Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in shopping (187)

Monday
Nov052018

How Now, Brown Cowhide

Many years ago – maybe ten or fifteen – I bought a cowhide bucket handbag from a market in Hong Kong. It was quite an expensive purchase, but I rationalised that it was such a classic leather and style, I would be able to use it forever. Well, it hasn’t been quite forever yet, but I think I have justified my belief by now.

Then last autumn, when I was hunting high and low for a classic tote bag to use for work, I came across a cowhide version on the online sale site, Ozsale, and was instantly struck by how similar it was in looks to my old bucket bag. I don’t remember the name of the label, and there is none inside the bag, but it was a homewares brand that used recycled wood and canvas from vintage French army and postal gear.

My main stipulation – besides being stylish – was that the prospective tote had to be large enough to fit my office shoes, my lunch, iPad and other sundry items I deemed necessary to schlep to and from work every day. I also wanted to be sure that the colour would complement most outfits, without resorting to something boring like – ugh – black.

It’s like those tents in Harry Potter … I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams.

This tote was enormous – the biggest one in the sale – and looked tough and hard wearing, suitable for Melbourne’s winter weather. It would work for summer too, except that I had already found a large straw bag to use in the warmer months. Even better, I had some credit owing me on the sale site, so I was able to purchase the tote for very little extra.

I’m happy to report after several months use so far, the tote has measured up to my expectations, even exceeded them. It’s like those tents in Harry Potter – deceptively enormous. I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams. I love that I can slot in even a longish umbrella through the end because the zip hasn’t been sewn down all the way to the ends. So much do I like it I haven’t even swapped over to the straw tote yet even though we are well into spring!

Photo: August 2018

Tuesday
Oct302018

Shopping for Robin’s Eggs

It’s no secret to regular readers of this style blog that robin’s egg blue is one of my favourite colours – if not the favourite. It’s a colour I am always drawn to whenever I see it, and so when I saw this necklace in a sale on Facebook from Rosebud Vintage Bazaar that is evocative of actual birds’ eggs, I knew that I absolutely had to have it.

The vintage 1950s feathered hat is an absolute marvel as well – I bought it many years ago on Etsy, and have worn it a few times on special occasions, such as Christmas Day celebrations and going to the theatre. I love it paired with this necklace though!

The only thing that would make this outfit more amazing would be a silk dress featuring a bird’s egg print …

A tall order, you think?

I actually came across such a dress in a thrift store just over a month ago, and was bowled over by the print. I was not, however, bowled over by the price of $80 attached to it. Come on, I thought. Especially when they had not even bothered to present it nicely. It was as wrinkled as though it had just been withdrawn from a bag in which it had been screwed up into a ball and jammed with many other items. No, no, no.

However, I might have accepted the price for the print if it had been cut into anything other than an ugly shirt-dress. I loathe and abominate shirts. Always have. And shirt-dresses are even worse; I don’t find them flattering at all, at least on me. I look like I have just crawled out of bed wearing a man’s shirt. Hideous!

I look like I have just crawled out of bed wearing a man’s shirt. Hideous!

I thought about having the hem tailored to get rid of the shirt slits, but I was too annoyed at the prospect of spending another $30 or so on top of the $80 purchase price. $20 okay, or $30 even, but $80 is just too much in a thrift store for a modern dress that looks like a rag, in my view. I was recently chatting to a thrifting diva from the US, and she was shocked when I quoted her some average prices from Aussie op shops. Many of them are not really ‘opportunity shops’ any longer, unfortunately.

That being said, I am quite willing to pay much more for unique or rare vintage items such as the necklace, or feathered hat, even when I find them in an ‘op shop’.

Photos: September 2018

Monday
Oct082018

Delicious Yellow

Let’s return to yellow for a minute. Look at this delicious lemon meringue of a 50s dress that lamentably did not fit me across the shoulders. What a colour! I was drooling over it, and the lustrous embroidered satin fabric. What a crying shame it was too small!

But you can see peeping out from behind the 40s lemon yellow (more acidic than the lemon curd inside a meringue, of course) evening dress I modelled recently. So all was not lost – I scored one yellow dress that day, and a 60s sequin top, the corner of which you can see in the bottom left, as well as a pale yellow cotton ribbed cardigan in another thrift store. It was a yellow bonanza that day!

Photos: August 2018

Wednesday
Sep262018

Always Buy in Shoeplicates

The other day while I was doing some catch-up photoshoots of outfits I had worn, I donned my favourite pair of raspberry suede peep-toes by Wittner, an Australian shoe brand, and I thought, “Awww, my old favourites are getting beat up!” I had already had them resoled, and the toe tips repaired, but even the repairs will soon be in need of repairing.

Over the years, I have often wished I had bought a second pair of these and held them in reserve, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had even seen this very pair in a thrift store, but they were unfortunately too big for me. It made me realise that I did not often enough pay attention to one of my own long-held fashionisms: Always Buy Two.

Always buy two, just in case. In case the first ones fall apart, get lost, are shredded by the cat – oh, there are many reasons. In case it turns out to be the very best most awesome favouritist thing you ever owned. In case of time.

Always buy two … in case it turns out to be the very best most awesome favouritist thing you ever owned.

The first things I remember buying two of was a pair of shoes in the early 90s. They make me laugh to remember them now: a pair of 1–2-inch-heeled black leather pilgrim shoes with enormous silver buckles, but they were so very comfortable and I loved them! I bought the first pair, and then a week or two later I went back to the shoe store and bought a second pair. I was very glad I did. However, they have long since gone.

Another beloved item I found in Country Road was a silk jersey t-shirt (below) with slit capped satin sleeves, and a cut-out in the scoop neckline that tied with shoe-string ties. This t-shirt was so fabulously fitted and comfortable I bought three of them: black, smoke grey and cream. I wore all those to death too, and was very sad when I retired the last one – the black. It lasted the longest because I make it a policy not to wear black often.

I have bought lots of basic wool knits from Kookaï and have found them to be very reliable. Another great purchase I made was two linen knit long sleeved t-shirts from Seed, one in a natural flax colour, and the other in a dark blue. These were quite expensive (for someone used to shopping in thrift stores), but have proven a good investment.

Nowadays apart from underwear, socks and shoes, I buy most of my clothing from op shops or vintage boutiques, so the opportunity to buy more than one rarely arises. However, I will still snap up certain good quality wool items when I see them, regardless of the fact that I already own a lot of wool knits – because they eventually do wear out, and they are expensive to replace at retail prices.

Sometimes you don’t know that a particular item is going to become a beloved favourite … you just have to resign yourself to your miserable fate of a distant future without it …

White or cream silk blouses, which I am very fond of, regularly need to be replaced because the underarms stain easily and so visibly. In point of fact I have one favourite Veronika Maine silk blouse that I wish I had bought in duplicate. I’m going to try soaking it in that wonder detergent, RetroClean, to see if I can bring it back to life.

Sometimes you don’t know, of course, that a particular item is going to become a beloved favourite, and then you just have to resign yourself to your miserable fate of a distant future without it, but good quality basics are always a sure bet at the very least.

Photos: September 2018, May 2012

Thursday
Sep132018

The Golden Boots I Didn’t Know I Needed

A few months ago I waltzed into one of my regular op shop haunts and no sooner than my eyes fell upon a pair of golden boots in the glass cabinet at the front of the store, where all the best treasures are usually kept, I was instantly seized with that well-known phenomenon: shoe lust. I adore Asian embroidery, in any form, and I immediately enquired about them.

One of the staff said, “I was just about the photograph those for our Facebook page!” I generously suggested she still could, but she laughed and shook her head. She must have divined that I fully intended to purchase them, for they were exactly what I was looking for. (That was the shoe lust talking.)

… I was instantly seized with that well-known phenomenon: shoe lust

She had told me the size, and although they were actually a size bigger than I would normally wear, I knew fabric shoes were often an iffy prospect, especially stiff satin. These were barely worn, and sure enough, they were a little loose though not so stiff after all, and with socks I decided they would be fine. The brand is Sofree, which seems to originate from Asia, possibly Korea, although I can’t find much on them googling.

The first time I wore them I chose a day I was sure it would not rain, and pranced out into the sunshine with them. Not five minutes after I left my house, a passing cyclist exclaimed in delight at the sight of them. Validation!

Some shoes you just have to have, even if you don’t need them.

Photo: This week