greatly reduced price. It was still quite pricey, but I reasoned that I would never find such a hat again, since yellow was such a rare colour, and especially not one from the 1940s, my favourite era for hats.

It is made from wool felt, and features a fantastic tassel as well as the veil. The hat has a military aspect, apt enough for the era, and I like to wear it tilted at a rakish angle (the best way to wear most hats).

By the time it arrived from America, I still had time enough in the winter to wear it two or three times, which is good going considering just how many hats I own – it’s hard to make sure they are all circulated during the season, although I do try! Luckily I have at least three yellow summer hats to keep me going until autumn comes around again.

Photo: August 2018


Yellow is for Summer

Here are Rapunzel and I doing our Christmas gift shopping at the night market at Queen Victoria Market, in December 2016. We both wore yellow completely by happy chance. I had come straight from work and am wearing the same 1970s dress as in the previous story, while my friend is sporting a yellow t-shirt. We look pretty pleased with ourselves! Yellow seems particularly perfect for summer, doesn’t it?


Golden Days Here at Last

Hellooo, spring, glorious spring: welcome! … Well, almost. Everyone is excited to see spring finally arrive although unfortunately, apart from a few sunbeams early in the morning, today Melbourne was been hit by another blast of wintry weather.

However, September 1st is not only the first day of spring, but also Australia’s National Wattle Day. The day was first celebrated in Victoria, NSW and South Australia in 1910, but was made official only in 1992. A few years previously, in 1988, the golden wattle (acacia pycnantha) was officially declared Australia’s national floral emblem. I did not know of Wattle Day at all until I came across a reference when reading about the flower last spring (well after the celebratory date), so I had to save this story for this year.

The native Australian wattle bird in a wattle treeI am happy to celebrate the prospect of warmer weather however, in one of my favourite colours, bright and sunny wattle yellow. It always amazes me that many people seem daunted at the prospect of wearing the colour; it is not often in fashion either, and when it is decreed to be so, it is embraced by very few brave souls.

… once upon a time a bright yellow dress was one of my fashion Holy Grails.

I am always looking out for the colour in thrift and vintage stores, but owing to the above factors, it is rare to come by. To date, I have managed to collect quite a few pieces, many very recently (more on those to come in the next few weeks), but once upon a time a bright yellow dress was one of my fashion Holy Grails. The dress I am wearing in these pictures is vintage 1970s. I spotted it very late one night on Etsy and was so enraptured I bought it immediately. I have never regretted it, and do not fail to receive compliments every time I wear it.

The velvet leafy 1950s hat I am wearing I bought on Etsy many years ago. I always think of it as a Grecian wreath, but it serves well for Wattle Day.

Here’s to sunny days coming very soon – happy spring!


Read more about the history of Wattle Day here.
Top background image sourced here.

Photos: August 2018


A Farewell to Winter

I am a long-term fan of tweed for winter. There is something so cosy about this fabric, if it is good quality wool. I particularly love the herringbone pattern and have managed to collect many examples of it over the years, most of which is vintage, or merely secondhand, and a little of which was purchased new. [You can read more about the different types of tweed patterns, and how to distinguish them here.]

A really fun way to wear it, I have decided, is all at once if you can possibly manage it. Even better if they are separates that all differ a little; in this case, a proper suit scores low styling points.

[The coat] clinched my decision that it was time I made another homage to tweed.

This 1970s coat I am wearing has a very amusing label: “Richard Shops – Such Clever Clothes”. I found it in an op shop in the midst of a heatwave last summer. I suffered trying it on, but it was worth it. I certainly didn’t need any more coats, but I loved the tailored shape of it, and the enormous lapels. It clinched my decision that it was time I made another homage to tweed. The occasion of the first homage on these pages was way back in 2009, so it’s about time I reprised the look.

I’ve had the baggy pants for a few years – they remind me of plus-fours styled this way – but going by the drop crotch, they are modern. The label is clearly designer, it’s so difficult to read: white embroidery on cream, which is twisted and folded. I eventually decrypted it and read ESS Laboratory. Established in 2001, the label is Melbourne-born, and the two designers Japanese. (My effort was rewarded, because their bio alone is pleasingly intellectual. You can read more about their work on their blog.)

The Pierre Cardin blouse is a silky herringbone print, also found in an op shop, but in spite of its designer associations, it is disappointingly made from polyester. The cut is too awesome though for the fibre to be a deal breaker.

While the 1950s tweed hunting cap does not have a herringbone pattern, is does suit this outfit very well.

I am happy to say I enjoyed wearing the coat and pants together recently, although with a warm wool knit instead of a blouse, and a different hat. However, that is the last time for this winter, for tomorrow it will officially be spring – hurrah!

Photos: May 2018

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