Friday, 9 September 2016

Blood On The Leaves

My eldest son turned 25 this week. Imagine how old I feel!

One of the things I love about having adult children is the exposure to new ideas they give me. I mentioned to my son the other day that I didn't really understand why Kanye West was held in such high regard. He sent me a link to a wonderful explanation of how Kanye has used the human voice in revolutionary ways within the hip-hop genre and had thus progressed music as a whole. I now feel like I have a whole new appreciation of the artist and I can listen to his songs with a completely different perspective.

I have had a similar experience with a fashion style recently. Up until now, I have avoided low-cut or open neck styles on dresses, for obvious reasons. I felt that they were one style that made no sense for me and would never have a place in my wardrobe. This was despite loving the look of the simple, plain slip dresses used as the underpinning for many outfits in the exhibition of costumes from the Miss Fisher Mysteries.

 Dress: Alpha60
Risk of scar exposure: High 

And then I noticed Veronica Maine styling their summer collection with high-neck knits underneath open necklines and I suddenly got a new appreciation of ways that I could make the style work for me. I had a number of tops that I had relegated to layering pieces last summer and it occurred to me that they would work perfectly for this job!

Tops: Cue 
To my eye, the tops need to be short-sleeved and high-necked for this to look intentional.  I tried it with T-shirts and did not like the result nearly as much. Of course, it is always possible to layer over the top of a dress like this too.
  Long tunic: Dogstar
Crop top: Carla Zampatti
So I have gone from being sure that slip dresses were unworkable to being excited by the versatility to the style and enjoying the ability to pair it with things I already have
A new dress and a new type of music to enjoy! What more could a girl want?

Blood On The Leaves by Kanye West

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Cool World

Here in Brisbane, we are well and truly into Winter. Complaining constantly about the cold, arguing with my husband for turning the heater off and struggling to get out of bed and do some exercise has pretty much become a full-time job for me, but I did want to share something with you that I have found helpful this season.

Last Winter I realised that my preferred top in the colder months is a long-sleeve T-shirt style. They are warm and soft and cosy, and I find them much more comfortable than woven fabrics when the days are cool. The only downside is that whilst I usually wear them as a base layer with a jacket over the top, sometimes I need to take the jacket off and I am very ambivalent about the look of closer fitting tops worn on their own.
Jacket:Cue (last season)
Pants:ScanlanTheodore(last season)
Happily, fashion has once again come to my rescue with the off-the-shoulder trend. I found this knitted top recently and have worn it often on days when it was warm enough to possibly require jacket removal. Whilst it is still close fitting, the cross-over detail and skin exposure around the shoulders and neck provides enough interest for me to feel that all the focus is not on the contours of my chest. I wear the top in a "portrait neckline" style, but if you were a little more daring than me it could easily be worn completely off the shoulder for a more glamorous look!
 Now, this certainly doesn't solve all the problems with fitted tops. The side view is still unapologetically flat, and if anyone is rude enough to look closely at my chest from the front, the lack of breasts is obvious.

However, one thing I have learned over the last three years is that looking good is much more about how you feel and the confidence you project, than the items you choose to put on your body. As the wonderful Mr Bill Cunningham said "Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life".
Now I just need to find thermal armour.

Vale, Bill.

Cool World by Mondo Rock

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Accidentally In Love

The Accidental Icon wrote a post recently in which she described layering as sculpting with garments. I love that idea! I am not at all creative or artistic but I really appreciate the beauty and individuality that can be created through layering. Deborah on Stylish Murmurs layers to perfection and I think she has really influenced me to see the potential of the style.

One of my most frequently worn items this summer has been a sheer tunic that is used only for layering. I have been astonished at how versatile it has proven to be, given that it is too sheer to be worn on it's own. I have already shown it on this blog worn under a strappy top, but here I am also layering it with other sheers to give volume and opacity.

 Tunics:Nicola Waite
Skirt: Dogstar
Vest :Dogstar
You may also recognise the woollen vest I am wearing. One of the fun aspects of being flat-chested is that it is sometime possible to wear clothing items back-to-front to achieve a different look. I like the trapeze shape created by wearing wider pieces on my bottom half and keeping things sleek at the top and wearing the vest like this gives a smooth, straight line down the front.

As you can see, reversing the vest also gives an interesting drape and flow to the back and side of the outfit. This is an off-duty look for me; it is not structured or simple enough for me to feel comfortable wearing it to work. I enjoy having a more interesting, arty style on my days off. It feels a bit like having a secret identity and for a non-creative like me, it is as close as I come to beauty.

Are you a fan of layers? And have you tried reversing your clothes?

Accidentally In Love by Counting Crows

Friday, 15 April 2016


Last week saw the death of a well known Australian writer and political commentator, Bob Ellis. I happened to be listening to the radio when an old interview of his was broadcast, and was immediately drawn in by what he was saying. He described most people as creating a large group of friends in their youth and then gradually losing them as they moved through life. He saw this as the mechanism by which we become "old" and felt that we lose something important to our sense of self by no longer having people in our lives who knew us when we were young and vulnerable and naive.

I found this fascinating, because I have recently re-connected with two old high school friends, and have been amazed at how easily we have managed to bridge the intervening decades and how comfortable we have felt in each other's company. Maybe it is our oldest friends who can not only tell us who we are but also remind us of who we were. Perhaps they provide the milestones that help us to appreciate both how far we have come and how much the journey has cost us.  And maybe they are the ones who, having seen us in our awkward, arrogant, unfinished, unpolished youth, are best placed to be forgiving of our middle-aged follies. Bob Ellis, thank you and rest in peace.

And so, to fashion. As promised last week, I am showing you another silhouette I wear frequently. It is essentially the reverse of last week:
  Slim pants +trapeze-shaped top
This is a particularly comfortable combination to wear in summer, as loose tank style tops work well.
Here is the casual version, which I wear often at home.

Top:Manning Cartell
Pants: Country Road
Necklace: Frank Ideas
Shoes:Jo Mercer
And here is the dressy, work version. Once again, you can see that the overall look is the same and the dressiness can be dialled up or down depending on the fabric and colour of the individual pieces and the footwear you team it with.
Jacket:Veronika Maine
I find this silhouette the easiest to wear in summer, because trapeze-shaped tops generally look good without a jacket or another item over the top. That means that on the really humid days, I can get away with a single layer of fabric and no sleeves and enjoy the cool. However, it is a simple look and I feel like I have to make sure the rest of my outfit is quite polished to be comfortable wearing it to work. These pants have a slight shine and the top is textured, so up close they look a bit more grown-up than the casual version. I also think wearing a heel and a jacket make most outfits more formal.

Do you still have friendships from back when you were young and reckless?

Reckless by Australian Crawl

Sunday, 3 April 2016


Well, that took longer than I thought! Uni has commenced again for me and between study and Easter and family, I fear I have neglected you. First things first. As promised, a picture of my beautiful sister and sister-in-law with me before we headed out to the Brisbane Comedy Festival:
 A good time was had by all!
Today, I thought I would talk about silhouette, and how considering it can make it easier to choose clothes you feel good in. The blog Into Mind has a really good explanation of this concept. I like variety in my wardrobe but I still find I gravitate to a few basic combinations. One of my favourites this year has been: 
                                       Flared or wide leg cropped pants +boxy short top +heels  
So here it is, translated into outfits for both casual and work. This is what I am wearing today for a lazy day at home avoiding study and procrasti-baking.
Top:Veronika Maine
Jeans: ManningCartell
And here is the work version of the formula.
Top: ManningCartell
Now, you can probably see that these are almost identical outfits. The shapes are the same. The colours are the same. The difference lies solely in the individual elements. I could wear the first top with the second pants and have a perfectly respectable outfit for work (in fact, I'm pretty sure I have worn that exact combination). Likewise, wearing the lace top with jeans would dress them up enough for me to feel comfortable going out at night with the girls.

Having that formula in my head has been extremely helpful when choosing individual pieces that will work with my wardrobe. It also makes getting dressed in the morning easy: if I want to wear wide pants, then I choose a top from the options that fit into the "short and boxy" category.  I have a few other silhouettes that I wear frequently, so over the next few weeks I will show you the casual and work-appropriate variations of those. What are your favourite combinations for outfits?

Oh, and yes! New hair! My hairdresser asked "Do you trust me?" I think my faith has been rewarded!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Fade To Grey

My husband travelled interstate last week to spend some time with his parents, so I lost my photographer, but he was kind enough to capture this outfit when he returned. It is a casual outfit that I was wearing for a day a home but the day was one of the few cooler ones we experience here in Autumn, hence the long sleeves.

Last Winter, I realised that I loved the warmth and ease of long-sleeved T-shirts, but was not a fan of how they looked on me. I had a few different fixes for that last year: crop tops worn over the shirt, jackets with detail on the front and scarves. This is another variation on that theme: a draped knit vest.
                                   T-shirt: Sportscraft
                                   Culottes:Veronika Maine
This particular one can be worn a few different ways, but the general idea of wearing a light-weight layer over my torso remains the same. I like the contrast that the drape and generally unstructured style of the vest creates with my more dressy pieces. I have also worn this vest over a fitted, body-con dress and enjoyed the effect.
Balancing comfort and aesthetics can sometimes be tricky, but I have fun experimenting and in my view, feeling good and having fun are the most important points of fashion. And speaking of fun, next weekend sees my beautiful sister and sister-in-law visit me for my sister's traditional birthday girls weekend. I will be sure to post some pictures!

What are you looking forward to this week?

Fade To Grey by Visage

Sunday, 14 February 2016

I'm A Punk

Not really. In fact, not at all. Although I do like pop-punk bands such as The Living End, which earns me  disdain from my eldest son who is a fan of the Saints and the Ramones! I was a teenager in the 80's and remember the both the music and the clothes, but always found both a bit too rough around the edges for my tastes. One of the advantages of enjoying an aesthetic that is usually structured and feminine is that I don't have to colour too far outside the lines in order to feel quite daring and hard-edge. This is one such outfit for me.
Top:Veronika Maine
This is what I wore to see Kate Miller-Heidke perform at The Triffid on the evening of Valentine's day. The rough-textured matte look of the linen skirt, the metal clip holding the hem, the loop hanging from the waistband and the heavy flat boots provide a darker, messier look than I usually wear, but I have made it feel true to my style by pairing it with this top, which you may remember from a couple of years ago. The femininity and structure of the top teamed with a bright lipstick means I can wear this without feeling inauthentic, even though it is a little outside my usual style.
I've always loved the shape of this top but I haven't worn it much this year. The shiny look of the memory fabric feels a bit too dressy for day-to-day wear but the shape feels a bit too office-y for evening wear so it was never a piece I reached for first. It never ceases to amaze me how different items can look, depending on what is worn with them and I think in this case, teaming it with a more casual skirt made it feel just right.
So whilst I will never lay claim to the descriptor "punk", I do feel that adding in a few of the elements of the style has helped me give an under-appreciated  item it's time in the sun. And yes, the concert was fabulous! Kate is touring at the moment, and I highly recommend you see her if you can.

I'm A Punk by Doug Mulray

Saturday, 6 February 2016


The final new-to-me brand that I tried during the sales was a Brisbane designer, Dogstar. I must admit that I had seen their clothes a few years before my mastectomy and admired the edgy, Japanese aesthetic, but they had never made it into my wardrobe. It never felt authentic or flattering on my former body and I had relegated the brand to "looks great, but not on me" status. I am now rethinking that opinion!
Obi belt:Etsy (Lorella Creations)
Tank top:Uniqlo
I found this beautiful silk tunic and immediately thought that it could be a very useful item. It reads as a dress but is light and translucent, providing volume and movement without being heavy or hot.
It allows me to dress up simple tops and pants and provides an extra layer of camouflage over my chest when wearing close-fitting tops.
The front is cut slightly lower than I wanted, but I have found that I can wear this back-to-front, which gives me a high, boat neck look that works well if I want to wear a camisole with thin straps as an under layer. 

I wore this to my son's 21st birthday dinner last night, underneath the gilet I showed you a few months ago, and loved the petticoat effect of the tunic peeking out from the opening. I have also worn this over jeans and a T and like the way it dresses up a casual outfit. I have never been very confident with layering clothes, but I think a light, neutral piece like this is a good introduction to layering 101 for me and a great introduction to Dogstar as a brand.

Have you had any brands which you initially dismissed subsequently turn out to really blow your mind?

Starman by the late, very great David Bowie

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Biding My Time

This is the second experimental sale purchase I wanted to show you. I bought a winter dress by this brand, Alpha60, last year and loved it. This dress was in their summer collection  and caught my eye when I saw it on their website during the sales. Alpha60 don't have a store in my city so I couldn't try it on before buying it, something I always prefer to do. I was a bit concerned that the neckline might be too low or gape-y but I decided that I could always wear a T-shirt underneath and went ahead and ordered it.
                                                             Dress: Alpha60
                                                             Culottes: Uniqlo
                                                             Necklace: Frank Ideas                         
I have to tell you that it is one of the most comfortable and versatile dresses in my closet. On very hot days I wear it on it's own, and the top is just fitted enough not to cause a problem with gaping or chest exposure. I also wear it with a shirt underneath when I want more coverage, and today I have worn it over a pair of culottes to give more volume and length at the bottom of the dress. The asymmetry and drape make it visually interesting and the sides can be buttoned together at the back to create a sleeker look. I am now putting "strappy sun dress" on the list of things that can work for me.

One important point: I do think that fit is important with this style. I suspect that if the top of the dress hadn't fitted quite so perfectly I may have felt much more anxious about wearing it with nothing underneath.
Happily, the Alpha60 size guide appears to be quite accurate. I have had pretty good experiences with ordering the right size online and I think it may be partly because I take chest, waist and hip measurements periodically and use those when deciding what size to order, rather than the number on the tag. The only problem I have had so far with biding my time and stalking pieces online has been that sometimes my size sells out. But as someone over at YouLookFab sagely remarked, "It is not necessary to own every pretty thing in the world"

Do you buy clothes online? Have you been happy with the results so far?
Biding My Time by Busby Marou

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Hot Hot Hot

I live in a city with a warm climate and one of the big advantages is that when the summer sales happen, there is still a good two months of weather that will require summer clothes. Knowing that anything I buy will get good wear in the current season, I have used the sales as a way to try out new-to-me brands and styles or silhouettes that I want to experiment with without too much of a financial commitment. I bought three items at the sales, so I will be showing you the results over the next few weeks.
Top: Manning Cartell
Necklace: Frank Ideas
Pants:Country Road
This top was a find from an Australian design house that I have admired, but never purchased from before. It is a linen blend and has a trapeze shape and an asymmetrical hemline that provides a dramatic train-like effect at the back. I seem to have fallen in love with tops that give me movement and drama when I am walking around!
                                                                                                Jacket:Veronika Maine
The shape of the top, the lustrous fabric and the darts at the bust line actually create the impression of volume over my chest. And I also like it worn with my cropped jacket from last summer, so I can continue to wear it even when the days are no longer quite so beautiful. I am counting this experiment as a success, and will be keeping an eye on this brand in the future.

Do you use sales as a way to dip your toe into the water of a new style or brand? 

Hot Hot Hot by Arrow

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Uptown Funk

I think I confessed in a previous post that I am not generally a fan of the boho look. Whilst I appreciate it on other people, it is almost the exact opposite of my usual style. It is therefore with some surprise that I have found myself wearing a style that definitely has boho roots, namely the peasant blouse.
                                                                  Top:Forever New
                                                                  Pants:Veronika Maine
 I like the way the elastic at the neckline creates gathers that gives volume over my torso. I like the opportunity to show my neck and collarbone without exposing my chest. And I like the way I can tuck it to emphasise the waist. I have chosen a version without tassels or embroidery and in a simple navy and white stripe so it feels quite congruent with the rest of my wardrobe. I guess that is a good illustration that most trends can be made to fit most wardrobes, if the details are done right.

I have seen this style being worn off the shoulder a lot, but I prefer not to expose that much skin during the day. And with this sort of neckline, I find you do have to be a bit careful about gaping when you bend over. I solved that with a little bit of fashion tape applied to the centre front. I don't think it is obvious, and it means I can loll around without concerning myself about possible wardrobe malfunctions.
I am back at work now, so my lolling around opportunities are significantly decreased, but I have had a lovely break and I hope you have too!

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Shut Up And Dance

This is such a party time of year for me, because less than a week after the New Year begins, we celebrate our wedding anniversary. This year is number 26 for us and after the turmoil and stress the last couple of years has put on our marriage, I feel glad to have reached a calmer and happier place. Marriage is full of ups and downs for everyone, so sometimes it's nice to be able to look at the life and the family we have created together, appreciate the good things we have achieved as a team, gaze into each others eyes, turn the music up and dance!

We have been known to forget our anniversary, and when we remember, we usually do something fairly low key. This year I bought us both some new pyjamas to mark the occasion. My husband does not say much about this blog, but he was very adamant about me showing you the result.
                                                              Nightdress:Peter Alexander
I like to wear quite feminine night clothes and have had difficulty finding ones that I felt happy in. Most are low cut and gape at the front. I wanted something that would hide my scars, flatter my shape and feel nice to touch. I often end up wearing the tried and true T-shirt and sleep shorts combination to bed, but I definitely prefer a pretty nightdress. I stumbled across this one on the sale rack, and it is just about perfect for my needs.
The straps are adjustable, allowing me to bring the neckline up as high as I want. The top edge is elasticated, so it sits close to my chest and does not gape. The shape is a gentle A-line, flaring out from the top in a flattering way. It is made from a soft, smooth fabric that feels cool and comfortable to wear. But perhaps most importantly, my husband loves how it looks on me. And I do like to keep my dance partner happy! 

I was tempted to duplicate this purchase, as nightdresses that fit all the criteria above are few and far between. Sadly, the downside of sales is that size availability is limited, so I was only able to find this one. But it has given me a good check-list for what to look for next time I purchase sleepwear.

Do you wear anything to bed? Is your choice dictated by practicality or aesthetic preference?

Shut Up And Dance by Walk The Moon