Thursday, March 29, 2012

I dream of journeys repeatedly

Just because I have to work tonight doesn't mean I wasn't wearing clothes today, and just because a thick irritating sheaf of paper is glaring at me across my desk doesn't mean I don't want to talk about the clothes I wore.

It does mean I have to be quick though.

So straight to the point, on the train.... a Max Mara thrifted jacket from Vinnies in Rozelle,  black Jigsaw trousers I bought at hte sale two years ago (actually I bought two pairs because I so rarely find staid trousers that actually fit me), a cream tshirt from Elk I bought in Newtown on sale, a canvas bag filled with newspapers and food
 and ... hard working bag and ... (current) favourite flat shoes. Which I bought in Paris. Because I saw Parisians wearing them with trousers and they looked so neat, so subtle and so very comfortable. 

Sydney is currently moving into Autumn. This means several times a day you hear people saying, "I love this time of year!" And rightly so. What's not to love? It's still clear and warm but not oppressively hot, and the light is just beautiful. 

Isn't it amazing? Here's a close-up of that wonderful sky. 

 And now - back to work.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

May she always wear red ribbons

Well, that's better. No poisonous berries, no stampedes, no unflattering colours - just a nicely cut sensible frock in a light wool crepe. This is one of the dresses I did buy on my pleasant afternoon of vintage shopping as discussed yesterday. My new frock is made by Bettina Liano and seems unworn. It's also very comfortable and eminently suitable for work. And it certainly knows how to take a brooch. I think it will work more effectively with boots and a slightly lower cut neckline, but there's plenty of winter ahead for that. Today my new black frock was introduced to a plain silk blouse from Zara, Wolford tights and the Ferragamos, who probably are close to getting a blog of their own. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fresh blows the wind homeward bound

Lots of things make me happy: finding an unattended pen that I can test drive, butter on fresh bread, re-reading Catch-22 for the eleven millionth time, watching a jumbo take off, watching Cool Hand Luke late at night with a cup of tea, having an afternoon to myself to mooch around thrift stores.

Last weekend I got very happy as I mooched around thrift stores and op shops and made some wonderful purchases. Obviously you'll see the wonderful in days to come but today I want to share the not so wonderful.

Like all opshoppers I have some rules and guidelines when I am mooching:
*Check the fabric. Is it hardy? Is it about to shatter? Are the seams sound? Buttons? Zips? All present and working?
*Do the light test: Can you see any holes when you hold it up to the light? Are there stains? Any evidence of insect feasting?
*Try it on. Does it fit? Is it comfortable? Does it suit you? Will you wear it?
*Check your purse. Can you afford it? Is it value for money?

First up was a wonderful blue seersucker dress that reminded me of Jessica Lang.

I was ready to go romping through fields of buttercups in this dress...

...but instead looked like I should be herding wildebeest or cooking for a shed full of shearers. No sale.

No matter - next up was a beautiful green silk number. I loved the print.

The cut, however, was horrible. I looked like the mother of the bride. A mother who really didn't like attending weddings. Also,  I am certain those little berries are poisonous. Cute, but poisonous. 

No luck there. Not to worry - I had the interesting blue shirt dress to try on!

I'm not sure what I found so interesting. The spots? The entirely unflattering palette? The way it made me look a little like a wildebeest?

 I was very relieved that it didn't fit.  C'est la vie. There's always one too the creamy silk meadow dress to restore my faith in dresses.

I love the print on this - pink and olive on cream silk. Heavenly.

Too bad it checked every negative box on the How Unflattering Is Your Dress survey.  Frumpy? Check. Badly cut? Check. Print distorts rather than enhances your waistline? Check. Likely to enrage wildebeest and cause a stampede? Check.

Well, thank heavens for the lovely little cotton apron dress made from lovely vintage fabric.

Except it was entirely unflattering and miles too big around the back. The only time I could imagine wearing that is when my blue wildebeest-herding dress is in the wash. I'm fairly certain this dress would scare the wildebeest. I did like the pockets though, until I discovered a thick wad of tissues in one of them.

Sigh. Still, I have the blue shift dress. I love shift dresses - pair of boots, a long jangly necklace, bit of a headband and you're good to go.

Except it was about four sizes to big.

May as well get the last one over and done with. It's gaudy and frilly and possibly age-inappropriate and ...

...actually, it's not so bad. It's fine for tossing on over jeans, handy to have at the beach as a cover and perfect for hot nights when you get home from work and want to pad around the house in something innocuous. Also - big blousy roses are welcome in my life anytime. And these little cotton numbers just get sweeter and softer with age. It has pockets too, mercifully devoid of any tissues.

So there it is - a lovely early autumn afternoon completely unmarred by unsuitable dresses.

Wait to you see the ones I bought. I think even the wildebeest would approve.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm rearranging the days to suit myself

Greetings from the busy week, where the weather is overcast and the days have been rearranged.

Think about that for a minute: wouldn't it be fabulous to change the days of the week around for a change?

Today I had a Sunday instead of a Thursday. I woke up in an inexplicably good mood and managed  to get a number of tasks completed throughout the day. Such productivity always happens to me on Sunday. I often wear flats on Sunday too.

 That's my Banana Republic trench coat which I'm starting to regard a sister, a Veronika Maine skirt, a silk blouse from Zara, vintage boots from eBay, vintage silk scarf from a thrift shop in London and a silver sash brooch worn as a brooch: the skirt has no belt loops and having a belt sit on it under a loose blouse causes minor havoc. So I whacked the brooch on my skirt and was rather pleased with the result. 
You can do that kind of thing on a Sunday. You can also wear a the same blouse as yesterday, which I've done today. Except yesterday I dressed like it was Friday:

 The blouse is the same, and is worn with a $4 Fletcher Jones blazer I bought at the Salvation Army store in Dulwich Hill, a pair of Levis 503s, soft black patent leather shoes I bought from Jigsaw years ago because they reminded me of the Tar Baby in Brer Rabbit and the intrepid Bayswater, which is like a sister also.

The jewllery is all vintage - the mourning locket came from the Rozelle Markets (if you live in Sydney, like flea markets and haven't been to the Rozelle Markets, go this weekend. You'll have a ball) the brooch is from the Alameda markets in San Francisco and the other black necklace is made from tiny weeny little glass beads and comes from the flea market in Port Vanves. I love the mix of cream, fawn and black. They look so calm together.

On Monday I dressed like it was Wednesday - mid-week, that hump you have to mount and slip over in order to get to the weekend. I do that steady climb in a simple frock and a simple light coat and Ferragamos, which are not a relative but more like a pair of sensible comforting ladies from the local Women's Axillary:

 Tomorrow I've got Friday which, according to the mix I've had this week, means I'll have to dress like it's Tuesday. I'll let you know how I go.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The light of the evening star

My love of fashion and the associated media has been aired on my blog many thousands of times. I have favourite magazines, favourite books, favourite stores and favourite websites that all feed my lovely obsession.

My love doesn't extend to the beauty industry. I don't read their ads, I don't believe anything they tell me and I am completely indiscriminate about what I will use provided it is reasonable priced.

I never shop at beauty counters in department stores because I can't bear the spiels. I want to argue and thump the counter: "You CAN'T clean out a pore! If you clean out a pore it will BLEED!" "No thirty milligram jar of cream is worth $300! And it doesn't reduce wrinkles. Nothing can reduce wrinkles. You can blur a wrinkle by smearing the skin with grease which eventually will be absorbed and metabolised. That's all your $300 cream does! Shame on you for suggesting otherwise!"

The slogan, "You're worth it" makes my skin crawl. I'll tell you what I'm worth: equal pay, safe streets, employment opportunities and a seat on the board. Stuff your bloody frosted lipstick.

You could be forgiven for thinking I don't use many beauty products. False. I use a lot.  I love lipstick, pots of coloured powder and ludicrous coloured nail polishes. I'm forever squirting myself with scent (people on trains hate me.) I find every beige coloured eye shadow fascinating. I just don't want to be told that they make me more beautiful or more desirable or capable of winning the Nobel prize.

I buy moisturisers and cleansers from chemists and supermarkets and on line if I find them cheap. I look for things in plain packaging, things that smell nice and things that don't make me break out in hives. I buy my makeup the same way. Over the years I've got into the habit of buying my cosmetics when I travel. This allows for an element of surprise in my year (I never know exactly what a product is going to do) and means I pack less in my sponge bag.

On my last trip I hit the chemists in Paris and London and came home with these:

The Avene cold cream is delicious. It was inexpensive - about $aus12 - and is very economical. You only need a little bit for seriously satisfied skin. I use it as a night cream. The Nuxe Creme Fraiche is another winner - it smells faintly of geraniums and sinks into your skin like butter on a hot scone. I use it as a day cream under a coat of sun block. The Nuxe oil is legendary in France, and again very reasonably priced. Oils are a favourite of mine: I've used other skin oils and all with great success. They're great in the European winters as a barrier against brittle cold air and just as handy back home as an antidote to the Sydney sun. My current favourite isn't pictured here - it's a small bottle of Argan oil I bought in a French supermarket for five euros. You only need a squidge for smooth surfaces on your skin and hair. I will be sorry when I've drained the last drop.

The Boots products are (pardon my English) fab. They're well priced and don't tell me stupid lies. They also make my skin feel comfortable. Good value.

I buy my make up en route too, looking for things I can't get here or for which I won't pay Australian prices. If you are going to France and wanting to spruce up your make up bag I strongly recommend a trip to Monoprix, where they have a selection of make up to rival any American drugstore. You should also have a go at the local chemists, which are a treasure trove of good local brands of very high quality for very sensible prices. I love Bourjois and was very impressed with their new line called Une. It's a sort of back-to-basics organic line in very plain wearable colours, all in smart white packaging.

I love make up. I think it comes from having older sisters and seeing make up form a part of that  transition from girl to woman. Lipsticks are my weakness. I have a library of them. The oldest dates back to 1995. It's a sheer Merlot colour that I plucked off a sale table one rainy Saturday when nothing (except perhaps hot chips) could change my outlook. It turned out to be a a great bargain. I still wear it and it still makes me happy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When the apples will fall

The magazines and style guides will tell you that you must clear out your wardrobe every year, that less is more, that you can get by with a skirt, two t-shirts, a derby hat, four plastic bangles and a pair of riding boots.

I am not like that. I like to have lots of things in rotation and lots of things in storage up in the attic. On particularly dreary afternoons, or when I am not quite at ease with the world, I go up to the attic and do some shopping. When I say shopping I mean rummage through bags of stuff and find dresses and skirts I'd forgotten about. I am a simple woman.

I'm always surprised at how something can be quite new again after a few months' rest. Or how I can buy something and not be ready to wear it for two years. Most of my favourite clothes have had spells in the attic.

There is a notable exception.

This dress has vexed me. I bought it at Zara in Madrid in September 2007. I have not worn it once. I keep it in my wardrobe and get it out every couple of weeks with quiet despair. It is such a great dress. In the picture it looks transparent but that's the early morning Sydney sun - the dress is made from very durable white denim in a perfect clotted cream colour. There's pockets, buttoned sleeves and excellent large pockets. It is a trapeze shape but nicely fitted around the chest and arms. Eminently forgiving around the digestive system. The square neckline is so flattering. It is the perfect length. I could store robins in the pockets if I needed too. I just can't work out how to wear it.

I love this dress but it's starting to grate me. I'm not going to live forever. I need to start wearing this dress and I'm damned if I can work out how.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

And things throw light on things

LIke me, you've probably worked in lots of places and with lots of people. One of my favourite things about offices is the countless little quirks and nuances of all the people who work there. The guy next door to me sneezes a lot. Whenever he does I send him a quick email that says BLESS YOU and he sings out THANK YOU through the wall. The woman down the end of the office make a magnificent salad every day: beetroot-tuna-carrot-onion on a big bed of iceberg lettuce. I know it's lunch time when I can hear the lettuce being rinsed. My learned friend likes to read his documents with his feet on the desk. He's a devotee of the Alexander technique so he's integrated a number of their practices into his daily routine. Sometimes I walk past his office and seeing him lying on the floor in a pose he calls a semi-supine although it looks to me like a cruxifiction. I always stand and watch his chest to make sure he's still breathing.

I'm not without my quirks. Relevant to this post is my predilection for wearing dresses mid-week. It seems quick and to the point.

The dress is from Jigsaw and was a gift from my sister. That little blue jacket which presents as a blur in the first picture was from Von Troska a couple of seasons ago, I wear it to work a lot. The two pendants are both thrifted and the shoes are the Ferragamos, which are proving to be the hardest workers I know. Also present is my faithful Bayswater, and on my left shoulder is a big stripey bag I bought in Target. It holds my breakfast (fruit salad) lunch (cheese and vegetables) and assorted snacks (yoghurt, pear and banana). 

My friend Nat likes to leave her furniture in my office when she goes on leave. That's her table and out of shot are her chair, magazine rack and assorted magazines. They keep me company while she's gone and lend a degree of elegance to my office that is otherwise outside my skill set.

I'd love to hear stories of the quirks of people you work with. Do you sit near a frequent-sneezer?