Dress: Cottage Industry

Shoes: Chie Mihara

Bangle: Dinosaur Designs

Necklace: DIY


I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been a great month; but I’m faking it til I make it, I guess. I turn the big four-oh in May, and the thought is terrifying me. Not because I’m getting older – age is a privilege after all – but just because there are so many things I thought I would have achieved by this point in my life. I’m making a concerted effort to focus on the present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, and when I think about it, I have a lot of blessings to count: I have a lovely boyfriend/fiance (whose birthday it was yesterday, happy birthday my love); my family is well; I have a job and workmates that I enjoy to the point of being embarrassing about it; I’ve got my foot on the property ladder, and I love my new home; My friends are extraordinary, and every single day I think about how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my tribe.

Anyway. I actually put this dress up on Instagram a cool two months ago, and the photos I took have been been sitting in my draft folder since then. I love this dress so much that I just treated myself to a second one (in a black and white gingham) and it reminded me that I hadn’t posted a blog about it yet.

This is the harvest smock dress from Cottage Industry in Fitzroy. The legendary harvest smock dress from Cottage Industry? Yeah, let’s call it legendary. I’ve been seeing these dresses around Melbourne for years now. Sonya (formerly of Australian Fatshion) has one, and my friend Ella has the top version, and I’ve seen countless effortlessly cool women of all ages and sizes wearing them around town.

After being told for the fifteenth time “Thanks, it’s from Cottage Industry” when I’ve complimented someone on their frock I finally decided maybe it was time to go check them out in person.

“In person” is actually the only way you can check out these dresses. Dressmaker and shop-owner Pene Durston doesn’t have an online shop – she tried it once, but gave up after customers kept sending the dresses back saying they were too big. Because they’re a lot, you guys. There is a lot of beautiful, tactile, linen in these frocks. Three of me could probably comfortably fit in this dress.

This much fabric, and no waistband… I should look like the size of a barn, but somehow I don’t. Pene’s managed to cut some clever seaming into the yards of fabric – the curved waistband, the batwing sleeves, the upturned sleeve cuffs – somehow it all comes together to make a drapey, voluminous dress that flatters every figure I’ve ever seen wearing it. It’s basically witchcraft.

It is a lot though. I went back to the shop four times before I found one that I liked the look of on me. Fortunately the staff at Cottage Industry are a delight, and perfectly happy to let you try on every dress in the place before you make your decision. They’ll offer advice, tell you if something isn’t quite working, and they have The Book, where they take requests if what’s on the racks isn’t quite perfect. Pene is always experimenting with different prints and fabrics – the best place to keep an eye on the range is actually via her instagram – but if you see one you like, act quickly as she often sells out within the day.

The Harvest Smock is available one-size-fits-all in a top, a short, and a long style. I bought the long (because the short showed my knees, and you all know how I feel about my knees) but lopped a couple of inches off the hem so that it hit me mid-calf. It’s easily the most comfortable dress I own, and it’s been getting a work-out over summer, especially those really hot days when I can’t stand the feel of anything on my skin but being actually naked isn’t an option.

You can layer the dress too, and I’m looking forward to wearing my new black-and-white version in winter with tights and ankle boots, and a long cardigan and a scarf. (I have this whole farmers-market-Northside-lady image of myself buying pumpkins and putting them in a string bag before going home and making soup, can you tell?)



22 thoughts on “Smocker

  1. I wasn’t freaked out by 40 cos I refused to think about it and then spent 2 months planning the party I threw myself. Then I kinda collapsed as yep- all the things I haven’t done that I thought I would have or wanted to have done.
    Feel what you feel but enjoy cos it’s a better choice!! X

    1. Thanks honey (though I refuse to believe you’ve already turned 40!)
      I think I’ve pretty much decided not to have a party just yet. I’m going to let myself process the fact that I’m 40, then possibly celebrate at a later date.

  2. Sorry the month hasn’t been ace, while I love autumn in Melbs sometimes it’s a bit tricky emotionally for me too.

    I adore these dresses. Adore I tell you. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet because I can’t imagine my ginormous boobs in one but maybe, just maybe it’s worth a try on? As always it looks lovely on you.

    1. Definitely worth a try on! I think when they’re made well it actually disguises the rack. I mean – I’ve got f-cups, and this dress shouldn’t definitely make me look much bigger, but somehow it doesn’t

  3. How comfy and comforting that looks. All that fabric! I love the yellow accents and especially how well both this dress and the black floral from the previous post, while very different in themselves, go with your beautiful hair.

    1. Thank you, Anna! The hair’s getting more and more silver every time I get it trimmed, and I’m…. actually OK with that! Isn;t it crazy how one thing will upset you, and the other is just like, “oh well, that’s life”?

  4. Pretty lady! LOVE the frock. I hear ya – burst into tears on my 38th birthday. It’s a rich tapestry, this life. I have high hopes for you guys still. Love you lots. ?? Lxxx

  5. That is one ace dress lady! You look fab (as always).
    I’m sure you’ll have loads of people telling you their similar experiences of turning 40. I too, did the regret thing, as at 30 and at 50. At nearly 52 I think i’m finally ok with not having achieved all the things because like you I have a lot to be grateful for. Enjoy turning 40. It’s a lot if fun! ?

  6. Life rarely looks like how we think it will.
    You have overcome a lot.
    I know that feeling proud might seem far away but please try.
    Great, cheerful dress.
    You have evolved and so has your farshun.

  7. Hi Lily.

    I turn 40 this May too. But i don’t have a great dress like that!

    I said to my partner the other day the good thing about 40 is that you’ve enough experience behind you to know what you want but enough time in front of you to make it happen. Some things are outside our control, but there is always a way to get what we want, even if it’s only an approximation. You can’t always get the barbie dream house but you can get awful close!

    Good luck and enjoy. You’ll never again be as young as you are today.

    1. Thank you Kristie, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you too! The closer I get to the day the more comfortable I feel about it (still not ready to have a party though!)

  8. I saw this dress on your instagram and have been waiting and hoping for the post! I love it! I want one! I’m in the US 🙁
    Sorry to hear it hasn’t been a great month for you but you seem to have a good perspective. I freak out a little every. single. birthday…they all seem a bit twilight zone. Like, how, HOW am I this old??? That being said, I’ve learned that life rarely works out the way you think or plan. Life laughs at plans and you just roll with it the best you can. It may not always seem like it but even things that aren’t great somehow seem to lead you to where you need to be. This “wisdom” is coming from someone who is about to turn 41 in July so please take it only for what it’s worth when the person saying it is just a year older than yourself!

    1. Hey Jessi – It might be worth messaging Pene on Instagram. I know she does ship to people on a customer-basis, because that way she can speak to them in person and know that they know what to expect 🙂
      Happy early birthday to you! I hope you’ve had an amazing year <3

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