Friday, May 30, 2008

Me & Bars & Fashion Parades

Last week, there was a fashion parade to promote my favourite charity thrift shop, 'Beatniks & Bohemians'. It was a nighttime event at a local bar organised by a well-meaning customer anxious to get into philanthropy. I decided to go alone so I could concentrate on taking photos.
Going to bars alone makes me feel anxious. What do you do? Sit there nursing a gin & tonic looking expectant, self-absorbed, content, happy, nonchalant? I always try to look all these things but it never works. For me, it's just another one of those 'Back to the Playground' experiences, where I'm again sitting alone sadly eating my soggy apple sandwiches while everyone around me happily plays together. I'm sure this happened to me, as it's happened to most of us, but I've managed to turn it into one of the Defining Moments of My Life.
Anyway, back to The Parade. After what seemed like an age sitting alone, it finally began. A number of Colourful Local Identities were enlisted to model an outfit that they'd bought from the shop. It was an eclectic group - A Drag Queen, Expectant Mother, Elderly Lady, A Man with his Dog in a Carrybag, an Edgy Architect amongst others. Here's some photos of a few, including my favourite - Elizabeth wearing a yellow sixties number. She actually wore something that I might buy. Just about everyone else looked like they were in Fancy Dress, which is not what thrift shopping is all about, although I'm sure many people quietly think that I often look like I'm off to a Eighties Night or maybe a Halloween Party.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I'm Turning Japanese, Or a Part of Me Would Like To Think So

I've always had a slight fascination for Japanese culture & fashion. I devoured the 'Fruits' books when they came out & harboured a secret desire to become a 'Harujuku' girl, or perhaps a 'Harujuku' Elderly Woman. That won't happen until I completely lose all my Inhibitions, which is unlikely unless I get Tourettes. But maybe that'd just mean that I'd inappropriately swear a lot. But in the meantime, I'll try & emulate stylish Women of a Certain Age featured in The Sartorialist like this wonderful, perhaps Japanese lady photographed selling clothes in the street.
I'm standing outside an exhibition my friend Deb & I attended last night at the New South Wales Art Gallery. 'Taisho Chic' showcased wonderful art & houshold items from the Art Deco period in Japan. I didn't really think that Japan did Art Deco. But they did. As part of my bid to become Japanese, I'm wearing a mini-Obi made from Authentic Kimono Fabric.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Too many layers spoil the mix

Today I trotted off to school thinking that I looked fabulous. 'What a riot of colours & patterns & fabrics I am,' I said to myself on the way down the hill. 'People are nodding & smiling at me with approval', I noted.
All day I floated around thinking Majestically Wonderful Thoughts about my appearance & congratulating myself on my clever sartorial choices. I drew wonderful drawings on the whiteboard to make some highly important points about Postmodernism & The Death of the Author ,all the while thinking about what a great photo me & my outfit would make.
It wasn't until after school when I was visiting my local thrift shop, 'Beatniks & Bohemians' & I caught a glimpse of myself in a full length mirror that The Awful Truth came crashing down on me. Clearly, I looked like Eliza Doolittle in 'My Fair Lady', before she had her Makeover. Or maybe a Morman's Favourite Wife.
I rushed home & quickly removed the thai silk skirt that I believed to be the Chief Offender. I immediately felt better.
But I couldn't help but publish my photo if only to remind myself that it doesn't pay to be too smug.

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's Like Running an Empire With No Subjects

With bucket loads of old crap rotting in ziplock bags & old biscuit tins, I felt it was time to start making some necklaces again. I can't stand those well-meaning but whiny blogs where people talk about creative projects they're desperate to finish if only they had the time. But in my particular case, it's true. It's like I'm running an Empire with no subjects. With all my frantic thrifting to find more outfits to feature in even more outfit snaps to upload to flickr's wardrobe_remix,as well as documenting the rest of my life to use as fodder for this blog, I've hardly got time to go to work & do all the things that I'm actually paid to do.
But this past weekend between thrifting & snapping, I managed to start necklace production.Here's a sample in their unfinished state. It's great fun to make the centrepiece - it's like making a sculpture, but then deciding what beads to string around it is actually the hard part. So, I'll have to finish them this week, & publish the results by the weekend. What a challenge! If only I was like the overblown artist, Jeff Koons who has a whole army of worker bees toiling away in his Factory Atelier.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wonder Woman of the Kitchen

Yesterday, one of my students said that she couldn't imagine me doing anything domestic like cooking or perhaps dusting. How wrong she is. But I loved that there's parts of me that arn't immediately obvious to people. Although I'm a Lousy Housekeeper, I love arranging things in the house & I'm an experienced cook, specialising in making Huge Meals for Greedy People.
Here's me, in my kitchen. It's my favourite room with an unexpected view of The Sydney Harbour Bridge & a couple of the wings of the Opera House sticking out. Last year, it was an authentic 1950s kitchen that looked kinda cute at first glance but was horrid to work in. It housed a large population of creepy cockroaches, the cupboard heights were made for midgets, a dangerously sloping cook top made all the pans slide on the floor & the oven didn't work. We got the Kitchen People in who demolished the lot & replaced it with Wonder Woman's Kitchen. The stainless steel benchtop is just perfect for me to showcase my collection of old vases & the green terrazzo island benchtop displays the Sympathetic Pig perfectly. He keeps me from cooking with bacon as I think pigs are treated appallingly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Style is 5% Investment, 95% Illusion.

This is one of my favourite all-time images. It is from a book about personal style called 'Cheap Chic' published in 1975 that I've poured over for decades. If you think that the mix of vintage, thrift, designer & mall fashion is a new phenomenon, think again. T

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mary Poppins Bag Lady

The Sartorialist seems to be running a little series of profiles of Stylish People & asking them a whole load of questions that only the Seriously Stylish could answer. I tried asking myself a few of them & could hardly think of a thing. For instance, 'most underrated item?' Buttons, perhaps? 'Shoetrees?' What? 'Your next must-have item?' Whatever's in the Thrift Store.
One gorgeous Style Maven was asked to describe her Personal Style: "Proper School Marm meets Early Rolling Stones". How did she dream that one up? I'm green with envy.
After thinking for what seemed like hours, I came up with My Personal Style Description: Mary Poppins Meets Bag Lady. Doesn't have quite the same ring, does it?
More on this later - I'm off to the Wayside Chapel Thrift Shop & then to screen "The Philadelphia Story" to a group of my students. Hurrah!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Describe My Personal Random Style Quirky Icons

I'm the sort of person who easily feels left out. So when I see that that the Entire Blogging World are busily 'memeing' each other demanding they write long lists of Random Little-Known Facts about themselves or asking each other to describe their Personal Style & no one memes me, I'm right back there in the playground eating my soggy apple sandwiches alone.
And then I remember that I'm Done with Playing the Victim!
So, I'm going to ask myself to write a list of things about me & my Iconic Style & other Little Known Facts.
I've included yesterday's wardrobe photo as well as a great one I knabbed from Hel Looks, just to make me feel part of a group.
So let's start:
1. Even though I'm middleaged, I really don't have any grey hairs. My hair is still quite blond, & I spray it with 'Sun In' to make it the same colour that's always been. Now that's a Random Fact!
2. I'm adopted & I don't know anything about my father except I think his name might have been Sam Nelson. I imagine that his family may have been Scandinavian. That's maybe why I like Hel Looks so much!
3. I've been making the same quiche recipe since 1979. I've made thousands of quiches & it's my Signature Dish.
4. My guilty pleasure is weighing myself. I know I shouldn't do it, it's only a number etc etc, but I can't stop.
That's four. I'm sure I can think of tons more.

Envious Thought for the Day

More Adventures in Street Photography

I'm such a Shameless Copier. After seeing the wonderful shot of the Brown Furry Lady, on Hel Looks I had to go & find my own Sydney equivalent. I thought it might be quite hard, seeing as though we don't really have much call for wearing top to toe furs in our sub-tropical climate, but I finally found a Fake Fur Version at my favourite Charity shop, The Wayside Chapel. Her name is Ayesha, & she told everyone in the shop that she worked for twenty years at 'Les Girls', a famous Female Impersonator Revue that is now defunct. I was thrilled when she agreed to have her photo taken with her little dog. As soon as we walked outside the shop for the photo Ayesha turned to one side & turned her gaze upwards, which must be her Good Side. How wonderful to immediately know which side is your best one.
Of course, when I showed the photo to holier-than-thou Mr. Middleaged & told him I was putting it on my blog, he started on with a whole lot of stuff about The Morality of Using Other People's Images For Your Own Purposes. But I soon shut him up by shouting him down .

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I'm a Fan

In yesterday's entry, I neatly divided the world up into two groups - Fans & Non-Fans. I definitely fit into the first category. One day v. soon I'll write a blog list of all the Things That I Am a Fan Of which would have to include footless tights, Neil Finn & Persian Feta.
One of my Fan Fetishes is the wearing of brooches. In my view, they look best worn in winter on coat lapels & also when artfully attached to woollen scarves (see photo) So you can imagine my glee that when I was visiting the National Gallery in Canberra last weekend to see the "Turner to Monet" exhibition, I spied this wonderful cow perspex brooch, sensibly priced at $9.95. I couldn't believe it! I am always trawling Art Gallery Shops for interesting trinkets, but usually everything is either too expensive or incredibly twee. I was so excited that I bought two. You can see a close up of the cow on top of a photo of a Sad but Stylish Woman of the forties, Millicent Rogers. Now, she had a brooch collection to die for!
I'm photographed at the Sydney Art Gallery next to one of my favourite Australian paintings, 'The Sock Knitter', by Grace Cossington Smith. Everything I've got on, including the shoes & the two bags but except the Cow Brooch was thrifted. Some people would not consider that to be anything to brag about. But you see, I'm a Fan of Thrifting.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Duchess of Windsor's Wild Animals.

In my view, there are two types of people: people who are fans & people who are not fans. I fall into the first catagory. When I admire something, I automatically become a fan. My first outward demonstration of fanhood was in 1964 when, aged 11, I covered my bedroom walls with hundreds of pictures of The Beatles, mainly John, who I imagined marrying some day. Thank God I didn't because now I'd be a widow.
I have always been a fan of The Duchess of Windsor (top photo). The Duchess was enormously stylish & Cartier made all these wonderful wild animal brooches for her, the most famous being The Panther brooch (next photo). She famously said, "You can never be too rich or too thin". Unfortunately, I am neither, so am reduced to buying v. cheap copies of her wild animals at junk shops & markets. I've got a small collection now - an elephant brooch & two panthers that I wear mainly in winter on coat lapels. I'm sure the Duchess would approve. I've photographed them on top of pages from vintage World War 2 British Vogue Magazines that Mr. Middleaged bought in an expensive shop in London recently.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Colour My World

Recently I attended an 80th Birthday party of a stylish lady who I've known all my life. All her four daughters, all past forty , wore black to the party. When I asked Chris, a middle daughter was it a planned colour combination, she gaily replied, "Darling, Black isn't a Colour, it's a way of Life!'
I was quite impressed with that snappy retort, even though I'm sure it's been said a few times before.
I can't understand why black has been embraced like this.I remember going through a time in the late eighties/early nineties when I wore a whole lot of black crepe dresses from the forties.Those were the halycon days when stuff like that was still sold in musty old second hand shops ran by chain-smoking old women. I thought I was awfully urban cool wearing the dresses with Doc Martins. The only other types who wore black then were the Insider Fashion People & Meditteranean Widows. Nowadays, every middle aged woman who wants to look Smart & Slim & Sexy wears black. Trouble is, they just end up looking like everyone else trying to look Slim & Smart & Sexy.

I've posted a few pics to demonstrate the wonderfulness of colour. The blond in the fab orange dress is not me, but one of my colleagues who was sporting this new look yesterday. Then there's my almost favourite The Sartorialist photo of a really cool, probably Fashion Insider Type swathed in red. God I wish he'd have more of these pics instead of Old Blokes who look like Rupert Bear smoking cigars.
Then there's pics of me in Red & red bangles & shoes, because, after all, It's Always About Me!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The First Layer.

One of my fellow flickr wardrobe remixers kindly asked me how do I put my outfits together. Do the jewels & accessories come first, or do the clothes?
To be honest, I don't really know. I just go inside The Engine Room every morning & fumble around until something materialises. Two days a week I'm in a super-rush because I have early morning classes starting at 7.30 am. On the other days when I start later, I have more time to get ready & can try on a number of outfits before the right one for the day appears.
But there is one constant feature of my daily wardrobe that I always wear - The First Layer. I always wear footless tights & a 'Bonds' singlet so that I'm ready for a yoga class at the gym if I get the chance. Here's a photo of me in it. Poor Mr. Middleaged was cajoled into taking it. He thinks I've gone mad. He's probably right.
I've included the Top Layer as well - two different versions of the one dress - a gift from 'Anthropologie' from my best friend Marge. I do love the over-sized puffy sleeves even though it makes me look a bit like Heidi's Mum.
And I had to shove in a detail shot of the 'Picasso' scarf I bought at a local market. I just love it.
It may seem mundane, but I think it's interesting to know how people put their outfits together. It's all part of Life's Rich Tapestry!

Thought for the Day

Just in case you can't read the text embedded in the collaged image, it says "Success is going from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm". Winston Churchill said this. He should know. He had so many failures & still managed to be Prime Minister of Britain & argubly saved the world from Hitler. And he had one of the best Funerals of all time. He's one of my Heroes.