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What I Actually Wore #0011

Serial #: 0011
Date: 01/11/2008
Weather: balmy evening that turned quite chilly
Time Allowed: unknown; decisions on the fly

A hen’s night out with a gaggle of girls ten years younger than me! A touch of children’s storybook in my outfit! Gadzooks! What should I wear?

A trumpet skirt in caramel leather; a silver lurex wrap top for a little sparkle; black patent heels with a 20s feel. I would have loved to wear my new lurex over-the-knee socks, but not with a matching top. I settle for vintage diamante earrings and bracelet instead, and silver sparkle eye-shadow that also dusted my cheeks as I dashed it on.

When the night turned cooler, I was glad I had brought my velvet jacket – on its first outing after hanging in my closet for more than a year. With a red leather clutch tucked under my arm, I was good to go.

And my touch of fairytale? … It’s the rose Beauty’s father stole from the Beast.

And my touch of fairytale? Well, I was going to carry a parasol in homage to Mary Poppins, but I didn’t want to be saddled with it all night. I am delighted instead to wear a leather choker from Fat; a former boyfriend had always hated it and complained if I pulled it out. It’s the rose Beauty’s father stole from the Beast.

To cap off the night we were all tickled at the sight of so many young lads drawn like bees to the honeypot, clustering around the bride-to-be!

Skirt: Saray
Top: Country Road
Jacket: Katherine
Shoes: Zoe Wittner Design
Bag: Valenti
Choker: Collins & Cerne of Melbourne
Earrings: vintage
Bracelet: vintage


Scheherazade's slippers

What is that springs immediately to mind when one thinks of shopping in the exotic souqs of the Middle East? Turkish delight? Dates? Filigree lanterns, Oriental carpet? Gold?

For me, it was these slippers: the quintessential souvenir of Arabia.

Of course now that I have strolled through a dozen souqs in Dubai, Sharjah and Oman, I know what will forever evoke colourful memories: the eternal cry of – no, not the muezzin, but: “Pashmina, pashmina?”

X was more often subjected to “Watch, sir? Rolex?” Once he thought to baffle one such merchant turning his own question on him. At the next opportunity, he responded, “Pashmina?”

“Yes, yes, we have pashmina!” was the instantaneous reply.

I went off into a peal of laughter that is not often heard in the marketplaces, and we hurriedly moved on, avoiding the disapproving looks.

I know what will forever evoke colourful memories: the eternal cry of … “Pashmina, pashmina?”

As for these slippers I left it until my last night of shopping in the markets to purchase them. In the textile souq of Bur Dubai I pounced on this exact pair. Though I tried on black, and grey, I ultimately returned to the pink – that colour seemed to emphasise their frivolity. (Plus they would contrast nicely when paired with my black and silver belly-dancing outfit, I decided.)

When X pointed out it looked like I had slipped them on the wrong way round, I was amused to learn that they do not come in left and right: they just are. The heel of one is malformed, so it has become the right by default. The sizing also is nominal: I merely found a pair that fit.

I adore them.

As for the pashminas – I did succumb, not once, but twice. But I’ll save their stories for another day.


Dreadlocks and the three shampoos

A few weeks ago I fell victim to a particularly unfortunate phenomenon: one bad hair day turned inexorably into four.

It all began on the first night of my holiday. As it was very late when I arrived at my accommodation I did not wash my hair. It did, however, get splashed with water whilst I showered. Upon waking the next morning, I noticed that it had got FAT!

“I’ve got beach hair!” I exclaimed to X. Unexpectedly, after I washed and dried it the same result occurred.

“It must be the weird, desalinated water in Dubai,” I informed X knowledgably.

However, over the next couple of days my hair did not improve. In fact, it became progressively worse. X politely listened while I railed against the water.

“I might have to do something princessy!” I declared to him ominously, as he forced me to socialise with lank, greasy locks. (I had adopted a headband as an ineffectual disguise.) “... Like wash my hair in bottled water!”

“You don’t think it could be the new shampoo and conditioner you’re using?” X queried mildly.

“No!” I was indignant, and curled my lip. “That’s good quality stuff I’m using – not some supermarket detergent.”

Wanting to travel lightly, I had brought a travel pack size of MOP C-System Hydrating Shampoo for Moisture Replenishment and C-System Hydrating Intensive Conditioner for Medium to Coarse Hair that I had scored in a fashion show goodie bag back in September. I had hoarded them especially for my holiday.

I learned the hard way that free is not necessarily good. They ought to have been labelled ‘especially formulated to promote the creation of dreadlocks’.

Finally, on the fourth day, I experimented with a bit of X’s industrial strength anti-dandruff shampoo, thinking that should get the grease out if nothing else could. I waited breathlessly for it to air-dry (not having brought my hair-dryer with me either)...

Eureka! My hair was back to normal: fine, soft and silky smooth.

That afternoon I went to the closest supermarket and bought the best detergent I could find: John Frieda’s Brilliant Brunette Shine Release Volumizing Shampoo for Fine Hair and Light Reflecting Conditioner for All Hair Types. I used them before I began colouring my hair, so I knew it would be Just Right!

The moral of this tale of woe is: leave that organic stuff for hippies. It's branded MOP for good reason.


Fresh as a daisy

I work with Daisy, and I love to check out what she’s wearing every day. She always looks so fresh and bright and jeune fille – like a pretty spring day! This has in part to do with her wardrobe’s colour palette: there are quite a few light hues, and also the air of wonder in her wide eyes that make me think of Bambi exploring the world on his wobbly, new-born legs.

It amuses me to compare her with myself at a similar age: fresh out of art school when grunge was big, I wore a lot of vintage, and colourful eccentric items that allowed me to adopt a different persona every day. It took me a while to pare down!

…But fashions change, and Daisy has refined a look that is sophisticated and modern, yet certainly not hard.

How would you describe your style in general, Daisy?
Well it has definitely evolved over the last few years. But at the moment I like to wear more classic, feminine pieces that still have a modern or unique edge to them. I love beautiful clothing and appreciate it, but it usually has to be paired with comfort.

Did it take you long to put it this outfit together?
No – about three minutes! I knew it was going to be a warm day so I thought it would be a good opportunity to wear a dress. That’s what I love about dresses – they cut out all the work, and are the ultimate in comfort. And because this dress is pale, I like to pair it with the hot pink flats for a jolt of colour.

Yeah, I love adding bit of acid to something pretty. It makes a great contrast. And your nail polish is a great match! Where did you source the shoes from?
They're from Witchery. I had been searching for weeks for new summer flats without any luck when I stumbled across these beauties. The patent pink detailing makes them feel very fresh and summery.

That dress also has some great details: the slight puff to the sleeve and the inverted pleat. Who is it designed by?
It’s by the French label Ba&sh, and came from a shop called Chambermaid on High St, in Armadale. It’s silk and feels amazing to wear because there is quite a bit of weight to it with the full lining. I love wearing it because it was a gift from my boyfriend.

What a great boyfriend! I also really like the button detail – like a built-in brooch. Tell me about the other jewellery.
The bangle is new and I’m in love with it. It was a gift from my boyfriend’s parents, who bought it for me in Paris! And the necklace was a birthday present from one of my best friends. I tend to only wear jewellery if it has sentimental value; I like looking down and being reminded of the person who gave it to me.

That’s sweet. I’ll be keeping an eye out the next time I see you wearing a ring, then! Thanks Daisy!


Rapunzel’s grandmother

On the arm of the chair sits my friend Rapunzel’s grandmother, Anne. Rapunzel has very little knowledge of her as she died when her mother was 16; the latter did not talk about her much except to reminisce how much she adored her.

Anne gave birth to Rapunzel’s mother in the 1940s, when she was about 36, quite old for that era. Judging by the clothing of this trio of girls we guess this photograph was taken (in Wangaratta, as written on the reverse) in the 1910s.

Recalling a black and white photograph of Anne on her mother’s dressing table, she remembers how she gazed at in fascination.

As a child, Rapunzel thought Anne was the most enchanting woman: dressed in a long satin gown, fur bolero and a tiny little hat.

The most glamorous touch was the string of pearls around her neck. Rapunzel fondly imagined she was at a fancy party, but when she saw this photo more recently, she realised Anne was actually standing near a rusty corrugated iron fence. “How Aussie is that?” she laughed to me.

As for me, I was equally fascinated by this relic from Rapunzel’s family archive. A tiny little photograph – half the size of today’s standard – the card thickened with age, I brought it up close to peer at it in delight. The photographs of Julia Margaret Cameron immediately sprang to mind. Although they are from an earlier year (she photographed Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), they have the same soft, gentle quality; portals into a long-vanished world.

These three little Australian girls have a mischievous look in their eyes however, unlike Cameron’s models. Some of the latter adopt an impassive stare; others present their profiles as they gaze into the middle distance, forever lost in their own thoughts. A century later, we can only admire them.