Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Entries in style (117)

Monday
Aug192019

When Wearing Stripes Becomes Optical Art

If any of my readers want proof of my devotion to stripes, behold this dramatic dress of striped jersey!

The dress, by Olivaceous (a brand I’ve never heard of) has a halter neckline formed by two extremely long ties that lift to create the bodice, cross my back, wind around waist a once or twice and then tie in a huge bow at the base of my back – and the ends still dangle to my knees! In addition, the maxi skirt is so wide and long that I have to carry it like ladies of yore so that I don’t trip and fall on my face. I like to think it evokes 1930s style a little. 

Maximum drama makes it the perfect dress to wear to an Opening Night at the theatre last January, and making doubly-sure I turn heads, I pair with it a 1940s black and white satin veiled pillbox hat. The fabric is made of viscose, so it has flows beautifully; almost mesmerisingly. I feel like a piece of Op Art wearing it!

Photo: April 2019

Monday
Aug052019

The Cuffed Sleeve

One of the most basic sleeve styles is the cuffed sleeve. The cuff can take many forms, from the familiar ‘man’s shirt’ sleeve cuff, to simple band or piping cuffs.

This first cuff (above) is a band cuff that fastens with a single button in a narrower variation on the standard shirt cuff. It has pleats on either side of the button and a short placket opening that enables the hand to slide through.

Band cuffs without fastenings at the wrist are of course loose enough to allow the hand to slip through – piping cuffs are a very narrow type of cuff in this style – while band cuffs on the upper arm (such as on short puffed sleeves) often don’t have fastenings.

Another variation in the man’s shirt cuff is the French cuff, which is doubled in length and folded back. On a man’s shirt, cufflinks are used to fasten the two ends together. This is a more formal shirt worn with a suit by groomsmen or high-powered businessmen for a very debonair look. My silk gingham shirt has French cuffs that are simply folded back with the ends left loose – a contrast with the informal sash tie at the waist.

A more interesting type of cuff is the multi-buttoned style. These cuffs are usually quite fitted. I am wearing a silk blouse with four-button cuffs, but two-button cuffs are more common to see. In the Victorian era, very long, fitted, buttoned cuffs up to the elbow were a popular style, and were usually topped with a blouson shoulder. This type of sleeve is called a gigot – French for the back leg of an animal, a prettier name than ‘leg of mutton’ – or even Gibson Girl sleeves after the Victorian era archetype, who wore gigot sleeves on the classic pigeon-breasted blouses – we’ll visit those as soon as I find one to add to my wardrobe!

Refresh your sleeve knowledge by visiting the gallery for the whole set so far.

Tuesday
Jul022019

Break the Rools with a Bajillion Jools!

You may have heard of that old adage – attributed to Coco Chanel – ‘take one thing off before you leave the house’ … today I am going to declare war on discretion! I pooh-pooh Parisian chic! I flout thee, minimalism! LOAD EM UP! More is more is more – the more the merrier, I say! Why wear one WHEN YOU CAN WEAR THEM ALL?

I own a lot of costume jewellery – mostly bought on holiday as souvenirs or in thrift stores – and for a long time I have been hesitant about wearing a single strand of beads because it just feels too 90s to me. A much more fun way to wear them I have found is to wear lots and really make them a feature of an outfit rather than a discreet accent.

But there is a secret to wearing a bajillion jools without looking like a Christmas tree, and it is this: pick one hue or theme and stick firmly with it. In these three examples of excess, I have done just that.

The first outfit included a holey wool top, and I decided to embrace the circle theme and wear a jumble of wooden necklaces of similar tones and shapes. In the second example I am wearing three brooches at once, all white, and all birds – note the silver earrings are feathers! And in the last, I am wearing three different green wooden necklaces on a fairly plain cool grey wool dress.

Be mindful to not go OTT with your other accessories to keep focus on just one area. Or you can say hell with that and go all out everywhere! Just be prepared to be goggled at.

Photos: August 2018/October 2018/May 2019

Thursday
Jun132019

The Straight Sleeve

The most common or ordinary type of sleeve is what I define the ‘straight’ sleeve – most other sources simply define them by the length – short, three-quarter or long. The other defining characteristic is that they are ‘set-in’, which is to say they are set into the armscye of the bodice where the sleeve is joined. The sleeve head is curved and adjusted to the roundness of the shoulder. They can be fitted to the arm, or slightly looser.

The armscye is simply the technical term for the armhole opening of the bodice, to which the sleeve is joined. On an interesting sidenote, the origin of the word is Scottish, in folk etymology literally as it is pronounced: ‘arm’s eye’. [dictionary.com]

The other main type of sleeve is constructed in one piece with the bodice, such as kimono, dolman and batwing – very popular during the 1980s. There are also raglan sleeves, which join the bodice with a curved seam – they are most familiar in casual, sporty types of tops; often the sleeve will be of a different colour to the bodice, to accentuate the cut.

Straight sleeves can seem boring compared to the plethora of other imaginative cuts, but they can be saved from severity or plainness with the addition of interesting details or fabrics, such as in these three examples here.

My short sleeves here are made more decorative with the scalloped hem, just enough to offset the decorative front of the vintage silk blouse (probably 1950s). The three-quarter sleeves nod to warmer weather, if the spring-like floral pattern does not imply it enough; the blouse is by Zara. The long-sleeved All Saints blouse made of striped silk chiffon is of a very unusual design, a backwards wrap top! I’ve never seen this before. I bought the blouse in a thrift store, and was flummoxed for a while as to how it was worn, as the wrap at the back is quite low and gaping when worn reversed.

Keep up to date with sleeve lingo or for a quick refresher, visit the Sleeves Style gallery, which I will update as I go.

Wednesday
Jun052019

The Cup Sleeve

I am totally making up this name for this sleeve. It’s not like any other sleeve lurking in my closet, and nothing like I have been able to identify elsewhere. I have discovered an amazing pictorial Japanese fashion lexicon via Pinterest, which has all manner of sleeve designs in it (some that more closely resemble alien appendages than anything you would slip your arm into) – but even that does not seem to have anything similar to this sleeve.

It is like half a straight sleeve; unlike a cap sleeve which is cut diagonally from under the armpit, this sleeve covers the shoulder entirely, and is cut straight across. It cups the shoulder, like a mushroom cup, or an umbrella.

This silk blouse is designed by Cue, an Australian label that has been around for a few decades. I own quite a few garments by its sister label Veronika Maine, which favours unusual and complicated cuts (making ironing extremely difficult and laborious at times!), and this looks like it has borrowed from the VM approach.

Visit the full gallery here.