11 January 2015

a little more grace, a lot less kardashian please

For me, one of the great pleasures of the summer break is reading.  While during the school year I read a tremendous amount – it’s not always material that I want to read.  During the summer months however I am free to read whatever my frivolous little heart desires.

A recent read is Paris Street Style by Isabelle Thomas and Frédérique Veysset.  Along with a string of gorgeous photos of even more gorgeous women dressed in even more gorgeous outfits (so jealous!), came a particularly thought-provoking interview with Christophe Lemaire, artistic director of Hermès women’s ready-to-wear department and founder of the Christophe Lemaire brand name.

According to Lemaire, “The notion of sexiness has become sad, impoverished, and synonymous with “cheap.” …  It’s like having breast implants and showing them to the world.  “Sexy” today is the aesthetic of expensive prostitutes.”

For some reason Lemaire’s words struck a chord with me.  Has “sexy” been totally redefined?  Are the Kim Kardashians of the world really considered sexy?  And if so, does this mean the word itself has become tarnished?  That we have come to equate sexiness with way too much cleavage on display and skirts so tight that the outline of one’s thong is clearly visable?  Or, does there still exist a sexy linked to elegance and grace?  Is this more subtle sexy still around, but just less recognized, less publicized – mostly because this sexy isn’t standing around with their butt hanging out having been rolled in more oil than a Glick’s ponchke (jam doughnut), waiting for the cameras to go ‘click’? 

Today Little Fashionista and I cuddled up for a bit of a Marilyn Monroe love-in, and for the first time she witnessed the indisputable screen presence of Miss Monroe.  Even at the tender age of six, LF was struck by Monroe, Becall and Grable – by their grace and elegance.  By the way they exuded sex appeal, despite being relatively covered up by today’s standards.  Clothing accentuated a feminine silhouette, highlighting small waists and shapely hips without revealing too much.  Bosoms were not hidden, but they weren’t out on a platter.   

Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Becall in How To Marry a Millionaire

At the end of his interview, Lemaire comments:

“I prefer things to be hinted at - by a lovely nape, delicate features, perfect skin, magnificent hair, or a certain way of moving.  So corsets and skintight clothes are not necessarily pleasing to me.  I believe you can be sensual as well as modest.  Modesty is in itself desirable.”

I’m with you Mr Lemaire.  A little more grace and a lot less Kardashian seems to be exactly what our world needs.

4 November 2014

monochrome goodness

You would have to be living under a rock to not have noticed the recent monochrome trend - and not just for Derby Day.  Many fashionistas feel relieved by the revival of this classic yet potentially dramatic combo.  No longer must they rethink the power of fluro, and they are once again allowed to indulge in something a bit more familiar.  Unfortunately there are those who mistakenly believe that monochrome means any awful combination of black and white is okay.  Let me be clear - this is not the case.

One Australian fashion brand I believe is doing monochrome really well this season is Cue.  I'm particularly besotted and yet equally terrified by the white pant suit. 

27 October 2014

she's back baby

So, undoubtedly some of you may have noticed that it's been a while since I've blogged about all things fashion.  I'm not exactly sure why I stayed away from the keyboard for so long - work, kids, house, other projects.  I guess the reality is, for a time there my heart wasn't quite in it. 

But recently I came upon what can only be described as a call for fashion help. And so, I have no choice but to don my super-fashionista cape and come to the rescue with some sage and stern words of wisdom for those of you ladies about to attend a formal event.  Men were in suits and an array of ties and women frocked up in everything from LBDs to bright graphic prints.  There were even some floor length numbers (yay for old school glamour!).  I had the pleasure of wearing a gorgeous tangerine number by Willow with some leopard skin heels from Oroton.  Also in my freshly manicured hands was a little gold clutch from Colette.

willow side drapae dress - tangerine

oroton dynamite pumps in leopard

colette hayman erica metal hardcase in gold

However, to my horror many of the women attending the evening had opted not for a clutch, or any other sort of evening bag, but were instead carting around a shoulder bag or tote. Gasp! Horror!  Oh the humanity! all rolled into one.  Now, as a self-confessed handbag addict, I acknowledge that even the idea of attending a special event without having purchased a little bag just for the occasion makes me break out in hives.  However, I also know that this response is a tad extreme.  Nontheless, there is absolutely no excuse for rocking up to a formal event, waxed, polished and sprayed, Hollywood tape keeping all your bits firmly in place, special undies ensuring no VPL (thanks Jockey!), and then lugging around a shopper tote - even if it is a Louis Vuitton. 

Accessories are important.  They have the capacity to pull your whole look together, and as in most other situations, attention to detail is essential to success.  And these details don't need to break the bank - although there was a little YSL number carried by one lucky lady at this event that did cause me to turn slightly green with serious designer brand envy.  My little gold friend cost a modest $34.95 and I know boohoo has some from $12.  And while I am certainly a believer that you get what you pay for, clutches, wristlets and the like are generally used for a relatively short period of time, and generally speaking, not on a daily basis, so here's a great opportunity for some up-to-the-minute disposable fashion.

Go for a little bit of relatively cheap fun, or invest in a classic clutch.  It doesn't really matter.  Just make sure that when the time comes you're not carting around something that resembles a nappy bag.

Often, the little things make all the difference.

my pick for an investment clutch -
miu miu matelasse nappa leather clutch 

This post is dedicated to Yome Retman Thanks for all your noodging - I got there eventually!

16 May 2013

handbag tales

I have recently discovered Dressed for Success, a not-for-profit organisation that assists underprivileged women increase their chances of finding employment by developing interview skills, helping put together a functional CV and providing workplace and interview appropriate clothing and accessories.

I love this concept for a number of reasons.  Firstly, it's about helping women help themselves and improve their own lives and the lives of their families, not by simply doling out charity, but by giving those in need the skills required to break the cycle.  Secondly, it acknowledges the vital importance of self-confidence and the close connection that exists for so many between appearance and feeling like you can take on the world.

I put out a call to everyone I knew for handbags that were no longer in use and that women were prepared to give away to a worthy charity, if only to make room for a new purchase.  The response has been amazing.  As I type there are over 100 handbags sitting in my hallway, ready to be taken to Dress for Success Melbourne's office.  What has been most beautiful about this process is the stories connected with these handbags.

A divine plush, red velvet, leather edged number finished with chunky gold hardware came my way barely touched. When I commented on its pristine condition the owner told me how her girlfriend had given it to her for a recent birthday.  Unfortunately the birthday was quickly followed by a falling out between the two.  The woman felt such pain over the broken relationship she could no longer bear to use the bag.

Then there was the woman who donated a little black JAG number, a gift to her from her late mother.  Her mother had purchased the bag spontaneously for the woman on their last mother-daughter shopping trip, three months before she died of cancer.  The woman admitted she had never actually used the bag, but she had kept it because of what it represented; a mother's love for her daughter, a moment of female bonding, to attempt to express in some way that complex web of emotions that often defines mother-daughter relationships.  The opportunity for her mother's kindness to now be shared with someone else felt somewhat appropriate she said.  A chance to let go without feeling the guilt that often comes with disposing of an item imbued with sentiment.  

There were bags gifted to wives by husbands who were now very much ex-husbands, and women who were donating bags they felt belonged to their past, the women they once were and had made a conscious choice to leave behind.

These stories made me realise just how intrinsically connected women are to their handbags.  What we sling over our shoulders are not just something to lug our stuff around in, they are in many cases much loved and considered reflections of who we are, or who we were when we purchased them.  The brands we favour, the materials we seek out say so much about who we are, where we have come from and where we want to head. 

There are those who save up for a Louis Vuitton, viewing it as the crown jewel of their collection, while there are some who prefer a new and funky Kate Hill every season.  There are women who opt to carry around a fabric and hessian pouch, viewing their choice as reflective of their environmental concerns and there are those happy with the instant gratification of a replica designer bag.  There are the understated individuals who cling to their timeless Chanel padded number, confident in the knowledge that it is often all one needs to evoke an air of elegance while there are the lucky few who cement themselves as a member of the fabulously wealthy by toting the highly coveted Hermes Birkin.  

As for me, I'm contemplating the move from Oroton aficionado to connoisseur of Coach.  I wonder what that says about me?

6 April 2013

the great divide

The other day I had a sobering experience.  Trawling through Chaddy in search of some new clothes for Little Fashionista (thank you Seed Heritage and Witchery Kids!) I stumbled into one of the shops housed in the Chadstone Luxury Precinct, attracted by a divine little clutch (be still my beating heart!) I spied from the doorway.  Granted, I was dressed a tad on the casual side - old jeans that may be losing their shape, a less than superb pair of ballet flats and a grey marle knit from what was probably Gorman's first few collections.  As a result of my less than sartorial splendour on that particular day I experienced my own slice of Pretty Woman.  No, I was not swept off my feet by a wealthy businessman due to my vivacious, carefree but firmly down-to-earth personality and heartbreakingly beautiful smile.  I was however treated by two snobby and let me say not all that busy sales assistants as an impoverished leper whose very touch could turn their high-end goodies into leatherlike totes from Target.

Needless to say I left said shop as clutchless as when I entered.  Tragic, isn't it?  More importantly, I also left feeling like I should limit my shopping experiences to Best & Less and the local Salvos - both of which by the way have provided some truly fab bargains and should never be underestimated.

I came home (with the requisite bottle of Moet to cheer me up) and told hubby about the experience.  He was at once thankful (that I didn't buy the clutch) and enlightening, bringing to my attention the disconnect which currently exists between what I wear to work and what I throw on most weekend morning.  Like many working mums, I spend a fair amount of dosh to maintain the work wardrobe - the good stuff that I don't wear around grubby, Vegemite smeared faces and snotty noses.  And so, as those of us on a fixed income would know, it is often the casual wardrobe that suffers.  It is the jeans, the t-shirts, the singlets and the wear anywhere jumpers and jackets that fail to get the attention needed to ensure you look just as good shopping in Miu Miu as you do running a meeting.  You spend on the killer pair of corporate heels but your trusty ballet flats are worn well past their use-by date.  You don't see a point in dressing up only to find yourself at the end of the day crying over the peanut butter on the sleeve of your T by Alexander Wang.  Our wear around the kids wardrobes reflect the motto we decorate our homes with: "Nothing nice till the kids are at least 16 years-old".

And so, I have come to the realisation that I need to put more effort into my wear to the shop basics, not for the snotty sales assistants but for me, to ensure I feel good about myself and the way I present to the world.  I have thrown out anything that does not make me feel gorgeous, because it's just as important to feel fabulous in your jeans and boots as it is in your Leona Edmiston frock.  Farewell slightly stained t-shirts I used to breastfeed in, au revoir shoes that have lost their shine and jeans that have lost their shape.  And lastly, goodbye to anything in grey marle.  You're really not my colour.

27 February 2013

a touch of witchery wonder

Get a sneak peak of Witchery's AW13 collection live from their Sydney runway tonight at 7:15pm AEDT.  You can follow via Instagram or Twitter @WITCHERYFASHION #WITCHERYFRONTROW.

And just in case seeing those amazing looks on the runway isn't enough to get you running to the nearest store, Witchery is providing shoppers with a little extra incentive.  There is currently 25% off full priced women's shoes both instore and online.  I am totally tempted by these two:

belinda flat

carine heel

As an added bonus, Witchery members will receive double the usual fashion fuelled rewards until Sunday.  If you're not yet a member of Witchery's loyalty program, you can sign up here.  I promise, the exclusive offers and rewards make signing up totally worth it!  

Happy shopping!

26 February 2013

5 fabulous ways

Metalicus has just launched "The Monique", a merino wool blend cardi that can be styled in five fabulous ways.

As shown, The Monique comes in five different colours, but only one size, which according to Metalicus, 'fits most'.  And, at $189 for five different looks, I say that's excellent value for money.    

For those of you seeking some hands-on advice, head to the Metalicus store at Chadstone the Fashion Capital this Thursday, February 28th and enjoy a styling workshop led by a professional stylist.  Workshops include light refreshments and individually tailored style advice.  There is a $20 booking fee, but it is redeemable for product on the night.  In addition, workshop participants will enjoy an exclusive 4-day only offer of 20% off store-wide.  Click here to book your place.