Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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A Grecian (T)urn

A few years ago I befriended an artist and craftmaker through Instagram (Crude Things), and while our aesthetic is quite different in many ways, we share a love of dressing-up. Lana asked if I would be interested in photographing some of her items and featuring them on my blog – of course I said yes, I would love to.

I used a textile rope that could be wrapped around the body in any way one pleased, and took a Grecian direction with matching turquoise jewellery and a long white dress, which you can see here.

Here are some of my unpublished out-takes, taken with my Hipstamatic app.

Photos: May 2013


Good Enough to Eat

What are these delicious little trifles – bonbons or sweet treats for ears? These are the kind of earrings to keep far, far away from infants because they do look good enough to eat!

The green ovals I call my peppermint patty earrings – they look just like they are wrapped in green foil like the classic chocolate bars. The sparkly blue pair is imitation druzy, but they sparkle almost as much as real ones would, and the purple pearls are like grapes dangling from my ears.

All of the earrings were bought in thrift stores, and happened to be sitting together on my bathroom bench because I had worn the green and blue pairs in the last couple of days, while the pearls I only bought yesterday. They make a great colour combination, don’t they?

Photo: Today


What I Actually Wore #0136

Serial #: 0136
Date: 05/08/2013
Weather: 16°C / 61.5°F
Time Allowed: 10 minutes

This outfit is making me sad, because I’m looking at the list of items and seeing just how many of them broke or wore out: almost everything! What is left and still in circulation is the vintage 40s hat (I love its detailing; you can see it in the close-up below), the Chinese red carved jade bangle and ring (featured just recently) and the grey wool jumper – although the boutique I bought it from closed down a few years ago, which is a shame, because they always had a great selection of Australian and international labels.

The wide-leg wool pants with the self-tie belt were a favourite of mine for years, and just became too worn and threadbare in patches, so they were culled, and of course the brogues which I wrote about a couple of days ago also wore out, but here they are in all their beribboned glory. (I noted the outfit started with the shoes in fact, as I wanted flat shoes because my calves were tight from martial arts training.)

Not seen are two other items I wore that day: my white leather trench, and a white leather tote – I was actually donated the bag only a couple of weeks ago, as not only was the leather very cracked and worn, but the zip had broken – you can see it in the A Few Things I Heart picture gallery. I’m never sure whether I should donate such items, but someone might have a use for them instead of adding them to landfill. I’m doubly sad over the bag because the label is now defunct too.

I am actually still quite fond of this outfit, which is inspired by 40s fashion, although the pants are very low-waisted rather than high, in proper 40s style. There are a lot of bow-ties in this outfit too, which amused me – on the hat, the jumper, the pants and the shoes. Also funnily, four years on, I am wearing my hair like that again. It is curlier however, because of the layers from the grown-out pixie cut. My style in general really hasn’t changed a great deal since I wore this outfit.


Jumper: ink
vintage 40s
vintage 70s, Leda Spain by Gropper
Bangle and ring:
Elise Carrels


Brogues, Pt 2

Summer Brogues

Some are brogues, and others are hybrids of brogues, oxfords, ghillies and spectator shoes. These summer brogues were my all-time favourite brogue shoes I have ever owned.

I can’t recall which brand they were, but I bought them from the same sale site as the brogues in the previous story, but these were fantastic from day one. They were just so comfortable: the leather was soft and the open tops and perforations were cooling for summer. The sole was also quite sturdy and supportive – more so than the taupe Urge brogues, and they certainly lasted longer. I also really loved the colour combination.

I wore these shoes to the death of the laces. They were so well-loved one simply broke in half one day. It was as strangely difficult to find off-white shoelaces as non-synthetic ribbon in this town, especially as I needed a particular length for the criss-cross lacing required by the shoes.

I eventually ran some to earth in a shoe-repairers near my workplace. The shopkeeper searched through a box of what resembled a decade’s worth of random shoelaces, and triumphantly produced these for me.

It meant that I could squeeze a little more life out of these beloved brogues, although you can see in the second picture just how worn they had become more that three years after the first photo was taken. The new laces were a bit too long, and quite a bit thinner, so they didn’t look as neat tied on. But at least it meant I was able to get one more season’s wear out of them before they finally well and truly ‘carked it’ (a bit of Australiana equivalent to ‘bit the dust’).

I was able to get one more season’s wear out of them before they finally well and truly ‘carked it’ …

I still have not found adequate replacements. I thought I had, for a few weeks, when I purchased a pair of brown tan shoes that were made of plaited leather, creating a kind of lattice effect. I thought they would be brilliant for summer. They came from the same sale website as these, but the delivery was suddenly cancelled, presumably because they had oversold their stock. I am still bitter about that, although with the refund I bought a red and white gingham dress on eBay, which has mollified me somewhat (it arrived), and I love it.

Photos: January 2013, April 2016


Brogues, Pt 1

Brogues with Bows

I have loved brogues for a long time. I don’t know from whence this love affair sprang, but it has mostly to do with the punctured leather they are made from: decoration that belies practicality.

While the word ‘brogue’ derives from the Norse brök (leg covering), the shoe itself has its origins in seventeenth century Scotland and Ireland. They were designed for walking the peat bogs of those countries, the tiny holes perforating the leather allowing water to drain out.

A guide to brogued shoes (illustrations from Toni Rossi)They started out as very rudimentary shoes made from raw hides with the hair inwards, to leather tanned with oak-bark. By the eighteenth century they had evolved into a heavier shoe with hobnailed soles, and in the following century the shoe gained a second layer which was pinked to allow water to drain out, with an inner layer that was not, preserving water resistance.

Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, popularises brogues by wearing them as golfing shoes (image via Pinterest)In the twentieth century, it was Edward, Prince of Wales, who took these traditional shoes out of the countryside and into the city, playing golf in them in the 1930s and thereby making them exceedingly fashionable. Women’s versions soon followed with the addition of a heel. Half-brogues, hybrids of Oxford and brogue, were next, with heels rising higher and higher in the first decade of the twenty-first century, making the most practical walking shoe less so. But they sure look good!

When I purchased this pair of dark taupe brogues by label Urge online from a sale website, I was quite surprised when they arrived sans shoelaces. I decided that I wanted nothing so prosaic as that. I had seen brogues tied with satin ribbons before, and liked the look – there is something storybookish about them. Immediately I seized a ribbon out of my sewing box to test out the look.

The tiny eyelets were a hindrance, but I dealt with that by wrapping the ends of the ribbon with sticky-tape and thread it through. I liked it (though not so much the mauve colour, which inadvertently matched my carpet)!

It is almost impossible to purchase non-polyester ribbon in this paltry town (unless presumably one is a denizen of the fashion industry and has secret sources) so I went shopping on Etsy. A natural fibre would be more flexible and fall more prettily. I found a peach rayon ribbon and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once more I went through the tedious process of threading the eyelets, but I was very pleased with the result.

After all that effort, I must confess that the shoes themselves were not the most comfortable, being a little narrow in the toe. But wear made them give a little and they became more comfortable for commuting to work in, which is what I bought them for. Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles, and after a winter or two of hard wear, I ruthlessly (but sadly) put them in the bin where their holey-ness belonged.

Unfortunately, these fashionable brogues did not possess hobnailed soles …

I’ve since owned other brogues, and this past winter have been often wearing a pair of dark tan vintage 70s oxfords, with a two-inch stacked heel, that I found in an op shop for around $12. They were in pristine condition and had even been resoled by a previous owner. I have already roughed them up a little on toes and heels, but that’s what shoes are for – and then it will be on to the next pair!

Photos: July 2012
References: Shoes, by Caroline Cox, New Burlington Books, 2012; Shoes, by Linda O’Keefe, Workman Publishing NY, 1996