Monthly Archives: September 2011

Berrima

As we’re on mid-semester break from classes, some friends and I planned a little road trip to go antique shopping in the countryside. “Berrima” was our destination; it’s a cute tourist town about two hours from Sydney with a string of antique stores and lots of homemade jam. So we drove through two hours of scenery and winding roads to find Berrima where we spent a pleasant, pleasant afternoon.

The most important attraction in Berrima is the amazing antique emporium called “Peppergreen Antiques”. It’s a lovely old building packed with antiques, and not the exquisite pricey type. It’s filled with old stockings, sewing supplies, hats, cutlery, shawls, jewellery, books, records… For everything in a vintage life, there is a neatly labelled shelf or box which you can happily rifle through. It was indescribably great. Naturally, we went a little wild in the store – I think we probably spent close to an hour running about with frequent calls of “Jesse! Did you see the box labelled bras/corsets?!” The old ladies running the store were bemused.

The store is unfortunately closing down towards the end of the year as the owners are quite ill. While this is devastating, it did mean that everything was half price, making it feel a little like all our vintage-y dreams were coming true. I emerged with a host of items for a very reasonable price and was so very, very pleased.

I think I’ll do a separate post on all my purchases, so for now, just enjoy these photos from the day:



I found this fabulous coat in the store and fell in love. It’s a beautiful heavy wool coat which will be splendid for American winter in January. Thankfully the collar is faux fur, or else I would have hesitated buying it. I’m so lucky to have found it – it fits perfectly. Also, it was terribly cold in Berrima. I think it’s from around the 50s, but I’m doing some research on the label to find out. (Does anybody know anything about ‘Cresta’, or ‘Simon Howard’, London?)





Tim bought this army jacket for $40 – we think it’s from World War II, and possibly German, but if anybody knows anything more leave a comment.






After we had ravaged the antique store we sauntered along the road to an Alpaca farm where we took some photos in the field and next to the adorable pink cottage. I love alpacas, but I theorise that they’re curiously intelligent; their expressions are so human-like.





Here is what I wore:


Dress: from “Sarah-Jane” in Newtown
Cardigan: Alannah Hill
Belt: Alannah Hill
Stockings: “Leg Avenue”, from “Retrospec’d” in Newtown
Shoes: Bloch
Necklace: vintage 50s, from “Retrospec’d in Newtown
Petticoat: vintage 50s, from “Coco Repose” in Surry Hills

Also, check out Jesse’s adorable 1940s ensemble:

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An Octopus’ Garden in the Shade


Cocooned away safely from the rain in Rachael’s house today, we celebrated the 20th birthday of our friend Nick. We lavished him with gentlemanly gifts (think a hip flask, playing cards, vintage men’s grooming tools…), feasted for hours, drank champagne, tried and failed to commit to a game of scrabble, and scrambled about the house and garden taking photos for hours. It was quite marvellous. The result of all this is a slew of lovely/entertaining photos that I will now share:












My outfit:


Dress: vintage 50s, purchased in Camden Passage, London – also worn here
Cardigan: half-way through the day I swapped cardigans with Jesse, so the one I’m wearing here is from Portman’s, but the other cream lace number is thrifted
Belt: Valleygirl
Stockings: Leg Avenue, purchased from “Retrospec’d” in Newtown
Flats: Accessorize
Hair Flowers: Accessorize
Necklace: vintage 50s, purchased from “Retrospec’d” in Newtown

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Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s High Tea

I was cordially invited to a High Tea “hosted by Lady Catherine de Bourgh”, courtesy of the USYD Darcy Society, so yesterday afternoon I skipped off to the Queen Victoria Building in a pretty frock for two hours of lavish dining. I was joined by Darcy Soc members, as well as some lovely friends who were drawn to the promise of tartines and clotted cream.

I thought I was well-dressed, but my dear friend Kate outdressed us all. I had opted for a 50s ensemble in accordance with my usual fare, donning my most recent purchase: the blue velvet dress. Kate, however, had come entirely in Victorian costume. Her outfit was constructed from items already in her wardrobe, and was wildly impressive. You can enjoy her ladylike figure in the myriad of photos below.

The tea itself was splendid, as expected. The Tea Room was a wonderful host, and provided three-tiered stands of delectable canapes. It made me anxious to purchase “The Vintage Tea Party Book” by Angel Adoree, which I’ve been stalking online and lusting after as I live vicariously through other vintage bloggers.

Voila, some photos:






Dress: vintage 50s, from “Shag” on Oxford St, Sydney
Lace gloves: from a vintage store in Bellingen, but I theorise that they’re not vintage
Belt: Alannah Hill
Clip-on earrings: thrifted
Hair flowers: Sportsgirl
Stockings: Leona Edminston
Shoes: Bloch

And here are some pictures from our little photoshoot around the QVB, post-tea:



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Mystery Bus

I bought tickets to the Sydney Fringe Festival “Mystery Bus” event a few weeks ago, and have been anticipating it quite fiercely. Despite it being frequently in my thoughts and discussed at length with my fellow attendees, I had little to no idea about the destination and programme of the event until the bus picked us up last night outside the Enmore Theatre. The sole information we had was that it would be somehow 50s swing dancing-themed, so naturally the crowd waiting in line was well-dressed.

Instead of displaying a route number, the bus spelled out “LOL” on its front, so the frivolity began as we were transported by a vehicle decked out in plastic flowers and question marks hanging from strings. The bus took us to a warehouse in  Marrackville, however it quickly became clear as we ascended the stairs that this was not in fact a warehouse, but rather quite a splendid bar called “The Camelot Lounge” casually placed in the big, anonymous industrial wasteland there. It was a very beautiful, fitting location for a 50s night, with old lino chairs littering the room and such. I was particularly impressed by the commitment to a camel motif, as it took the form of chairs, statues, pictures, hanging figures from the roof…

A rockabilly band played, and I wish I remembered their name for they were quite fabulous. Expert swing dancers took to the dance floor and made my six weeks of classes feel terribly inadequate. Seriously, I just want to fast-forward to when I can swing competently and at ease. Nevertheless, we made some attempts, and I’m not sure we were entirely unsuccessful. Dancing to rockabilly music makes me wonder how I could ever try dancing to anything else.

I should also mention the burlesque act, which featured two ladies, one dressed as a banana.

I regrettably didn’t take any outfit shots, but I wore something quite similar to this post, but instead with a fabulous petticoat-esque skirt. I’m certain it’ll surface on Ravishing Retro another day, so you’ll be able to appreciate its beauty in the near future. I think you should check out Jesse’s dress in this photograph, though, as she’s wearing a stunning dress from Bettie Page Clothing.


Top: Valley Girl
Skirt: Review

Here are some more photos from the night:

 

The Fringe Festival is providing excellent, titillating fun. Mystery bus tours are all sold out by now, but perhaps next year?

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Vintage Shopping: Shag

Yesterday I had elaborate plans to be terribly studious and do hour upon hour of study before class in the afternoon… And yet somehow I ended up in Paddington, walking absent-mindedly into a vintage store. It was a good hour before I came out again.

The store I visited was “Shag” on Oxford St. I have never really frequented Shag because it always looks a little too 80s from the outside; the window display is very kitsch, with garish accessories, crazy patterned tunics and flared pants. Now I’m cursing myself for my aversion, for even though mod dresses and corduroy pants dominate the space, there is a wonderful rack of clothes from 30s-early 60s. Fifties frocks! Old evening gowns! Vintage negligees!

I tried on 80% of the rack, and fell in love with a blue velvet fifties evening dress. The lovely sales girl went wild when I waltzed out of the fitting room, and put on the song “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton for my benefit. Naturally, I took a turn about the store. Here is the evidence:

The scalloped collar still has all its original diamontes – divine!

I also bought a divine novelty skirt. I think it’s later than 50s (the zipper gives it away), probably 70s or 80s, but it has a very 50s-style novelty print with its olive oil and wine theme. The waist band is beautifully embellished with olive branches and grapes, and then on the skirt itself there are bottles of olive oil and wine glasses – fabulous! I think it’s so cute! I’m going to hem it though, as right now it sits at my ankles, and I’d rather it a little shorter. Check it out:


While in Shag I had a conversation with the sales girl about dating vintage clothing, and she was very wise. I’ve been thinking a lot about the small details that allow you to pick the era of a piece of clothing, having just read this post. So as a little tangent for this post, here is my collected wisdom on dating vintage with zippers:

  • Metal zippers were used pre-60s, so anything with a vinyl zipper is usually later – though this isn’t 100% accurate as of course some garments will have had zippers replaced
  • Back zippers weren’t instituted until the 60s, so frocks with side zippers are usually earlier (learnt this tidbit from the girl in Shag)
  • Lack of a zipper, perhaps with a hook and eye used on the side, indicates that the item of clothing could be pre-40s
I might collect more tips like these into a blog post as a sort of guide after a bit more research. If you have any words of wisdom, leave them below.

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A Delicious Sunday

It was a delightfully lazy Sunday, with blueberry pie, board games and minty lemon lime cordial. Friends descended on my house for several hours of solid bonding, and ’twas an excellent afternoon. Though I tend to resent summer, today I couldn’t help but enjoy it in all its sunburn-inducing glory. With the pleasant breeze and summer-y smell in the air, it felt very Anne of Green Gables as we poured glasses of apple cider and spread jam onto freshly-baked scones.




I wore a 1950s dress that I bought from a beautiful store called “Ark” that I frequented when I was in Cambridge. It is très summer-y and pleasant to wear. The green is so vibrant that I’m almost camouflaged against the grass (artificial or otherwise).

Dress – vintage 1950s, purchased in Cambridge, UK
Necklace – vintage 1950s costume jewellery, purchased in Camden Passage, UK
Ballet Flats – Accessorize
Belt – Alannah Hill (current season)

And here are some photographs of the day:

The friends I had gathered at my house: Jesse, Tim, Bella, Rachael, Nick.

Mmmm, check it out: fairy bread, pear and raspberry cake, bluberry pie, quiche lorraine. Are you feeling terribly hungry? I’m not. I ate all of this today.


I have really adorable friends.

 Apart from eating, we also spent the day listening to records in honour of Jimi Hendrix’s death day. So as we frolicked, made cocktails, bonded with my pet rabbit and the like, we had the dulcet tones of Billy Holiday and co as our soundtrack.

 Check out the beautiful record player – authentic 1950s! I wish it were mine.

Tally-ho friends!

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Five Eliza, Sydney Fringe Festival

“Five Eliza” is the pop up bar in Sydney for the next fortnight as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival, and it’s so sultry with its 1920s speakeasy aesthetic that I almost wish it were illegal for authenticity. Last night I sauntered into Five Eliza with some friends and was fiercely pleased by it all. It’s in Newtown, in an old ballroom belonging to Newtown School of the Arts. If you turn down the laneway beside Zanzibar, you’ll find it up a dirty little staircase illuminated by a red lamp (Roooxanne).

Enter the room, and if you can see clearly in the dim lighting, you’ll discover a room kitted out in extravagant armchairs, antique side tables and seductive lamps. The bar in the corner is staffed by volunteers, and the cocktails are divine. My favourite was “Salvatore’s Secret”, which was orange marmalade flavoured and served with two pieces of buttered toast. Other highlights were the “Pro-inhibition Juice” and kitsch bottles of Pipsqueak cider. ’twas all rather cheap as well, with cocktails only $10-15, the most expensive involving Absinthe (one such beverage was called “The Pantie Dropper”).

All the while, we were serenaded by the delightful Lily Dior, who was beautifully dressed and performed a repertoire of very mood-appropriate jazz songs. A table of particularly keen visitors to Five Eliza began to salsa dance and lindy hop rather extravagantly, to the amusement of the room. I have an inkling that they might have been into the Absinthe punch.

If you have an evening spare, eschew any other venue in favour of Five Eliza. You ought to experience it before Sydney Fringe Festival ends on October 2.

Dress – Basque, Myer (circa 2009)
Cardigan – Alannah Hill, current season
Belt – Alannah Hill, current season
Stockings – “Leg Avenue”
Shoes – “Office”, purchase in Cambridge, UK
Necklace – vintage 50s costume jewellery, purchased in Camden Passage, UK

And here are some photos from inside Five Eliza, converted into sepia because fake old-fashioned photographs are better than no old-fashioned photographs.


In addition to this, I have some photos from the morning. I suppose my point in posting these is to show off my new fringe technique (my victory rolls weren’t flawless, but seriously friends, check out that perfectly coiffed fringe), and my stockings. The stockings came into my life on Monday in a pre-swing dancing shopping expedition. Deceptively, the stockings are in fact fishnets, making them a comfortable version of seam stockings for the warmer seasons. They’re made by Leg Avenue, and though I bought them at Retrospec’d in Newtown, I daresay you could order online somewhere. I heartily recommend them!


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