Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style

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Tuesday
Nov202018

Apple of My Eye

Anyone ever watched the slow disintegration and decay of an apple core? It slowly turns brown, and eventually withers up into a bit of detritus. That’s kinda what happened to my old iMac, finally. The other week I tried to post a story, and I couldn’t even access the writing pane (what a pain). And today I was eating a Pink Lady apple and looked down at it to find half a wormhole. True story; not a metaphor.

Anyway, fortunately I already had a new iMac sitting in a box on my loungeroom floor, waiting for me to get off my lazy ass and set it up. Circumstance forced me into action last week, and I’ve spent days downloading new software, transferring data from the old dinosaur, deleting monstrously ugly fonts (the worms in this Garden of Eden) and the like. And oh how I love my new iMac! It connects to the internet and does stuff.

It just so happens that I can combine this love of Apples with my love of hats – this is what I call some kind of serendipitous happenstance! – and give you in homage a velvet and satin 1940s doll hat featuring an APPLE. Yes indeed. (I just pulled that one out of my hat!)

It just so happens that I can combine this love of Apples with my love of hats …

Ahem. I spotted this darling topper on eBay a couple months ago and found it too irresistible not to pluck it out of cyberspace. This type of hat is called either a “doll” or “toy” hat, the main feature being that it is miniature. These little hats were a popular style in the 1940s, and ranged from simple to very decorative, made from many different materials and featuring all kinds of trimmings, with or without half or full face veils.

Toy hats were often worn on a fun, jaunty angle, particularly tilting forward over the forehead, and were attached usually with hatpins. This hat has two tiny combs inside, but I don’t have enough hair to attach them to, so I’m waiting for some wig clips to arrive in the mail and I will sew them inside the crown. And then, she’ll be apples!

Thus, the only logical conclusion we can arrive at is that there are both good apples, and bad apples!

Photo: November 2018

Monday
Nov192018

What I Actually Wore #0144

Serial #: 0144
Date: 01/09/2013
Weather: 24°C / 75°F
Time Allowed: 8 minutes

I don’t remember this occasion at all, unsurprisingly, as it was just another work day, albeit Father’s Day, and the first day of spring. However, I can report that I still own all these items, except for the ikat print skirt and the dark taupe (or donkey brown if you prefer) pumps. The latter simply wore out, but I lament culling that skirt – looking at it now, I really like it and wonder why I deemed it should go. I love ikat prints in general, and am always keeping an eye out for them, although I prefer ones with limited colour palettes.

The feather headband, fashioned into a bird, is vintage 50s, and I bought it many years ago on Etsy when I was on a headband/bandeau hat kick. I love the concept of a bird perched on the head – much more interesting and quirkier than a plain band. I have not worn it for a long time, mainly because I have so many hats to choose from; this archival photo is a nice reminder to bring out some of my simpler hats on occasion.

Items:

Blouse: Veronika Maine
Skirt: Veronika Maine
Belt: David Lawrence
Headband:
Joseph Horne Co, vintage 50s
Earrings: handmade by me
Ring: Autore
Watch: Kenneth Cole
Bag: vintage 60s
Shoes: Zu (now defunct)

Photos: October 2013

Saturday
Nov172018

Clip Art

How cute are these vintage 50s hair clips? I found them irresistible, and bought them a little while ago from Rosebud Vintage Bazaar.

There are two different bows, and a branch of leaves – I think the latter are my favourite – and the two pastels are nicely offset by the tomato red bow. I like them worn all at the same time, although I’ve had my hair cut since I took this photo, so I shall have to wait a month or two before I can sport them again. Incidentally, the pink bow exactly matches the screw-back button earrings that also came from the Bazaar.

You can find some great accessories today of course, but there’s something about vintage: they just don’t make them like they used to. Also, one can rest assured that one is unlikely to bump into someone else wearing the same thing!

(Here’s a 3-second clip—ha—I made on the day just for fun.)

Photos: Last week

Monday
Nov052018

How Now, Brown Cowhide

Many years ago – maybe ten or fifteen – I bought a cowhide bucket handbag from a market in Hong Kong. It was quite an expensive purchase, but I rationalised that it was such a classic leather and style, I would be able to use it forever. Well, it hasn’t been quite forever yet, but I think I have justified my belief by now.

Then last autumn, when I was hunting high and low for a classic tote bag to use for work, I came across a cowhide version on the online sale site, Ozsale, and was instantly struck by how similar it was in looks to my old bucket bag. I don’t remember the name of the label, and there is none inside the bag, but it was a homewares brand that used recycled wood and canvas from vintage French army and postal gear.

My main stipulation – besides being stylish – was that the prospective tote had to be large enough to fit my office shoes, my lunch, iPad and other sundry items I deemed necessary to schlep to and from work every day. I also wanted to be sure that the colour would complement most outfits, without resorting to something boring like – ugh – black.

It’s like those tents in Harry Potter … I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams.

This tote was enormous – the biggest one in the sale – and looked tough and hard wearing, suitable for Melbourne’s winter weather. It would work for summer too, except that I had already found a large straw bag to use in the warmer months. Even better, I had some credit owing me on the sale site, so I was able to purchase the tote for very little extra.

I’m happy to report after several months use so far, the tote has measured up to my expectations, even exceeded them. It’s like those tents in Harry Potter – deceptively enormous. I can just keep putting things inside without it bursting at the seams. I love that I can slot in even a longish umbrella through the end because the zip hasn’t been sewn down all the way to the ends. So much do I like it I haven’t even swapped over to the straw tote yet even though we are well into spring!

Photo: August 2018

Friday
Nov022018

Ballet Slippers

Ballet slippers were made for dancing, for water nymphs and fairies and swan maidens, for delicate creatures who float through life on tippy-toe. On the other hand foot, ballet flats are made for rather more down-to-earth women, those who need to run and jump puddles and get things done pronto! But these seemingly antithetical women have one thing in common: they need footwear that won’t hamper them or weigh them down.

A Capsule History

Once upon a time, the ballet slipper was only a shoe worn by professional ballerinas. It was first invented in the mid-eighteenth century, with increasing modifications occurring over the following decades, until the modern dance shoe as we know it was developed by famous dancer Anna Pavlova – with some assistance from the renowned Italian purveyor of ballet shoes, Capezio. (Pavlova also, incidentally, inspired the eponymous Great Australian Dessert.)

Anna Pavlova, 1920A Claire McCardell outfit from the 1940s with matching ballet flatsIn the 1940s, American designer Claire McCardell had an epiphany when she chose to use Capezio’s ballet slippers in her 1941 collection, asking him to add a hard sole. And thus the ballet flat was born! First Brigitte Bardot began sporting them, and the beatniks soon followed suit, until a year later, Audrey Hepburn in her role as a beatnik turned model in Funny Face (1957) made them world famous and popularised them for that new breed of human: teens. Offscreen, she wore flats by Capezio and Ferragamo.

A Personal Journey

Decades later, I myself as a teen tried ballet flats numerous times, but was never able to find a comfortable pair. I came to the firm belief that ballet flats were the most uncomfortable shoes ever invented. And though I loved the idea of them, I gave up on them for another couple of decades until I came upon a pair in a thrift store by chance.

This is not my photo, but these were the beloved Sambag shoes I owned. According to the designer’s Instagram account, the label will be relaunching soon to be sold online only. The ballet flats I spotted were in ballet pink, a colour I had recently come to highly favour, and were by the Australian brand Sambag. I had once tried some on in a retail store, but as they were quite expensive, with my past history of painful ballet flats, I was unwilling to trust they were a good investment. The secondhand shoes I found were still in their original box, the soles so pristine they had surely been worn only once or twice. I gladly handed $30 to the store saleslady.

Brigitte Bardot in ballet flatsThese shoes turned out to be one of the most comfortable flat shoes I have ever owned. It was a miracle! I still wore heels at work, but I wore these ballet flats constantly on the weekends, with the sad but inevitable result that they wore out too quickly. I ought to have taken them to be resoled before it was too late, but couldn’t bear to be parted from them for the requisite few days. … Ever since I have kept my eyes peeled for another pair in thrift stores, and actually spotted some once, but lamentably in a size too big for me.

Audrey Hepburn made ballet flats world famous through her 1957 film ‘Funny Face’A few years later, I discovered the brand Yosi Samra on a sale website selling ‘foldable flats’. These are specifically designed to be stored in tiny little drawstring bags to keep on hand (ahem) when the need to relieve one’s feet from high heels becomes urgent. I bought several pairs, including ballet pink ones that are very reminiscent of my beloved Sambags. The leather is extremely soft and flexible, and they are very comfortable, although they don’t offer a lot of support to the foot – they are not meant to be worn for extended periods of walking.

Full Circle

Finally, not that long ago I came across an actual pair of ballet slippers by Blochs (manufacturing dancewear since 1932) once again in a thrift store! I have the most amazing luck. They were a little bit small, to be honest, but for $6 I decided they would be great indoor shoes. The leather was so soft I was sure they would stretch enough. When I took this comparison photo (top) I was quite amused to see that the Yosi Samra flats on my right foot were extremely similar to the dance slippers on the left. The colour is a perfect match. 

Audrey Hepburn’s ballet flats worn at home (1960–70), auctioned off by Christie’s earlier this year. “[Audrey Hepburn’s] training as a ballerina probably contributed to the elegance and poise that we associate with her. She had quite a number of these flats in her possession [because] they were her slippers when she was casual at home, [but] these were the only pink ones. She liked to be casual; she was very much a human being.”Ironically, in 2009 another celebrity – this time from the music world, Amy Winehouse – began wearing actual ballet slippers by Gandolfi in place of regular flats. So ballet slippers danced a full circle, and have gone in and out of fashion several times. But as the second decade of this century draws to a close, they have become firmly established in their status as iconic shoes, and I don’t believe they will ever go away.

One day I’ll go back to that Sambag retail store and invest in a new pair, or three. The pink is my favourite, for the same reason ballerinas first wore them: they seem to disappear on the foot, creating the illusion that one is floating just above the earth, lightly and quickly – for I have always daydreamed of having wings. 

Photos: September 2018