Thursday, July 31, 2008

Decisions Decisions

I'm heading out tomorrow night and I haven't a thing to wear! "How can that be?" you ask. Well the call for delicious party wear has been few and far between over the last few years. While I have had lots of occasions to celebrate and evenings on the town, tomorrow night is a little different. It is a good friends buck's night and the perfect chance to pull out all the stops. So before I get into a tizz and start tearing apart my wardrobe in the hope that something perfect will magically appear, I shopped the closets of Polyvore.


Decadent Diva

Burlesque Bombshell

The question now is how to put one of these looks together from what is already in my wardrobe. The problem is I think I only have one or two similar items, and none of them are clothes! I have a feeling I'll be hitting the shops tomorrow to find something seriously spank worthy. But then, which of these looks to chose?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Divided by Eight

Not having yet seen the Sex and The City Movie, I may not be qualified to make these comments, but here goes. One of the often lauded points of this movie is SJP's wardrobe and her multitude of changes. While I admire what Patricia Field did to open our minds to the possibilities of styling some extreme pieces into something wearable, a wardrobe of Carrie's magnitude is not likely to be within our reach. Yes, it is fashion escapism, but I'd like to suggest that on your next "Girls Night In", you treat your eyes to the fashion candy box that is 8 Women.

Not only is the storyline one of drama and intrigue, but the entire movie is conducted with the cast in a single outfit for the duration of the film. And yet, you never tire of watching them. Each outfit encapsulates the nuances of the characters personality, and has a surprising range of versatility, to convey the emotion of each scene. But one of the key details that sets this film apart for me in the fashion stakes, is that although each of the outfits are stunning and beautifully tailored, they never swamp the woman's personality. I often find that many of Carrie's outfits, while beautiful, simply wear her. Hence why we spend so much time talking about the designer or the stylist. I imagine that the woman who has such a strong personal sense of style, and the conviction to go with it, could walk into a party wearing the same dress she did last time, and still be remarked upon for both her presence and her style.

8 Women is an excellent example of one strong outfit carrying you through even the most trying of times, with infinite style. I'd be lying if I said my wardrobe wasn't one of volume, but it is those pieces of exquisite tailoring, luxurious fabrics and jewel like colours that I truly treasure.

Rather than fashion from the Family Sized Candy box, consider the alternative luxury of that single Godiva.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Daily Outfit - Winter Wonderland

Outfit details: Faux fur vest - Filo, Cashmere top - Ann Taylor, Chocolate pants - Body, Boots - Zoe Wittner, Arm warmers - by me, White rose bracelet - Diva.

The mornings here are freezing. The kind of mornings where you get an ice cream headache just by letting your ears peak out of the covers. The upside of the chill is that it is indicative of a clear sky ahead, and thus, lunch time sunshine. Tuesdays tend to be my most challenging days style wise, as I start the day by taking Miss 4 to swimming lessons where the environmental conditions are on a par with an afternoon in Jamaica. Hot and humid, irregardless of the frost forming on the windows.

I'm feeling a familiar sensation today. The urge to tidy that proceeds the urge to purge - my wardrobe that is. While tidying my studio I came across my ever growing pile of things to put on Ebay. I used to do this quite often but I probably haven't listed anything in the last 12 months, and so the box is overflowing. How does this happen? How can I have so many things, almost the equivalent size of my current wardrobe, in this state of storage?

I have a shameful secret. My wardrobe has a consumption disorder, I call it my bulimic wardrobe. I binge, then I purge. It's the vintage dress that is so cute, but will never fit. The stunning pants bought in a hurry and not tried on. The Ebay purchases where I neglected to check the measurements and not just the sizes. So if I can get my act together and photograph all this loot in the next week or so, there may be some cute pieces looking for their chance to hit the town. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Could Live Here

I'm ensconced in the world of Flickr tonight, and I fell in love. Prepare for a kawaii overload and visit the world of Squeaky Monkey.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Swanky Panky Goes To The Dogs

I've been a bit lax with our Swanky Panky in recent weeks, but I haven't forgotten you. This week my pooches are on my mind as they both have birthday's in July, and around here Dogs must have parties too. (Yes, July & August is all party party around here. Imagine; a house full of Leos!) So here's my picks for spoiling your pooches in both big ways and small.

Lucky Dog tank from Finn & Sootie in Melbourne

"Chewnel" chew toy from Finn & Sootie - Melbourne

Strawberry treat toy from Mutt Space - Sydney

Birthday treats from Trixie & Peanut - USA

Cherry hair clips from Trixie & Peanut - USA

Furrari bed from Trixie & Peanut - USA

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Daily Outfit - Shag Me!

Outfit details: 1970's vintage dress - Shag! Rose earrings - Diva, Opaques - Voodoo, Shoes -Wittner

How could I resist that title? My shopping trip on Wednesday included a trip into the city store of Shag Vintage - quite a good vintage store if you are looking for items particularly from the 60's and 70's. I have often found many of the items over priced for what they are, but this dress called my name the minute I walked in. The bright red poppy (?) print was peaking out from behind swaths of polyester, and the moment I picked it off the rail I knew it was one of the most unique pieces in the store. The very chipper chap behind the counter kindly zipped me in, and it fit like a glove. The fabric is a knit, so it is warm enough to handle our winter days too. It has a sweetheart neckline with ruching in the front, and the sleeves are a little puffed at the shoulders. It appears to be a hand made piece, adding to its originality, and I adore the 40's styling with the loud 70's print. So all in all, it is perfect for a girl who likes her outfits to shout rather than whisper.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Adventures In Cute

When the act of shopping is elevated to an experience that is both aesthetically pleasing and good for the soul, you know you must be in Genki. While out on my little jaunt the other day, I dropped in to visit what has been one of my long time favorite stores, hidden in Melbourne's city. I say "long time favorite" even though my opportunities to visit have been some what few and far between in the last few years; however, every time I head up the stairs and catch a glimpse of the Genki window, my heart lifts. Always stunningly arrayed in kawaii and kitsch wares, you cannot help but smile and feel the little girl within do a happy dance as she eagerly fingers her wallet.

On this particular visit, I was hoping to find something special for Miss One's first birthday. And as I browsed through the candy coloured range of baby T's, I had the pleasure to chat with Chanie, the founder of Genki, and her three month old daughter (one of three girls - what a Mama!). Chanie founded Genki in 1998 and , after spreading the joy to Melbourne shoppers, expanded to opening a second store in Windsor in 2004. Genki is Japanese for 'health, happy and feeling fine', so as you can imagine, it is a tailor made shopping experience for Super Kawaii Mama. They stock a range of witty adults T-shirts that are made in Melbourne (and also available on their website), along with some children's wear, home wears, and super kawaii clothing and accessories, including the likes of those from Tatty Devine and Built By Wendy.

If you live in Melbourne and haven't visited this store, DO IT NOW! It is a sure fire way to cure your winter blues, and if you hurry you'll even get to see the latest shipment of fabulous from Japan. If you are planning a visit to Melbourne, don't miss out on this gem, and take home a little kawaii and kitsch that is FAR superior to an I Love Melbourne T-Shirt - your friends and family will thank you for it.

Kewpie say," Horray for Genki!"

Genki can be found at shop 5, cathedral arcade, 37 swanston st (cnr. flinder lane), melbourne.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Daily Outfit - Braces and Jazz Hands

Outfit Details: Red leopard top - The Coveted on Etsy, Black ruffled lace top - Entrace, Black Braces - costume shop, Wide legged cuffed pant - Living Doll, Red and Black checkered OTK's - Columbine, Shoes - Wittner, Red Rose earrings - Diva.

Today was one of those rare and wonderful days, when all the planets align and you experience shopping serendipity. I was fortunate enough to have my in-laws here to look after both girls for the day, and headed in to the city of a shopping mission. I had a couple of things on the list of To Do's, but I just kept on finding all these lovely new stores, fabulous trinkets , amazingly helpful staff and those things I had been meaning to buy for ages. In fact, I even had the opportunity to get the low down on some fabulous inner city boutiques that are worthy of their own posts. So I'll have to get it all together and bring you lots more eye candy over the week.

Tomorrow is my baby's birthday. She turns one, (sniff sniff) and I can hardly believe it is happening already. Miss Four is planning tomorrows menu (fairy bread and jelly cups), and is also quite keen on planning my wardrobe for the day. She suggested that I should dress as Snow White and she can be Cinderella. When I told her I didn't think I could whip out a Snow White outfit quite so quickly, she suggested that instead I could be Cinderella's "Fairly Good Mother". Well, I guess that's the best a Mother can hope for.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Embracing Your Inner Nana

Some of you may remember my Uncommon Cure for the Common Cold, where I channeled my inner Nana for a bit of tea and sympathy. It seems that this is all the rage now, according to today's Age Newspaper. The article is touting knitting as "the new black", (well duh, where have you been print media?) carrying a hankie as environmentally savvy and the cuppa as the latest trendy cure all. And while I see the merits in some of this Nana Chic, I can think of a few others that hold a little more appeal for me.

Support garments. While suspenders have been a staple of many a bride's wardrobe, the old fashioned foundation garment complete with suspenders, will never be replaced by the new flimsy lace numbers in my book. While they are now available in a host of colours and trims, there is something quite vintage sexy about those flesh toned girdles. The creator of pantyhose (I tried to find you a link here, but had to poke my eyes out from too many fetish results on Google) was so rapt to be able to offer consumers something that didn't show beneath their skirts, or leave a little flesh peeking out when they sat down. But for me, given the right occasion, there is something quite wonderful about this look. It comes across as accidentally appealing rather than overtly sexy.

The Sweet Tin. My Nana always kept a sweet tin in her lounge room for occasional treats while watching the cricket. Nana would never have eaten a whole chocolate bar, let alone a tub of ice cream; far too decadent. Instead, her sweets were those pretty, individually wrapped numbers that remind you just how many you have had by watching the papers pile up. I wonder how much more respect we would have for sweets dished out as prizes to ourselves, than those wolfed down secretly from the packet hidden in the back of the pantry. I'm quite sure our waist lines would thank us for it.

The Wireless. Okay, while a good serial program might be hard to find on the radio these days, there are any number of podcasts out there that are much more preferable to tuning into the latest episode of Big Brother to find out what that odd squishing noise was coming from the communal bedroom last night. To get your alternative entertainment rolling, check out the inaugural podcast by that dapper chap, The Sunday Best.

The Nana Rug. Oh where, oh where would I be without this marvelous invention. Often seen decorating the laps of elderly personages in wheel chairs, the Nana rug is usually a crocheted affair, often in mutiple colours, and usually in a square pattern. Without the aid of these oft crafted pieces, I would have indeed frozen as I blogged along, long past bedtime.

So I ask you, do you have a secret longing for hot toddies, knitted booties or put a cozy on everything? Are you Nana Chic?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rosie Remix

Recently, a reader wrote to me wanting to update her 'Stay At Home Mum' style. Already quite the cute mama, she wanted to incorporate a more vintage feel into her daily wardrobe, and asked me to look to Rosie The Riviter for some inspiration. So I've put together a few options for daytime and a few for playtime.

I don't believe that mums have to live in pants or jeans. Given that small children require lots of bending and floor time though, skirts need to have lots of movement. I've included this plaid number for those days when the babysitter is on call and a sexy someone meets you for lunch. Our mystery mama is still nursing, so 'easy access' tops, that flatter a larger bust, are critical here. So to create balance, I've focused on her lovely hourglass shape. Wedge heels are a great alternative to court shoes. They give you a bit more stability and are a much more flattering choice with these longer line skirts.

Of course, you can always break out the denim for days at the park, and it wouldn't be a 'Rosie' look with out a little blue. Once again, I've focused on the waist using vests instead of belts to give this look more shape. Updating 'Rosie's' polkadot scarf, is the super cute polka dot head band. A few big curls in the fringe, and you're good to go.

After all this talk of Rosie, I chose to channel her myself today, and fixed a little scarf action for a day of housework and errands. And I think this is a super kawaii do!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Long Promised Hair Tutorial

Finally, I have some time to myself and the technology gods have smiled on me. Here is my first hair tutorial showing you how I did my hair in yesterday's Daily Outfit photos. The tutorial runs for about 10 minutes, (the hair only takes about 5 minutes without all the chatter), so kick off your kittens and pour yourself a dirty martini. I'll be bringing you more hair and other tutorials in the future, so this should whet your appetite for now. Any feed back or questions are more than welcome.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daily Outfit - DIY Style

Outfit details and cost: Black lace ruffled top - Entrace, $50 @ a designer warehouse sale, Skirt - Made by me, materials $15, Opaques - Voodoo on sale $5, Boots - Joanne Mercier, $110 on sale and 5 years old, Cuff - Made by me, more time than money, Earrings - Diva, $4.95.

Today's outfit is based around a skirt I made for summer. I just adored this scarab beetle fabric , (it so appeals to the Egyptologist in me) and wanted to make something that looked interesting from a distance, but also had some great detail close up. The top is one I picked up at yesterdays sale, and although you can't really see the detail here, it has a lovely lacy cravat right down the front. The cuff I had up in my etsy shop for while, but as it is my favorite of these pieces, I decided to just keep it all for myself. (If anyone is interested in this sort of thing, email me and I'll re-list them).

We spent the day just hanging out and eating dumplings to our hearts content at a local Chinese restaurant. Miss 4 has been practicing her restaurant manners and was dying to have a chance to show them off. She had us in stitches as she watched a Chinese family with their little baby and said, "Look Mum, a Chinese baby (she is presently obsessed with China). Is his name Wilfred?" I have no idea why that name came to mind for her, but needless to say, we were highly amused by her culturally atypical choice of name.

I even had a little free time to myself today, and I have finally made that hair tutorial I have been promising. Now to make it all pretty for you, so stay posted tomorrow. The snaps below are of my latest loot. Some cheap and cheerful accessories, my bargain of the year dress and my husband's effort at compensation, for subjecting me to a week of abject loneliness while he hotfooted it off on a business holiday.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Daily Outfit - Raspberry Dream

Outfit details: Red top - Katies (pinched from mum), Black top - Postie, Culottes - Morgan De Toi, Raspberry Opaques - Columbine, Shoes - Wittner, Headband - Groove, Red rose earrings - Diva.

Today was another cold and wet day. Mum and I had grand plans of visiting a designer warehouse sale and swanning around the streets drinking coffee. But at 9 degrees and with rain pouring down, we stopped into the sale for about 45 minutes then headed straight back home. Even then, I still managed to snag a fabulous black, flapper style dress (for $50 reduced from $500!) and a lovely black top with a lace cravat style detailing. I also picked up a couple of new earrings and a gorgeous bracelet at Diva the other day, but I wasn't able to get a good close up of the earrings here. I'll get some lovey shots of all this weeks loot tomorrow to share with you.

Yesterdays post seems I have struck a chord with you all. Thank you all for your insightful comments. Let me just reiterate here that I am not going on a one woman crusade against the fashion industry (who are we kidding here), but just wanting to encourage a more 'eyes wide open' philosophy in our buying decisions. *Edit* I also wanted to add that the reason I am singling out Bitten here is because of the combination of the price point / manufacturing issue , and the manifesto. I wonder how the women making the garments would feel when presented with their "inalienable rights"?

One of the thoughts that has come out of it, for me, is to show you how I put some of my outfits together, and just how little they actually cost and the recycled origins of many of them. I won't break them down all the time and bore you to death, but I thought it would be appropriate to show you how I do it for posterity. So stay tuned over the weekend for a peak into the purse strings of my wardrobe.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Bitten Pill to Swallow

I have been mulling over this post for some time now, and I can go silent no longer. I have a big problem with Sarah Jessica Parker's Bitten line. The line first came to my attention on the various fashion blogs I read, and its arrival was much anticipated. Don't get me wrong, my problem is not with the woman, but with the business philosophy. I have read so many posts enthralled with the designs themselves and their reflected celebrity status, but the problem I have with them is their price point. $19.98 and less for EVERY piece in the collection. You read that right, not a clearance price, an introductory offer or a teaser, but a price point that is touted as being central to SJP's Bitten manifesto. If a garment retails for $19.98 as full sale price, what then does this mean for the chain of people involved in its manufacture, to say nothing of the environmental concerns?

  • "It is every women's inalienable right to have a stylish, pulled -together, confident wardrobe with money left over to live." Bitten Manifesto

Seriously, WTF! So if I am one of the garment workers making these cheap chic clothes, does that apply to me too? Or does this only apply to those living in the USA. Even then, I'd wager that there would be many a garment outworker who would beg to differ on their meager cents per garment wages.

The Bitten line offers over 1000 pieces in its line, including cashmere sweaters and suits at this price point. While I realise that no-one expects quality for this kind of money, I wonder just how disappointing or otherwise these pieces may be. (If you are wearing any, let me know.)

So when it comes to buying clothes and making ethical decisions I am by no means a saint. While I love the idea of always doing the right things, it isn't always practical. I often chose to make or buy hand made items, but then there is the issue of the materials used in the initial manufacturing process they went through, and the subsequent environmental damage that would have caused. But if I can afford it at the time, I'll mostly choose this option over a mass produced item. And while I love a bargain, I would much rather spend my cash on a vintage item that is a recycled beauty. When faced with the choice of buying something new from a major store or designer, I will always search for what is on sale, where the mark down has been taken from the sizeable retail mark-up of the garment in question.

But in the case of the Bitten pieces, there is really nowhere to go. The average mark up for retail garments is 250% and 350% for accessories in this country according to the government. So when you look at that $19.98 price point, and consider everyone along the chain that must be paid, of which the lowest are the individuals making each garment, I find this kind of retailing unconscionable; and that manifesto like a slap in the face.

*Should anyone from SJP's office like to contact me an explain just what she had in mind to make us swallow this, I'd be deeply appreciative. *

** I could go on about what this sort of RRP undercutting may mean for the fashion industry as a whole, but that's enough of a rant for one day. **

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Drinks for Two

Tonight is one for the chaps, and we ladies who love to dream. After reading this post over at A Dress a Day on what she would wear for a day were she a guy, I got thinking. (Well, after I had recovered from a David Tennant induced case of heart palpitations!) If I were to take you out for a drink based purely on your outfit, what would you possibly be wearing? (Imelda Matt I thought of you the moment I saw those red shoes.)

I never asked his name. He was the only one who didn't look my way as I entered the pavilion. Fingers of silky blue smoke curling around his hand, he smiled at his reflection bobbing up and down on the rocks. "Excuse me, I'm placing my order for breakfast and I just wanted to know how you like your eggs." I say.

He smiled and stood, offering me his seat. His hand played with the corner of his notebook, dogeared from his nervousness. "Thank you for making my day more beautiful" he said. Oh Captain Awesome, I'm bowled over.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Daily Outfit

Outfit Details: Top - Stella, Skirt - Made by Me, Purple opaques - Voodoo, Shoes - Urban Originals, Earrings - from my first boyfriend (when I was 14!), Purple Scottie dog hair clip - Sanrio shop.

Today's outfit began with a blue and purple combination. I thought that the chill in the air needed the opaques, but their texture caused them to grip on the skirt and made the skirt ride up all over the place. Sort of a 'Fuzzy Felt' effect. So I decided to give this colour combo a miss and went for pale legs, which in the end I think is the winner. The monochromatic look allows the whole thing to pop, rather than becoming too bogged down with colour. Do you agree?

The shoes are one of the pairs that I ordered online and I really love these. They aren't very practical for chasing around after Miss four, but I think they make up for that with their fun factor and making me feel oh so glamourous all day.

My recent blue obsession just sort of sprang out of nowhere. I found this gorgeous Stella top in the stocktake sales (when I was meant to be out buying milk, but I took a short cut through Myers - Damn those department stores and their labyrinthine layouts!). Once I had the top, I needed the shoes; and then I needed a skirt. In the absence of this colour in the stores at present, I went on a mission to make my own. I had a pencil skirt sized hole in my wardrobe and I thought a blue one would be a more cheeky version than black. I found an old skirt pattern from the early nineties which was a nasty calf grazing length, and with a few adjustments, I turned it into this. Given that my lifestyle involves a lot of bending around, the skirt needed to have a lot of movement and not be too revealing. So I chose a cotton elastane fabric that has some stretch and added a godet at the back, rather than the traditional vent. I think it gives it quite a sexy look without actually showing off too much leg.

I think this shade of blue was missing from my wardrobe for quite some time as it was a predominate colour in my school uniform. With (quite) a number of years between school and I now, I think it is time to bust it out and maybe even find the school girl within. ;)