Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Air Supply

Although I am currently going through a Ballet Russes phase (colour, print, texture, pattern, layers, sequins, stripes, polka dots – PILE IT ON!), I still very much admire the minimalist look as captured in this fashion editorial from Australian Vogue.*

The shapes are simple, but exaggerated; the colours muted and mostly monochromatic, but a great variety of textural combinations, or the contrast of sheer with opaque fabrics give these looks such richness. I don’t even mind that three of these outfits are entirely black!

The velvet Gucci trousers are so lush, especially contrasted with the sheer blouse – its poet sleeves are so graceful too. The origami cut of Antonio Berardi’s skirt is also beautiful, and Calvin Klein’s panelled wool dress is a wonder of subtlety. And I must mention the tassels in the Ferragamo shoes – how sensuous would it be to have those gently swinging at your ankles! The plaited hair is so pretty and bohemian too.

I just wish I had the bank balance and the wardrobe space to accommodate these elegant creations in my life. Sigh.

* Photographs by Nicole Bentley, Vogue Australia, August 2012. It’s not stated, but I suspect this editorial first appeared in an international edition. I didn’t like all the looks in the story either, but that was partly to do with the awkward, slump-shouldered poses of the models (why do they do that?!).


What I Actually Wore #0057

Serial #: 0057
Date: 25/01/2011
Weather: forecast 27°, warm
Time Allowed: 2 minutes

I had a lunch date with a friend to go to, and to save time I wore an outfit I used in a photoshoot that morning. It was a story about mercerised cotton. The Kookaï top features cute balloon-puff sleeves, which are complemented by the gathered insert in an old favourite black and white skirt by Obüs.

When it came time to leave, I quickly picked out a pair of colourful shoes: Alice-blue, low-heeled, vintage Eighties courts that I had bought on Etsy last year. As it was sunny outside I decided to take an umbrella and foil the burning sun. This posed an unexpected problem.

I own so many umbrellas, yet few are usable. A red and orange one with a leafy pattern was coming undone along one of the seams. The tasselled lilac was all frayed along the ends; I had not yet got round to trimming it with some braid I’d sourced. (Mending is so dull.) The beige I knew was impossible: its frill had unravelled and I had botched the mending; it had to be redone before I could use it again. (Did I mention mending is dull work?)

I don’t even like to think about the tragedy that occurred to render the quaint white parasol, lined with black lace, utterly unusable. The Lucite handle was snapped off when a speeding tram driver braked suddenly and it fell against the door.

As for the magenta parasol with black pom-pom trim – it was out of the question: pink with my blue shoes would be foul. Neither the Chinese paper parasol, nor Battenberg lace matched; and I cordially disliked the brown umbrella. I’ve never liked the colour brown, and don’t know what possessed me to buy this one in the first place.

That left the blue umbrella. This was annoying, because it was the exact same shade of blue as my shoes. But at least my buffalo bag was not matchy-matchy.


Top: Kookaï
Skirt: Obüs
Earrings: from Zari
Ring: Autore
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Bag: from Stanley Market in Hong Kong
Shoes: vintage, Together!



French evening dress from 1865 Straw Hat with Striped Bow, c. 1914I adore stripes with a passion. I find them so cheerful they instantly put me in a good mood. These days though they seem to go in and out of style, and are most often related to the nautical look – hence the yo-yoing of fashion.

In centuries past they have been very popular too. Obviously the weavers threw subtlety out the window – who wanted pinstripes when barberstripes* were possible?

And the dressmakers weren’t shy to put them to good use either. In the late 18th and 19th centuries big dresses were all the rage, and stripes weren’t used just for trim: the entire gown was boldly striped. You couldn’t possibly make a bigger sartorial statement (literally and metaphorically). These pink and red numbers in particular made me gasp. Amazing.

*My own term, signifying stripes wide enough to put a barber’s pole to shame.

Bustled gown, c. 1885Robe retroussée dans les poches, c. 1780 FranceRobe à la Française, 1778–1785


What I Actually Wore #0049

Serial #: 0049
Date: 06/10/2010
Weather: 24° and mild, until down came the rain and washed us out
Time Allowed: 5 minutes

I’m off to see the Tim Burton retrospective at ACMI, an exhibition that calls for something at least a little colourful. I make this outfit up as I go along, starting with the raspberry-coloured top by Veronika Maine. The top is made from nylon, cotton and metal, the last of which gives it volume and structure. It does mean it’s a little foofy with the grey skirt: I add one of my favourite belts so my waist is visible again.

I carry a vintage silk paisley handbag for the first time; pin a dusky rose into my hair; slip on some cloisonné pussycat earrings, and buckle up a pair of ponyhair and suede heels.

After the exhibition (which was fantastic), I buy a pair of coral taffeta shorts at Kinki Gerlinki, and then Rapunzel and I have coffee in Centre Place. That’s when the downpour begins, and I must dash to the train station under the awnings, for fear that my shoes would be ruined. But I make it safely home. All in all, a lovely afternoon!


Top: Veronica Maine
Skirt: Staff
Belt: David Lawrence
Flower pin: Salvos
Earrings: souvenir from Vietnam
Ring: Autore
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Handbag: vintage, from Etsy
Shoes: Diana Ferrari

One of my favourite belts, by David Lawrence. I love the colour.


What I Actually Wore #0048

Serial #: 0048
Date: 05/10/2010
Weather: forecast 21°, mild and muggy
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

The outing: a trip to the Melbourne Museum, to see the Titanic exhibition. The theme: turn-of-the-century ambiance. Although I wanted to dress somewhat thematically, I didn’t intend to slavishly follow the fashion of 1912. Just a vague suggestion was all that was necessary.

My asymmetrical long skirt is voluminous (actually the opposite of the era’s narrow silhouette), and made of indigo denim; an old favourite by the New Zealand label Obi. The dusky pink silk blouse I paired with it has cute little puffed sleeves, three buttons along the neckline, and is finished with a bow. It is so quaint and picturesque, like something from a vintage storybook.

As the skirt is a little big for me, I cinched in the waist with a butter soft leather belt I bought overseas. The large round buckle is silver and inset with red leather, and the belt is long enough to be worn slouchy around the hips, or tight around the waist. It was an expensive purchase, but worth it because its bright colour lifts any outfit.

Also mandatory was a hat. Although I do have one hat reputably from 1910, it was a little dainty for this huge skirt. Instead, I went for this modern red wool felt fedora trimmed with grosgrain ribbon. Black stockings were typical of the times, although the patent black shoes with Louis heels, and three straps with little silver buckles that cross the foot above the vamp are more Twenties-style.

The plait is the finishing touch – it’s practical (a bun or low chignon doesn’t fit under the hat), and it makes me look like a turn of the century schoolgirl. And in fact, we are given a ‘boarding pass’ when we enter the exhibition, and mine reads I am a young schoolgirl, one of the real passengers who was lost at sea.


Top: Cue
Skirt: Obi
Belt: Mango
Hat: Milano
onyx baubles, handmade by me
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Shoes: Nine West