Stanthorpe weekend.

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Winter weekends away are up there with my favourite things to do. My family has had a ‘Christmas in July’ tradition for the past couple of years, where we explore different Queensland locations, but this year it was ‘Christmas in August’ at Stanthorpe. Stanthorpe is a beautiful town in the Granite Belt, about 220km south-west of Brisbane, known for its cool climate produce like apples and grapes (and therefore wine). It’s a gorgeous rural location and the perfect place to take a wine tour, explore antique shops and settle in to a more relaxing pace.

Given that Stayz came through for us with our Eumundi accommodation, we tried it out again for Stanthorpe and it did not disappoint. We booked the delightful Maison De Meres for two nights, which slept up to 8 people very, very comfortably. It had everything you would want from a winter getaway – large verandas, a log fire, private bedroom suites and beautiful decor.

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We left Brisbane at about 11am on Friday and made the three hour drive to our new weekend home. It was so easy to settle in, explore the property, chop some fire wood and light the fire before the cool afternoon breezes came in. It was enough to make anyone second guess their city lifestyle.

IMG_1736 L100672420130804-162408.jpg20130804-162341.jpgAfter our first night of shinanigans at the homestead, we set off on Saturday morning to explore the main street. Stanthorpe may not have the grandeur of close-by Warwick, but it had its own quaint and welcoming feel that you couldn’t help but enjoy. I loved the little creek/ stream running through town and judging by the number of people out walking their dogs, feeding the ducks and picnicking along its banks, so do the locals.IMG_1744

I would recommend the High St Salvation Army store for its incredible bargins and lovely, country op shop vibe. I picked up two day dresses and a skirt for the grand total of $8. You can’t do that in Brisbane anymore. It was the perfect way to spend a few hours before a wine tour in the afternoon.

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My $2 dress

The antique store on the way into town from Brisbane was also fantastic, we stopped there on the way home. Prices were reasonable and you could tell the lovely woman working there really cared about what she was doing. The only thing I would note was that a lot of the other places were closed on Sunday, so if you’re planning a real treasure hunt, best to start on Saturday to make the most of the many other stores.

I picked up an absolute treasure of a 1950s hat made in Paris, for $30. I hardly ever find vintage headwear that fits my big head, so I was chuffed to take this beauty home.20130804-162251.jpg

Have you been to Stanthorpe? Let me know what you thought, I’d love to swap stories. I’ll post a review of our wine tour with Filippos tomorrow.

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ceil chapman was one stylish broad.

Weddings are some of my favorite events – celebrating the love of two people, surrounded by dapper men, pretty frocks and champagne to boot. I’ve got a couple coming up and have found some lovely vintage dresses to wear, all from Etsy and all reasonably priced. Along the way I stumbled across a spectacular American designer who worked in New York from the 40s to the 60s. Obviously those more in the know than I have already heard of Ceil Chapman, but I am only just becoming familiar with this classic fashionista. Her dresses fetch up to $6000 these days and are definitely out of my price range but hey, a girl can dream.

Apparently Chapman was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite designer and after seeing some of her designs, it’s not hard to see why. She used decadent fabrics (lots of silk and lace) and was an absolute master of draping. Her creations truly showed off the feminine form without being too revealing.

Here are some of my favorite pieces available now on Etsy.il_fullxfull_344182224($588, the perfect LBD)

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($1,344, such gorgeous ruching)

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(I’m a sucker for beautiful red dresses like this one, $2,600)

il_fullxfull_412643551_oxyv(This navy dress is a dream of silk and floral, $445)

hoarding vs purging.

vintage dress for saleAre you a hoarder or a purger? Do you save every last thing you ever wore – fat clothes and skinny clothes, expensive impulse purchases and ill-fitting trend items? Birthday cards from every year, receipts for items that are long since lost or broken, boxes (so many boxes) and hand-me-down trinkets. Or are you more like me – sending bags to op shops every six months ago, after another sudden urge to ruthlessly ‘clear out’.

I must admit there’s been times when I’ve thought ‘where is that lovely dress I bought from that place that time?’ and then realised I’ve thrown it out. So there is definitely a downside to purging. But mostly it’s pretty amazing.

I’m clearing out my closet in an attempt to keep things simple and make room for the beautiful things I am yet to purchase. If you like vintage clothes, please check out our Etsy shop for some lovely bits and bobs, including a wedding dress I bought but didn’t end up wearing.

the great gatsby experience.

The Great GatsbyFrannie and I booked our tickets to a special Gold Class preview screening of The Great Gatsby weeks ago, so it was pretty exciting when the day finally arrived. You could say we’ve been counting down since the Baz Luhrmann remake was first announced about two years ago, so we had to make it something special. With some careful orchestrating, we were both able to leave work at 5pm on the dot and made it to the cinema in time for a glass of champagne and some festivities before the show started.champagneThe Gold Class screening we attended was part of Event Cinemas Chicks at the Flicks evenings. It’s a fantastic girls night out for movie lovers and really makes an occasion of heading to the cinemas. Especially for a movie you’ve been anticipating so excitedly –  it fit perfectly with our plans. We’re not really organised activity enthusiasts, but it was great to see people dressed in 20s inspired clothes and for local businesses to promote themselves. They set up stalls and had samplers in the gift bags that were left on our seats. There was a photobooth, manicure stand and even a place to get your hair done and each different event is tailored to suit the genre/theme of the movie being screened.

carey mulligan in prada gatsbyBut more importantly, the film.

Gatsby was by no means perfect, but I’m a little frustrated with some of the first reviews so this is my rebuttal. The classic American novel on which the film is based revels in its subtlety and imagery, and subtle is the last word you would use to describe Baz Luhrmann’s interpretation. But the story has been adapted a number of times before, so this film had to offer something different. I thought it achieved, and even excelled at that.

The modern, urban soundtrack was genius – it provided juxtaposition so sharp that the tracks by Florence + the Machine, Jay Z and Lana Del Ray actually seemed perfectly placed. The whole film was a visual spectacle so beautiful it really deserves to be seen on a big screen. Prada costumes, Tiffany’s jewellery, New York City – what is not to love? The party scenes were mesmerizing and I thought they perfectly captured the opulence and frivolity of the time. Australian actress Elizabeth Debicki was incredible as Jordan Baker and got comparatively more screen time than I thought the character was given in the novel.

But as I said, the film was not perfect, and some of the things that annoyed me at the start grew quite grating after more than two hours. Firstly, subtlety may have gone out the window, but the overuse of integral motifs such as the green light and Dr TJ Eckleburg’s watching eyes were shoved so far down our throats it became almost unbearable. One of the things I hate most about cinema-going is when the director thinks the audience is not smart enough to figure something out themselves, so they repeatedly allude to it, to the point of exhaustion. Oh and if Leo said ”old sport” one more time I might have thrown something at the screen.

I was also suspicious of what actually happened to Isla Fisher. Was she terrible in the role of Myrtle? Because her part was cut down to about two minutes screen time and it was such a waste. I love the character in the book – she is this tragic, desperate, lonely, selfish soul and her death is a pivotal plot point. In the film, I didn’t even care. We needed to connect to her before we could care about losing her.

Overall it was a fabulous spectacle and Luhrmann really gave it everything he had. Who are we to expect any more than that?

Carey Mulligan headpiece GatsbyPrada designs GatsbyThoughts from Frannie.

When Daisy tells Gatsby his lifestyle was dreamed to existence from his “perfect, irresistible imagination”, my immediate thought was of Baz Luhrmann. What an enviable and vivid imagination that man has. While it has its critics, I believe that Luhrmann has created a film that both honors and reinvigorates the story of the classic novel on which it is based. Certain subtleties that lie behind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original words may not have been presented in exactly the way that I interpreted them but that is always the danger in a remake or book to movie project and in my opinion is not a failing of this film.

Surrounded by a dream team of actors (Leonardo DiCaprio is perfection as Gatsby), Luhrmann has been able to bring to life the romance, colours and music of the surreal 1920s world of his mind’s eye. The costumes are incredible and the soundtrack of modern and sharp music is a triumph in its own right. Luhrmann often incorporates elements that contemporise his films adding relevance for younger audiences and in this case (also in Romeo + Juliet) sparking their interest in classic literature.

The story is a heartbreaking, hopeful yet hopeless one. The central characters are flawed, vulnerable, selfish and frustrating, hiding behind the airs and graces of social acceptance and demonstrating the struggle for balance between rich and poor, right and wrong. I don’t even particularly like Tobey Maguire as an actor but he did an incredible job as Nick Carraway, the narrator of this tragic tale of obsession. Luhrmann’s unmistakable style of direction is unapologetically bold and I guess you are either a fan or you aren’t. I’m a huge fan of his and now I’m a huge fan of this movie.

vintage shopping tips.

When I first began op shopping some of the things I bought and subsequently wore in public were pretty disastrous. I would see polka dots or a cute floral pattern and without a second thought it would be mine. I bought clothes that were too big, I picked items regardless of holes or discolouration, I wore hideously shaped dresses because I liked the collar and in general I was not picky enough. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt the importance of quality fabric, good condition and a great fit.

I still love trawling through the racks and stands of op shops and markets around Brisbane when I get the chance, but now my checklist reads like this:

  1. Is it in good condition? (no holes, stains or pulls)
  2. Is the fabric breathable and comfortable? (I have way too many sweaty synthetic dresses as it is and definitely don’t need another)
  3. Does it fit, or if not, does it have the potential to be well-fitted and flattering?

I have friends with killer legs that look fabulous in 1960s shifts and others with a boho style that suits 1970s crops and kaftans perfectly. But for my shape I know 1950s dresses suit me best. The style of that era is demure and feminine, usually with a nipped-in waist and a bigger skirt. Knowing what works and doesn’t work on your own body is so much more important than trying a trend because it looks good on someone else.

I’ve spoken before of my love for a certain Brisbane-based alterations business and I recently paid another visit to the wonderful ladies at Doree’s. First dress on the chopping block was this darling golden 1950s wiggle dress I found on Etsy.

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I thought it was going to fit perfectly because the waist and bust measurements were spot on, but alas the bottom half was made for a woman with a smaller derriere than mine. Luckily there was enough extra fabric in the seams to let out the booty, while taking in the bottom of the skirt. So what could have been a waste of an online purchase became my new favourite party dress.

A very stylish friend of mine recently inspired me when she had the big, billowy sleeves removed from a vintage market find to reveal a chic, understated sleeveless frock. I had a look in my wardrobe and realised I could do the same with two beautiful, but perhaps a little overwhelming dresses. I’m a complete idiot and forgot to take before pics, but here is the wonderful result of my sleeve-removal makeover.

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Please share any other vintage shopping tips and tricks you use.

our 2013 Met Gala best dressed.

Yesterday was the Metropolitan Museum of Arts Met Gala Ball and I imagine it felt like working on Christmas Eve in a toy store to the staff of E! Channel’s Fashion Police. They would busily and excitedly take note of all the fashion triumphs and tragedies of celebrities who walked the red carpet, dressed to the ‘Punk: Chaos to Couture’ theme. I can just imagine the one-liners Joan Rivers is bursting to come out with today after this theme saw some play it too safe while others played a little too hard. Then there were those who played it just right… in our humble opinion anyway.

Here are our top 5 best dressed (photos courtesy of JustJared.com):

Third best…

Marie’s pick – Nicole Richie

I loved everything about Nicole’s vampy look. I love that she committed to the white hair and actually pulled it off. The Topshop dress itself might not be very punk-rock, but the way she styled it and the attitude she wore it with sure was. So many celebs seemed to really struggle with this years theme, but Nicole was in her element.

nicole richie topshop.

Frannie’s pick – Cara Delevingne

The eye make-up, heavy brows and plunging neckline with dramatic gold studs looked so punk-chic. I wasn’t so much a fan of Delevingne’s white clutch but the rest of the outfit was sleek and stylish and true to theme. Not surprising that I picked this though, it’s a long-sleeved, punk-ish version of Samantha Barks’ Oscars dress that I adored.

I thought it was a slightly more polished version of Sienna Miller’s look (who you can see in the background of the below pic) that I also loved.

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daily outfit: my first net-a-porter experience.

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I received my first Net-A-Porter order earlier this week so I thought I’d share the fun. It arrived in the most beautiful black box with lots of ribbon and tissue paper. Very impressive. Browsing the luxurious online shop is a great way to kill time – ogling Victoria Beckham dresses, Lover lace and Chloe everything. This little splurge is probably one of their least expensive items and is definitely my last winter purchase (unless I find my dream boots). Warm and work appropriate.

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Top – J Crew. A bit exy but I love stripes and it has such a cute floral collar I couldn’t resist. I also ordered a J Crew plain white tee which I think is going to be so comfortable to wear.

Pants – Marcs.

Shoes – Aldo. I haven’t worn these much since the Irish wedding last year, but I love them.