Aug 29, 2014

Floral and Spot

I know, I know. You have seen this skirt many times before. It is my favourite skirt and I am a big believer in wearing clothes as much as you can. More on that on another day, because I think today is a good day to talk about nostalgia.

I don't know if it is the same for you (please, let me know if it is) but I find that smells have a very strong link to memories for me. They seem to conjure up the emotions I was feeling at the time, which are things that words can't always catagorise very well. For this reason I always try and take a new perfume with me whenever I go travelling. In Paris with my sister I took the scent of pure violets. A sniff of that and I'm back in Montmartre at golden hour by the carousel with so much happiness I could burst. I don't get that feeling when I look at the Polaroid I took of her moments later.

I was served by a customer last week who wore the same perfume as my aunt Betty in Spain. I had to ask her what the fragrance was because the moment I smelled it I was safe in Malaga, dangling my feet in the pool while my aunt's adopted cat smooched my sunscreen covered back. I was feeling nervous, shaken but happy and safe. I'd just had a really tough time in Paris and my aunt was doing a magnificent job of helping me regain my confidence.

After one of my sisters and my nephew died, everyone that my family had ever known us sent us flowers. We had more flowers and sympathy cards in our house than a florist. The lily, sympathetic flower of choice, was prominent amongst all those bunches and as the weeks went by our house was filled with the potent smell of lilies and dying flowers (not too dissimilar a fragrance). It was about a year later that I walked into a supermarket and through the entry which had flowers arranged right next to it. The smell of them, for me, was like a knock out punch. I was disoriented, lost, couldn't remember what I had gone there for and went back to sit in my car. That smell had dragged back the shock, trauma and wrongness of the world and my skin felt so thin that even the air hurt.

Lots of other smells have meaning for me. I usually forget about them until I smell that fragrance and I'm completely transported. Early grey tea. Oh my word. If I smell that bonza brew, every relaxing sigh I've ever made in my life comes flooding back. It's an immediate comfort zone scent for me.

This week, the love of my life brought me home flowers, as he does. He knows not to get me lilies and this time brought me daffodils. As soon as I caught the smell of them I was taken somewhere I wasn't expecting. A large portion of my childhood was spent with many happy hours at the home of my grandparents. Sometimes alone, but often with my siblings. My grandparents had just under 3 acres in Ballarat and we spent plenty of time in the yard or in the paddocks. I can recall beautiful late spring days sitting in the grass picking daffodils which sprouted up in clumps all across the green paddock. The horse was following my brother (the horse followed by the dog) to the apple tree which was in bloom and the light was catching the glitter of bees as they darted in and out of the flowers. 

My grandmother would walk down to the fence and call us to come inside. We would gather our treasures of apple blossoms and daffodils and walk back into the house. She would take our treasures from us and arrange them in a vase on the windowsill. Our hands smelled of daffodils and the breeze coming in through the open window would spread the fragrance from the vase around the kitchen. She would boil the kettle and would drink banana Quik. In amongst all these memories are my sisters long fingers, the dimples on her cheeks and the spring light making her blonde hair glow. I can also see my grandmother pouring milk into the rice pudding and using her knuckle to measure the right amount on the side of the bowl, singing under her breath. Both my sister and grandmother are gone, but so easily reanimated by the smell of a flower. What a happy discovery.
So today, for the memories, for the nostalgia, we are restyling my favourite skirt.

Blouse: Review
Skirt: Modcloth
Shoes: Sandler
Sunglasses: eBay
Location: Nahm Thai Cafe - Northbridge
Photos: Stu

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Aug 22, 2014

Ladylike Clothes - Floral and Flowers

When I was much younger I was quite a tomboy. Being a girl wasn't open to interpretation, it meant floaty, frilly and pastels and things that could blow away in the next strong wind. I was more of an obnoxious stand-your-ground type girl, and no amount of wind howling about my ears was going to blow me away. I loved motorbikes and figuring out the mechanics of how things worked. I was influenced by punk styles, I wore things that were torn, held together by safety pins or made of leather. My wardrobe consisted of a lot of denim, leather and black. 

As I got older, I cut off my super long, blond curly hair. I died it black. I wore jeans. I avoided skirts. When I was a teenager I remember the trend of having butterflies on things. Once shopping with my sister the shop assistant tried helping me. I gave her parameters of 'black' and 'no butterflies'. She couldn't help. That was the sort of mainstream fashion I was trapped with when I was desperate to not be the Disney girl that society seemed to be forcing on me. To this day, I don't really resonate with Disney princesses (but that Mulan warrior was tough). 

One day at the end of high school, I wandered into a vintage clothing store down the road from school. The lady who owned it, Annie, saw something in me that I clearly did not. By that point I had started martial arts and had a fascination with Japanese fashion and decor. I don't know how Annie managed it, but she got me from the section with oriental smoking jackets into the vintage dresses, and then she offered me a job. 

A job with Annie meant the obvious things like, she could teach me good work ethic and give me employable skills. These were things that helped me grow up and I was still learning them long after I left her shop. The best thing she did for me though, was putting me in a dress, standing in front of me, and seeing me. Not seeing a princess, not seeing my gender, seeing me. On top of that, I felt like me. I didn't feel uncomfortable, or like I was pretending. It was my first experience that I could wear dresses, I could wear different fabrics, I could wear not-black, and still be me. I made a small promise to myself during my time with her and it was as simple as this: no more black. Annie had introduced me to vintage fashion, which offered me an escape from the mainstream fashion that I was struggling with. It gave me the chance to understand that if I didn't relate to what was in the stores, I didn't have to rebel by doing the opposite. I didn't even have to play the game. There was a massive and endless world of fashion out there that I didn't need to reinvent or avoid, I just needed to explore. The colour black didn't have to be a crutch for my lack of identity with myself through clothes.

The years since that promise have changed my wardrobe. I have opened up to a lot more colour and style, but I'm still me. I'm more me, in fact. With each new piece of clothing I love I still find more ways to be comfortable in my own skin. My hair is no longer black, and I'm now very happy in a floral dress, but I no long feel that makes me weak or ineffective. I do own black, but it is no longer a filler for the void of identity and it isn't the most common colour in my wardrobe (according to my colour stats on Stylebook, that would be blue).

Earrings: Forever New
Necklace: Polli
Dress: Alannah Hill
Shoes: B.A.I.T Footwear or via Modcloth
Photos and Flowers: Stu
Location: Perth

I also still love bikes. And motorbikes.


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Aug 15, 2014

Olive Dresses and Flamingos

An old mentor used to say to me 'only boring people get bored'. It's a statement that I have carried with me and thought about often. I remember when I first heard it that I thought that the statement wasn't fair, but it still made me very self aware when I got bored and I put in a conscious effort to get away from the boredom. During these attempts to occupy myself I came to a gradual realisation that when I was bored it was often by choice. I was bored, bluntly, because I wanted to be so. There are plenty of interesting things I could have been doing but I felt myself resisting them with a mantra of 'that's boring'.

They key to not being bored can be boiled down to some simple elements: being curious and interested, as well as being willing to pay attention. It also requires the ability to be alone, in solely your own company. It requires imagination and philosophical thinking. In today's adventures of not-being-bored I hung out with some flamingos on the back deck.

Dress: Dangerfield
Sunglasses: eBay
Shoes: Sandler
Marie Brooch: Inherited
Bag: Inherited
Photos: Stu

You may recall another lace trimmed dress I wore last month by Wheels and Dollbaby.

- L
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Aug 10, 2014

Swooning Sunday: Vintage Dresses from Word from the Bird

You might remember a post I did from a little while ago where I met some lovely ladies on the street in Ballarat (see the blog posts here and also at the Tweed Ride here). They were wearing magnificent vintage dresses and we got talking and sharing style. It turned out they run a little Etsy shop called Word from the Bird where they source, curate and then put up for sale original vintage dresses.

They also do previews of what is coming up to the store on their Facebook page. I find this handy because it means if I like something I can ask the measurements to find out if it will fit me or not. If you're looking at the blog in a browser you will see them under the sponsors link on the right hand side. Check them out!


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Aug 8, 2014

Wearing is Daring - Red and Pink

There are colours that 'shouldn't go together', apparently. It's one of those fashion rules. We've all heard a lot of fashion rules throughout our lives.
- Blue and green should never be seen
- Don't wear navy and black
- Ankle length skirts make you look frumpy
- Socks don't go with sandals
- Pear (and Skittle) body shapes shouldn't wear skinny jeans
- Shoulder pads are ugly
- Big belts aren't fashionable

The thing about most fashion rules is that they change according to what is on trend. If you can look impartially at a fashion rule and conclude that it is only so because it defines what is or isn't on trend,  why does it need to be kept? Fashion is such a diverse thing. Does it matter what is on the catwalk or on the street if you think you look good? I am currently digging the combination of red and pink. This is something I would usually cringe over, but the more I see the two colours together, the more I like it. I don't think this makes me innovative; I have seen it around done by other people. I feel a little adventurous, though.

Belt, Blouse, Midi Skirt: Review Australia
Shoes: MYER
Lolita Sunglasses: Sportsgirl
Earrings: Forever New
Location: The Constitutional Centre of Western Australia
Photos: Stu Rapley

- L

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