Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in shoes (123)


That Thrilling Thrifting Feeling

I loved this grey silk blouse with a multitude of complicated pleating – but alas, it was a size or two too small.Who knows that heart-wrenching thrifting feeling when you find some fabulous item only to discover it doesn’t fit? Or it’s ruined somehow beyond repair? Or alternatively, that thrill when you stumble across some incredible, mind-boggling, once-in-a-lifetime find? I have been op-shopping for decades now, and I have hit both highs and lows.

Just look: HEART-SHAPED BUTTONS. (Sob.)A recent high was finding an antique Victorian pink wool cloak with cornelli embroidery and silk tasselled fringing, while a low was a gorgeous 50s dress and bolero set with a novelty London print (featuring the Buckingham Palace guardsmen in their bearskin hats) that was not only a little small for me but horribly ripped from some stupid person who had tried to squeeze themselves into it and torn the bodice asunder (not even on the seam). I could have wept! I was so overwrought in fact I forgot to photograph its wonderful print.

Here are some of my hits and misses of the past.

Periwinkle blue leather flats hardly worn? I won't say no!In fact, I also did not say no to the NEVER-worn black patent T-bar heels – they still had the original price sticker in them.I also took home this flocked cotton tee that charmed me in the store.I like matryoshka dolls, but I think I did not like the enormous size of this pendant (one time when I rejected exaggerated proportions!).So many shiny shoes! Remarkably I held my magpie tendencies in check and none came home with me.


A Tribute to Turquoise

I’ve often rhapsodised about one of my favourite colours, turquoise, on these pages; it is such a summery colour for me. Scrolling through my archives of fashionistamatics, I was amused to see quite a large number of items that had not yet seen the light of day: here are five of them, to celebrate the waning of the season.

First up is a picture of me on last Christmas Day, wearing a 1960s sequinned wool tank top (despite the how sunny the photo looks, it was not excessively hot that day in Melbourne) and a 1950s feather bandeau. I had decided to go full Christmas, and am wearing these with a red silk skirt, red heels, and candy-cane jewellery (my diamanté earrings are actually candy-canes!).

The woven straw bag I think is 50s or 60s and was a recent purchase in a thrift store, and the next snap is a detail of another beaded and sequinned 60s top, this time in a t-shirt shape. (I actually have a third as well, which has tassels, because why stop at one or two?)

The patent heels are a favourite pair of summer sandals that have that strange property of some hues that seem to change tone depending on what they are worn with. These, when paired with a slightly different shade of turquoise suddenly seem green – quite a magical effect! These shoes were bought on a sale website.

Finally, the little leather wallet was something I actually purchased retail. I loved the colour so much (unfortunately not captured very well on the iPhone 3S), and its convenient tiny size, I willingly paid quite a lot for it. I wore it out until the lovely turquoise turned grey – a bit like summer skies changing to autumn.

Photos: December 2017, February 2018, January 2018, May 2013, December 2011


Brogues, Pt 2

Summer Brogues

Some are brogues, and others are hybrids of brogues, oxfords, ghillies and spectator shoes. These summer brogues were my all-time favourite brogue shoes I have ever owned.

I can’t recall which brand they were, but I bought them from the same sale site as the brogues in the previous story, but these were fantastic from day one. They were just so comfortable: the leather was soft and the open tops and perforations were cooling for summer. The sole was also quite sturdy and supportive – more so than the taupe Urge brogues, and they certainly lasted longer. I also really loved the colour combination.

I wore these shoes to the death of the laces. They were so well-loved one simply broke in half one day. It was as strangely difficult to find off-white shoelaces as non-synthetic ribbon in this town, especially as I needed a particular length for the criss-cross lacing required by the shoes.

I eventually ran some to earth in a shoe-repairers near my workplace. The shopkeeper searched through a box of what resembled a decade’s worth of random shoelaces, and triumphantly produced these for me.

It meant that I could squeeze a little more life out of these beloved brogues, although you can see in the second picture just how worn they had become more that three years after the first photo was taken. The new laces were a bit too long, and quite a bit thinner, so they didn’t look as neat tied on. But at least it meant I was able to get one more season’s wear out of them before they finally well and truly ‘carked it’ (a bit of Australiana equivalent to ‘bit the dust’).

I was able to get one more season’s wear out of them before they finally well and truly ‘carked it’ …

I still have not found adequate replacements. I thought I had, for a few weeks, when I purchased a pair of brown tan shoes that were made of plaited leather, creating a kind of lattice effect. I thought they would be brilliant for summer. They came from the same sale website as these, but the delivery was suddenly cancelled, presumably because they had oversold their stock. I am still bitter about that, although with the refund I bought a red and white gingham dress on eBay, which has mollified me somewhat (it arrived), and I love it.

Photos: January 2013, April 2016


Brogues, Pt 1

Brogues with Bows

I have loved brogues for a long time. I don’t know from whence this love affair sprang, but it has mostly to do with the punctured leather they are made from: decoration that belies practicality.

While the word ‘brogue’ derives from the Norse brök (leg covering), the shoe itself has its origins in seventeenth century Scotland and Ireland. They were designed for walking the peat bogs of those countries, the tiny holes perforating the leather allowing water to drain out.

A guide to brogued shoes (illustrations from Toni Rossi)They started out as very rudimentary shoes made from raw hides with the hair inwards, to leather tanned with oak-bark. By the eighteenth century they had evolved into a heavier shoe with hobnailed soles, and in the following century the shoe gained a second layer which was pinked to allow water to drain out, with an inner layer that was not, preserving water resistance.

Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, popularises brogues by wearing them as golfing shoes (image via Pinterest)In the twentieth century, it was Edward, Prince of Wales, who took these traditional shoes out of the countryside and into the city, playing golf in them in the 1930s and thereby making them exceedingly fashionable. Women’s versions soon followed with the addition of a heel. Half-brogues, hybrids of Oxford and brogue, were next, with heels rising higher and higher in the first decade of the twenty-first century, making the most practical walking shoe less so. But they sure look good!

When I purchased this pair of dark taupe brogues by label Urge online from a sale website, I was quite surprised when they arrived sans shoelaces. I decided that I wanted nothing so prosaic as that. I had seen brogues tied with satin ribbons before, and liked the look – there is something storybookish about them. Immediately I seized a ribbon out of my sewing box to test out the look.

The tiny eyelets were a hindrance, but I dealt with that by wrapping the ends of the ribbon with sticky-tape and thread it through. I liked it (though not so much the mauve colour, which inadvertently matched my carpet)!

It is almost impossible to purchase non-polyester ribbon in this paltry town (unless presumably one is a denizen of the fashion industry and has secret sources) so I went shopping on Etsy. A natural fibre would be more flexible and fall more prettily. I found a peach rayon ribbon and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once more I went through the tedious process of threading the eyelets, but I was very pleased with the result.

After all that effort, I must confess that the shoes themselves were not the most comfortable, being a little narrow in the toe. But wear made them give a little and they became more comfortable for commuting to work in, which is what I bought them for. Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles, and after a winter or two of hard wear, I ruthlessly (but sadly) put them in the bin where their holey-ness belonged.

Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles …

I’ve since owned other brogues, and this past winter have been often wearing a pair of dark tan vintage 70s oxfords, with a two-inch stacked heel, that I found in an op shop for around $12. They were in pristine condition and had even been resoled by a previous owner. I have already roughed them up a little on toes and heels, but that’s what shoes are for – and then it will be on to the next pair!

Photos: July 2012
References: Shoes, by Caroline Cox, New Burlington Books, 2012; Shoes, by Linda O’Keefe, Workman Publishing NY, 1996


The Scary Shoes

A few weeks ago I bought a pair of Dalmatian print pony-hair loafers in a thrift store for a song. I don’t recall how much, but they were under $10.  They are actually a size smaller than my usual (but only a little tight), so I have been wearing them at home with a pair of thick socks to stretch them out a little.

That is, until, the day my cat noticed them and was terrified, especially when she saw their ghostly reflections in a glass door. She was persistently jumping up onto the kitchen bench in fear, and trying to cower under the wooden dish rack! She had me completely mystified until I realised what was going on, and as soon as I took the shoes off, she calmed down. She is quite disinterested in them as long as they’re not on my feet.

Photo: July 2017