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What I Actually Wore #0103

Serial #: 0103
Date: 26/11/2012
Weather: warm and 22°C / 71.6°F
Time Allowed: 20 minutes

It’s a warm day for my cousin Robert’s wedding, and since I had planned this outfit a long time ago, it’s just as well. I purchased this 60s silk dress on Etsy some time ago, specifically for the occasion. Although the 60s is my least favourite fashion era, I was attracted to this dress because of the candy-coloured stripes, and because of its rather free trapeze shape with the inverted pleat in the back. I also really love silk dupion fabric.

The rather outré pink trapunto-stitched toque/turban is also original 60s; I bought that in a vintage bazaar in Melbourne. There are long tassels dangling from the top (you can see the hat in more detail here). My clip-on earrings are from the same era – they are amusingly huge and, made from cheap plastic, they bobble about lightly. (In fact, I recall January Jones wore a very similar pair in a Mad Men episode.)

This dress is also virtually impossible to do up completely on one’s own however: the straps fasten with large buttons at the back, just below the shoulder blades, which requires the skills of a contortionist to reach. This is why I have not photographed the back.

Lamentably, I had a little wardrobe malfunction in the car …  and one of the buttons tore off!

On the day, I had to wait for my cousin Amelia Jane and her husband to pick me up so she could fasten the buttons for me. Lamentably, I had a little wardrobe malfunction in the car reaching for something on the back seat, and one of the buttons tore off! One of my aunts came to my rescue with a safety pin, but it meant I was unable to remove my linen coat (handmade for me by my sister Blossom, from a Claude Montana Vogue pattern) in the church throughout the ceremony, and I suffered in the heat. I was able to mend the button at home before the reception in the evening however.

I was bemused to receive so many compliments all day from other guests, especially for such an unusual hat. A couple of my aunts were both astounded to hear I was wearing such ‘old clothing’ – one of them assumed it was because I ‘want to get noticed’! I assured her dryly that it most assuredly was not. I choose vintage clothes for their beautiful fabrics, unique designs and because I believe in recycling. It was a fun family wedding all in all.


Dress: vintage
Coat: Montana (handmade)
Hat: vintage
Bag: vintage
Earrings: vintage
Ring: Autore
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Shoes: Escapade


What I Actually Wore #0102

Serial #: 0102
Date: 21/11/2012
Weather: 22°C / 71.6°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

As usual the BOM (Bureau of Meteorology) let me down: they forecast a temperate 22°, but by lunchtime it was windy and cool. I was quite underdressed, and out of desperation had to resort to the cashmere shawl I keep in my tote bag for cool office days when we can’t wrangle the temperature controls.

In my favourite striped red and white, the shawl is a souvenir from Sharjah (UAE). I remember trawling the upper level of the Blue Souq, and it caught my eye hanging on a ladder outside a pashmina shop. In keeping with good bargaining etiquette, I entered the shop and pretended I was interested in anything but the striped shawl. Finally I discovered there was no other like it inside, and had to confess I wanted the shawl that was hanging outside. They were onto me from that moment. I think I paid about AU$90 for it, which is still an excellent price for such a fine cashmere shawl. It is very lightweight, yet extremely warm. I love it, and you’d have to rip it from my cold, dead hands before I’d give it up.

The Marni blouse was still quite a new purchase, from eBay, and I loved the striking combination of blue and white with a cherry red skirt that I brought out from storage. It is by New Zealand brand Obi, and I purchased it a great many years ago. The multiple rows of gathered frill along the front always put me in mind of antique petticoats. By Free People, the striped espadrilles were also fairly new; I liked that they perfectly complemented the striped shawl.

I am wearing a sliver convex ring by Roun with my onyx band that is always on standby. The silver ring I have since lost – it slipped off my finger (a bit like the One Ring, only not dangerous and magical) in the Botanic Gardens one morning on my way to work. I still look for it sometimes when I think of it.

I like that all the components of this outfit have a story; that’s one reason why I love vintage clothing – I like to imagine the original owners of the things I now own. The black 60s bag is the only vintage item here, but it has been a great addition to my wardrobe.


Shawl: souvenir
Blouse: Marni
Skirt: Obi
Bag: vintage
Earrings: hand made
Rings: (onyx) souvenir, Vietnam; (silver) Roun
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Shoes: Free People


The Accidental Sailor

Ahoy! Rosebud – a self-confessed and impartial poly-shopper drawn to anything sparkly – tells us how on this warm day at the end of March she managed to go nautical quite without intending too.

How did you put this outfit together Rosebud?

I wanted to wear the skirt as it was new, and I simply chose items that matched. However, I particularly wanted to avoid it looking like a school skirt, especially since it’s navy – the tee made it more casual. The nautical look was completely inadvertent.

Well the nautical flavour really works. I love pleated skirts too and am always keeping my weather eye out for them. I love how the horizontal stripes of your tee contrast with the vertical pleats. Where did you find your skirt?

I was killing time one night in the city before meeting friends for dinner, and I wandered into Zara to browse. I’ve been looking for a pleated skirt for a while when that one caught my eye. I wanted something in between matronly and schoolgirl, but that can all depend on the styling. The skirt wasn’t on sale, and it was almost sold-out so I snapped it up!

We at SNAP heartily approve of snapping it up. Can you tell us about the rest of your outfit?

The tee is from specialty t-shirt store Graniph – my brother bought it for me in Japan. The ankle boots are from Witchery. They weren’t on sale either.

That sure is a statement necklace. You have a pretty collection of rings on your fingers too.

The necklace was a 21st birthday present from a neighbour from when I was growing up – I used to baby-sit their kids. I’m also wearing three rings. The blue stone ring and the amethyst were both given to me by my mum and dad. The blue ring was a good luck present before I did my Year 12 exams (a few years ago now), and they bought the amethyst ring on a trip to India. I bought the silver and diamond ring in New York. My watch was a present for my sixteenth birthday – I think it is by an Israeli designer.

That’s a lovely collection of presents to mark some special times in your life … Earlier you mentioned that you bought a couple of these dress items at full price. You aren’t a bargain-hunter?

Not especially. I don’t really have the patience for it. Although recently I did chance on a bargain at Laura Ashley. It was a tuxedo jacket that had been reduced four times, from $280 down to $60. It wasn’t really in the usual Laura Ashley style, so perhaps it just didn’t appeal to their regular customers.

Do you shop online?

No – I much prefer brick-and-mortar stores. I like to go in and browse – I’m not a target-shopper at all. Often it’s just when I have some spare time to kill.

Where are your favourite places to shop?

I really like Alpha 60, although I don’t actually own much by them. I find the style doesn’t suit me, but I admire their aesthetic – the shapes, the simple, good fabrics. I also like to look regularly in Gorman, TopShop, Arabella Ramsay (which is now called Ryder), Uniqlo – that’s been mainly overseas – Sportsgirl, Sussan’s, and also department stores such as Target, Myer, David Jones … Really, I’ll shop anywhere and everywhere. I’m not snobby about labels or branding per se.

I’m drawn to sequins (anything shiny!), sparkles, patterns – garments with something interesting about them. I also like shoes.

Who doesn’t! A magpie’s love of all thinks sparkly is something else Rosebud has in common with SNAP. This is Rosebud’s first appearance on the pages of SNAP – thanks so much for coming aboard!


Three Colours

One of the most striking and classic colour combinations you will find (apart form black and white) is blue, white and red. They are the easiest, most failsafe colours to match too – any shades will work – and provided whatever you choose to put next to your face suits your complexion, you cannot fail to look great.

Undoubtedly, these colours simply look wonderful together, but where does this notion of classicism rise from?

Arguably, the strongest connection of this trio is to patriotism – the French tricolour and the American flag immediately spring to mind – but did you know that 35 flags of the world utilise these three colours? Quite a number of them feature stars (or at least one star) and stripes too, and if you can consider the Union Jack a little evocative of stripey-ness, then both the Australian and New Zealand flags could also be described as starry and stripey. These colours are eye-catching from a distance, which is why they are used in flags.

Of course this colour combination is also associated with the nautical look, a perennial favourite with the fashion industry. The nautical look links to the navy (it’s called that for a reason) and inevitably back to stars, stripes, uniforms and national colours.

Could anything be more American x nautical than Tommy Hilfiger’s look? Spring/Summer 13A casual nautical look perfect for boatingCrisp white and red and a sea breeze (click through for more fresh fashion inspiration)Blue and red are contrasting primary colours. Throw white and stripes into the mix and suddenly there are dozens of possibilities to create a strong, graphic look. While light blues will certainly look great with red, if you are trying to create a nautical flavour, stick to medium and dark shades of blue. Go full steam ahead with cooler shades of these colours to evoke the nautical theme.

But if you are not after a nautical theme? Steer clear of stripes and silver or gold buttons (not to mention epaulets!), and try out a warm tomato red instead. Or throw some different patterns into the mix, such as polka dots or other geometrics, like this enlarged ikat print in white and two shades of blue, or a floral print.


Blue is the world’s most popular colour, according to recent polls. It is associated with the sky, sea, ice, cold and sadness, and more abstractedly with harmony, faithfulness and confidence. Perhaps these latter notions are associated with the history of the colour’s common usage, namely with military uniforms and worker’s denim overalls (security, loyalty) and blue suits (solid and successful businessmen).

Vintage sailor inspired fashion from a 1958 Sears catalogueAdorable sweater from YumiLOVE Charlotte Olympia’s Plain Sailing pumps!The Egyptians associated blue with the sky and divinity, and protection from evil. In Africa and Asia blue dye was made from lapis lazuli or azurite, and the cost of importing it was so high that the Egyptians created their own blue pigment by grinding silica, lime, copper and alkalai and heating it to 800–900°C. Known as Egyptian Blue, it is considered the first synthetic pigment. They used it to paint wood, papyrus and canvas, as well as a glaze in faience. In the 9th century, Chinese artisans used cobalt to create the famous blue and white porcelain, which sparked a craze for Chinoiserie when it was first imported to Europe in the 14th century.

the dandy Beau Brummell made the blue suit ubiquitous eveningwear for men in the Regency period

In the Middle Ages, blue was a cheap dye made from woad, and it was not worn by the upper classes, who favoured red and purple instead. It was not until Louis IX of France began wearing all blue that it became popular with the elite of Europe. Centuries later, the dandy Beau Brummell made the blue suit ubiquitous eveningwear for men in the Regency period, long before the black tuxedo of the twentieth century. While black suits were de rigeur for late 19th century businessmen, blue or grey suits became a more popular choice in the 20th century.


Indigo cake – the larger piece measures 2cmOriginally, indigo was a natural dye extracted from plants, although today nearly all commercial dye is produced synthetically. It is one of the oldest dyes to be used in textiles, and India is considered to be the oldest centre of indigo dyeing, supplying indigo to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era (332 BC–AD 395). Such a strong association to the blue dye did India have, that it gave its name to the colour: indigo comes from the Greek word for dye, indikón, meaning Indian. The Romans latinised it to indicum, which passed into Italian, then finally the English indigo.

The leaves of the tropical plant, indigofera, were soaked in water and fermented; the resultant liquid was mixed with lye, pressed into cakes, dried and then powdered. The powder was mixed with other various substances to produce differing shades of blue and purple.

Indigo is commonly used to dye cotton cloth, and smaller amounts are used to dye silk and wool. Perhaps the most famous use of indigo is in denim jeans, invented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis in 1873. A much older antecedent however is the navy blue of military uniforms – contrasted with white – that were first created for the British Royal Navy in 1748. Other navies around the world subsequently adopted the use of the colour too.

Perhaps the most famous use of indigo is in denim jeans, invented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis in 1873.

The first synthesis of indigo was created in 1878 by a German chemist, and the second two years later. By 1897 a commercially feasible manufacturing process was in use, and the production of natural indigo dropped. In 1897, 19,000 tons of indigo was made from plant sources; in 2002 17,000 tons of synthetic indigo was produced globally.


Woad (click through for a story on Nudie Jean’s woad-dyed collection)Anything so rare is always prized, and owing to the expense and difficulties of importing the dye to Europe, indigo was referred to as Blue Gold. Throughout the Middle Ages, indigo remained an uncommon – and therefore expensive – commodity in Europe, and woad was used instead. Often associated with the Picts who painted and tattooed their bodies with it, the use of woad in fact goes as far back as the ancient Egyptians, who, among other things, dyed the cloth wrappings applied to their mummies.

Woad is a dye chemically identical to indigo, and is also derived from a plant base. After the Portuguese discovered a sea route to India, the indigo trade eased, but France and Germany outlawed imported indigo in the 16th century to protect the local woad dye industry.


Red has many connotations, some positive and some negative. It is associated with passion, beauty, happiness and good luck, as well as more ominous notions of danger, fire, anger, prostitution and warning. It is the colour of blood, rubies – and the fruit that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is commonly depicted as red (scholars argue variously it could have been an apple, pomegranate, pear or fig, among others).

In many languages, the word for the colour is defined by its likeness to blood; in Russian the word for red has its origins in the Slavic word meaning beautiful, while the modern Portuguese comes from the Latin word for little worm!

in Russian the word for red has its origins in the Slavic word meaning beautiful

In ancient Egypt the colour red was connected with life, health and victory. The Byzantine emperors used red banners. Kings, princes and cardinals wore red costumes, for red was a colour that signalled status and wealth. Red is of course an important colour in the Chinese culture: a noble colour, it was a badge of rank and was used not only in clothing, but in imperial architecture too.

During the French Revolution, red became a symbol of liberty, and many revolutionaries wore a red Phyrgian cap, or liberty cap – which were modelled after the caps worn by freed slaves of ancient Rome. Subsequently the colour red became associated with socialism.

Christian Louboutin’s red heelsLouis XIV of France famously wore red heels

Today Christian Louboutin’s shoes are famous for their red heels, but it was the Sun King Louis XIV who, four hundred years ago, wore red heels (and beautiful silk stockings) to show off his gorgeous legs. In 17th century France, red was the colour of power; it was associated with palaces, and Versailles. Some fifty years later, Madame de Pompadour, mistress to the Louis XV, redecorated Versailles from red velvet to her favoured red-coloured stripes and prints in cotton and chintz.


Cochineal (click image and jump through to an interesting story on artisanal dyeing with natural cochineal)Where did red come from? Carmine is a name for a deep shade of red on the cooler side of the colour wheel. It is also a type of acid extracted from a South American and Mexican scale insect called a cochineal. It secretes an acid to deter predation by other insects, but the Aztecs and Mayans discovered they could extract carminic acid from the insect to make a dye. The acid is mixed with aluminium or calcium salts to make carmine dye, also called cochineal. 

After the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, cochineal was exported to Europe, and by the 17th century, as far as India. It was as highly prized as indigo, even being quoted on the London and Amsterdam Commodity Exchanges. The exporters kept its exact source a secret, and the European importers weren’t quite sure if the dried cochineal pellets were a berry, a bug or a mineral. Cochineal became Mexico’s second most important export after silver.

the European importers weren’t quite sure if the dried cochineal pellets were a berry, a bug or a mineral

In the middle of the 19th century, the appearance of the artificial dye alizarin crimson – as well as many others – caused the cochineal trade to drop sharply, causing significant financial shock in Spain as a major industry was virtually extinguished.

The breeding of cochineal insect for use in the modern textile industry continues more for the sake of tradition rather than to satisfy any demand. However, more recently it has become commercially viable again for use in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic (mainly for lipstick and rouges) industries, as many artificial dyes have been found to be carcinogenic, though cochineal can cause anaphylactic shock in rare cases.


White is associated with innocence, perfection, cleanliness, lightness, purity and goodness. In ancient Egypt, it was associated with the goddess Isis, while the Roman goddess Vesta was dressed in white robes. For the Romans, the white toga was ubiquitous for ceremonial occasions, which was to inspire the queen of another empire millenia later. 

In the Middle Ages the Christian church adopted it, associating it with the Roman symbolism of purity, sacrifice and virtue. The white unicorn, as a symbol of purity, chastity and grace, was often depicted in tapestries and manuscripts of this era. Able to be captured only by a virgin, the unicorn was often portrayed in the lap of the Virgin Mary. Also in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, white was worn by widows as a colour of mourning – the complete antithesis of today’s funereal black.

in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, white was worn by widows as a colour of mourning

The empire line, popularised by the Empress JoséphineDuring the time of the French Revolution, the Empire Style popularised by Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s consort, was modelled after the white dress of ancient Rome. In the centuries following, white became the universal colour of both men and women’s underwear, as well as bed linen, because these items were washed in boiling water, which would cause colours to fade. (When the linen was finally worn out, it was turned into high-quality paper – it is amusing to reflect that some of the drawings hanging in the art galleries of the world might once have swathed someone’s bottom!)

Queen Victoria’s wedding dress

It was Queen Victoria who popularised the white wedding gown in 1840 (although she was not the first royal to have worn it to be married in). Before she wore her modest silk-satin number, bridal gowns could be any colour – probably a bride wore her favourite. Victoria’s choice of white was considered unusual at the time. (Of course other colours are worn in other cultures.) Prior to the Victorian era, black was a popular colour for Scandinavian bride!


Natural fibres are not pure white of course, but rather cream or light brown. To produce white textiles, fabric must be bleached. The most common bleach today is chlorine, first invented in the 18th century, and then peroxide which was invented in 1818, but not used for bleaching until 1882; it did not become commercially viable until the 1930s.

In ancient times, as early as 300 BC, soda ash, prepared from burned seaweed, was used to clean and whiten cloth by the Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. The latter had two words for white, one signifying plain white (albus), and the other brighter white (candidus). A man running for public office in Rome brightened his toga with chalk. It was called a toga candida, the origin of candidate. Candere, meaning to shine, or to be bright, is the source of our words for candle and candid. 

Bleachfield, by Jan Breughel (II), c. 1650

Before the invention of chlorine bleach, cloth was bleached by the whitening action of sun and water, a lengthy process. Fabric was first soaked in a lye solution for days, then ‘bucked’ or washed clean, after which the cloth was laid out in what was known as a bleachfield or croft (an open area of land), and exposed to the sun. The fabric lay on the grass sometimes for weeks at a time. This was repeated five or six times, depending upon the degree of whiteness required, and then the fabric was treated in milk or buttermilk before being bucked and crofted again. The process originated in the Netherlands, but quickly spread throughout Europe. Huge tracts of land were utilised for crofting when it could have been used for farming, but it is testament to how desirable pure white cloth was. 


Today we have few fashion edicts as far as choice of colour. There are trends of course, and Pantone does try to impose a Colour of the Year on the entire world (my natural contrariness makes me immediately wish to repudiate any liking for said colours), but the revolutions in the textile industry over the centuries mean that rich or poor alike can wear whichever colour they like, whenever they like.

The only exceptions (in Western culture at least) being, perhaps, white and black: one shouldn’t wear white to a wedding so as not to upstage the bride (unless you know for a fact she won’t be wearing it!), and it would be considered poor taste to wear anything but a sober colour to a funeral – if not black, then dark grey or some other gloomy shade at least.

So complementary to one another, blue, red and white will always be a festive combination, worn nautical style or otherwise – whether you are a blue-blooded royal princess or just a regular girl-next-door. 


View the gallery for more!

I am so in love with this colour combination I wear it often – check out the Red, White & Striped gallery for inspiration.


Fashion Challenge: Wearing Wrong Right

Imagine a world without colour, with everyone dressing in black and grey all the time – how dreary it would be. It would look quite a lot like an endless Melbourne winter, and that would surely get your spirits down.

That’s the main reason I love wearing colour – it is a real mood enhancer. It makes dressing more exciting. But just a little colour is not enough for me. No mere dash of red here or there (which some people consider such a classic that it’s almost a neutral), or a bit of khaki or navy. I find that dull. I love to dabble in unsafe colour. Colour that is bold – daring, even. I particularly enjoy matching colours that are slightly wrong, ones that aren’t commonly paired together.

I love to dabble in unsafe colour. Colour that is bold – daring, even. 

I was elaborating on this topic a few weeks ago at the theatre where I work, and I was challenged by one of my colleagues to wear all the ‘wrong colours’ all the following week. I accepted with pleasure. I didn’t think this would be a difficult challenge, and it wasn’t, except that it did make me think about styling my outfits a little bit more than usual. In the mornings I normally decide what to wear very quickly, while I am showering. This time such a fun challenge had me thinking about what to wear days ahead of time.

To cover all bases of this fashion challenge, I decided to have a different theme each day: clashing colour, too many colours, and a multitude of pattern.

Clashing Colour

The terms ‘clashing’ and ‘complementary’ are often used interchangeably, referring to colours that are opposite to one another in the colour wheel. They can also be described as high contrast – which for some may be a more useful way of thinking about it when choosing colours to wear together, especially if there is no colour wheel handy (and who has one of these hanging on their closet door?). Complementary or high contrast colours can look fantastic together and make each other pop. Two of my favourite combinations are turquoise and red, or mint with red.

Mauve, tangerine and beige harmonise nicely, from FossilWhat can be more confusing is throwing the concept of harmonising colours into your palette. Research the term and you will read that colours such as red, orange, yellow (the colours that blend into one another on the colour wheel) harmonise. Yet other sources will say red and pink, for example, clash, yet they are sitting next to one another on the colour wheel – just on the other side.

I call this the Big Colour Lie. I am not sure who first made it up – probably someone who was afraid of standing out too much – but it is BOGUS. Almost any shade of red and pink look great together! The same can be said about blue and green.

A lovely and unusual combination of clashing colours from FossilClashing colours as those hues that are too close for visual comfort – when you first see them together they can give you a shock, make you wince and look away. They don’t blend in a harmonising way, but try to dominate one another. The key here is that one will be slightly on the cool side, and the other slightly on the warm side. They are almost the same but not quite, so they look a little strange or wrong next to one another. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s striking, unusual and challenging, and therefore exciting. (And taking a few daring risks with colour is not really going to hurt anyone.)

They are almost the same but not quite, so they look a little strange or wrong next to one another.

Some examples are vivid orange with a very vibrant cool pink; or plum (red-purple) with violet (blue-purple); or in a triple-header I wore recently of teal (dark blue-green) with ultra-violet and cobalt blue. And yesterday I saw the leaves of the Moreton Bay Fig tree were two coloured: olive green underneath, and an almost blue-green on top. Who can say nature got it wrong?

This concept can also work with a slightly ‘dirty’ colour worn with a bright, clear colour, such as mustard yellow with hot pink, or maroon with sky blue. ‘Dirty’ colours are those tertiary shades, mixed from three primaries (with or without black), while ‘clear’ or secondary shades are mixed only from two (with or without white). Another favourite combination of mine is acid yellow with silver-grey and maroon or cobalt – the shock of cobalt and yellow is lessened by the neutral grey. The possibilities are endless!

Colour-blocking: striking and shocking!Experimental colour was a huge trend a couple of years ago, and the fashion industry referred to this as ‘colour blocking’. Colours were usually quite bright, and shapes of garments were often very simple and graphic. Reiterating the look exactly may look a little passé now, but doing an image search on the term will undoubtedly give you a fresh perspective on fun colour combinations. Today you may prefer to take those colours and interpret them differently, such as wearing two dominating colours, with a third or possibly a fourth added in the form of a belt or pair of shoes.

Too Many Colours

As I quoted in the Ninth Commandment recently, the famous Genevieve Antoine Dariaux believed that really only two colours should be worn at once. I usually prefer to throw in a third (unless I am wearing a printed dress, for example) so that the balance is slightly off – I find that far more visually interesting than perfectly matched garments.

Wearing lots of colours (four or more) is easier to achieve if you stick to a colour family: perhaps three or even four colours in various shades plus a matching print (or two!) in the same shades. This sounds a little crazy, but it can be a lot of fun if you can pull it off. I wouldn’t want to dress like this every day, but once in a while it adds a little spice to your week.

Just remember the easiest way to pull this off is to wear two main colours, and incorporate the third or fourth colours in your accessories.

A Patchwork of Pattern

Mixing patterns is easy! And fun. The simplest combination is stripes with polka dots. One favourite outfit of mine that I often wear is a vintage 80s French blue skirt with white polka dots, with a black and white horizontally striped tee.

It is more difficult to match complex patterns, but it can be done. One way is to choose prints that are in similar colours and tones. Tone refers to the level of brightness or intensity in a colour, or to temperature – whether it is warm or cool.

Another method of mixing and matching prints is to use similar types – for example, florals that are relatively alike in style, and in harmonising tones, such as in the picture above. The hat and the shorts both have a painterly floral pattern, while the cherry print is done at the same scale as the pink flowers on the shorts, but in colours similar to the hat. Note the hat is a warmer, orange toned red, while the pair of shorts is cool-toned, while the white space in cherry print helps unite all three patterns. 

Contrasting prints can work too, whether they contrast in scale (a large floral print worn with a tiny floral, both in similar tones, or narrow horizontal stripes worn with wide vertical stripes), or in type – the aforementioned stripes with polka dots being a simple example – but polka dots could work with a floral in similar tones too.

Above, the houndstooth and spot pattern work together because they are both navy and white, and almost a reverse of one another – the amount of white space in the spot pattern relaxes the eye. Below, different textures and patterns work – a striped knit, needlework lace and an appliquéd skirt – because they are all in yellow and cream. 

A super easy method for the nervous is to wear a garment incorporating multi-prints – the designer has already done the work for you!

However much colour or pattern you incorporate into your outfit, the most important thing is that you shouldn’t feel or look overwhelmed – people should still be able to see you. How we dress is an aspect of our personality, so the colours you choose to wear should not only suit your complexion, but who you are. But even timid types who shy away from bold colour shouldn’t be afraid to experiment occasionally, rather than sticking to safe, dull shades. The right colours next to your face just might make you blossom!

What I Actually Wore

Date: Wed 12/03/14
Weather: 21°C / 69.8°F, a grey, threatening rain

For the clashing theme, I decided to wear pink and orange before I had even cast an eye over the contents of my closet, so it took me very little time to dress. I decided my burnt orange skirt (note, orange is always warm – a cool orange is really brown) would clash deliciously with the cool raspberry pink top. They are both quite strong, rich colours, and I would use a belt to unify them. I did try three different ones on, but the rich tan Chinese knot belt was the last, and as soon as I clipped it on I knew it was the right one. It matched the burnt orange so well.

The woven cane earrings are a light brown, and the silk raincoat hot pink – both these shades slightly off-kilter with the tan belt and pink top. That is exactly what I find fun about wearing ‘slightly wrong’ colours.

For my third colour I picked out a new pair of violet snakeskin heels, that I had bought secondhand for exactly $6. They were unworn, and still had the original pricetag on them, stating that the first owner had bought them for $40, marked down from $200. (And my sister Star has the nerve to call herself the Queen of Bargains.) The shoes proved hugely popular with colleagues at the theatre. (A year ago when I hurt my foot and I couldn’t wear proper shoes for over a month, people were lamenting that they wouldn’t get to admire my footwear for so long.)

Top: Veronika Maine
Skirt: Hannii
Coat: vintage 70s
Belt: French Connection
Shoes: Sachi
Earrings: vintage 70s
Bangles: vintage
Ring: souvenir, Vietnam

Date: Thu 13/03/14
Weather: 24°C / 75.2°F, bright morning

This time I go for what I dubbed in the end a mad mélange of an 80s gelati style. The outfit began with the pale pink balloon trousers, followed by the acid yellow twist gathered tank, and then the cerise ribbed cardigan. A pink and yellow theme began to develop and I began to pile on the accessories wildly: the fabric belt made from a patchwork of vintage silks, the ruffled silk polka-dot scarf, and all the different coloured costume jewellery. It was a wicked delight to throw in the baby blue shoes. Again the belt tied everything together (literally): it featured all the same colours, and polka dots.

As I commented to several people that day, the clownish pants were wrong almost in themselves – so bad they were good. One guy approved the outfit but remarked that I don’t look any different than I normally do! ‘Oh come on!’ I exclaimed, ‘Look at the pants!’ I had to rise and demonstrate the supreme width.

Tank: unknown label, secondhand
Pantaloons: Lauren Vidal
Cardigan: Ping Pong
Scarf: unknown label, souvenir, Noosa
Belt: from Crazy Haus giftshop, souvenir, Vietnam
Earrings: Bijou Brigitte, souvenir, Portugal
Bangle: unknown label, Melbourne boutique
Ring: souvenir, Spain
Shoes: Together!, vintage 80s

Date: Fri 14/03/14
Weather: 28°C / 82.4°F, a clear morning promising a warm day

At the last minute I decided to change the outfit I’d planned to wear (a mix of animal prints I believe), because I had finally got round to repairing the shattered areas in a skirt made from vintage Indian saris. There are two or three long tears which, when worn, are fortunately not visible, though mended tears are preferable to gaping holes. The tiered skirt is a souvenir from Portugal, not India at all, and is made from three differently patterned silks. It is also reversible, only the longest tier showing. I found it in a little, colourful store in the backstreets of Sintra, a fairytale city in the south of Portugal, climbing many cobbled stairs to get there.

I team that with a black and white striped t-shirt from Zara, which, incidentally, was also bought on the same trip to Portugal, though in Porto. Black and white stripes are almost like a neutral pattern, and can be worn many ways.

The red suede shoes are laser cut with a lovely little floral pattern, which I thought was a nice and lateral match with the florals in the skirt.

Also featuring a floral pattern, the spectacular blue enamelled earrings are yet another souvenir from Portugal, from the jewellery boutique Brigit Bijou on the Rua Augusta, Lisbon. That boutique was an Aladdin’s Cave of treasure! The parrot earrings I wore the day before were also bought there. The black onyx ring is a souvenir from the Ben Thành Market in Saigon, Vietnam (an awesome market to shop in). 

Top: Zara
Skirt: souvenir, Portugal
Shoes: Marchez Vous
Earrings: Bijou Brigitte, souvenir, Portugal
Ring: souvenir, Vietnam

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