Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Another Lemon Slice

So here is the 1960s sequin shell top I bought on the Day of the Yellow Bonanza. It looks very subtle in this picture, and it is quite a pale lemon yellow, a nice addition to my ever-growing collection of sequinned garments. (Rather hilariously, I am suddenly reminded that many years ago I painted my bedroom and boudoir this exact colour combination. Lemon yellow above the picture rail, and robin’s egg blue below – how funny!)

What I like about this particular 1960s sequinned rendition is that when the top is off, it looks like an ordinary shell, but on the body it has cap sleeves. Admittedly it is a little boxier in shape than I would prefer – scroll down and compare it to the red top – but for sequins and yellow ones at that, I will not complain!

Photo: August 2018


Delicious Yellow

Let’s return to yellow for a minute. Look at this delicious lemon meringue of a 50s dress that lamentably did not fit me across the shoulders. What a colour! I was drooling over it, and the lustrous embroidered satin fabric. What a crying shame it was too small!

But you can see peeping out from behind the 40s lemon yellow (more acidic than the lemon curd inside a meringue, of course) evening dress I modelled recently. So all was not lost – I scored one yellow dress that day, and a 60s sequin top, the corner of which you can see in the bottom left, as well as a pale yellow cotton ribbed cardigan in another thrift store. It was a yellow bonanza that day!

Photos: August 2018


When the Heart Flutters, Buy

As has been firmly established by now, red is one of my favourite colours. I make a beeline for it whenever I see it, as I did with these two handbags that I bought last year.

The first one I spotted in a thrift store by the beach. (Because what do you do after spending a good part of the day at the beach? Why, fit in a spot of op shopping of course!) How cute! I thought when I saw it, round and twinkling at me from inside a cabinet. How perfectly it would go with this sequin top I am wearing, I thought. Did I need it? Of course not. But it does.

The second little bag is made of silk satin and chiffon, and in addition is studded with rhinestones. I spotted this one unerringly at a vintage fair, and had to wait quite a long time for the stallholder to be free to answer my questions about this mystery bag, for it looked completely unused. She seemed unsure as to the age, and doubtfully offered up an era I cannot recall, but I felt sure that was too recent. “It looks 1930s to me,” I said to her, and she conceded it did, excusing her first answer on the grounds of its pristine condition.

I am not sure exactly what shade of red to call it; it is lighter and orange-tinged, but not orange. I like to refer to the Wikipedia pages on colour for their names and descriptions, but the screen representations are poor. By its description it could be scarlet, or cinnabar, both of which are orange-toned reds.

Of course I did not need this bag either, but its ruffles had made my heart flutter, and the fact that I had nothing in my wardrobe to grace this with mattered not a whit. It is still pristine, for I have not taken it out yet either – it is enough to know that it exists, and it resides in my closet. Sometimes the mere fact of beauty is enough. When the heart flutters, buy.

Photos: March 2018


The Fatal Allure of Red

The colour red has all my life exerted a fascination over me. I have always been attracted to it while shopping, especially in accessories such as shoes and bags. It holds a siren-like allure for me, by which I mean those wickedly bewitching singing creatures of the sea – but it is fatally easy to forget that red is also the colour of danger, and alarm sirens are usually flashing red light.

So when a few months ago I came upon a pair of funky red leather shoes in a thrift store, I was easy prey. Since I also firmly believe one cannot own too many red shoes, and these ones fit me perfectly, I bought them.

[red] holds a siren-like allure for me … but it is fatally easy to forget that red is also the colour of danger

When I plonked them down on the counter, another customer admired them and said, “Oooo, you’ll get a lot of wear out of those!” I was quite sure she was correct.


One evening walking home from work I felt something strange afoot … an indescribable sensation of … a sole detaching from the bottom of my shoe! With every step, the sole flapped about and rolled under itself, making it completely impossible to walk at a reasonable pace. I was forced to reduce my customary speedy stride to a slow schlep, and hobbled home the last leg of my journey.

I was quite aggravated by the time I arrived at my abode. It’s remarkable how a seemingly small thing can become a major irritant. I had only worn the shoes a handful of times, too. The other sole was not in quite as bad a state, but I could see it wasn’t far off. It was not worth getting them repaired, as other parts of the shoe were already too worn; it would have been throwing good money after bad, I decided crossly.

That would teach me to be tempted by the siren-like beckoning of red shoes! One of the first rules of shopping is caveat emptor, or, in English, ‘buyer beware’. That is doubly true when shopping in thrift stores. Into the bin with these! Maybe the next ones will be better …

Photos: September 2018


Always Buy in Shoeplicates

The other day while I was doing some catch-up photoshoots of outfits I had worn, I donned my favourite pair of raspberry suede peep-toes by Wittner, an Australian shoe brand, and I thought, “Awww, my old favourites are getting beat up!” I had already had them resoled, and the toe tips repaired, but even the repairs will soon be in need of repairing.

Over the years, I have often wished I had bought a second pair of these and held them in reserve, and as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had even seen this very pair in a thrift store, but they were unfortunately too big for me. It made me realise that I did not often enough pay attention to one of my own long-held fashionisms: Always Buy Two.

Always buy two, just in case. In case the first ones fall apart, get lost, are shredded by the cat – oh, there are many reasons. In case it turns out to be the very best most awesome favouritist thing you ever owned. In case of time.

Always buy two … in case it turns out to be the very best most awesome favouritist thing you ever owned.

The first things I remember buying two of was a pair of shoes in the early 90s. They make me laugh to remember them now: a pair of 1–2-inch-heeled black leather pilgrim shoes with enormous silver buckles, but they were so very comfortable and I loved them! I bought the first pair, and then a week or two later I went back to the shoe store and bought a second pair. I was very glad I did. However, they have long since gone.

Another beloved item I found in Country Road was a silk jersey t-shirt (below) with slit capped satin sleeves, and a cut-out in the scoop neckline that tied with shoe-string ties. This t-shirt was so fabulously fitted and comfortable I bought three of them: black, smoke grey and cream. I wore all those to death too, and was very sad when I retired the last one – the black. It lasted the longest because I make it a policy not to wear black often.

I have bought lots of basic wool knits from Kookaï and have found them to be very reliable. Another great purchase I made was two linen knit long sleeved t-shirts from Seed, one in a natural flax colour, and the other in a dark blue. These were quite expensive (for someone used to shopping in thrift stores), but have proven a good investment.

Nowadays apart from underwear, socks and shoes, I buy most of my clothing from op shops or vintage boutiques, so the opportunity to buy more than one rarely arises. However, I will still snap up certain good quality wool items when I see them, regardless of the fact that I already own a lot of wool knits – because they eventually do wear out, and they are expensive to replace at retail prices.

Sometimes you don’t know that a particular item is going to become a beloved favourite … you just have to resign yourself to your miserable fate of a distant future without it …

White or cream silk blouses, which I am very fond of, regularly need to be replaced because the underarms stain easily and so visibly. In point of fact I have one favourite Veronika Maine silk blouse that I wish I had bought in duplicate. I’m going to try soaking it in that wonder detergent, RetroClean, to see if I can bring it back to life.

Sometimes you don’t know, of course, that a particular item is going to become a beloved favourite, and then you just have to resign yourself to your miserable fate of a distant future without it, but good quality basics are always a sure bet at the very least.

Photos: September 2018, May 2012

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