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Best of Melbourne

I went to Melbourne for five days recently. I’ve been to Melbourne a few times before and always enjoy it. It’s the type of city that’s fun to visit, but also has a feeling of liveability. There’s some places I love to visit, but I can’t envisage myself living there, or I don’t think living there would be all that great.

Funnily enough, while I still think that, this time that I visited Melbourne, while I still think it would be a fantastic city to live in, I can’t see myself living there right now. I thought that maybe on this trip I would feel that I’d ‘found my place in the world’, but I think my place must be a bit further a field at the moment. I’m definitely keeping Melbourne on my futures list, though.

Anyway, in no particular order, here’s some things I enjoyed when I was there and think you should check out if you get the chance.

Degraves Espresso. I can’t speak about the food at this cafe, as I just went for a pre-breakfast coffee (we got breakfast free at our hotel and I was being cheap), but the coffee was definitely good. So good that when I finished my first soy latte, I felt compelled to order another. Sitting there sipping your coffee and people-watching is one of those quintessentially Melbourne experiences, I think.

Retrostar Vintage. There’s a lot of good vintage shopping in Melbourne, but I found a lot of it quite expensive compared to K Rd prices in Auckland and it wasn’t that much better to warrant the prices. Retrostar definitely has a lot of stuff to choose from and it’s prices are pretty good. It’s a large warehouse-style building that has a huge amount of stock that’s worth a rummage through. I found a fabulous 1960s champagne lace-overlay dress for A$65.

Circa Vintage. I actually didn’t buy anything here, but I think it’s worth the trip out to Fitzroy. It has a small selection of clothes, but all well selected. This is somewhere if you’re lucky, and if you have the budget, you could pick up something truly special. And the shop itself just has a nice 1940s kind of vibe to it, old-fashioned music playing and the shop girl dressed in vintage attire while ironing some new acquisitions.

Little Cupcakes. This is in Degraves St (so goes perfectly with a coffee from Degraves Espresso). I had a mini mocha cupcake and my mum had a lamington cupcake. Both were devine. There are numerous other flavours, and you can get mini or regular-size versions. If I lived in Melbourne, this would be a weekly treat. Mmm.

AIX Cafe Crepierie Salon. This is in Centre Place, which is another little iconic piece of Melbourne. Surrounded by the tables and graffiti and shops and people walking past, this is tucked away, a little hole-in-the-wall kind of place. I went there in the afternoon after the lunch rush so I could get a table (there’s only about three), but it’s well worth finding the time. I had a sticky date crepe with caramel sauce and double cream. It’s as rich as it sounds, and was amazing for about three-quarters of it before I fell into a food-induced coma. There’s a large variety of options for those not as brave or stupid as I. The berries with yoghurt and rosewater sounded nice to me for next time. And there’s also a lot of savoury ones as well. Good value, delicious and filling.

Scarlette & Sly. This is also in Centre Place. It may be best to come here before eating a large crepe, as trying on clothes with a full stomach is never much fun, and I’m sure you’ll want to try something on. From what I understand, this shop stocks local Melbourne designers. I bought a great navy blazer here, something I’d been looking for for a long time, but hadn’t managed to find the right combination of relaxed and tailored, smart and casual. It was half price as well, so only $75, but it’s original price of $150 was pretty reasonable, I thought, for a well-made classic piece. It’s chain store prices, but not everyone is going to have it.

Finally, I didn’t get to do this, but I guess you have to leave something for next time – Rooftop Cinema at the top of Curtin House. And Cookie Bar & Restaurant downstairs is meant to have excellent cocktails, so I’m told.

And just because this is a Melbourne-themed post, this is one of my favourite blogs at the moment, Lady Melbourne.


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You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair

I’m really into shocking red hair at the moment. There seems to be a few women around, particularly musicians, who are rocking some bright red hair. It seems to be a look that is equal parts delicate and strong, fragile and fierce.

Florence Welsh of Florence and the Machine. I’m also madly in love with her debut album, Lungs.

Alison Sudol, who records under the name A Fine Frenzy.

And while it’s not a new look for her, I’ve always loved Shirley Manson’s red hair.

It’s a look I’d love to have, in theory, but there are some things that put me off –

a) you would have to completely alter your wardrobe. I once dyed my hair black, and it kind of amazed me how it completely changed the clothes you could wear. When I ended up going back to my natural colour, I had to get rid of some of those ‘black hair’ clothes, as I no longer could wear such strong colours. This kind of bright red hair would be the same. There would be some colours that you look amazing in and really pop with the hair colour (like that turquoise in the A Fine Frenzy picture above), but there would be other colours that clash terribly.

b) it would be high on upkeep. To keep that really bright colour, I imagine you’d have to colour your hair fairly frequently. My hair is uncoloured, virgin hair at the moment. After the black hair, I got the colour stripped back to blonde, but it was never quite the same and was pretty damaged. I was trying to work out what colour to go next when my boyfriend at the time suggested a radical new idea – why not just have your natural colour? So I chopped my hair off into an ultra short Mia Farrow ‘do and grew it out (a painfully slow process).

While I can sometimes feel my hair’s a bit boring, because of the lack of colour or highlights, it’s definitely easier and cheaper. I only have to go to the hairdresser a couple of times a year, instead of every six weeks. And I just try to fool myself that it looks very French chic to have natural healthy hair.

c) I don’t think I have the skin for it. Red hair tends to look best paired with a milky white complexion and pretty perfect skin, with maybe just a smattering of freckles.

So I think I’ll just have to admire these ladies and their beautiful hair from afar.

Out of the ash

I rise with my red hair

And I eat men like air.

– from Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath


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Dress like Dita: lady in red

Well, the final day of dress like Dita, and I have to say that the night before, I was glad it was ending. I was having such a stressful time working out what to wear for the final day! I felt like I’d run out of options. I’d had my outfits sketchily planned in my head for most of the other days, but the final day, I didn’t have anything planned, and when I was trying some options on the night before, nothing felt right, and I didn’t want to end on something that felt like a token effort.

Finally I settled on an Anne Mardell dress that I wore to a friend’s wedding this year.

I had already decided that I’d do pin curls for the final day, so the night before I washed my hair and pinned them up. It was easier this time than the first time, and I felt more confident in knowing what way to pin them for the right effect. I just used a serum and some anti-frizz milk on my hair beforehand, which I think made them look nicer for just wearing them down.

Here’s how they turned out first thing when I took the pins out.

I wasn’t sure if I should brush them out or just loosen them with fingers a bit or just leave them. I guess the more I do them, the more I’ll become confident with how these various options turn out. I ended up just loosening the curl with my fingers a bit, which, looked like this.

When I got to work, I took the pin on my forehead out and also tucked the left side behind my ear, so it became more like a Veronica Lake style, which I really liked.

The morning yesterday was really stormy, so I decided against wearing the dress I had planned on, as it didn’t really work with a coat or tights. I then remembered a shirt that I had bought from the wardrobe sale at the television station I work for. I wanted something that would go with bold red lips, as I knew I wanted to try those today, and I figured the black would look good.

So I ended up wearing the pussybow blouse, which I think is maybe a TopShop one, or some sort of imitation of something Kate Moss has worn. It doesn’t have a label in it, so I’m not sure. I wore that with the charcoal denim Kingan Jones pencil skirt that I wore on Monday. The gold patterned belt is off a vintage dress I have since gotten rid of.

In these photos I’m wearing stockings with a suspender belt – so very Dita – with my peep-toes, but I ended up changing out of both of these before I left for work, as I was unsure if the suspender belt would be that comfortable for all day at work, and so I just wore my opaque tights instead. I paired them with the black patent Mary Janes from yesterday, as they were a more sensible option in the rain.

The rain and wind also had me concerned about how my hair would survive the walk to the bus stop, so I used the scarf that I had wrapped around my head at night to cover the pin curls. It was spur of the moment, but I actually really liked this. It felt very glamorous, and it really did the trick as well – the curls were fine when I arrived at work.

For my make-up I used MAC Studio Fix foundation in NW20, which is a pressed powder foundation. I think this really photographs the best out of all of them, and the more matte look was very Dita.

I had my eyes lined with Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in Graphite Shimmer. I used a cotton bud with make-up remover to remove some of it so that it was just a really thin line all around the eye.

On my lids I again have the LM eye basics in Linen and just a little of MAC Trax.

My blush is MAC matte in Mocha.

I curled my lashes with my Shu Uemura curler, put on Origins Underwear for Lashes primer and then the LM waterproof mascara.

I again filled in my brows with Benefit’s Brow Zings.

I also painted my nails in OPI Red after the photos were taken.

Finally, for the red lips, I first blended my foundation over my lip line, then lined my lips with a red pencil, trying to accentuate the cupid’s bow. With a lip brush, I painted MAC Lady Bug on and blotted with a tissue and then applied again a couple of times, touching up the edges with the pencil.

It surprised me how well the lips lasted. I was a bit worried the lipstick might bleed or feather, or that it would wear off really quickly, but it lasted all day. I only  reapplied once, after lunch, and even then it would have been fine if I didn’t.

And so that was the end! I was glad I could finish on a high note, after being stressed out the night before that I wouldn’t have anything to wear, I actually really like this outfit and the whole look. It’s one I would wear again. And I’m excited to have done the red lipstick – I would definitely wear that again.

Tomorrow I’ll sum up my thoughts about the whole project, and whether I’l be back to wearing my trainers and jeans next week…


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Dress like Dita: that’s right – I’m just crazy about Tiffany’s!

So, day four of dress like Dita and I decided to go for the classic little black dress, and used Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s as my inspiration.

My hair was still really big and had lots of product in it from doing the victory rolls. I had a quick trial run of the french roll beehive style above, and it seemed to go pretty well and was even relatively easy!

So of course when I got up in the morning to do it properly, it totally didn’t work. I had major trouble getting the french roll happening, as I obviously couldn’t see what I was doing. So my mum ended up helping me with that, but then I didn’t end up having enough hair left coming out of the French roll on the top to create a beehive out of.

But looking at this picture of Audrey, I realised her hair is actually a bit longer than mine.

So I ended up giving up on achieving the French roll beehive and figured I’d just got for a regular beehive instead, which was far easier. I tied my hair in a pony tail on the top of my head and teased the pony a bit and then pinned the front part of my hair over the top of the backcombing to make it look smooth. I then pinned my little tiara into the beehive and all done!

The dress I’m wearing is another LynnMall purchase from the random shop I got the blue dress from. I love the little crochet collar and puff sleeves. It’s a nice detail that stops the dress from being too boring, but it doesn’t make it too busy or overdone.

The black patent Mary Janes were 9 bucks from The Warehouse. I’d been looking around everywhere for a pair of plain black Mary Janes after the heel broke off a great vintage pair I had while out in town one night, resulting in me limping around town like a pirate and the boys I was with attempting to break the other heel off by smacking it on the bar. They were unsuccessful and my night ended soon after.

The handbag is Kate Spade, which along with a Kate Spade wallet was a 25th birthday present I bought for myself while visiting a friend in Hong Kong.

The tiara was bought in Big Bear Lake, California a few years ago, because one never knows when you might need to look like a princess.

The coat was bought from Max years ago.

Here’s a side profile of the beehive. I managed to get a bit of height going on. I actually really like the beehive as a hairstyle, but I do want to try it with a rat and see if it still looks good and is easy enough to do.

My make up was the same base as yesterday (the Prescriptives and LM mixed)

I tried to do a cat’s eye with Bobbi Brown gel liner in Graphite Shimmer.

My blush is Nars Orgasm. I lined the bottom of my eyes with MAC Beauty Marked eye shadow on an angle brush.

The eye shadow was LM eye basics again with MAC Seedy Pearl.

Lipstick is Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited in BG938 with MAC All Woman lipglass over top.

Sorry, I’ve got a bit of crazy eye syndrome happening in this photo, but it’s probably accurate! This dressing like Dita stuff is pretty hard. I was ready to chuck in the towel after today, as I couldn’t really work out anything to wear for day five that I was happy with.

Nothing seemed to fit right or feel right or felt like it was missing some important element. I think I’ve got something sorted for tomorrow, but am not entirely happy with it, but hopefully it will come together with hair (pin curls, if I ever get around washing my hair and setting them) and make up (I’m going to try a bold red lip. Eek!)

The whole experience has been helpful, though. I think it will be useful for rebuilding my wardrobe. It’s given me an idea of what I like to wear and what I don’t and where my wardrobe is lacking. And it’s also opened my eyes to the importance of accessories in building an outfit. While Coco Chanel may have said that you should take one thing off before you leave the house, and I agree that less is often more, the accessories that you do wear with an outfit can make or break it.


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Dress like Dita: V is for Victory

Well, day three of dress like Dita. I wanted to attempt victory rolls for my hairstyle, which I was a bit concerned about. Victory rolls were a really popular style in the 1940s. They were apparently given this name to celebrate the end of WWII.

The photo above (taken in Times Square at the V Day parade) has just reminded me that I really want to buy some seemed stockings, although not in white.

Anyway, I had watched this great YouTube tutorial on how to do victory rolls, which made it all seem very simple.

But the couple of times I’d attempted to do it, I found it quite tricky making the barrel curl so that you can see through it.

I had successfully washed my beehive out from yesterday, which proved easier than I thought to get rid of all the backcombing, and so decided to try doing pin curls so that I’d hopefully have a fallback option if the victory rolls didn’t work out.

This is my hair in pin curls. It was a first attempt, and I haven’t done them that neatly. I sprayed a bit of Redken curl enhancer on my wet hair and also put some hair putty on one side as well.

I then wrapped my hair in a scarf to sleep in, as apparently that keeps the curls neater and it’s also meant to make it more comfortable. I guess it worked, as I didn’t find it uncomfortable at all, but maybe that was because I’d stayed up so late watching Gossip Girl, so was pretty tired!

In the morning, after removing all the pins, the curl looked like this:

I was pretty pleased with how they turned out for a first-time effort. Although they felt a bit gross, I think because of the hair putty, and the curl spray had made some of them go a bit hard. I guess it’s just trial and error as to what product to use. I think you’re meant to use something called a setting lotion, but I don’t have any of that, so I guess I’ll just play around with various other products I have.

I tried brushing the curl out a bit as well, to soften it a bit, and it got so much volume!

The hair had gone a bit fluffy though, and because there was already so much product in it, I didn’t want to add anything else to make it less frizzy, so just decided it was a good chance to try the victory rolls, as my hair felt quite thick and like it would stay in an up do quite well.

I’d like to try the pin curls again, though. They seem like they’d be quite a nice easy option once you got the hang of how to do them. I found it hard to remember which way I was pinning them against my head, as they’re all meant to be facing the same direction, and if you do a row of one way and then a row of the other, that’s finger waves apparently. I’m learning so much!

Ideally I’d like to have Rita Hayworth curls like this.

But that might be a slightly unrealistic goal, given hairstyling is not my natural forte.

Because my hair was so thick and full of product, the victory rolls were actually not that difficult.

The style in the YouTube video was to have half of your hair down, but  after all the brushing out of the curls, it was looking a bit frazzled, so I decided to roll the back up.

This wasn’t that neatly done, but looked all right. It would be better if I had a hair sponge that you roll the hair around, but I guess that’s something I can invest in if I decide I want to continue this in any meaningful way.

My dress today was a floral 50s style sundress that I got from what I refer to as a $2 shop on K Road. The dress wasn’t $2 (it was $40) but the store just totally has a $2 shop vibe to it and has such a random assortment of stuff, most of it pretty fugly, but I saw this dress on the model in the window and ended up buying it.

I’d really like to get a crinoline petticoat to wear under it to poof it out. I found a cool one at Victorian Gilt, but I’m not sure whether I can really afford it at the moment. I’d like to just make one, but I have absolutely no sewing talent whatsoever.

I wore a purple cardigan that I got from Recycle Boutique with it, and purple slingbacks I got for the bargain price of $25 when in Singapore last year. The purple clutch is from my favourite vintage store in Christchurch, Tete a Tete. The woman who runs it (or did when I was there a couple of years ago now) is such a sweetie. And she would give you an old penny for luck when you bought a bag there. I ended up giving the penny to a friend for luck when he went travelling overseas.

Again I used the new green trench coat, as the weather is still not summery in Auckland. The diamante earrings from a vintage store from Kumeu that I got once on a trip to Muriwai Beach and the necklace was a birthday gift from a friend a few years ago.

For my make-up, I used the Laura Mercier foundation primer with Prescriptives Virtual Skin foundation (so sad this brand is being discontinued) in Real Cream mixed with a bit of Laura Mercier Illuminating Tinted Moisturiser in Bare Radiance.

My blush is Shu Uemura in Pink.

I used some Nars bronzer in Laguna.

On my eyes I’ve used LM eye basics in Linen, MAC eyeshadow in Crystal and Trax and LM metallic cream eyeshadow in Platinum. I lined my eyes with Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner in metallic brown.

My lipstick is MAC Sweet & Single (from their Barbie collection) with MAC lipglass in Oh Baby over top.

Oh, and I’ve also been filling my eyebrows in with Benefit’s Brow Zings in light.

I’m really pleased I managed to do the victory rolls, as it was the hairstyle I was most unsure that I could do, but I don’t know whether I’d wear it that often again, as it definitely felt the most costumey of my hairstyles this week, but it’s fun to play dress-up once in a while I guess.

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Dress like Dita: An Education


For day two of dress like Dita, I took inspiration from the film An Education, in particular the beehive style of Rosamund Pike, pictured above. The film has some gorgeous fashions, as well as great performances, so if you haven’t seen it, you should.

Trying to do a beehive was an education of sorts. I found it quite difficult, actually. I think it was maybe that I have a fear of backcombing. It just seems so… wrong. I felt like I was destroying my hair, so I think maybe I wasn’t as vigorous as I should have been, so I didn’t reach the heights of Rosamund’s beehive, but it did work out pretty well in the end, after a few goes. But it was a real workout on the arms!

The beehive definitely felt bigger and looked bigger in the mirror than it appears in photos. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m just not that used to big hair or if it’s a trick of the photo. But it felt a really glamorous style that I think I would do again, but instead of doing all the backcombing, I think I use the cheat’s version, where you use a ‘rat’ (some fake hair wrapped in a hair net) to get the volume and you just pin your own hair over it. It seems like it would be far less damaging.

I felt a bit of a ’50s prom vibe today, with the beehive and the dress with the little built in cape. The dress I got on the weekend from some random cheap shop in Lynn Mall. It’s the kind of place that has a lot of fugly stuff, but then the occasional gem, and all at a good price (this dress was $45 I think).

I’m wearing it with matching vintage snakeskin heels and clutch that I got from a vintage store in Nelson years ago.

I paired it with a Trelise Cooper coat I got from Encore, a designer recycle store in Ponsonby.

For my make-up today, I used the same base as yesterday, but went heavier with the eyeliner today. My blush was Tarte cheek stain in True Love. On my lips I’m wearing MAC lustre lipstick in Lady Bug, which I blotted to soften the colour and put some clear MAC lipglass on top. On my eyes I’m again wearing the Laura Mercier eye basics in Linen, with LM cream eyeshadow in Ecru Silk and metallic cream eye shadow in Gold.

I’m really enjoying the detailed dressing so far, although it does take a lot of time, but it’s mainly just the hair that takes time, which I would hopefully get better at. It seems so easy in the tutorials at YouTube, so maybe one day I’ll be able to whip my hair into a beehive in five minutes!

It totally makes me want to shop, particularly for accessories. I feel like I need pretty hair clips and gloves and I’d really like a 1940s style suit.

Anyway, I now need to go and try to brush all this backcombing out of my hair. My hair’s looking slightly flatter now, as I work with headphones on all day, so it created a bit of a dent in the hive, but the multitude of hairspray I used managed to keep it in relatively good condition all day. I never used to be into hairspray, but there is something to be said for walking outside into the wind and your hair not moving an inch.


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Dress like Dita: peachy keen

So today was my first day of attempting to dress up in a detailed vintage style. I got up pretty early this morning, and I thought I’d have time to do some exercise before I started getting ready, but then thought I should give myself time this morning, since it was my first try, and I’m glad I did!

What I’m wearing…

Vintage peach ruffle-neck silk blouse (I’m not sure if ruffle-neck is the official name of a shirt like this, but it will do)

I have a cameo brooch pinned to the ruffle, which went a bit wonky in the photos, but I’ve sorted it out now!

Kingan-Jones charcoal denim pencil skirt.

Fishnet stockings.

Second-hand Pulp peep-toe heels.

Vintage grey blazer (for wearing at work as the air conditioning is freezing).

Mint-green vintage coat (for wearing on the way to work in the rain).

vintage grey leather handbag

It surprised me how long it took to blow dry my hair and do the hair style, which was not complicated by any means. I’m sure it’s something that you’d get better at the more you do it. It has made a big difference, I think, from what my hair normally looks like. It just had more volume and the curl looked more defined and prettier. However, since I washed it, it was very soft, which made it hard to get much volume in the parts that I clipped up, but nevermind. I then used a ton of hair spray, as it’s raining outside and am slightly worried that the minute I step outside my hair will be ruined, but at least I have photographic evidence of it looking good at some point during the day!

My make-up, which you can barely see in the photo is

HissyFit Saving Face mositurising protecting sunscreen in Nude.

Bobbi Brown corrector under-eye concealer in Bisque.

Laura Mercier blush in Wild Bouquet.

Laura Mercier Eye Basics in Linen.

MAC Seedy Pearl as highlighter and Shale in the crease.

I tight-lined my eyes with Laura Mercier eye liner in Bleu Marine

Curled lashes with Shu Uemura curler.

Laura Mercier waterproof mascara (I really don’t like this, but am using it up)

On my lips I’m wearing MAC lustre lipstick in Embraceable with some DiorKiss lip gloss Sorbet Meringue on top.

Day one has been fun so far. Someone at work said I had Casablanca hair, which is like the best compliment ever! It definitely helped sorting out what I was going to wear the night before. I have no idea what I’m going to try with my hair tomorrow. Maybe a victory roll if i can manage it, but we’ll see…


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