personal style


Thrifted red boots $5

Nothing injects more energy into the morning routine, than having a new piece to wear about. And if that piece left your finances relatively unchanged, then all the more satisfying it is to parade. It’s thrift shopping I’m referring to and thankfully, this mode of fashion retail is gaining momentum. The current rapid turnover of ‘disposable’ fashion means our thrift shops have never had such an interesting array of wares on offer. Loads of barely worn garments and accessories are there for the taking – or for just a few gold coins.

Wool jacket $6
Wool jacket $6

The difficulty can lie in choice, or where exactly to begin. I tend to hunt for items that need topping up in my wardrobe or for pieces that when replaced at full retail cost are hefty. Hence, this tailored wool jacket. If you’re lucky enough to find a classic cut in a colour you love – grab it. Another strategy is to scan the racks’ fabrics and colours – if something catches your eye, pull it out. If it caught your eye then, it is likely that it will always appeal to you. And then of course, strategies and sensibilities aside, there is always serendipity….

Boho Boots $5
Boho Boots $5

Yes these serendipitous cowboy boots just popped up. These are the kind of thrifty opportunities you just have to be open to!

The true value of thrifted fashion however, lies in its longevity. If you pay the riches of Solomon for a new item, you can be sure that before its first day out has come to an end, you will either have stained or torn it. Thrifted stuff does not attract spills, never rips and never needs dry cleaning.

Rust jacket $3
Rust jacket $3

I guess the essential elements to thrift shopping are time (I noticed a fellow thrifter recently, Ipod attached, casually browsing the racks), a mind that is open to possibility and an understanding that your clothing does not always have to be new, but simply new to you.

Coconut ice cardi $3
Coconut ice cardi $3

Postscript: so for just over $20, I’m trotting out new boots, jackets and a spring cardi – I’m ok with that.

personal style


Red Lipstick

There’s not a lot that cannot be faced in life once your lipstick has been applied. Meetings with teachers, financiers, supervisors, in fact anyone you’ve designated a mental tag of authority, can all be met with confidence after a swift application of the gloss. One can speak with authority to another through carefully outlined lips.

Having descended from a grandmother who would not garden in the front yard without lipstick for threat of being seen by a passer-by and a mother who equates lipstick-free with ‘washed-out’,  it would not surprise me that should our family tree be given a firm shake, that hundreds of empty tubes would rain down.

And although I have been lured by the advances of magazine advertising and impulsively bought wands and crayons in peaches and lilacs, I always return, cap-in-hand to the ever reliable swivel up tubes in russets and reds.

Psychological war paint or the finishing touch to grooming, whatever the perception, lipstick firmly escorts us through the gamut of life’s adventures. In fact, most of the journeys in my life have begun with the phrase “Just let me get my lippy on before I go.” Thus, the complexity of life’s experiences can therefore be measured by the number of lipstick applications required to see them through.

Hem lines may rise and fall, jeans flare and taper whilst heels expand and contract, but remaining unshakably through all of these fashionable incarnations is the tube of lipstick – the coloured signature, that signs off the completion of every outfit.

chanel calypso lipstick

Postscript: and a solid tube of wicked red is the perfect foil for Winter days ahead.

craft · personal style



If you subscribe to the school of Carrie Fisher and like her, believe that instant gratification takes too long, then clicking up a snood for yourself this winter will be just the ticket. Done in a night, if you keep your eyes on the needles rather than on the screen, a snood may spark your knitting journey or kick-start a long stalled one.

Apart from being an overnight product, snoods can significantly improve your scarf-wearing life. They stay on, they don’t dangle in the washing up water and you’ll never suffer the same fate as Isadora Duncan (an American dancer of the early 1900’s). Duncan’s fondness for long flowing flamboyant scarves led to her death in an automobile accident in France, when she was a passenger in a car. As she motored along in her open top vehicle, her silk scarf, draped around her neck, and flowing freely behind her in the breeze,  became entangled around the open-spoked wheels and rear axle, breaking her neck.

Snoods in all their guises can be found at Ravelry but rather than being blinded by overwhelming choice, here is a small one to tackle first.

handknitted snood

Gauge: 8 sts and 12 rows to 10 cm

2 x 100g balls of chunky/bulky yarn (I used Lincraft Luxe but any yarn that comes close to the above gauge will work)
1 long pair of 12mm needles

Cast on 56sts
Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl
Repeat rows 1-2 five times
Shape snood
Row 13: k1, ssk, knit to last 3 sts  k2tog k1 – 54sts
Row 14: purl
Repeat  rows 13-14 four times – 46 sts
Row 23: knit
Row 24: purl
Repeat rows 23-24 three times
Cast off
Sew side seam using mattress stitch

knitted snood in progress

Postscript: Be assured, that the simplicity of this project will ensure that it will not be discovered in a cupboard in 18 months time still attached to its needles.

personal style


formal dresses

A close inspection of the chart dictating our life course would reveal various rites of passage dotted along its topographical contours. Weddings, debuts, and a myriad of other formal occasions would all be represented. From an anthropological viewpoint, the crucial element of these transitional events is the acquisition of one’s identity within the social group and thus the achievement of social inclusion. From a female viewpoint, it’s the acquisition of the dress.

The moment a glamorous social engagement is added to our calendar, a woman’s second thought is who will I get to mind the children, the first being, what will I wear? Something in our DNA (dress need addiction) switches on and the quest begins to secure the quintessential frock.

If you think back, this early gene flickering begins in the dress-up box, with bottom-up rummages taking place to extract that divine tulle fairy gown that the princess game cannot possibly proceed any further without. Soon after is the ‘party dress’ with the graduation dress following closely on its frills. By early adulthood, the formals are flowing thick and fast and dress pursuit has developed into an art form.

In fact, if a calculation was made of the number of man woman hours devoted to securing ‘a dress’ for an upcoming event, the resulting figure would possibly treble the timeframe of the event it was required to be secured for. Considering time spent perusing fashion glossies, undertaking online research, peer discussion and being curtained-off in hundreds of change rooms, it is amazing that anything else in a woman’s life is ever achieved. However, when finally that zipper is fastened on a swathe of fabric transforming your being from duckling to swan or simply from everyday to elegant, it is worth every moment.

embroidered lace dress

Postscript: and might I add, regardless of how exquisite the resulting frock is, how complimentary it is to your form or how euphoric you feel twirling in it on the night, it will never be appropriate for any other occasion – ever.

personal style


Hula girl air freshener

It may interest you to know that this fetching lass exudes an exotic fragrance as she stands hula-ing on the dashboard as you motor along on your daily commute. If you are not immediately repelled by this concept and its accompanying figurine, then you are one of us – a lover of kitsch.

The individuals responsible for coining the term kitsch and then defining it as tawdry vulgarized pretentious art, would never have been referring to my china double-fish serving dish, which has pride of place on the kitchen wall (as an example of course of unpretentious art). There is certainly nothing that could be described as vulgar about the luminous scales or the piercing eyes that these beauties exhibit. Is there?

wall hanging fish

And who could possibly consider these two wooden Canadian flying geese above the clock anything but the height of 2013 kitchen chic?

flying geese

I blame the era I was raised in, where impressionable minds were subjected to cringe-worthy nodding dogs, cuckoo clocks and ‘here ’tis’ plaques on restroom doors (fortunately I did manage to escape the garden flamingos and crochet dolly toilet roll covers of an earlier, yet equally kitschesque era). The legacy this early exposure has left behind, is an irresistible attraction to the quirky, character-filled odd stuff, that was all produced in Japan and shunned by those of sophistication as kitsch. If you consider yourself part of this cultured few, then this bright little fisherman with his nets at the ready situated amongst his quaint village infrastructure, would have little effect on your heart and soul as he appears at the bottom of your cereal bowl after the last spoonful is scooped away.

Alfred Meakin Fisherman

The slightly unsettling part of writing this post was the fact there was no lack of subject matter around this home to capture…..even down to the tea caddy.

Postscript: To clarify, the hula girl and her corresponding dashboard do not belong to me….not that there’s anything wrong with that of course.

craft · personal style


Small pieces of stitching are usually enough to satisfy creative urges without becoming overwhelming projects that slip into the ‘will finish some day’ box.

Heart pins fit the bill. Creativity is assuaged in the selection of fabric and thread colour, and size ensures the piece makes it to completion. Pinning one onto a denim jacket or a canvas satchel, is quite gratifying – you have endorsed your look with your own logo.

Make yours by:

heart pin ingredients

  1. Cutting two large heart shapes from felt (I used old felted jumpers) and one small heart from a scrap of coordinating cotton fabric. These templates are perfect.
  2. Using a contrasting thread (stranded cotton is available in a myriad of colours) blanket stitch your cotton heart onto the front of one of the felt hearts.
  3. Sew a brooch pin (or safety-pin) to the back of the second felt heart.
  4. Place both felt hearts (blank sides together) and using a second contrasting thread, blanket stitch your way around the edges, so both are attached.
  5. If your heart is to be gifted, cut some coloured card into squares, pin on your heart and slip into a plastic bag.

Postscript: See if you can stop at one.

personal style


If I can gaze down and see flowers on my toes I am confident the day will be a good one.

One of the added bonuses of warmer weather is the acceptability of frivolous shoes. Biting wind and soggy nature strips are not conducive to flower sandals – but sunny days are.

Having filled just about every nook in our home with bunches of spring blooms, I decided it was time to start on my feet. These are just inexpensive chain store buckle ups, but they brighten my day just as easily as their affluent Uncles Choo or Blahnik would. I think my initial foray into flowery feet were the plastic thongs with giant daisies on top, that were all the rage when I was 10. When I slipped them on, I spent as much time then, as I do today, gazing adoringly at my toes.

In a world of dental appointments, tax forms and electricity bills, it’s lovely to have a little bit of frou-frou to lighten the mood. There are plenty of versions around – especially in discount stores. Maybe you have a pretty pair tucked away from summers gone by – seek them out, slip them on and watch what a pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt turns into.

Postscript: In the aftermath of Click Frenzy – of which I took no part – I can honestly say, there could not have been anything more appealing to me online than these ‘bad girls’.

personal style


Whilst some claim it’s the jockeys and the horses and yet others believe it is the betting and the winnings, quite frankly, I’m here to tell you it’s all about the hats. I defy you to attend any glamour racing event – such as our imminent Melbourne Cup – and not be halted in your tracks by the spectacle of headwear on parade.

Fortunately, many ladies in our town are keen race-goers at this time of year and that leads to a high turnover of hats. Thus, there is rarely any difficulty picking up a post-race beauty in our local recycle shop for a sliver of its original price tag (see above). After a few jets from the steam iron and a bit of feather-fluffing, your pre-paraded beauty is ready for its next outing.

Hats are treated so respectfully on race days, that it’s very likely you will be able to find a second-hand one in pristine condition. Scour your local recycle boutiques (popping up far more frequently these days) and you may be delighted by what is on offer. Flowers, feathers and the like can easily be updated if they are a little tired, and to create your ensemble, begin with your hat and match an outfit to it – far simpler than the reverse.

Of course, the greater percentage of us will not actually be trackside ‘at the race that stops a nation’, but rather gathered with convivial company at a backyard barbeque or around a picnic table sharing cheese, bread and wine. Nevertheless don you hat proudly and feel special. It is a special day and you are part of it.