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.



Good Housekeeping Magazine

There has been the odd day where I’ve felt the need to herald from a high vantage point, ”OK, stick a fork in me, I’m done!” Well done. Done washing, done grocery shopping, done bed making, done basin scrubbing, done path sweeping. On these occasions, the only way to self-tenderise, is to make like the meat does after a big roasting – and rest. And what better way to get some juice flowing back into the soul, than a bit of quiet trashy mag time.

As much as I love some thought-provoking non-fiction or a masterful piece of literary excellence, at certain times of the week, the developments of a Kardashian relationship or a royal outing are about all I have the head space to absorb. In fact, I consider time spent with a glossy and a coffee, to be time well spent. Apart from the celebrity trials and trysts, I really enjoy the convenience of leafing through the snapshots of up-and-coming fashion peeks, the latest beauty product and ways to scatter my cushions, without having to leave the kitchen. By the time I have read the entire mag (usually 30 minutes), I have been recharged with a posse of new ideas and feel abreast of emerging trends.

Personal development aside, I love the humour these magazines elicit. Articles on weight-loss programs followed by pages of pudding recipes, never fail to make me smile. The outrageous claims made by ”close sources” of the famous are also worth a chuckle. And of course there are also the latest research snippets: people who eat less and exercise more are inclined to live longer….

Of course the food coverage always takes my eye – and the growing pile of tear sheets next to my recipe books bears evidence of this. There would be very few weekly publications that I would reach the end of without at least one recipe snaring my attention. This week was no different. When I flipped the page to this Chicken, artichoke and lemon dish and saw that I had most of the ingredients on hand and they could all cook together in one dish, an instant ripping of paper broke the sunny afternoon silence.

Chicken Artichoke and Lemon

1/4 cup olive oil
8 chicken drumsticks
500g potatoes, cut into wedges (skin left on)
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 lemon, sliced into rings
4 thyme sprigs
1/2 cup white wine
170g jar artichokes, drained
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.
  2. In an ovenproof pan, heat half of the oil and brown off the drumsticks until golden.
  3. Add potatoes and onion with the rest of the oil and mix around. Top with lemon slices and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Pour over wine, and stir in artichokes and tomatoes.
  6. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes, ensuring chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender.
    (Even though this dish contains potatoes, I served it over steamed rice because the sauce is delicious when absorbed into the rice.)

Postscript: and after reading of the births, remarriages and body makeovers it’s heartening to realise your own life is not that exhausting after all.

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.

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


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.