|Inspiration for the Melbourne Cup|
Ahh, the Melbourne Cup. It doesn’t really matter whereabouts in Australia you are, the first Tuesday of November is an opportunity to dress up, drink champagne and have flutter at the races. The actual race itself is the richest group one race in Australia (first across the line last year, Americain, won AUD$3.3 million!) and at 3.2Km it is one of the longest. It is an Australian tradition 151 years in the making, but unlike other mid-week race meetings, Cup Day is little bit different, it’s an event targeted at women. This means two things; glamorous luncheons and high teas; and Fashions on the Field.
Now, I’ve been working at race tracks for the last four years, so here are my top tips for looking fabulous trackside.
1. Stay away from facinators. They’re cheap but more importantly, they look cheap. It looks like you’re wearing an intergalictic parasite made out of feathers and sinamay. It’s sucking your brains out through your skull. Don’t.
2. A word about cocktail dresses. Racetracks are windy places. Do yourself a favour and wear something that comes to at least your knees. Otherwise I promise that you will spend your whole day holding down the folds of your skirt. Try a tea-dress or something more suited to day-wear. Satin is best avoided as it rarely looks flattering in daylight.
3. In stilettos, walking around on the grass near the track, or inside a marquee, quickly becomes uncomfortable. Oh, and messy. I’m not saying that you should’t wear your most glamorous pair of high heels, but I would recommend wearing something without the kind of heel that is going to sink two inches into the earth with every step. Keep a pair of afterparty shoes in your bag if you’re worried.
Here are four ensembles that are unconventional, awesome and break a few of the rules.
An Ode to Apfel
This outfit pays homage to the amazing Iris Apfel, rocking electric purple, gold, and a turban all at once. Start the day with a visit to the horse enclosure, then enjoy a lively lunch with friends and a mojito or three. Dance with one or two dashing strangers and keep a record of the compliments you receive. Bonus points for wearing an amazing Egyptian styled statement necklace.
Rethink head-wear with the gorgeous embellished vintage comb. Do your homework beforehand and choose a horse for each race. Place your bets with a bookie at the beginning of the day (and flirt to get over-odds). Keep hydrated with fruit juices. Gossip with friends about this years Fashions on the Field winner and help yourself to tapas for lunch. Collect your winnings from the bookmaker’s stand on your way home.
Palamino in Pink
Cosy up in this amazing Prada faux-fur and bat your lashes from underneath a pink beret. Have lunch at your favourite desert parlour before hand. Bet small change on horses with funny names and squeal with your friends when they come first! Open a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut Rose at three o’clock and giggle your way through the rest of the day. Bonus points for sporting a polka dot manicure.
Break the rules and wear trousers to the track! Have high tea at one of the marquees and then spend the rest of the day flirting with handsome strangers. Pick all your horses based on the colour or the jockey’s jersey. You manage to squeeze a pair of opera glasses into your purse, which comes in handy for watching the big race from afar.
What makes something tasteful? When do you cross the line into poor taste? I’m not just talking about wearing stripes with spots, or something as mundane as that. I’m talking about fashion choices that shock, horrify & insult. There are numerous debates over the Internet as to whether wearing fur is tasteless or not. Moral issues aside, most wearers of fur do not intend to cause offence every time they don a coat, muff or stole. They may well understand that some people might object, but fur is usually worn for its warmth & beauty – not for its political shock-value.
What then, of items deliberately worn for this reaction?
In September 1976 the singer Siouxsie Sioux was physically assaulted while on a trip to France. At the time she was wearing a black armband decorated with a swastika. Sioux freely admitted that she wore the armband not because she was a Nazi sympathiser, but because she partly failed to understand the role of the symbol as a taboo, & party because she wished to shock people. She later explained;
The Nazis were not only anti-Semitic but anti-anyone different, anti-anyone like me.
The reason I choose Sioux as an example over people like Titler & Doe Deere is that Titler follows in the footsteps of comedians like Charlie Chaplain in ridiculing Nazism & Hitler. Deere on the other hand, was just playing dress up. Sioux donned the armband because she knew people would be horrified.
So what of this?
The text is an unsourced quote form Charles Manson, the man responsible for a spate of violent murders during 1969 in an effort to spark a race-war. Queen Michelle of Kingdom of Style says
For the longest time I have been thinking about designing a t-shirt with the famous quote by Charles Manson
But is seems that Bob hjelte got there first with the above photo featured on her Lookbook. The photo with the bloodied knife & the animal mask, is designed to shock & provoke. This is accomplished by riding on the emotional baggage associated with a particular person & a particular event – one that is almost universally condemned. Is this tasteful? Is it fashionable? Even if it is fashionable, is it acceptable to wear the T-shirt? This quote from Trent Reznor seems appropriate;
While I was working on Downward Spiral, I was living in the house where Sharon Tate was killed. Then one day I met her sister. It was a random thing, just a brief encounter. And she said: “Are you exploiting my sister’s death by living in her house?” For the first time, the whole thing kind of slapped me in the face. I said, “No, it’s just sort of my own interest in American folklore. I’m in this place where a weird part of history occurred.” I guess it never really struck me before, but it did then. She lost her sister from a senseless, ignorant situation that I don’t want to support. When she was talking to me, I realized for the first time, “What if it was my sister?” I thought, “Fuck Charlie Manson.” I went home and cried that night. It made me see there’s another side to things, you know?
Or as Jane from What’s Wrong With the Zoo said;
Till…I asked myself what I would think if in forty years some fashion-chicks would come up with quoting Joseph Fritzl on their T-Shirts. Could I ever take them serious[ly]?
I just thought it was worth discussing.
|The Country Sportswoman|
We have had some amazing weather lately. Luckily, where I am there has been no damage. For several days together it’s just been deliciously overcast; a cool break form the hot sticky spring days of a week ago. I went for a walk in the park & the weather reminded me of Britain & the outdoor sports used to pass the time there. So I whipped up three fantasy outfits on Polyvore that are inspired the sporting British gentry. They’re full of goodies & are complete with the necessities; boots, gloves & hats.
Rambling & Birdwatching
Pack a luncheon basket with your favourite sandwiches & slip into some tights to keep warm. Add some matching boots & gloves in lilac, both with cute button detailing & finish with a wide brimmed hat (equally handy for rain & sun). Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars; handy for spying the local fauna.
Don your favourite pair of Christian Louboutin boots over velvet trousers & pair with a beautiful silk & cashmere blouse. Owls have been used as hunting birds too, so wear this topaz owl brooch for good luck. Finish the look with a wide leather belt & a pair of feathered earrings.
For a ride through the fields slip into some tailored, yet loosely comfortable trousers & pair with a tartan vest & blouse. A thick knit riding hat & some gloves will keep the cold out. Strap on a pair of cherry red Doc Martens & don’t forget the lucky ribbon & riding crop!
- Join the Ramblers’ Association!
- Or the Royal Society for Protection of Birds.
- Check out photos from Dita von Teese & Marilyn Manson’s wedding for stylish falconry outfits.
- Visit this neat online gallery of vintage equestrian fashion.
- & lastly, How to Pack a Picnic Basket!
|Black: is the new Black|
One trend seen on the runway recently was black. Somewhat Victorian, Lolita & neogoth, it seems black is back. Unless you have a clothing budget proportionate to price of a new home (you lucky girl if you do!), most of the lovely clothes on the runway will not make it into your closet. You can however borrow from these designs and use them as inspiration. Dammit, I know I am – these photos from the Alexander McQueen show just make me swoon! Here’s a rundown of the basic elements seen so far.
Lanvin & YSL
Balenciaga, Givenchy & Collette Dinnigan
Images courtesy of Style.com
Several elements are recurring here, first up, the blouse & it’s all in the details. These Victorian inspired blouses begin with fabric covered buttons leading all the way up to a high collar, accented with simple & dainty lace, ribbon or ruffles all in black or white. That word again; simple. The look is somewhat androgynous & the feminine ribbon, ruffles & lace are merely accents. They shouldn’t shouldn’t steal the show! The blouses are accented with decorative cuffs, both the frilly kind & the simple over sized button-up kind.
Trousers are long, lean & high waisted. Also black, they taper at the ankles or are worn with a small boot-cut. A lot of emphasis is placed on the high waistline, so draw attention there with modest belts or buttons.
The coat. Military-esque styling lends these coats a structured style. Only the YLS coat is worn loosely or over sized, while the rest are tailored and fitted. The cuffs on the coat are designed so the the details on the sleeves of the blouse can show though, which lends everything a slightly Victorian look. Even if patterned, these coats are again, all black.
Skirts & dresses are high waisted & embellished with soft ruffles & pleats. Chanel opts for long, loose & flowing full-length skirts, whilst Alexander McQueen creates doll-like skirts ending just above, or just below the knee. Underskirts or pleats at the side provide volume & the whole thing is yes, you guessed it, black.
Make-up is pale & somewhat neutral (which I must confess is a blessing for little o’l anglo me!) The colour is of course black, but as for the placement, you have two options. Opt for black smokey, even batwing, eyes a la Lanvin & Balenciaga. Both Evan Rachel Wood & Amy Winehouse have been bringing black rimmed eyes back lately. The other option is to paint your lips with lashings of blood red, purple, or even black lipstick, the glossier the better. Their lips may be lovely, but don’t wear your bangs like the alien & eyeless YSL models or you’ll bump into things!
Make it yours
So you want it on a budget? I’d suggest investing in some good quality accessories & trying some DIY restructuring. A good place to start might be a pair of black tight-fitting gloves in satin, rubber, PVC (oh my!) or leather. Purchase some lengths of soft white linnen or silk & use them to make a cravat or wrist ties. You could replace the buttons on an old blouse with some fabric covered ones & add a bit Victorian flair by stitching on some premade ruffles or lace. For something more simple, wear a plain black skirt with black pumps or mary janes & a pair of white tights. Thrift stores are great places to pick a bargains. Keep a look out for useful items & remember, if the clothes you find are not black already, it’s very easy to dye them.
- Check out these sets on Polyvore for more inspiration.
- Read Gala Darling’s article on Neogoth.
- Peruse what Popsugar has to say about black lips & dark eyes.
- As well as