Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fifties Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Such a sweet little jacket this one! I fell for its nipped in New Look waist with little fluttery pleats, the delicate printed silk, the unexpected lime green roses and, of course, the fact that it was swinging merrily on the two dollar rack of my local op shop. I only bought it a few weeks ago, but I'm already getting that old sinking feeling that this one isn't really meant for me. I just can't work out how to style it in a way which doesn't make me feel like an extra in Far from Heaven.

Anyway, let's get down to the business at hand!

Points for:
Fifties vintage for $2 isn't so easy to find these days.
It does fit me quite well.
Spring is only a month away, perhaps it will find a purpose then.
Pretty, pretty rose printed silk!

Points against:
The rose print could be brighter and prettier and less Far from Heaven-ish.
There's something I little matronly about the style (on me that is).
What do I wear it with? This is the point which has me bamboozled (suggestions welcome).
I suspect it is just not really very me.

As ever I am desperate for opinions. When it comes to vintage I get a little overcome at the thrill of the find and sometimes lose perspective on the actual wearability factor of whatever little gem I've uncovered, so that's where you come in! Tell me - does it stay or does it go?


No love

Floral blouse - $2 op shop
Chambray paperbag shorts - 50cents op shop
Tan plaited belt (worn as cuff) - $1 op shop
Black opaques - $6 Target
Tan woven leather boots - $60 ebay

This blouse is a most confounding garment, really it is. I don't like it at all, the colours make me look sallow and unwell, it has an awkward smockishness about the cut and it doesn't even have vintage status to partially redeem it. I just bought it to give to a friend (who rejected it out of hand) - yet every single time I wear the damn thing I get compliments on it. Strangers in the street are drawn to it magnetically, they get all gooey and silly around it and want to touch the fabric. Today it was some ladies on the bus (also very taken with the little dude who was singing and generally entertaining the crowd) and my favourite kooky librarian at the children's library. What mysterious alluring quality could this blouse possibly have?

It does have a row of sweet little round black buttons:
but they aren't really all that noticeable so it must be the flowers. That's the only explanation I can come up with - and if people are that mad for florals then it would explain the bazillion floral prints in the shops right now.

The blouse gets a day out of the garage sale bag (where it periodically retires) when I'm feeling a bit blah, the sky is overcast and dull and I have the kind of chores I have today. To wit, returning books to the library and sorting out the giant hole in the ground and mound of dirt the plumbers have left in our backyard. All of which also leads to the wearing of the tomboy shorts and the dime-a-dozen flat tan boots:

I've gone right off those boots - even the lovely woven detail isn't doing it for me anymore - but they are extra sensible when the digging of dirt is involved! Maybe I'll start liking them again when spring arrives.

Now I must ask, is the blouse alone or do other people have confounding conundrums lurking in their wardrobes - things the world adores but which make you feel like a hobbit?


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hill and Whale

Vintage 80s silky floral batwing top - $5 garage sale
Black jersey hammer pants - 50cents op shop
Tan leather plaited belt (worn as cuff) - $1 op shop
Black suede Senso fringed sandals - $40 sale

If all goes according to plan I'll be doing this run in ten days time so as part of my training I did a 14km run this morning. I ran up some very big hills, so this afternoon I'm just slouching around in my trusty hammer pants and this flowery flowy top which I'm having a tiny little love affair with.

Even my op shop haul today was all about the run - I bought tracksuit pants and jacket ($2.50) that I can leave behind me when I strip down to my running gear just before the race starts. I did find a thin-ish plaited belt today too, which I'm quite liking as a cuff, which redeemed my op shop mission from complete pragmatic tracksuited purgatory!

It felt exactly like spring today so I wore these suede fringed sandals I bought towards the end of last summer. I didn't get much chance to wear them before the weather turned cold, so they are in almost pristine condition - unlike my other pairs of summer sandals which are looking rather tired to say the least.

The sandals are looking pretty good, even if I do have the flipper feet of a gonk!

I think I might slouch on down to the beach now with the little dude to bask in the last of the lovely pretend spring sun and watch the mother and baby whale who are frolicking in our waves today. How good is that?


PS. Quite a few people have commented on the good garage sale mojo I have, which is mostly down to the fact that our neighbourhood is chock full of fashion scenesters and the population here is quite transient too, so everyone seems to be constantly getting rid of all kinds of fabulous stuff. We have our share of the usual kind of garage sales with old baby gear, footspas, outdated stereo speakers and framed magic eye pictures around here, but also a sprinkling of gold dust there to be found!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Caped Crusader

Nicola Finetti black silk cape frill dress - $91 ebay
Grey mohair scarf - knitted by me (thrifted yarn and big needles)
Charcoal marle top - $10 Cotton On
Bangles (resin, wood, bone & brass) - $10 Bondi markets
Black tights - $7.50 Country Road sale
Vintage 80s tan/black brogues - $5 garage sale

Everyone in the entire galaxy it seems has already seen The Dark Knight, everyone but me, that is. I feel too sad and weirded out by the whole Heath Ledger thing to go and fork over my sixteen bucks so my outfit today is a little tribute to the global bat-frenzy going on without me. This fluttery dress with its wings and cape makes me feel just a little like a bat myself, all ready to go for some nocturnal hijinks and radar navigation.

I have my suspicions about the origins of this dress - I think there might be some shady goings on in its past. Way back in February I was wandering through our local department store and I saw these dresses hanging on a rack - brand new drop just arrived that day and proudly displayed. Here it is in red photographed with actual lighting by some kind of professional photo taking person, so you can see it in all its glory:

I had an immediate lustful reaction - the winged cape! The giant ruffles! The fitted shift cut! Four hundred dollars! Ah yes, four hundred dollars I most certainly did not have for a dress I most certainly did not need. So off I went with a regretful and yearning backward look and the thought that I'd have to look out for it on the winter sales in three or four months' time.

Less than a week later it turned up on ebay (with a very low starting bid) from a seller with no history of selling designer clothing (mostly they'd sold stuff like Britney Spears fragrance and things of that ilk). Despite a mini bidding war in the last ten minutes of the auction I "won" the dress for under my $100 limit (which makes it one of the three most expensive items in my wardrobe), and it turned up a couple of days later. In absolutely unworn condition, with the tags well and truly still attached. Maybe I'm just a suspicious little bat, but doesn't it seem a little odd that a brand new dress could turn up that fast? I smell a big fat shoplifting rat with an ebay account!

All of which makes me feel a little bit funny when I wear it - like I'm complicit in a crime (of which I have no proof at all beyond my own suspicions), a receiver of stolen goods, an accomplice to thieves and a getter of ill-gotten gains. And it also makes me wonder just how much dodgy stuff winds up on Ebay - the fines they recently received for allowing the sales of counterfeit luxury goods and the unfolding scamming disaster happening in Australia are big stories but there must be so many little petty crime stories too.


And last but not least - here is the reason I was in the playground today (and every day):


Monday, July 28, 2008

The Joker is Me

Sixties vintage voile trapeze dress - $1 garage sale
Nude coloured pyramid stud belt - $4 op shop
Black opaques (personally I think these could be a little more opaque) - $6 Target
Boots - $97 Country Road sale (RRP $299)

There really is nothing cuter in summer than a little 60s trapeze mini dress, don't you think? Unfortunately this one is too big for me in ways which defy alteration so rather than being swingy it is voluminous, and every time I wore it last summer someone would ask me if I was pregnant again. It's no surprise that people would have that suspicion as the summer I was pregnant I wore an array of billowing and voluminous vintage dresses, but still it's not exactly the look I was going for.

I wasn't ready to ditch the dress entirely though (I like the print and the subtle bell sleeves) so in order to win it a reprieve from the dreaded garage sale bag of doom under my bed, a belt was called for:

I'd like to think the print on this dress is just a teensy little bit miu miu Lady Harlequin:

- but I guess it's probably more Carpet Court Jester than anything:

(For any non-Australians reading, he's a very annoying character who advertises a chain of carpet shops.)


Sunday, July 27, 2008


That was the name of the first perfume I ever chose for myself, it was by Lancome and it was really an eau de cologne type thing for men, with golf ball inspired packaging no less! But that was back in the 80s before the CK One revolution and all the fragrances around were like Poison or Opium - heavy and overwhelming and not at all suitable for a teenage surfer girl like me. So I was drawn to the light citrusy Trophee - I wonder what it would smell like to me now?

All of that was a round about way of saying that the spectacular and lovely Andrea from A Cat of Impossible Colour has tagged me for an award. It's called the Arte y Pico award and as trophies go it's a peach:

I am rather thrilled I must say! So here's the drill:

“This award is given based on creativity, design, interesting material, and overall contribution to the blogging community.”

1) Choose 5 blogs that you consider deserving of this award based on creativity, design, interesting material, and overall contribution to the blogger community, regardless of the language.
2) Post the name of the author and a link to his or her blog by so everyone can view it.
3) Each award-winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award.
4) The award-winner and the presenter should post the link of the “Arte y pico“ blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award. Here's the link!
5) Please post these rules.

My nominees are (and there are only four due to the little dude needing some of my attention):

Hayley from Fashion Hayley Hits Home who inspired me to start my personal style blogging shenanigans. Photographer/interior designer/thrifting superstar and extra fabulous concocter of outfits!

Lauren from Strike.Match who makes and finds lovely clothes, writes great reflective posts, and has a gorgeous looking garden too.

Esme and the Laneway who has the most beautiful photos and a way of focusing on the sweet details of her days which remind me how many good small things are around me too.

Outsapop is a blog I've just discovered - she makes amazing and cool things from junk and blogs about other DIY types and her blog is just ridiculously full of fun stuff to make.


Golden Afternoon

Gold lurex vintage dress - $15 garage sale
Black opaques - $6 Target
Gold thirties vintage shoes - $4 op shop

Yesterday I meandered down to our local sunday markets stopping in at a couple of garage sales along the way. The sun was shining, the sky was the clearest blue and there were lots of lovely things to buy if, unlike me, you had a pocket full of cash just waiting to be spent.

Things I didn't buy:
A black leather pencil skirt, it was very soft but the seller had cut the waistband off roughly and it was coming apart quite badly along all the seams as a result. I can fix that with my trusty sewing machine but I didn't feel like paying $5 for the privilege.

A pair of Mollini linen gladiator platforms from last summer which were off white/beige and had clearly lived a fairly hard life as the linen was really very grubby. I was thinking "five bucks and I'll see if I can clean them somehow". But the girl wanted $15 for them which was waaaay too much for dirty shoes. So they stayed on their market stall and I meandered on my way.

The last thing I didn't buy was a canary yellow/almost chartreuse linen early sixties vintage sundress in the St Vincent de Paul op shop (open on Sundays, doesn't that go against some kind of religious belief or other?). This frock has been taunting me for weeks now, every time I go in I expect that someone will have bought it but it's still there and I have to try it on again. It fits me almost perfectly (teeniest bit tight in the waist but you can't tell to look at it) but they want $40 for it, and that is too much for broke old me. Their prices are getting a slightly out of control in that shop so I am boycotting buying anything there as a my own tiny protest. Although my political ideals might be shaken a little and my purse opened wider if the dress didn't leave marks on my skin where the waistband digs in!

Things I bought:
This pale gold lurex dress, a little bit expensive but I just took a shine to it and I bargained the girl down from $20 so it wasn't a total financial disaster. It needs to be taken up and it is in desperate need of a belt (I have a pink velvet one which might just work) but still - pretty!

Shortly after all this (and happily after I had meandered my way home) the sky turned black, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and a big hail storm came in so I am guessing the leather skirt and the linen heels were left unsold and had to be hastily packed into bags and dragged home by those sellers. Karma!

The funny thing about all this stuff is that the prices are so relative - the girl selling the gold dress was friendly and funny, so even though it needs work and was a little bit expensive I was happy to pay $15 for it, but the girl selling the shoes was a little bit cold and sour so $15 seemed far too much. $40 for the yellow dress would seem quite cheap in a vintage boutique but feels like a fortune in the charity shop, and I would pay $5 to my local sweet op shop ladies for the leather skirt (although really they would charge 50cents) but not to the forbidding and tough garage sale seller.

PS. It is once again freezing here today with winds gusting straight in from Antarctica or thereabouts, so there were cardigans and scarves involved in this outfit as well...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sugar Sugar

Stephanie Conley nude/pink swiss dot frock - $2 op shop (and altered by me)
Collette Dinnigan lavender slip (underneath) - $5 Bondi markets
Vintage 70s tan boots - $2 op shop
Rock crystal flower ring - $60 (?) Bondi markets

There's something very demure about this dress, and generally speaking there's nothing very demure about me at all, but when I slip it on I find myself being much sweeter, a little more coy, perhaps just a tiny bit restrained. The little mother of pearl shell buttons carved with flowers, the delicately fastened cuffs, the pin tucks at the shoulder and the tie at the waist:

all conspire to cast a spell upon me and I find myself playing along with the dress. Of course I only put the dress on if I'm feeling in an "all things nice" sort of mood to begin with, but the dress amplifies the feeling exponentially. It happens with most everything I wear to some extent, and it's part of the fun of my every day dress-ups. Being the magpie girl I am, and all over the shop style-wise it means I find myself just tasting little nibbles of all kinds of characters and roles through my wardrobe. Yesterday's eighties jacket with the big shoulders reminded me of the girl in this (very daggy but somehow apt) song and I definitely had a bit of a bustling, hustling bossy swagger while I was wearing it.

All of this was brought to mind watching the little dude playing with the new skateboard helmet he got for his birthday. It's black and shiny and a little too big for him, but he loves it with a desperate passion (hence the sleeping-little-dude-with-helmet-on photo above). And one of the reasons he loves to put it on is that it makes him feel like he is one of the big boys down at the skate bowl that he aspires to be. He's playing a role too, which is a big part of finding your own place and your own identity - and it's fascinating beyond anything to watch it all unfold. It does make me wonder though - if I'm still playing dress-ups at 36 does that mean I'm still not a grown-up?

PS. I really need a haircut!
PPS. I think I'll make that dress shorter for summer, would you believe it used to be floor length?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Greed is Good

Black linen 80s blazer/jacket - $2 op shop
Black scoop neck top - $10 Cotton On
True Religion jeans - $60 ebay
Black sued 80s almond toe mary janes - $12 Bondi markets

This totally eighties jacket has been hanging around my local op shop for literally months now - and I have been picking it up and trying it on every other week and never actually buying it. The shoulders are just a little bit too big and baggy (because someone's removed the original gigantic 80s shoulder pads) and I have been waiting for someone taller and more angular to buy it and do it justice. Finally today I gave up waiting and just bought the damn thing. I have actually decided that I kind of like it - I might still make it into a sleeveless top for summer though - and my husband (in a highly unusual response to one of my op shop finds) said "That's cute!" when I put it on.

We went to the museum with the little dude this morning (to look at the cars, trains and space ships) and then went down to chinatown and ate vast mounds of yum cha, so I was dressed for speed, warmth and with extra room for prawn dumplings. Here is a candid photo secretly taken by my husband with his phone while I am slumping under mounds of jackets and scarves and staring vacantly at a window display full of embroidery. Tres chic!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

I promised you a rose garden

Strapless rose print silk dress I made from 80s vintage dress & belt - $8 op shop
Alice McCall cobalt blue sequinned wool cardigan - $60 sample sale
Black opaques - Levante (gift, I think RRP is $25ish)
Black patent leather t-bar heels - $5 garage sale
Black cotton lycra target scoop neck top (under dress) - 50cents op shop
Butterfly umbrella - my mum left it behind when she moved to Scotland.

That umbrella is not a prop - it was absolutely pouring with rain when we took these photos. My husband was guest photographer today and he stood inside the house and too the photos through the door while I huddled under my brolly in the rain.

I said there's be colour today, and I did not lie - even though I should probably be wearing gumboots and a giant nylon anorak - in honour of the little dude's second birthday I am wearing a party frock and heels. This dress has had a variety of incarnations - it was originally an 80s frock with a weirdly short bodice and a terribly unflattering mid-calf length, but I could not resist the beautiful rose print silk in soft jewel tones of jade and fuschia, coral and turquoise.

I hacked off the little dwarf bodice and made the skirt (with it's lovely swishy fish-tail godet construction) into a strapless dress. This was a few years ago (maybe 3 1/2?) so I slung on a moroccan hip belt and some chunky charm necklaces and wore it gladiator style. Then when I was pregnant I doubled it over inside and belted it under my little-dude-shaped tummy as a flowy boho skirt. Later I decided that the self buckle belt which came with the original dress was the perfect size to belt it at the waist, so it became the party frock it is today. Who's to say what form this amazing transforming dress will take next? Springtime awaits!

Remember the t-bar heels which I was was a little undecided about? I decided to wear them today to skip through puddles - they are doing a very fine job too.

Right now I need to skip off and stick some smarties on cupcakes or stuff some more ripped up wrapping paper in the recycling bin!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grey skies are smiling

Sportsgirl grey sequin bolero - $17 ebay
Shakuhachi "Fun Avec Girls" t-shirt - 50cents op shop
Cotton On charcoal marle top - $10
Grey mohair scarf - knitted by me (on needles the size of broom handles), yarn and needles both op-shop
Gorman hammer pants (I refuse to call them "drop crotch" which sounds like a disease sheep get) - $5 Bondi markets
Tony Bianco black leather skull flats - $20 ebay (new in box)

Bonus toddler!

Well I made a rash promise yesterday to inject a big shot of colour into my outfit today, but the elements conspired against me. It is 100% freezing, wet and miserable here and I have lots of running around to do because the little dude is turning two tomorrow (shout out here to Super Kawaii Mama who has a little girl turning one tomorrow.) This time two years ago I was staggering around in leggings, ugg boots and a giant poncho desperate to meet the little dude, and now I'm wrapping up giant Tonka dump trucks and baking birthday cake. Which I guess is fun avec boys really, and it most definitely is very, very fun(despite my rather forbidding face here).

I did a tone on tone grey/black thing today, but I needed something to cut through the gloom just a little - and the grey sequins fit the bill perfectly. I have a weakness for sequins but I like these grey ones because as sequins go they are on the more subtle side and can be just thrown on with any old t-shirt or singlet when I'm feeling the need for some extra embellishment. They look more silver here, but they are really a charcoal - I think the silver is because they are reflecting the grey, grey skies here today.

I absolutely promise colour tomorrow - I have a party dress all picked out for the birthday celebration (low key as they may be on a friday in the middle of winter). The only colour around today was in the sole purchase I made at the op shop this morning:

Sadly it was very slim pickings for me but the little dude made out like a bandit. Ah well, there's always next week I guess.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Back in Black

Black lame mini shift - $8.50 garage sale
Black opaques - $6 Target
Black patent belt (pleather) - $12 Equip
Black patent leather wedges - $50 Nine West outlet (ages ago)

It was sooooo good to get back to my wardrobe last night - a week away with just a little bag of clothes really reminded me how many lovely choices I usually have. I actually had a little dressing up session before bed, and with a head still on holiday in the sun all the things I was putting on just sang of spring. Rose print silk swishy skirted frocks and frothy baby doll dresses and bare legs with everything, heaven! Then I got up this morning to 14 degrees and rain and had a whole load of boring errands to run, so what I ended up wearing was this:

But underneath I had a little secret, just between me and the coat.

This little lame tunic thing - it's really a shift, but I felt the need to belt it today. Now that the rain has stopped I have ditched the boots and I feel much more the thing. It's a funny little dress, the pockets on the front are rather at odds with the metallic-ness and it doesn't seem quite sure if it's a daytime dress or a going out and dancing kind of night time frock. Without the belt it's much more sixties, with the belt I think it's more like New Wave meets Dynasty.

Either way it makes me happy on a rainy day, and that's what matters.

It's good to be back! I saw the first whisperings of spring in the shops today (of course that's always the way when it's freezing cold midwinter outside) and the colours were what really struck me. Strong and pure and so good. I think tomorrow I will see what I can muster up in the colour department, I have been a tiny bit inspired.