Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in sequins (56)

Sunday
Oct062019

Sewing Sequins

Last year I struck a vein of hat gold one lunchtime in a thrift store near my workplace: no less than three 1930s hats in one strike! I was very lucky, because when I walked in the door, one of the staff recognised me and called me over to whisper, “There are some hats just in that I think you would like.”

From where we stood, I could only see the topmost hats on the upper shelf, and they looked like spring racing carnival hats made of sinnamay that some rich madam from the hoity-toity part of town would perch atop her coiffure. “Are they vintage hats?” I asked suspiciously in a low voice. The woman nodded conspiratorially, “They are very old,” she said, and thus assured, I sailed off forthwith.

Dear Readers, I couldn’t believe my eyes: it was a veritable BONANZA. A cream wool felt decorated with grosgrain ribbon and cockade; a brown felt trimmed in cream grosgrain, and a sculpted black felt with an enormous, sequinned bow. I immediately hugged the three hats to my bosom in joy.

The only flaw lay in the wonderful black felt: many of the metal sequins were missing, and those left were tarnished. I did not care one jot. Etsy would come to my rescue: I was sure I would be able to find replacement sequins from the same era.

Silver and pink metal 1940s sequins, and glass seed beads that I found in a thrift storeIt did not take me long to find similar sequins from the 1940s. They were a tiny bit smaller than the originals, and there were several colours to choose from. Though the originals were gold, I very rarely wear gold jewellery, and could not decide between the silver and the pink. Eventually I settled on buying some of both as they were from the same seller and there would be no additional charge in shipping.

I cut off the pair of original sequins left on one side of the bow The chosen combination: pink sequins with white glass beadsOnce they arrived I dithered repairing the hat for several reasons. By this time, it was summer and the hat was in storage for the season; moreover, I was still undecided about which colour to use and also was yet to find appropriate glass seed beads to attach the sequins on with (as opposed to the usual technique of using the thread to overlap one side of the sequin). I was also a bit nervous of somehow ruining the repair.

A close up showing the original sequins on left, and the first new pink sequin attached (apologies for all the filaments adhering to the hat)Finally, this winter I grew impatient with myself and refused to delay any longer. I made a snap (ahem) decision to use the pink sequins – pink and black are always a classic combination. And sewing them on turned out to be extremely easy: I was amused by how the seed beads literally leapt onto the point of the needle each time!

I was very pleased with the end result, and managed to get in one wear before I put away into storage all the winter hats again. On the day I wore it, I suddenly realised it looked better worn on the back of the head, rather than as a profile-style hat, as seen in the first picture.

And once more I asked myself the universal question, why, oh why do I delay mending?

Photos: June/September 2019

Saturday
Oct052019

Hybird

I love a little word-punning! This cute beaded and sequinned parrot is a hybrid brooch and hairclip, which I have dubbed a clooch … I fully expect that word to take off and quickly become ubiquitous in the sartorial lexicon.

I found this clooch in the jewellery boutique, Lovisa, and was taken with it because I love birds in general. I am yet to wear it, but will more likely do so as a brooch than a hairclip, since I wear hats all the time. Additional bonus: it was $6 on sale, very cheep-cheep!

Photo: September 2019

Wednesday
Jun262019

Reach for the Stars!

Here is a re-cap of my starry sequinned 1920s wool felt cap, teamed this time with the blue starry knit I bought more recently, and the same mother-of-pearl star earrings. The star shape or polygon is a not only a great graphic, but holds significance in many instances of art and culture, and regardless of how many arms the star has, impressions of astronomical stars provide the term.

I was amused to learn that in heraldry a mullet is a straight-sided five-pointed star – it seems to bear no relation to the favourite men’s hairstyle of the 1980s. Nor the fish. (The dictionary does not even include the hairstyle so I can’t ascertain its etymology.) Sometimes the mullet it is referred to as a ‘golden five-pointed star’ … On the other hand, a star with wavy rays is called an estoile, which is a much prettier word. More regally however, the mullet is an ensign of knightly rank, and the symbol is incorporated in some way by every order of knighthood, which raises it above its other more unpleasant associations.

Above all though, the star – especially employed en masse – conjures up the heavenly sphere, bejewelled and twinkling; Cecil Beaton’s celestial visions in the 1920s; and delightful paper moon photographic backdrops. Irresistible!

Nancy Beaton as a Shooting Star for the Galaxy Ball, by Cecil Beaton, 1929Unknown sitter, by Cecil Beaton, 1920sPaper moon in the Victorian eraPaper moon in the 1920sPhoto: June 2019
Other images found on Pinterest

Sunday
Jun022019

Bewitched and Bedazzled

Today I bring you another kind of cap: a 1920s wool felt made from stars. How cute is this?! I saw it on Etsy last year and was instantly smitten. The base is white felt, with cut-out stars as well as the large appliqués and tiny sequinned stars bedazzling it. It’s stamped on the inside with the Merrimac Co mark. I own a few other 1920s hats, but this one is really a show-stopper – it may even have once been part of a costume.

I found the star earrings, which are made from shell in a thrift store, and sometime after taking this picture I also found a blue jumper (sweater) patterned with rows of white stars. The label is New Feeling, which I’ve never heard of – it’s made from a viscose/acrylic blend, the little which I forgave because of the stars. The wool dress by Arthur Galan that I am wearing here is also from a thrift store. I’m looking forward to making heads turn wearing all these starry motifs together this winter! 

Photo: September 2018

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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