Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Friday
Nov302018

My Spectacular Sunglasses

I have often talked about accessories, and how they add the finishing touch to an outfit. What is even better, is a vintage accessory. You just can’t beat it for uniqueness, whether hat, glove, scarf or sunglasses – they add a certain je ne sais quoi to a look – or authenticity. You can tell the real deal a mile off. It’s in the quality of the materials and manufacturing; it’s an old adage but true: they just don’t make them the way they used to. And for something like a pair of sunglasses that you will likely wear every day, you want to really love it.

I am a bit of a fiend for sunglasses (and here you thought it was just hats) and have quite a collection, a few designer and lots of cheapies. Over the last year I determined that it was past time I ventured into the vintage sunglasses game.

Quite quickly, I stumbled across my first pair: 1930s tortoiseshell celluloid (above), with lenses that had an olive tinge. I found those in an op shop, and miraculously they came with their original leather case. Gold text on the front flap, partially scratched off, proclaims in swooping script the name of J. B. R. Burgess, with the tail of the final ‘s’ forming a swoosh underlining the name. In a small serif font underneath it is inscribed ‘Culwulla CHBR’ Castlereagh St, Sydney. Presumably it belonged to someone living in this building, Culwulla Chambers, which was built in 1912 and hailed as Sydney’s first ‘skyscraper’ standing 50 metres high.

The next pair of sunglasses I bought were 1940s wire-framed shades (below), with dark lenses and flexible arms. I found these on eBay, from a seller who had boxes of deadstock. Donning them took a bit of getting used used to – I was quite clumsy at first with slipping them around my ears. What a classic pair of sunglasses! I’ve always loved aviators, but these are even better.

The third pair took a little longer to land in my lap. I knew I wanted a pair of light-coloured celluloid frames, but these are extremely rare in Melbourne. I had been keeping my eye on a 40s pair with pale peachy pink round frames (my holy grail of sunglasses) on Etsy, but they were very expensive; I kept on putting my money towards vintage hats, my true love. Then one day I found another pair of deadstock 40s sunnies (top), these ones cream-coloured. The Dutch seller had two pairs, and I snaffled one of them at half the price of the pink ones, and was very pleased. (Tragically, a short time later, someone else snatched the pink ones out from under me, and the second pair of cream ones also sold.)

I call my reading glasses ‘my spectaculars’, but this trio really are. I adore them all. Though three is plenty to keep me going for now, I don’t think my adventures in vintage sunglasses has ended just yet – I still want my rose-coloured glasses!

Fashion Notes:

The dress is vintage 1940s, bought from Birthday Life Vintage earlier this year, the beret is by Australian brand Mimco, bought in a thrift store, and the earrings are vintage 50s, also bought in a thrift store.

Photos: November 2018

Thursday
Nov292018

Pearls of Wisdoom

Pearls are one of my favourite precious gems, and unfortunately pearls are fabled to bring tears. They certainly have in my case. I once was horror-stricken when the large Broome pearl fell out of my engagement ring – it was found, but the engagement was broken off (the right decision, it transpired). And now a couple of weeks ago I was devastated when I arrived home one day and discovered the mabé pearl in a favourite ring was smashed off!

Somehow it’s worse to find it half-smashed than lost altogether. In the latter case I might be able to console myself a little that some lucky person was enjoying it. Now, all I can imagine is that the fragments of pearl shell were crushed underfoot by some oblivious passer-by. Ironically, this ring was a gift from the same man, so perhaps it was doomed after all, though it took more than a decade for the day of its reckoning to come.

On Moh’s scale of hardness, pearls rate a 2.5–4.5 out of ten; next time, give me pure carbon, the hardest substance known to man. It just doesn’t have the same ring, though, does it?

Photo: November 2018

Tuesday
Nov272018

An Absolute Blast!

Eeeek! It’s getting close to that time of year! Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the big Christmas costume party at my workplace. Every year there is a different theme, and every year everyone goes all out – I work at a theatre, so everyone is on their mettle, and the pressure is on.

This year the theme is the 1980s, inspired by our final play of the year which is set in the 80s. But I can’t reveal what I’m going as this year (no spoilers!) so instead I shall relive my day of glory as Barbarella, for which I won an award in 2013.

The theme was the 1960s (not to be confused with last year’s science-fiction theme when I went as the Queen of Naboo), and I quickly chose Barbarella for a character. It was more difficult to choose the costume, not because there were so many, but because they were so skimpy and NSFW!

The picture above was my inspiration, partly because I already owned a silver metal mesh top (of course I do), and I set about obtaining the other accoutrements, including a black mesh body-stocking (which made it difficult to go to the bathroom), skirt, boots, and wig, all bought on eBay, and last but not least, a laser-blaster. I made that myself from a giant toy water-gun. (My cousin, who I am with in the third photo of the slideshow) went as Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock’s classic film, The Birds.)

When you scroll down below, you will see my cousin and I pulling the obligatory faces (starting with some Blue Steel) for a photobooth strip – we did have an absolute blast!

Photos: December 2013

Saturday
Nov242018

Impressed!

A few years ago, my friend Rapunzel bought this vintage 60s suede coat at a vintage warehouse sale for a fairly modest sum. The clothing, I believe, was purchased unseen by the container-load from America. While all the other clothing at the sale seemed to have suffered no lasting damage, this coat looked like it had been drenched in the brink. It was so wrinkled, and strangely textured as though it was encrusted with salt.

My friend, however, never wore it, saying she had never got round to taking it to a drycleaner, and didn’t like wearing coats for commuting anyway, as she tended to overheat, and so she was reluctant to spend a large amount on professional cleaning. She donated it to me.

I was pleased to accept the coat, but it couldn’t be worn in the state it was. I forgot to photograph it in its original state, but I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball, then poorly smoothed out.

I would describe the texture as resembling a piece of paper that had been screwed up into a little ball …

I took the coat to my regular drycleaner and asked his advice. With very serious face he examined the coat and remarked that it did look like it had fallen into the ocean. That seemed unlikely, but perhaps it had been splashed at some point in its life. He did not think cleaning it would improve its appearance – the two apparent stains visible on the right side (near the collar and the middle button) were actually abrasions of the leather, so cleaning would have no effect on those. He suggested pressing it instead.

Ironing leather! I have talked before about the importance of ironing, but it never would have occurred to me that it was appropriate to press leather. For a modest sum of $15, I agreed to see if that improved the look of the coat. When I returned to pick the coat up, I was very impressed (pardon the pun) to see the improvement.

This suede, mink-trimmed coat transmogrified from a sozzled 60-year-old harridan into a gently-used dignified dame. Disfigurements became faint scars proudly marking the stately passage of time, and the coat was eminently wearable. Amongst so many coats I already own, I still managed to wear it a few times this past winter, an excellent result.

Photo: August 2018

Wednesday
Nov212018

Bonus Barrettes

I discovered yesterday I had forgotten to include this closeup photo of my vintage hair clips, so you could see them in all their glory. Look at all the detail in the moulds! The red clip has little carvings, and the leaves on the green sprig are quaintly all different to one another. The three of them together make such a lovely combination. Grow hair, grow!

Photo: Last week