Friday, May 18, 2012

My humble vintage origins.....

Hi Everyone, hope you all had a good week.  Today I thought I would share a little bit of my history with you.

I have recently updated my profile and it says something like "after 40 years finally found my sense of style", well its a slight exaggeration.  I was lucky enough to have a mother who was and still is an excellent sewer, and she made many of my clothes as a child.  Until I went to high school she made most of my clothes or, occasionally we got a clothes parcel from a relative (but more about that in another post).

The first major clothing purchase I ever made was a pair of Levis.  I had an afterschool job at the local new supermarket and saved my wages (I started on $2.50 an hour) until I had enough to go to H & J Smiths in Invercargill and buy my first pair of Levis.  I still remember that day. It was in 1984.

My next memorable purchase was at an A & P Show (Agriculture and Produce) in Invercargill in the in 1985 or 1986.  At the time I had a huge crush on David Bowie.  My purchase was a black cotton tee shirt with a picture of David Bowie on it from his Lets Dance tour.  I adored that tee shirt.  I looked for a photo of it this morning, but could not find one :(

Then came the right of passage in the form of the school ball in 1987.  I got asked at the last minute, and hence had to find a dress at the last minute.  I remember my dad taking me shopping and waiting very patiently.

It was nothing, and I mean NOTHING like the dresses all the other girls wore.  It looks like a skirt and a top but its actually a dress.  I am not sure of the correct sewing terminology but the top was joined to the skirt via the top lining.  The white Fabia shoes were later dyed black.  The dress ended up at the Salvation Army or similar.

When I moved to Dunedin to attend University I stayed at Salmond Hall (now Salmond College) for the first year in 1988.  A large group of us went to the annual Knox Salmond Garden Party.

Here I am, second from the left in a white Glassons cotton and lace dress and a straw hat.  Glassons was the new store for women's clothes.  I bought this dress when the store opened in Invercargill and I later dyed it blue in the sink at the hostel.  Maybe I spilt something on it at the garden party???

I took a photo of this photo using my Arnott's biscuit tin lid as a prop - so please excuse the words "do not purchase if seal is broken or missing...."

My normal day to day clothes were unremarkable.  But when I had the opportunity to dress up I made the most of it.  Below is me in Victorian garb on the right, with a lovely gentleman and lady.  This was a fundraising event I organised which was part of the Dunedin Anniversary celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary of early settlers arriving.  I think it was 1998??  I hired the dress and jacket and loved wearing it.  What you can't tell from the photo is that the event was pretty much washed out by awful March weather.  However those of us on the organising committee had a lot of fun.

One of my earliest opped or thrifted items was a suede jacket.  I had it for years and years until eventually the sleeves practically fell off.  It was given to me by a boyfriend who at the time had a thing for black clothes and introduced me to op shopping.  The photo below is taken when I was about 24 I think.  The relationship did not last but I got to keep the jacket.

I recall in my second year at varsity (1989) I got invited to a 1970s party.  I went to the St Vincent de Paul in George Street and bought a lurex and wool maxi dress.  I cut it off just above the knees and took it in on both sides so it was almost skin tight.  I wore it to the party with black tights and black boots and green oval tinted sunglasses.  I was the most punkish person at the party.  Everyone else was in hippy flower power clothes.  I had the dress for years.  Here I am wearing it with a beloved black cardigan at one of my birthday parties in the 1990s  - behind me two friends are clearly laughing at me being so silly.  You can just see the sparkley fabric, I recall it was a swirling pattern of greens and blues.

Dunedin is a city which was built on the Victorian wealth and one year I went to a proper Victorian Ball.  I hired a dress, from the same place I had hired the red tartan one pictured above.  I think the lady was called Joy and I think, but I am not certain that she has moved to Oamaru now and does costumes for the Victorian fete.  Anyway, I wore a very very posh red dress and felt very awkward.  I much preferred the practicality of the other outfit but it was a ball and therefore I had to be dressed accordingly.  The ball was at a private house and everyone was dressed up.  I felt like a bit of an imposter as I was not comfortable in the very tightly boned corset and the frilly dress.

Last photo for today's post is me standing atop the newly renovated Ravensbourne Rail Footbridge.  Last Sunday my family and I took part in the Annual Babies for Trees* ceremony organised by Keep Dunedin Beautiful and Rotary.  We planted a Pohutukawa Tree for our family and as the planting was on the harbour walkway we decided to walk to the bridge.  You might remember a few weeks back we attended the official re-opening of the bridge.  Well here it is in all its glory, and there's me at the top, wearing much more comfortable polyester dress, crimplene coat and boots.

Right, time to get the oven on for tea.  My very thoughtful husband has just asked me if I have permission from the people in the photos to publish them on the internet, and I can assure you I do not.  The photos were taken years ago before the internet really existed.  However if I have published the photo of someone and not identified them, but they see this post and are concerned, please contact me and I will fuzz your face out with the drawing tool.

* Trees for Babies is NOT about swapping your baby for a tree which is what my adorable 10yo asked.  It is about planting trees to beautify the city and celebrate the birth of a baby or commemorate the passing of someone.

Bye for now xx


  1. Aww...what a great series of photos!

  2. How interesting to hear your fashion history. My first ever op shop purchase was a pair of Levis in the 80's as well, with my best friend who I still op shop with to this day. Love the rail bridge pic too. Hope you have a lovely weekend & stay warm! Xx

  3. A life in frocks and Levis! I've been musing about my own style developments as an adult - some hits, many misses, but I think I dress better now than at any other time! You know what they say about youth being wasted on the young!xx

  4. Great pics and fabulous post!
    At least you saved up for something worthwhile Levi's always end up being worth the money spent on them since they last ages and ages. *lol*


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