Strike a Toes

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATop: Urbane at Myer

Trousers: Asos Curve

Shoes: Gino Ventori at Bob’s Shoe Store

Necklace: Made By Emily Green

I don’t wear trousers very often, and toe-baring shoes even less often, so this outfit is a bit out of my normal comfort zone. It includes two things I always swore I’d never wear: joggers (the last time I wore elastic cuffed trousers they were probably fleece, it was probably the 80’s, and I could probably count my age in single digits) and open-toed sandals (I don’t like showing my toes. It’s weird, I know. My toes are fine, I get that. I just don’t like them on display).

I’m a frocks and skirts girl usually, but on really sweltering days when things get a bit sticky and uncomfortable (ahem! stay tuned for an updated post on THAT particular issue) I often just want to reach for a breezy pair of trousers. These navy pants – currently on sale at Asos - look surprisingly put-together for something with elastic cuffs: the tailored detailing, high waist, and side pockets make them perfectly suitable for the office. Teamed with a cropped tee and some sandals they’re also great for casual weekend wear.

Watch out for your size – there’s non-stretch, and I bought the smallest size thinking they’d be too big, but they’re actually fairly snug. Unusually for Asos Curve I’d say the size chart is about bang on the money. They’re a tight fit on my thighs, but fit comfortably around the calves, and don’t cut in around my ankles (which look positively dainty).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShoes: Gino Ventori at Bob’s Shoe Store

I do a lot (a lot of a lot) of walking in my day-to-day life, so comfortable shoes are an absolute must. I’ve been looking for something a bit more open and breezy for those really hot days, but had basically given up of finding a pair of sandals that were versatile, comfortable, and didn’t make me hate my feet.

I was in Perth just before Christmas for work, and was meeting my little sister in Fremantle after I finished on the Friday so I took the opportunity to do a bit of shoe shopping. I spent the better part of an hour at Bob’s Shoe Store, putting a very patient salesperson through her paces while I tried on a good thirty percent of the store’s inventory. These, miraculously, ticked all the boxes: They’re soft and comfortable with a little bit of a wedge heel, a flexible sole, a versatile colour, and a style that worked with my wide calves. I tossed the box before I flew back to Melbourne so I haven’t the foggiest idea what the style is called, and I’m only about 75% sure they are even from Gino Ventori since I’ve managed to walk the logo off. Sorry, badĀ  blogger (obviously I need Penny from the Big Bang Theory’s shoe finder app).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANecklace: Made By Emily Green

I also bought myself a second Made By Emily Green necklace, and I’m loving the hell out of it. The nude shades work with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, and I like how the individual beads have different textures or patterns: polkadots, glitter, pin-pricks or a kind of granite effect. It’s goes well beyond my own bodgy DIY’d attempt (unless you count cat fur as a texture….)

Wax Works

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATop: Miss Shop @ Myer

Skirt: Anna Devine

Belt: Modcloth

Shoes: Comfortview via One Stop Plus

I’m a huge fan of the bold, and brightly coloured wax prints that are so synonymous with the fashion of of West Africa. The incongruous and irreverent patterns really speak to me, and I’ve been delighted to watch them start to hit the mainstream market. Where the saturated bright colours and big prints might overwhelm slight figures, they seem to particularly suit bigger bodies which provide a larger canvas to play with.

I’ve been a bit too anxious about cultural appropriation, and aware of my own ignorance about the political and sociological history of Ankara, or wax printed fabrics, to wear it before now. I didn’t want to be the (mostly) white girl wearing something in ignorance, like the people wearing Native American head-dresses to music festivals.

I was at the Finders Keepers Market in Melbourne a few months ago, and came across Anna Devine‘s stall of beautiful wax print skirts. I was stopped in my tracks, and meandered over to have a little fondle. Anna overheard me telling my friend why I couldn’t wear the prints, and she told me the revelationary news that “African” wax printed fabric is actually considerably more global than that.

The leading manufacturer of Ankara fabric is Vlisco, a Dutch company that started producing wax print fabrics in 1846, after being inspired by the Indonesian Batik brought back to Holland by the Dutch East India Trading Company. There’s a fascinating article on Slate about the history if you’re interested in reading more.

The fabrics usually have names – this one is called “Record” – most with stories behind them, which you can read on the Vlisco website (I got a giggle out of “You Fly, I Fly” which depicts a bird escaping an open cageĀ  and is worn by newlywed women as a warning to their husbands!).

The skirt is very full, and the fabric is quite stiff, but I believe it softens with repeated wears and washes. It’s 100% cotton, and gorgeously bright. In all honesty I had a little trouble finding something to wear it with – Anna suggests a plain black tee, and I’ve often see the bold prints paired successfully with crisp white shirts, too. This plummy roll-sleeve t-shirt from Miss Shop works fine.

I was so glad to discover I could wear the big bold prints of Ankara fabric without offending anyone’s culture, or treading on anyone’s toes. I’ve since bought a second skirt (from Prodigal Daughter in Canberra) and I’ve got my eye on a few other pieces I’ve seen around the traps.