Thursday, July 9, 2015

A to Z: Aussie Fashion

A is for Alice McCall

Or as I refer to the otherworldly label “Alice in Wonderland.” Of course Alice was never particularly fashionable with her blue dress and white pinafore, but I like to think if she had launched her own fantasy-driven fashion label, it would very much be like Alice McCall. This retailer makes use of sequins, pastels, lace, psychedelic prints, whimsical embroidery, and quirky silhouettes. It’s the stuff dreams and hallucinogenic drug trips are made of. Speaking of which –beware when walking into an Alice McCall store front. You may begin to feel channeled by your inner little girl that grew up all of a sudden and started wearing straight leg trousers and discriminating against the excessive use of pink. Visits not recommended for those currently experiencing a quarter-life crisis.

B is for Bikini

Over 80% of Australia’s population lives within 50km of the coast making beachwear a staple and bikinis a collector’s item. With all the time Aussies invest in their tans and water sports, owning a variety of swimming togs is essential. Seafolly, JETS, and Zimmerman Swim are some of the top Aussie brand names competing for each beach goers dollar. For paddle boarding, snorkeling, and underwater rugby, athletic swimwear can be picked up from a retailer like Surfection. Or you can save a few bucks and wear your birthday suit!


C is for Camilla Kaftans

There appears to be somewhat of a Gen Y/Z cult following for Camilla kaftans in Sydney by girls who can’t afford them. I know they can’t because they only ever Instagram themselves wearing them in change rooms. I respect this for several reasons. 1. It shows an attempt to live within your means in a satirically expensive city. 2. Spending time dreaming and yearning for luxury items can be very motivating. 3. If you can literally throw yourself into the abyss of temptation that is a designer store changeroom, and leave empty handed, then you are diabolically strong willed and probably not even human. The women that I actually see wearing these kaftans are usually a confusing combination of Donatella Versace and Melissa McCarthy. They are pretty rad though. Oprah owns one.

D is for David Jones

Canada has Holt Renfrew, the U.S. has Bloomingdales, the UK has Harrods, and Australia has David Jones. This is your one-stop shop for the finer consumer goods in life, including top Australian and international designer labels. Not only will you find the latest collection from Carla Zampatti (the Australian Donatella Versace), you’ll also find a collection of more affordable Aussie labels, such as Witchery, Seed Heritage, and Tigerlily. On top of offering the usual upscale department store experience, including a pianist on the weekends and beautiful window merchandising, David Jones hosts a variety of runway shows and fashion events hosted by the local glitterati and household names like Heidi Klum and Nicole Richie.

E is for Elle Ferguson

Elle is one of Australia’s top fashion bloggers with over 500,000 followers on Instagram. Unlike most fashion bloggers, Elle does not post a great variety of outfits. Instead she sports the same beachy look over and over again: long blonde waves, a crisp white button up (unbuttoned to reveal her navel), and teeny tiny jean shorts with an unfinished hem and sexy heels. Sometimes she’ll throw on a light cotton romper or a pair of jeans that have been ripped to shreds just to mix things up. Her followers don’t seem to be bothered much by the redundancy –rather they whole-heartedly welcome her edgy beach bum uniform. Her celebrity is a testament to Australia’s beach culture and penchant for leggy, tanned blondes.

F is for Flashes of Skin

Your epidermis is showing! Aussies have taken this primary school joke to the extreme. No rib, no back, no waist, and no side is to be left covered! If there is skin concealed somewhere on your body, there is further fabric that can be cut out and eliminated from the clothing equation. Skin surface area must be maximized and nothing will stand in an Aussie designer’s way of proving to us just how creative they can be in upping their flash game.

Sisters Alexandra and Genevieve Smart
G is for Ginger & Smart

Celebrity culture is full of power couples: Brangelina, Beyonce and Jay-Z, the Beckhams, Kimye, etc…Australian designers have taken a cue, and many of the most successful labels down under are fierce partnerships. Ginger & Smart was founded by sisters Alexandra and Genevieve Smart. Alexandra was an editor and publisher for lifestyle magazines and Genevieve a designer. Together they launched a very smart, seductive, and glamorous lifestyle fashion brand. Everything is very feminine while still communicating intelligence and strength, which is a difficult feat. There are a handful of Aussie designers that appear to define signature Australian women’s fashion, and I believe Ginger & Smart is one of them.

H is for Heels

First you were lied to about Santa Claus and then about the Tooth Fairy. Now I’m here to tell you that no one in Australia wears Uggs. I’m not sure what the purpose was behind that grand lie, but now the wool has been lifted from your eyes and the ignorance stripped from your soul. Uggs are only sold at tourist hot spots, and they’re not even sold by the locals! The shoe-carriers are usually shops run by retail-savvy immigrants. And here you thought you were buying a little piece of Australian culture! You would have been better off heading to the closest Westfield Shopping Center and purchasing a chunky wedge or a strappy stiletto. Even in the countryside you’ll never come across an Aussie wearing Uggs. They’re simply too hot (and too Ugg-ly). Sorry to disappoint.

Lorna Jane Active Wear

I is for Bondiiiiii

Bondi isn’t even a city. It is merely a suburb in all of Australia, but it deserves its own mention, because it is, in essence, its own little universe. There are two things that shape Bondi fashion: 1. Everyone in Bondi spends most of their free time at the gym or 2. at the beach –these two past times are definitely related. If you weren’t at the beach all day, you wouldn’t need to go to the gym, but alas you live in Bondi and obviously care a great deal about the beach because it is damn expensive to exist in Bondi. Rent in a dumpy share house of 4+ usually starts around $1,000/month. So what do Bondians (Bondaloos?) wear? Athletic wear. They wear it to brekky, shopping, walking around, running along the coast, and last, but not least, to the gym. Lorna Jane is the Lululemon of Australian Athletic wear. For more on Bondi culture, check out social satirist The Bondi Wanker.

J is for Jean Shorts

Learn it. Live it. Love it.

K is for Karen Walker Sunglasses

I just read on Wikipedia that Karen is actually a Kiwi and not an Aussie, but same mother, different father, right? Also, now that I’ve Googled her a bit, I’m a fan so I have to write about her. This woman started her empire with just $100 NZ and now her collections are sold all over the world in cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, and New York. Talk about inspirational. I genuinely love her sunglasses though. They resonate with my quirky soul and also Lady Gaga wears them (I love Lady Gaga). And check out these cool descriptions people assign to her aesthetic: “high casual” and “where chic meets eccentric” and “anti-it-girl.” She cites Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall as her inspirational muses. I officially have a girl crush you guys.  

L is for Legs

If you’re not wearing the shortest skirt/dress/shorts of your entire damn life, then your legs are peeking-and-booing out of a slit, or two, or three (?!) that go all the way up to your cash in prizes. Just look in the mirror and ask yourself: "Self, can I possibly show more leg?" The answer is, yes. 

Fashion by Zimmerman
M is for Midriff

Look, if you’re going to live in Australia you’re going to need to hit the gym, because showing your midriff is no different than showing a bit of cleavage or some leg. It’s just another flashing of skin like any other. They are all equal here. So if you still think your belly button is some form of teenage rebellion, you’re going to need to repress those tender adolescent memories of your folks expressing their disapproval. It’s not even considered a little bit risqué over here.

N is for Nicole Kidman

The Aussies don’t have very many A-List celebrities, or in fact, very many celebrities at all to claim over here, so the ones they do have they cherish fervently. You may believe that Kylie Minogue has no more relevance than alchemy at this point, but the Aussies will tell you differently. In fact, Kylie has never been hotter. While Kylie Minogue demonstrates Australia’s cheekier side of fashion, Nicole presents its more refined side (yes, there’s a refined side –it comes before the drinking side).

O is for Open Toed Booties

With all the sunny weather down here, it’s simply ill advised to stock up on too many closed toe shoes. Plus, toes are fleshy and another form of cleavage that can be put on display and as previously mentioned: showing skin is a must.

Aussie Erin Holland
P is for Princess

Please don’t get mad at me. I am only quoting the locals here, but apparently Sydney girls are “princesses.” I couldn’t tell you personally because no one will be my friend here (my friends are all expats). What do we know about princesses though? We know they look damn good *cough* Kate Middleton *cough*. I’m pretty sure that aside from carrying a pregnancy to term, looking good is the only professional duty a princess has. With that said: Sydney women look fantastic. They look like it’s their job to look good. And so should you. We should all aspire to look our best so cheers to Sydney women.

Q is for Quit

As in I quit trying to think of something fashion-related that starts with the letter Q. You know what starts with the letter Q? “Quone.”

Race Day Fashion

Australia enjoys a wide range of sports entertainment, and one of those sports happens to be one that brings together both the thrill of gambling and the thrill of finding the perfect fascinator: horse racing. There is nothing more decadent, more posh, more enchanting, more upper crust, more fancy-schmancy, than attending a horse race. Every man is in his finest wool suit, and every woman in a full polished look, all planned well in advance, and including, of course, a fascinator. Any hat instantly adds a touch of sophistication to any outfit, and any fascinator instantly adds a touch of costumery. Therefore fascinators can only be exercised at designated occasions because costumery always has a time and place, unless you’re Lady Gaga.

S is for Sass & Bide

Australia’s main designer export Sass & Bide, has been hitting New York Fashion Week for years now. They are one of the very few that do. It’s not easy integrating with the rest of the fashion world in Oz. Not only is the continent a logistical nightmare being isolated from the rest of the world, it’s also always out of season –literally! Australia’s summer takes place in the months November through February and its winter during May through August. But Sass & Bide finds a way to make it work through its expertise on a garment that can take you all the way from spring to fall: jeans.

T is for Talulah
Not to be confused with Aritzia’s label Talula (no H), this is yet another wonderfully playful, feminine, sexy and fun Australian label. How is it different from the rest? I don’t know to be honest, but it had this beautiful crop top, full-skirt combo with bold purple flowerprint last year that I fell in love with. But alas I did not have $400 nor the abs for it so we could never be. About 6 years ago I went to a Nordstrom in Seattle and there was a Sales Associate wearing a purple satin dress that I tried on and loved, yet for strange reasons unbeknownst to me passed on. Purple attire haunts me.

U is for underwear

With dresses that have necklines plunging inches below your chest, and sheer garments that bare it all, Australia only has you covered when it comes to lingerie. Oh, the irony!

V is for Vinnies 

After spending your life savings on a bottle of mascara or even a bottle of water, Vinnies has got your back for all your budget friendly consignment shopping needs! You can also feel good about your purchases here as it is a charity and all funds go to those in need. Just think of it as the Australian equivalent of The Salvation Army.

W is for White

Not for the faint at heart, white is considered a dangerous colour in most parts of the world. Susceptible to many stains from the daily perils of life, most of us shy away from the unforgiving shade. Not only is white a staple in Aussie wardrobes, but it is worn in bold monochromatic ensembles frequently. White-on-white is the preferred way to go. Go big or go home!

X is for seXy

You may have spotted a trend at this point: the Aussies are a sexy, come-hither bunch.  Along with their personalities and fun-loving lifestyles, they are not a subtle bunch when it comes to fashion either. There’s no missing a single gal on a night on the town in Oz. You’ll see all her best assets on display and possibly even more than you bargained for (indecent exposure is not an uncommon occurrence after lock-out). Leaving things to the imagination is just not a good strategy here. There are simply too many sexy ladies out and about not to try and stand out. It would be akin to being the packaged candy at a candy store in a bulk bin amongst oodles of unpackaged candies. Sure you may be spectacular underneath all that wrapping, but just look at all those yummy gummy bears and jelly beans flaunting themselves! Modesty is no virtue here.

Australian Fashion Blogger Gary Pepper Girl
Y is for Yellow (and Orange, Blue, Purple, Pink, and Green!)

Aussies wear color like it’s going out of style. In fact, one of the easiest ways to spot tourists (especially Germans), is by a lack of bright vibrant color in their wardrobe. In a beautiful, sunny, and fun country like Australia, it is downright drab to wear a bunch of black or grey. Don’t do it. You’ll depress the locals!

Z is for Zimmerman

Sometimes a girl just wants to feel extremely wealthy. There’s only a few means to achieve this end. 1) Actually be extremely wealthy. 2) Go for a Mani-Pedi at a high-end salon. 3) Wear expensive stuff. You often hear or read about how your appearance influences the perception of others, but rarely does the other side of the equation get touched upon. But we know from our own experience that dressing well makes us feel good, especially if we get compliments. We also know from studies that we are more apt to take on certain roles and tasks depending on our wardrobe. For example, if you wear a white lab coat that you think belongs to a doctor, your ability to pay attention increases sharply. So what I’m saying is buy something fabulous from Zimmerman and you will feel rich as @#%$, especially if you don’t bankrupt yourself because you bought it at the outlet in Roseberry.

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