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Entries in umbrella (34)


What I Actually Wore #127

Serial #: 0127
Date: 19/06/2013
Weather: 15°C / 59°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

This outfit is a nod to the season with its blue, grey and black tones, but it manages to steer clear of dreariness and Normcore. A winter triumph! I love different tones of grey worn together – grey is my black, really. I wouldn’t want to wear it day in and day out, but all-grey outfits are lovely.

The three-quarter sleeved tee was a basic I bought new (a rare occurrence) from Kookaï; I bought two exactly the same, one in this blue-grey, and another in a lighter smoky grey. I wear them a lot, so they were worth the investment. The blue suede boots were also purchased new, years ago, but everything else I am wearing is second hand.

Another good basic item is the grey wool cardigan by Satch, which I have also had for years (and still wear). A couple of years ago I found another exactly like it, but in a warm grey colour, almost brown. I don’t wear that colour as much however.

The poufy skirt was one that was much admired whenever I wore it, although it has since gone in one of my wardrobe culls. The boots, hat and umbrella are all still in circulation. Made from heavy cotton, the blue beret is vintage 1940s and came from an American Etsy shop. I am thematic with my silver raincloud earrings, and the other jewellery I am wearing is an onyx ring and bangle, both souvenirs of overseas travel.

I still really like this outfit. It makes me actually look forward to autumn, and singin’ in the rain!


Tee: Kookaï
Satch (now defunct)
vintage 40s
Portobello Lane
Kenneth Cole
Robert Robert
vintage 70s

Photos: October 2013


Weather Ears

As a Melburnian, born and bred, I have learned to always keep an eye on the weather and to be prepared for any contingency: umbrellas in winter, cardigans in summer. Sometimes a cardigan and an umbrella in summer. Australians all round the country can instantly recognise a Melburnian tourist because we are the only ones assiduously checking the weather forecast.

It is absolutely possible for Melbourne to be hot in the morning and cold and thunderstorming in the afternoon. In the rainy seasons I am always prepared, carrying an umbrella at all times – and if I am caught unawares (a rare occurrence), then I have an emergency collapsible umbrella in my desk drawer at work.

In the entirely likely event the meteorologists have told the most shocking, bald-faced lies and I am OAA and brollyless, I pull out my rain hat, which I bought from high street store Sportsgirl. My mum used to say to me in all seriousness that in an emergency, I could pull a plastic bag over my head. But I think this rain bonnet is a much cuter option!

Photo: July 2016


Bye, Brolly

I am so sad! I’ve seen things you wouldn’t have believed. An MNG umbrella blown inside out by fierce wind. I watched another mangled near the Botanical Gardens Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears … in … rain.

Okay, that’s a ribald joke referencing the speech Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, makes at the end of the film Blade Runner. But still, I am devastated my favourite glen plaid umbrella has a broken wing. Once more it was the mischievous wind playing havoc, bending one of the spokes. It was still usable however, and did last for quite some time before the rubbish modern metal snapped in two. But now no more. It is trash.

[Vintage umbrellas] have a pointy steel spike on the end, which is extremely handy for self-defence in an emergency situation.

I remember the day I got it, one boiling hot summer day a few years ago. The brand is Shelta, and they usually retail for $40 or more. I found it in a thrift store for $6 and snapped it up. You can never have too many umbrellas is one of my maxims. My niece on a recent visit demanded to know why I own so many umbrellas. This is why.

I do prefer vintage umbrellas, because they are made from steel and have twice as many spokes as modern umbrellas, which makes them much sturdier in a violent wind. They also usually have a pointy steel spike on the end, which is extremely handy for self-defence in an emergency situation. (It is an actual fact that muggers are more wary of people carrying long umbrellas.) Remember this next time you go vintage shopping and spot an umbrella: Spokes and Spikes.

Photo: This week.


Sunburn is So Out This Year

Happy New Year Snapettes! Nearly the whole of January has passed already. I had meant to make my big comeback before this, but I wanted to do a whole new story instead of using my enormous backlog of unpublished pictures, and I have had a black eye. Well, it was actually mauve rather than black (black is so out this year), but it was quite swollen and unsightly. It is almost better now and fit for public viewing. So here I am at last, huzzah!

January of course is the traditional time to make New Year’s Resolutions. I have made a few for 2015, divided under the category of Personal and Fashion. I am going to share my fashion resolutions with you just for a giggle.

The first one regards sunburn, and I shall go into detail here, but I shall only briefly mention the others or this story will be extremely long and I shall have nothing to write about later. The second has to do with scarves, the third with ironing, and the fourth with mending.

Is anything bigger than a sombrero? From ‘The Century of Hats’ by Susie Hopkins; (Chartwell Books, 1999). No picture credit provided.So, back to sunburn. I hereby and forthwith declare I will not get sunburned in 2015. (This will be a real feat if I succeed, for it’s summer in Melbourne … although this summer has been quite paltry thus far, so I may yet triumph.)

I am not big on suntans, but I am even less big on suntan lines. I loathe and abominate suntan lines with every fibre of my being. Ugh. Especially on my chest (I wear a lot of scoop-neck tops.) Also, you know, wrinkles, and skin cancer. It ain’t called a sunburn for no reason!

Some of you might at this point be thinking, ‘Um, what about sunscreen?’

I hate sunscreen. It’s disgusting and sticky and gross. The only time I wear it is on the beach. I am aware this is a foolhardy stance for someone who lives in southern Australia, so close to the hole in the sky. And the sun here really does wicked burn – it’s no surprise that one sees a lot of holidaying Brits here the colour of lobsters.

… it’s no surprise that one sees a lot of holidaying Brits here the colour of lobsters

Hat by Sybilla, late 1980s; from ’Hats’ by Colin McDowell (Thames & Hudson, 1992) This is why many years ago I started wearing hats. I began as a teen with wide-brimmed summer hats purely for sun protection, and that gradually lead me into my passion (some of my friends may say mania) for vintage millinery. However, not all hats are wide-brimmed enough for sun protection, and that is why more often than not I will carry a parasol. It covers a larger area too, obviously.

When I first started using parasols, I was absolutely the only person for miles around that did so. Skip forward just a few years (cough, cough) to the present day when I have even seen men using umbrellas as parasols. (That was an extraordinary and hitherto undocumented moment for Australian men’s fashion.)

A small parasol provides shade for a day at the races, Deauville, France; from ‘Style Book’ by Elizabeth Walker (Flammarion, 2010)This is a true story: I remember once waiting at some pedestrian lights with my parasol held aloft, where I was accosted by an African girl with very dark skin, who admired my incredible courage in carrying a parasol. (I wasn’t aware this was a dangerous occupation.) She confided that she actually had a skin condition, which she had been recommended by doctors to alleviate with the use of a parasol – but she was too embarrassed to carry one. She pleaded for my advice. I promptly gave her sartorial permission to deploy one. I don’t know if she availed herself of it, but it’s true a parasol is a common sight on Melburnian streets nowadays.

Here is my pictorial treatise in the various summer hats that have recently passed into my hands. Every one of these is secondhand. Most of them are natural straw.

The Sailor

This whimsical black hat at first glance resembles a beret, but either it is too small for my head to be worn as such, or it is in fact a sailor hat, and meant to be worn atop the head. It offers little to no protection, but it looks very fetching! This is one of two that is not made of natural straw, and does not have a label inside. I think I paid about $7 for it.

The Fedora

Made from chocolate brown straw, this fedora has quickly become one of my favourite casual hats to wear. (I wore it for almost the entirety of my trip to Sydney last November, where, incidentally, I got quite burned on my chest.) It is Italian-made, by Milana. When I bought this in a Red Cross thrift store, it still had the original tag attached – the owner had clearly not worn it once! I paid $4 for it, and in fashion dollars that has whittled down to mere cents. (That’s called shopping sense.)

The Boater (I)

I never used to like boaters. I’m not sure why. Maybe I saw too many period films set in the Edwardian era and conceived a dislike of them. Anyway, I came across this $5 English hat made by Headliner in a thrift store in Lorne, on the Victorian coast. That band is made of grosgrain ribbon, one of the commonest millinery trimmings.

The Boater (II)

This boater was produced by Australian label Peter Jago, and is wider-brimmed than boater #1, which makes it marginally more practical and less decorative. The grosgrain ribbon is olive coloured, a rather unusual choice. Boaters can, at least, look more saucy when worn at a tilt. In fact, it ought to be mandatory for all hats to be worn with a rakish tilt! I can’t recall what I paid for it, but I am fairly certain it was not more than $4–$5.

The Picture Hat

A picture hat, sometimes known as a Gainsborough, is an elaborate wide-brimmed hat, and is so-called from the way the broad brim frames the face to create a ‘picture’ (thank you Wikipedia). Mine is by Witchery, an Australian fashion chain. I actually purchased it at the same Vinnies thrift store for $10, (along with the sailor hat and the olive-banded boater – some fearless lady had clearly donated hats in a big lump sum).

The Cartwheel

I bought this vintage 1970s hat on Etsy. It is the widest-brimmed hat (available for purchase at least) that I have ever seen. My search in fact was inspired by a fashion photo I had seen somewhere of some 1930s or 40s Hollywood startlet wearing just such a hat. I immediately hankered after one. After I purchased it, the seller told me she had a famous New York bridal fashion magazine begging to borrow it for a photoshoot! The brim measures about 23cm (or 9”) and is so wide and floppy that I feel like I might take off in a high wind like the Flying Nun. It is not made from natural straw; however, it has tassels, and tassels compensate for anything.

The Parasol

However, notwithstanding their decorative nature, the amount of sun protection hats offer is obviously limited. To really confound the burning rays of our Australian sun, the big guns are required. If you hold a parasol at the right angle, you can even protect your naked sandalled feet (who remembers to daily slather sunscreen on their feet?).

This umbrella is vintage – 1960s perhaps. I found it in an antique bazaar a couple of years ago in Geelong, a small Victorian city, and pounced on it immediately. Kelly green! I love Kelly green. It has a yellow plastic handle, with a cord loop for convenient wrist-endanglement. 

I, in my alter ego as the Umbrella Killer, know umbrellas, and I can inform you that they don’t make them like they used to (you probably know this already). Vintage umbrella frames are made from a better-quality steel that does not break or warp easily in strong winds. The designs are usually more interesting too. And, bonus points: they often bear a steel pointy end, which makes them a magnificent weapon of self-defence to fend off muggers! Win, win, win!

It is a pity, considering our climate, that manufacturers don’t produce attractive fabric parasols (they are missing a unique opportunity in the market thereby), but a plastic rain umbrella can be substituted, and in the case of Melbourne with its freakishly erratic weather, it is likely to be mighty useful in fending off the rain all on the same day!

So, there you have it. I believe I am in possession of quite an adequate arsenal with which to protect my fair complexion, and so far I can proudly report I have escaped sunburn. Although that might have something more to do with the quantity of rain we’ve had this summer than anything else!


The Rain in Spain

A bleak rainy week is upon us Melburnians, which is the perfect time for yet another umbrella to shut up shop.

Truth to tell, this cheap little brolly from Bershka broke one of its wings a long time ago – I just couldn’t bear to part with it. I hate throwing away souvenirs, even if they cost €5 and were bought in an emergency.

A couple years ago I was in Barcelona for a few days in the middle of summer. Some freakish rainy weather hit (Audrey did say ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’), but I couldn’t bear to spend a lot of money on an umbrella that I would only use for a few days.

So I spent probably an hour hunting high and low for a cheap one (I recall rejecting a stylish €35 brolly from Mango on the grounds that the last Mango umbrella I bought – in Vietnam – broke in the first storm in Melbourne on my return) until finally, and discontentedly, I settled on this frilled and spotted version.

I can’t remember when the spoke broke, in Europe or after my return, but I know the umbrella was still pretty new. And so I couldn’t throw it out, not after its ridiculous history: all that trawling in the rain to find it, and dragging it all around Europe and all the way back home …

For two winters I persevered and wrestled with it, but no longer. I had a big clean out of my closet at the end of January, and I decided this brolly had to go – the old must make way for the new. It was a wrench, but it had to be done.

I promise tomorrow I will actually put it in the bin.