Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in umbrella (35)


Birds and Brollies

I love fun and kitschy pins and brooches and am amassing quite a collection. Most of them I have bought in Melbourne op shops (thrift stores); a very few bought online; and a couple are leftovers from my childhood (a crimson enamel and diamante butterfly) and teenage years (a frilled sea-serpent wrapped around a sword and swallowing the red glass pommel).

This pair, which I think are from the 1940s or 50s, I bought last Saturday in two different op shops. I was quite tickled to find the umbrella because I had been searching on Etsy last week for umbrella pins – if you’ve been reading this journal for a while, you know I go through quite a few brollies, so I thought it quite expedient that I should have one in brooch form. I also love birds of every kind, and already have a few others in my set, so the swan is a lovely addition.

I tend to wear brooches more in winter because so many of them are made from heavy metal, and weigh delicate summery fabrics down too much. Now that the weather has cooled at last, they shall come out to play!


Autumn Marches In

It was amazing how Melbourne turned on the autumnal weather right on cue. The morning began with grey skies and by the time I was walking to work, graduated to rain. I had to wear a raincoat when the day before I was gallivanting about in a sleeveless summer dress!

It was cool, but not quite as cold as this picture suggests, which I took quite a long time ago, wearing one of my super-jumpers – it’s so warm the cropped length and sleeves are a boon.

The umbrella I’m holding is vintage, probably 60s or 70s, and the periwinkle gloves (it’s difficult to capture that colour on camera, but they are definitely purple-tinged) are 1960s. I find that with umbrellas, it’s a case of they certainly don’t make ‘em like they used to, and vintage brollies are far more sturdy because they generally have more spokes. I’ve never had a vintage umbrella blow inside out, no matter what gale is blowing.

By lunchtime today the clouds had cleared, and tomorrow will be quite warm, and Saturday we will return to beach weather! Ah, Melbourne, as the song says, we really do enjoy four seasons in one day.

Happy autumn!

Photo: July 2016


Summertime Gothic

Time was in Melbourne when many goths wandering like lost souls through the streets were a very familiar sight. Having gone through art college myself, they were never a threatening or repugnant presence to me as they were to some, and I was always intrigued (and entertained) by their bold sartorial expressions.

What a spectacular head dress! (from @mywitchery; outfit @burleskacorsets-blog.)Their mania for emulating the darker aspects of the Victorian period in respect of dress seemed to work well for winter – frock coats, puffy sleeved shirts, cloaks, big boots – but I marvelled that so many seemed at a loss as to what to wear for summer, always a concern for sweltering days in an Australian city, even one so far south as Melbourne.

Melbourne Goth & Victorian Picnic 2017I always felt sorry for them, suffering on broiling days in their multiple floor-length layers. They really needed a stylist I decided, poor things, to help them figure out a ‘summerweight’ goth look. I was sure their angst-ridden expressions had more to do with suffering from imminent heatstroke than affected Victorian anguish.

You don’t see many goths in Melbourne anymore however. Perhaps the old goths of the 90s and Noughties have grown up, or moved to the suburbs and got haircuts and real jobs. Research lead me to discover the goth movement is still going strong in Europe, with many large annual festivals (mainly in Germany) still being held and attracting tens of thousands, with steampunk and even ‘steamgoth’ now entering the field as well.

Melbourne Goth & Victorian Picnic 2017One way to keep cool – not for everyone however; Melbourne Goth & Victorian Picnic 2017In October last year, the Melbourne Gothic & Victorian Picnic was held in the Fitzroy Gardens (north of the city proper), it is pleasing to discover. However a quick perusal of photos shows that most goths are wearing quite heavy garments for mid-spring, with a few concessions in the form of punk-inspired torn lace or lingerie – a revealing look not for everyone.

I’ve long wanted to do a tongue-in-cheek homage on a summer version of typical goth splendour, but have held off until I secured just the right outfit. I finally found it, and here it is to celebrate the last day of summer: a billowing silk, floor-length dress featuring some cobwebby lace in the yoke, a nod to gothic Victoriana for the more modest young lady. The loose skirts, low back and front, and sleeveless cut make it perfect for an Australian summer.

Add a lace parasol (I only had a cream one, but a real goth might prefer tattered black) to protect one’s delicate pallor from the burning rays of the Australian sun, a dour expression, and you’re good to go. For an evening wrap against potential night chill, consider a black lace shawl which can be prosaically wrapped round the shoulders, or draped over the head for that funereal aspect.

Visit A Study of Goth Subculture (2009) for both dissertations and detailed fashion information; a relatively recent story at The Conversation on Goth, Steampunk and the State of Subculture Today (2016) is also worth a read.

Photos: March 2017


The Land of Summer-And-Autumn

There is a magical land where summer and autumn are mixed together for a while – like twilight – before autumn takes over completely. Melbourne produces this season beautifully. The calendar may say summer has ended, but my hometown does not know it.

These are the days when it’s still hot, hot, hot, but you know the weather could turn in a trice … that’s when a parasol-umbrella comes very handy. In the morning it could screen you from the burning sun, and in the afternoon it could provide shelter from the rain.

These are the days that are still gloriously golden at the same time the leaves are turning gold and orange and red. Slowly the heat will fade and we’ll feel a nip in the air, and that’s when fashion starts to get more fun as we begin to layer up, add an accessory or two. But for this week’s heatwave at least we’ll enjoy autumn in the skimpiest layers possible.

Fashion Notes

This photo is so old (my hair!) the silk blouse, tiered skirt – made from vintage kimonos and bought in Sintra, Portugal – and blue sandals have long since been retired from my closet. Now I rather wish I had kept the skirt, for it was rather fun. The daisy fabric layer was rather shattered though, and I had spent quite a long time mending a huge tear; but that wasn’t why I got rid of it: I had ruthlessly culled anything that was too girly or frilly! There are some things, though, that one should never throw away, and I think this was one of them.

Photo: March 2014


The Lost Umbrella

A few days ago I lost one of my favourite vintage umbrellas, leaving it behind me at a tram stop in the city. I didn’t realise until I had travelled all the way to my destination and disembarked. As is my habit, I looked behind me to check I had all my belongings and suddenly thought, WHERE IS MY UMBRELLA?

It was a favourite shade of Kelly green with a lemon yellow pearlised plastic handle and cord wristlet (by chance patriotically Australian colours), and I had bought it a year or two before at a vintage bazaar. It was a great smallish size that fit into my work tote bag too, which I had always appreciated.

I had been carrying the umbrella all day, using it first in the morning as a sunscreen, and then, when the weather turned suddenly in the afternoon (as is typical in Melbourne), to keep the rain off. I had put the wet umbrella down so I could put on a jumper as it had turned chilly, and sat down to await my tram.

Then a homeless person standing a few feet away from me suddenly started declaiming political poetry at the top of his voice, startling me, until I realised he had mental health issues and was ranting about sinister conspiracy theories. When my tram arrived a few minutes later, I jumped up with alacrity, eager to escape the crazed rage, and thus forgot my umbrella.

So there I found myself, brolly-less, and upset with myself for being so careless. I couldn’t bear to go home without attempting to recover the umbrella, so I returned to the city on a tram that fortuitously arrived a minute or two later, and I prayed all the way that the umbrella would be miraculously untouched and waiting for me.

More than once I’ve seen lost things taken or kicked about my strangers …

AND IT WAS! Joyfully I snatched it up. Some kind soul had fastened it for me and placed it on a seat in plain view. No one else had taken it! More than once I’ve seen lost things taken or kicked about my strangers, so it was heartening indeed to see my umbrella spared. I didn’t even mind that it had ended up taking me two hours to get home instead of one, I was so happy.

Photos: July 2016