Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The ultimate Frocktober survival guide

It's almost Frocktober! That’s right – it’s time to dig deep into the wardrobe, and wear a dress every day throughout October to help raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer. Right now, ovarian cancer has no early detection test. It’s our mission to change that, while being fabulous at the same time! This year’s Frocktober theme is Every Frock Has a Story, so I’m looking forward to sharing lots of frocks and stories along the way.

I took part in Frocktober for the first time last year, but before that, I sponsored the frock efforts of friends like Inala from Saw Thought Wore and Paula-Jane of Powderpuff Boutique. Before taking the plunge myself, I consulted the ladies for their Frocktober advice… So read on for expert Frocktober survival tips, plus my five most-liked dresses, as voted by the people of Instagram!

Hawaiian dress & matching shirt: Ebay   Husband: Unenthusiastic

Get ready for a challenge.
Before doing Frocktober, I thought the hardest part was going to be finding enough dresses. It’s not. The biggest challenge is keeping up with the daily outfit photos! I usually work in offices with a bunch of guys, so it can be tough to find a victim to take my photo every single day. But the photos are a very important part of Frocktober, so I just had to make a nuisance of myself and get it done. You don’t want to be the person who gets caught short and then has to fake a few days’ worth of frock posts on the same day… People can tell!

80s jersey dress & silk scarf: op shop. Turban: Round she goes vintage fair

Get organised.
Before October starts, you need to delve into the wardrobe and check out what you’ve got to work with. It’s a great chance to rediscover some lost treasures and catch up on the mending pile! Once you’ve checked the lay of the land, it helps to create some kind of system. My friend Inala took things to a whole new level by doing a spreadsheet, allocating a specific frock for each day in October. My system wasn’t quite that advanced, but it was still pretty nerdy.

I took a quick snapshot of each of my dresses, then turned them into a Frocktober album on my iPad. I then arranged the photos in order from the hottest weather dresses to the coldest. So in the mornings, I’d check the weather on my iPad, then browse through the dresses most appropriate for the conditions. This system totally worked for me, and I plan to do it again this year.

1950s striped cotton dress: Etsy

Stock up on layering pieces.
Melbourne’s weather in October is always a mixed bag, and last year it was colder than average. I didn’t have enough cool weather dresses to get me through, so I had to get creative with boatneck tops underneath, then cardigans over the top. I also wore a lot of boots and opaque tights with low-cut sports socks underneath. Nobody can tell you’re wearing socks, and your feet stay toasty warm!

This year’s hot tip is Razzamatazz fleece-lined tights. They have the look of opaque tights, and the feel of tracksuit pants! If that’s not enough to make you rush to the supermarket to buy some, they’re also great to wear with shoes that rub on your feet. No more blisters with Razzamatazz on the case.

Halter dress: Atomic Blonde Vintage. Shoes: Betsey Johnson

Use your social media.
Chances are, most of your sponsors will also be your Facebook friends. They’re going to want to see your frocks every day, so be sure to post pics! If you can, you should also include your sponsorship link every day. You may feel like you’re repeating yourself, but people get busy and appreciate not having to dig for the link when they finally get a chance to visit your page. On Instagram, make sure you use the #Frocktober hashtag so your fellow frock wearers and potential sponsors can find you.

Vintage burlesque gown: Ebay

These are the most common questions people ask me, and the organisers of Frocktober!

Q: Do skirts count?
According to the Frocktober organisers, the answer is no. Since we’re all friends here, I’ll confess I slightly bent those rules once or twice by wearing vintage skirt and top sets made from the same fabric. They look like a frock when they’re on, but they’re actually not. I am not normally so rebellious, but I was running very short of options, since it was pretty cold last year.

Q: What if you have an unscheduled day off?
That’s okay… Things happen! Last year, I had a shocking migraine halfway into Frocktober, and there was no way I was getting out of bed to put on a frock, let alone pose for a photo. I decided to post a pic of the dress I wished I was wearing (see the red gown above) and it turned out to be one of my most popular photos.

Q: I can't take part, but is there still some way I can help?
Yes! You could host a fundraising event like a ladies’ afternoon tea at home or a Frocktober Friday in your workplace. I organised one in the office a couple of years ago, and it was so fun! We had an impromptu fashion parade, and our CEO awarded bottles of champagne for the best frocks of the day. Good times!

And of course, the best way to take part is to sponsor someone! My goal this year is $1000... Can you help me get there?


Monday, 8 September 2014

Vintage impulse buys and how to resist them

So you’ve just fallen madly in love with a dress you met online. It’s gorgeous! You love it! You might have to buy it, but you’re not sure!

You’d like some time to think about it, but it’s a buy it now, and there’s not a moment to lose. As you speed-read through the description, you imagine there’s someone else on the other side of the world doing exactly the same. Only they’re one step ahead of you, and any second, that dress you’re pretty sure you might want will be theirs forever.

It’s hard to think straight under these conditions… But these days, a huge part of vintage buying is impulse buying. And sadly, the usual shopping rules don’t apply to vintage. Questions like “Does it fit?” and “Can I afford it right now?” aren’t always applicable when something amazing comes up. This may be your only chance! 

So how do you turn impulse buying into smart shopping? Here’s some creative ways to test your true feelings before pushing the button.

This is a great way to figure out your feelings pretty quickly. Imagine you’re at a party, and another girl walks in wearing the outfit. It helps to imagine this other girl is maybe someone you don’t like very much. So how do you feel? Are you sick with remorse and a tiny bit of jealousy? Or do you feel smug because you know they paid too much? Either way, the ‘imaginary party’ can be a useful exercise. 

Sure, that outfit looks amazing when it’s beautifully pressed on a mannequin, but it’s not going to look like that all the time. Imagine it all wrinkled and draped over a chair in your bedroom. Or think about trying to stuff it into an already overstuffed closet. It's enough to make any vintage lover think twice.

Just like old cars, vintage clothing needs maintenance too. At some point, hems come down, buttons fall off and holes need fixing… Do you love the outfit enough put the time in when these issues arise?

Before you jump on that beautiful cocktail dress, take a second to think about what you already have stashed away in the vault. If you’ve already got ten other show-stopping cocktail dresses, you’ll probably never get around to wearing another one. (Unless you get invited to a large number of cocktail parties, in which case, let’s be friends.)

When you enjoy wearing (not just collecting) vintage, it’s best to save your money for outfits you’ll actually wear. I know it’s hard. Here’s a list of outfits I love, but force myself to resist:
  • Beautiful loungewear that’s so expensive, you’d be scared to wear it.
  • Fancy daywear only appropriate for attending horse racing events.
  • Designer wool coats that are impractical for Australian conditions.

Add up the cost of the item plus shipping. If it was in front of you in a real store, would you think it was a good deal? 

If you really can’t decide, then try the one-hour test. Step away from the computer and do something else. If you can’t stop thinking about the outfit, you’ll know you’re really in love. And if the listing is still there when you get back, you’ll know it was meant to be.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Vintage cocktails at The Everleigh

Last Saturday was ladies night, with some good old-fashioned cocktails at The Everleigh. I'd never been there before, but I'd heard it's pretty fancy, so I decided to wear a black lurex dress and some new rhinestone accessories I've been working on. I like to test all my prototypes before going into production... I'm thinking about doing these harlequin mask sets in time for Christmas!

Lurex dress from Crashtheparty1956 on etsy, accessories coming soon to Forbidden Charm
A sneak preview of the rhinestone harlequin mask sets
I hope we're not underdressed
The Everleigh is a cocktail experience unlike anything else in Melbourne. The surroundings are dark, luxurious and intimate, with leather booths and limited seating at the bar. The booths accommodate no more than six people, so it's the perfect place to meet for some quality conversation with friends, or a romantic date for two.

When we first sat down, we were surprised that the menu was quite small... But that's because the choice of cocktails is so vast, it would be impossible to collate. The menu is more like a 'specials board' and the real fun starts when your server approaches the table. All you need to do is tell them what you feel like, and straight away they'll come back with thoughtful, yet creative suggestions.

"I feel like something refreshing, kind of like a Mojito."

"Okay, do you like cucumber or ginger?"


"All right - how about this drink that comes with this amazing thing and these other delicious things and some freshly ground ginger?"

"Sounds great!"

Then your drink comes out, and it's perfect. It's exactly what you never knew you wanted.

The only hard thing about cocktails at the Everleigh is knowing when to stop!


All outfits from Ebay & Etsy / Cocktails by The Everleigh