Wednesday, November 18, 2015


It was most definitely a situation where less was less, and not more. I had been perusing images of some of the most famous women in the world, so famous in fact that their surnames are superfluous. J-Lo, Beyoncé, Kim, Kendall, etc. Their fashion choices were dominated by what I call the three S’s, Slit-Sheer-and Slashed…and I could throw in transparent as an afterthought. It’s difficult to define what’s attractive these days, but completely see-through glittering gowns, no matter how much Swarovski and labour intensive hand stitching they can boast, lack a vital component…allure.

Yes good old fashioned allure. Described in dictionaries as the power to attract, entice or tempt, allure is a gift that is inherent in nearly every women I know, but not every woman knows that she possesses it.

Being a vintage gal, I am of course slightly bias, and when skin becomes the main component of an outfit, I do have to raise a perfectly pencilled eyebrow. In my own world (and business) I live among a beautiful collection of hand-picked garments from various eras.

Eras when women had to rely more upon their own personal graces and allure to emphasise and enhance their physical beauty, and clothing choices, rather than dare to bare practically all, in order to garner much needed multi-media attention…maybe it’s a sign of the times…maybe success is proportionately defined by how little a high-profile celebrity is wearing, and how “present” she is on multi-media. Yes Beyoncé and J-Lo might barely cover their nether regions, while there’s a frantic paparazzi scramble to catch the most eye popping photo, which almost instantly boosts their popularity and bank balances …but are they alluring, timeless, will they endure?

Within this milieu of celebrity I have so many questions. Is a provocatively pumped up derriere truly the height of fashion? Have bare breasted Goddesses really got it covered? And are swathes of skin now setting the tone? I’m tempted to say no.

For example, we all understand the benefits and advantages of a revealing décolleté, let’s not be overly modest. I’m rather fond of my “ample charms” in a “Hello Boys” sort of way, but there’s an invisible line with low cut dresses where “Hello Boys” can quickly become “How ya Lads.” My point being, that I’m not exempt from the unwritten rules of chic which govern the items I put on. Oh yes, nothing is more glorious than confidence, it’s the ultimate fashion accessory, but it still requires a certain amount of discernment.

What a woman wears these days is heavily influenced by what she sees, and multi-media images have both saturated and sub-consciously programmed (most of) us. I myself, recently at home, tried on a very sheer, black organza, full length, sheath dress; thinking myself the height of fashion. Until I walked in my heels that is, and everything jiggled, in a “Shakira meets Jabba the Hut” sort of way. I took refuge in the bathroom thanking God and the Baby Jesus, that not a soul had seen me. So why had I been tempted?

In our multi-media world, where every single detail of our lives becomes instantly visible, where our need to profess to our chosen audience or circle of friends, our ups, downs, likes and dislikes, where our clothing choices are influenced by the three S’s, and our “first date” has already checked us out on Facebook, I can’t help but wonder…is baring all the desirable bottom line? And… are we revealing too much?

So this brings me back to allure, and for me that has more to do with the art of covering myself as beautifully as I can, without kiss and tell sartorial tactics, it’s where I feel most comfortable and confident. It creates a certain kind of mystery, and the women I dress on a daily basis in this particular way, truly find within themselves a feminine power, a charisma, a belief in their own beauty and ultimately an enhancement of their own emotional expressiveness. Vintage is almost without peer in this arena. Vintage clothing has its stories, because it has a past, and it genuinely imparts something of this mystery and glamour to the wearer.

And as for the power of “mystery”, I would often chat with my happily married and financially solvent Grandmother about her youth. She was a great and sought after beauty in her day, who created her own wardrobe on a shoe string budget, much to the bafflement of the inquisitive local community, who wondered how she managed to be so chic on so little, and whose interest in her piqued every time she appeared in a stunningly co-ordinated outfit. She would have no doubt (though not necessarily by her own choosing) swept the multi-media boards had she been born into this time.

“So what was the secret to your popularity?” I asked her one afternoon, after looking through a pile of her old photos that would have suggested she was living far beyond her means while being courted and surrounded by some very handsome and well to-do men…“Agnes” she sagely replied, “I just kept them guessing." 

Photography by Matthew Reilly

Edited by Roland Thackaberry


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