Blushing Bling

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATop: Laura Ashley

Skirt: Primark (via eBay)

Shoes: Shoebuy

I’ve had my heart set on a sequinned midi skirt ever since I saw (and failed to buy) one on Asos a year or so ago. I’d been toying with the idea of sewing one for myself, but the logistics of sewing sequins (not to mention the requirement for the skirt to be lined) put it in the Too Hard Basket, so I’ve just been idly keeping my eyes open online for something similar.

This one popped up on eBay just before New Year’s, and though I haven’t had an experience with Primark due to their positively prehistoric lack on an online store presence, it was cheap enough for me to take chance on buying it.

It didn’t make it to me in time for New Year’s Eve, but I’m thinking it might be Just The Ticket for a V-Day dinner in a couple of weeks. (Yes, I just dropped that in there. No, that’s all I’m saying for the moment ;-) )

The colour is a perfect dusty rose; sparkly but not too OTT despite the fact that the sequins are full-shiny rather than matte like my Monsoon dress. Both skirt and waistband are fully lined, so I’m not wearing any of the scratchy sequins against my skin.

I tried to downplay the bling by teaming the skirt with a creamy silk top and neutral pumps. My only jewellery is a pair of pretty studs from Totally Jewel (a steal at just $12)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarrings: Totally Jewel

I get the feeling a sequinned skirt is a bit similar to a tutu – you can play it up or down, according to the occasion. I’ve seen them paired successfully with t-shirts, cashmere cardigans, button down shirts, even plaid. I’m thinking I might try my signature stripes next time.

Anyhoo – speaking of Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking for a pretty outfit to wear you might like to check out the latest offerings at Igigi. They’re doing lots of new separates and a couple of really stellar dresses including a red lace version of my Adelle dress, the Francesca in either a gorgeous blowsy rose print, or a bold abstract print that reminds me of feathers. They’re running a great competition – starting today! – to win one of five $150 gift cards. All you have to do is sign up to their email list here.

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.