In Out of Shape I write about an expedition I made last year to Savers. It actually turned out to be a good-value expedition because I bought a bright yellow self-stripe skirt that I've worn a lot in both winter and summer, and some jewellery I've likewise got lots of wear from.
Two pairs of earrings and a brooch
The skirt is a much more lurid acid-yellow than it appears here. I photographed the waistband because I was so proud of altering it from a dropped waist to a high waist.
Me modelling the skirt (weirdly tucked up at one side; I dunno why) and my book outside Luna Park last week, during Home City Book Tour.
But on the day I was really annoyed because I wanted to emerge with a 'haul', yet none of my pet items were there. The items above were literally all I bought.
Well, my imminent appearance on the Today show (Tomorrow! 8:20am! Channel 9!) gave me the excuse I needed to make another pilgrimage to Savers. I was really annoyed at myself because I started out too late, meaning I had less than an hour in the store before it closed, and I didn't give myself enough time to go through all the departments properly.
However! Savers Mill Park had some GREAT stuff this time around! I was super excited to see this Diane Freis dress (as collected by Kate Millett of Bombshell Vintage), but disappointed that it was too small in the bust and kind of squished my boobs flat.
Sorry about my bad, blurry photography. I have terribly shaky hands. The sleeves were very full and blousy, and the skirt lovely and wafty, and it had a contrasting band of fabric defining the waist. It might still be there!
I was also taken with this muumuu, an authentic made-in-Hawaii souvenir. However, as I detail in the book, muumuus have acquired cultural connotations of slovenliness and decrepitude, and I just couldn't bring myself to try it on. I already fret that my fingers are too fat to use the phone.
Now this is fascinating. I've read about half-sizes but I've never actually seen one before. Basically, these were like a mixture of petites and plus-sizes: they assumed a shorter height, lower bust and curvier figure. If a half-size is 20 or above, it's probably a plus-size; otherwise it might just be for a shorter person.
Apparently, half-sizes date a garment to between the 1940s and the 1970s. This was a very '70s-looking party frock with long sheer chiffon sleeves, a full accordion-pleated chiffon skirt and an elastic waist. I wish I could find out more about the Janelle label; it's not listed at the Vintage Fashion Guild and in my searching I can only find 'Janelle' used as a name.
There were heaps of other great dresses on the rack, in the bright block jewel colours I like. But they were either too tight, or too drapey in a way that would have people solicitously offering me their seat on public transport, if you know what I am saying. There was one violet dress (I am really into violet-purple at the moment) that nipped me in Hendricksically at the waist, but I know from bitter experience that it would get unwearably uncomfortable after about half an hour.
Before I knew it, the store was closing and I still had a few dresses I had yet to try on. So I recklessly bought them anyway. The above purple print button-through frock is one of them. Because it has a sash tie at the back, I thought I'd be able to cinch it in if it was too big. But when I tried it on at home, I realised it's clearly made for someone bigger than me. The sleeves are too baggy for my arms, and my boobs don't fill out the bust.
I figured I'd resell the purple dress, since plus-size vintage is so hard to come by. It has no labels and I think it might be home-made, although the neckline is interfaced and the seams are overlocked. It's a light, silky fabric that feels like rayon or viscose. Flat measurements: waist 61cm; bust 64cm (from armpit to armpit); centre back length 102cm; sleeve length 26.5cm (from shoulder seam).
The bodice is in three panels, gathered slightly at the waist so there's room in the bust, and the sleeves are slightly gathered at the shoulder. There are small shoulder pads to create a structured 1940s look. The skirt is perhaps a half-circle shape in seven panels and has two pintucks: one on each side of the front.
The back of the dress, showing the sash which can be used to tighten the fit.
Detail of the fabric and the buttons. You can also see the waist seam just below the third button.
If you're interested in buying it or know someone who might be, please leave me a comment or send me an email.
I also bought these shoes. I have discarded my previous philosophy of fewer and better shoes because honestly, I wear through them all just the same. Either I grind down the inner sole from inside or I grind down the outer sole until it cracks or splits. I try to prolong them using insoles, but I grind those down too.
Black mary-jane flats are one of my 'collecting focuses'. I always look for them in op-shops when my last pair is nearly gone. They always look slightly different – the toe squarer or rounder, the upper more ornate, the heel moulded in slightly different ways. These patent ones replace a pair with flowers stitched to them (which I am wearing in the Luna Park pic above), which replaced a pair with decorative cutouts and contrast stitching, which in turn replaced my Grosby leather ballet flats that split in the sole.
And peeping into the frame you can see the other dress I bought without trying it on, which I'm actually pretty chuffed with. In daylight it looks chocolate brown but I think it was originally black but has faded with age. It's '70s does '40s, with a wrap top, long sleeves puffed at the shoulder with little shoulder pads, and an accordion-pleated skirt from an elastic waist.
This is how I styled it on Sunday. I was trying to look a bit retro because I was talking about the Wizard of Oz costumes at ACMI. I assure you my victory rolls looked better IRL than they do in this pic.