Last year I bought a fancy scarf for $1 from the Brotherhood of St Laurence op-shop in the Royal Arcade. It was from a basket of scarves out the front of the shop, and I was drawn to the bright red, pink and violet colours.
It is a very long strip: long enough to loop loosely around my neck and still have enough length left for a decent pussy-bow. I remember wearing it to the Emerging Writers' Festival program launch in early May last year, double-looped and pinned to the inside of a plunging black dress, like an underlying blouse, and someone complimented me on it.
Here I am wearing it last September to meet my friend Tash's new baby Max (I have flipped the pussy-bow over my shoulder so I do not suffocate a small baby with it):
Anyway, I was planning to wear it to tonight's MIFF opening gala as a contrasting sash for my electric blue dress. But then I was walking down Brunswick Street yesterday and on a "two for $10" sale rack outside Hunter Gatherer, which is the Brotherhood's pricier, more upmarket 'vintage' brand, I saw… THE DRESS MY SCARF WAS THE SASH FOR!!!
I actually squawked aloud, "Omigod, omigod, omigod…" like a parody of a retail-obsessed airhead. I tried it on and thanks be to elastic waists: it fits me and looks good!
It's a '70s Ossie Clark-esque design that's actually perfectly in sync with the opening night film, Pedro Almodóvar's '70s sex comedy throwback I'm So Excited. The skirt is full and swishy, and has groovy thigh-high side slits (why!?). It also has POCKETS!
The bodice is daringly low-cut: I could wear it braless with double-sided tape, but since MIFF is technically a 'work' event for me, it's probably more dignified to wear a slip or camisole underneath.
Left: Cate Blanchett wears Ossie Clark to Vogue Australia's 50th anniversary event; right: Emma Watson wears Ossie Clark to the London premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
You have to understand how uncanny this is. This dress has no label and is probably handmade. Clearly it was donated, with its matching scarf, to the Brotherhood, but they got separated. The dress was deemed 'vintage' enough for Hunter Gatherer while the scarf was siphoned off to the regular Brotherhood stores, and both items clearly hung around long enough to be reduced to bargain-bin status. And I was lucky enough to stumble across both of them, more than a year apart.
How serendipitous op-shopping can be! To fill up my 'two for $10' bargain I also bought another printed, elastic-waisted dress. It's okay – nothing special. Well, not nearly as special as this happy reunion…