Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I thought they were gone forever

Most people would agree that fashion is a cycle. There is no need to be outraged or nervous that jumpsuits or long skirts have reared their hipster heads recently  - all styles and shapes have been in our wardrobe before and will no doubt come back again in our lifetimes, just like a Saturn return which I believe occurs about every thirty years. 

What we should be really happy about is that fabrics are now soft and wearable. 

On Monday I travelled to a rural city and stumbled across an amazing vintage and collectibles store. I was hurrying to my first meeting but spied a rack of clothes up the back. It took me a few seconds to check it out and while I was appreciative, there was nothing there for me. 

As I was leaving the nice man at the counter said, "There's more clothes upstairs!" Be still my thumping heart. 

Three meetings and one business lunch later, but with a good sixty minutes before my train was due, I rushed upstairs. There were certainly more clothes. 

Seven full racks, to be precise. Now the harsh Australian sun has cast a very bright glow on all my pictures, but I'm pretty certain you will still be able to feel the crackle of polyester and acrylic as you peruse these highlights. 

It was an amazing collection of clothes and all very reasonably priced. I was surprised how many were made in Australia. I'd forgotten that we'd once had a thriving textile and clothing industry. Who amongst the Skippies remembers Exacto tshirts? They'd been erased from my memory, replaced by schedules, Petit Bateau and to-do lists, yet I found one here on rack number three. The other pleasing observation was how many, like the startling gunmetal lame number above, were homemade.  Before Net-a-porter and eBay, home made dresses and hand embroidery were staples in the well-dressed country girl's wardrobe. 

I bought some silk scarves ...

...and a wonderful denim trapeze dress with gingham trim, straight out of 1976 and still singing Maxine Nightingale songs.  She (the dress) is having a bath as we speak but I hope you can meet her soon. 

My own choice of clothes was decidedly less obvious and largely cotton, a blessing considering the heat and that I had to sit on a train for a total of seven hours.  

The silk top and cotton jacket are both Veronica Maine while the jeans are very sedate meeting-appropriate J Brand. The long journey allowed me to read all three papers and spy a lot of local birds. Mountain lowries and black cockatoos are glorious but my favourite bird was on the red acrylic skirt that you can see in full in the above photo. Here's a detailed shot for any lurking ornithologists.  

 Chain stitch! I haven't seen that for...well, since the seventies. 


  1. Terrific post full of interesting stuff. And homemade dresses: who'd have thought?! I love that gunmetal dress and can't believe someone made it herself.

  2. Love the closup of the embroidery... how funny!

  3. The crackle of polyester and acrylic is not music to my ears. I'm not being a snob: Those fabrics make me itch.

    You have a trove here, Baxter. I owned a denim trapeze dress in the late 70s myself. It was comfortable. I even wore it while pregnant.

  4. Shy, it was a great dress and beautifully made. I wondered where the seamstress found the fabric. It must have caused quite a stir when it was first worn!

    Thanks, L'doll - I'm a big fan of birds on clothes!

    I'm with you, Charlotte - I hate synthetics, not only for the crackly feel, but also for the way any scent clings and ferments on them. I should have pointed it that there were some silks and wools in this huge collection and as for the synthetic pieces - well, I doubt they could have been made from anything else!