Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Liza Doolittle Day

Liza Doolittle Day

It’s Eliza Doolittle Day, did you know? It’s a long time since I have seen the film My Fair Lady, I must admit, and the thing I love most about it is that it’s Audrey Hepburn playing the title role, and Cecil Beaton designed the costumes.

A while back I was reminded that in a scene where Eliza daydreams about meeting the king, she sings these words:

One evening the king will say:
“Oh, Liza, old thing,
I want all of England your praises to sing.
Next week on the twentieth of May
I proclaim Liza Doolittle Day!
All the people will celebrate the glory of you
And whatever you wish and want I gladly will do.”

At that point in the story, Eliza wished ’Enry ’Iggins dead!

However, my sartorial homage here is to her famous black and white racing outfit. I’m wearing a mix of vintage and more contemporary items. The screw-on earrings are 40s; the gloves – trimmed in bows – are 50s; the skirt and belt 80s, and the Edwardian hat is from the late 90s (the milliner was inspired by Kate Winslet’s hat at the start of the film Titanic). The jabot and striped shirt are more modern numbers.

Here’s to you Liza!


Knit One, Pearl Seven

I picked up this mohair beret at the start of spring last year from an op shop (thrift store). I am a sort of connoisseur of berets, and this mauve number was unlike any I already owned. Someone had clearly donated it because it was missing quite a number of the pearls decorating its top, so it was priced accordingly, but this I knew was an easy fix if I could find matching pearl beads.

The warm weather was coming up, and knowing I was unlikely to wear it for many months, the hat languished on the mending pile for some time before I attended to it. I found Swarovski pearls that matched closely enough, and one day on a mending frenzy, I finally attached them.

And voilà! Someone else did not make do, but I mended, and I now have a rather cute little hat to wear in the coming cold weather.

Photos: March 2018


What I Actually Wore #0138

Serial #: 0138
Date: 15/08/2013
Weather: 18°C / 64°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

Often my winter outfits start out by assessing the forecast temperature, and whether I can be bothered wearing tights. Usually the answer is ‘no’ to that question (I generally hate tights). I then toss up between over-the-knee socks (will they keep me warm?) and trousers (do I feel like wearing pants, and if I do, which length will work with comfortable walking shoes? … I should draw an infographic for this process!). This morning, these wool-blend OTK socks were appealing, although according to my notes I wore the dark brown pair, not the beige ones in the photograph.

When I saw [the suit] in the boutique I was immediately enamoured of the jacket because of the sleeves.

I chose the Spanish designer suit I bought as a souvenir from Sitges, in the northern Catalonian region in Spain a couple of years earlier. When I saw it in the boutique I was immediately enamoured of the jacket because of the sleeves. There are various influences at play: vaguely Renaissance-look sleeves, a Regency cropped length, a Mandarin collar and cheongsam-inspired fastening – a very interesting mix! I would have preferred a longer waist-length however as the crop can make it difficult to wear.

I also love the herringbone fabric, a type of tweed that always fools me into thinking it is winter weight, but in fact it is a linen/viscose blend. As it was a cool day, I also wore my 1970s suede Zhivago coat on top.

Although even on the half-off sale, the suit was a splurge, I still – five years on – have it hanging in my closet.

Underneath I am wearing a wool/silk knit. Out of the accessories, only the raspberry suede peeptoes have survived – the very soft socks sadly wore out to the point the feet were nothing but darns (although I still have the dark brown version and wore them last week in fact), and the modern fedora has a nicer vintage 1970s successor. I still have all the jewellery too. As for the sunglasses … I look at them now and hate them! I instantly thought ‘fly’s eyes’! If I find they are still in the box I store my plethora of sunglasses in, they shall be immediately expelled.

I’m pleased to also read in my notes that I received lots of compliments for this outfit – at work, on the street and in the theatre when I went out in the evening. If I wore it today, I probably would not style it very differently.


Suit: Celia Velo
Philippe Matignon
Baku (now defunct)
Kenneth Cole

Photos: Septemer 2013


Carnations for Mums

I am sure I remember back in the day florists were pushing the slogan ‘mums for mums’ – chrysanthemums that is – as a proper floral offering for Mother’s Day. But I learned this week that in fact it was once carnations that were synonymous for mother love in Australia and New Zealand.

This tradition of gifting carnations was in fact borrowed from the US, from one Anna Jarvis who in 1908 revived the movement to establish an official Mother’s Day – and white carnations were her mother’s favourite flower.

More than a hundred years later, we traditionally show our appreciation for our mothers and make them feel special, celebrating with gifts or outings – but most importantly time, if we are able. However, the origins of Mother’s Day lie in quite a different cause: an anti-war movement during the American Civil War in the 1870s. Originally it was a call to mothers to promote peace and protest the killing of sons by other sons, and was started by activist Julia Howe.

Decades later, Jarvis wished to honour her own mother who had been active during the war, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson formally established the day. Today Mother’s Day is celebrated in over 100 nations.

Maybe carnations simply went out of fashion, as did chrysanthemums. I’ll be giving my mum Christmas lilies, one of her favourite flowers, but here I am in a photo out of the archives wearing a vintage 1950s velvet half-hat decked with silk carnations. The flowers look extraordinarily realistic.

However you show your love for your mum, I hope you have a beautiful day!

Photos: September 2012


Birds and Brollies

I love fun and kitschy pins and brooches and am amassing quite a collection. Most of them I have bought in Melbourne op shops (thrift stores); a very few bought online; and a couple are leftovers from my childhood (a crimson enamel and diamante butterfly) and teenage years (a frilled sea-serpent wrapped around a sword and swallowing the red glass pommel).

This pair, which I think are from the 1940s or 50s, I bought last Saturday in two different op shops. I was quite tickled to find the umbrella because I had been searching on Etsy last week for umbrella pins – if you’ve been reading this journal for a while, you know I go through quite a few brollies, so I thought it quite expedient that I should have one in brooch form. I also love birds of every kind, and already have a few others in my set, so the swan is a lovely addition.

I tend to wear brooches more in winter because so many of them are made from heavy metal, and weigh delicate summery fabrics down too much. Now that the weather has cooled at last, they shall come out to play!