It comes as a surprise to many that know me to find out that I don't really enjoy Shopping. Yes, I love fashion, but the link from that to finding shopping an enjoyable pastime is vast in my mind. I find no pleasure in the aimless wander through a suburban mall, and tend to find large stores crammed with 'stuff' overwhelming. There's too much choice! 

Collins St, Melbourne outside the Georges Department Store circa 1950's.

But give me a small, specialist store and I'm in clover. I love a perfectly, tastefully curated array of well made, quality things to choose from. Unfortunately stores like this are in the minority and have to be carefully sought out, as the modern model of fast fashion and volume sales means they are rare in the face of the onslaught of loud, intrusive musak, overly bright lighting, and racks and racks as far as the eye can see. Who is buying all this stuff?  



A book I recently bought was "Remembering Georges". Georges was a small Specialty Department store in Melbourne, and I can probably only equate it to Liberty in London in both size and style of content for overseas readers. The book is a collection of interviews the author undertook with past staff and customers - the store closed for good in the early 90's after 120 years of service. 


What it highlighted to me was that all the things that make shopping an enjoyable social pastime have disappeared in today's shopping experience - it's really no wonder Internet Shopping has filled the gap so successfully in Australia. Georges had things that were eye wateringly expensive in it, but conversely it also contained well priced, good quality wares as well. What they all had in common were that they represented the best of their type. The main point of difference between Georges and other stores (aside from their superior stock which their buyers scoured the world for) was the overall experience and ambience of the store. There was a tea room, a hair salon, no one was pressured to sell and so no one was pressured to buy. It was well serviced by staff so that if you did require assistance there was someone helpfully on hand who knew their stock and the provenance back to front. Purchasing something was a special experience- the item would be carefully wrapped, even if inexpensive, and packaged up beautifully. A long way from being thrown into a plastic bag with houndstooth print on the side, even if the item cost thousands….The one thing all the reminiscences touched on was that there was space around the stock - there were clear aisles uncluttered by bargain bins and racks of clothes, there were chairs placed around the store to sit in if you needed to for a while… these things are all gone in modern Australian department stores, and are one reason why stores like Myer are a nightmare to me. The thumping music, the visual clutter… it's oppressive and far from pleasant. 




It's a fabulous book and I enjoyed it so much. If you're interested in Social History post WW2 in Melbourne, currently work in retail, or used to enjoy shopping there in Melbourne then you'll love this book. And for those wondering why this wonderful shopping experience obviously failed after a long time… the store was purchased by a larger department store, who changed the stock to the same as the large department store a block away, and the model of sales and style of the store, and ran it down until had to be closed down. 



Coincidentally, I had ordered another book recommended by a commenter on Faux Fuchsia's blog called "Orchids on your Budget" which dovetailed neatly in with themes touched on in the Georges book. It's a reprint of a small and entertaining book first published in 1937 and is essentially about living with flair on your budget.  Lots of the lessons in this book made me feel like I was listening to my Grandmother talking about where to spend and save, and how to spot good quality amongst the dross. 

I've written before about my Grandmother's philosophy - she was thrifty and frugal, but had flair and could sniff out good quality at 100 paces. It occurred to me when reading this book that the demise of the Home Economics classes in schools has been a great loss to all for those who weren't taught these things by their Grandmother or Mother (or Father). I don't think it's progress that life skills are no longer taught to school children (budgeting, basic cooking, sewing and cleaning), especially given that with busy households that rely on takeaway and outsourcing of chores, and the rise of consumer credit (and lack of budgeting that sometimes accompanies this) that there's no leading by example (and I feel that both boys and girls would be advantaged by this…). I've noticed that very few young people have any idea on finding things that fit them well, or that they're able to discern the difference in quality of fabrics, since Home Economics classes fell out of favour. They're simply unaware as pretty much no one home sews anymore. It's all ready- to- wear, and not particularly well fitted/ constructed at that. When even the Duchess of Cambridge constantly wears ill fitted clothes (many of them from the High Street she so loves, but some of the made to measure is equally poorly fitted), you know that the disconnect between the knowledge of garment construction and the consumer has been complete.


Made to measure Alexander McQueen coat with lumpy lapel, poorly aligned buttons and waistband, and straining top buttons. 

Back to the Georges book, one of the people interviewed was Christine Barro, who was the accessories buyer during the 80's and 90's until the store closed. She went on to open her own accessories shop in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, called Christine. I visit every time I'm in Melbourne for a browse, and when I was in there last year, I got chatting to her in the store while I admired some beautiful costume jewellery in one of the display cases. 


The store stocks all manner of things from umbrellas and hats to bags, sunglasses, scarfs, gloves and jewellery…. and after a lot of though I bought a long necklace, made by a Paris atelier called Goossens. Christine brings in all sorts of unusual things, and Goossens, it turns out, have an interesting history. They produce the famous Sautoir necklaces for Chanel, and have done so since they were first designed in conjunction with Coco Chanel in the 1950's. I had been drawn to the necklace in the display case and had commented to Christine that it was very Chanel like, minus the logos, so it was no surprise to then find that they made the costume jewellery for Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Dior and many others. If you're ever in Paris they have a showroom at 380 rue Saint- Honore to visit, which is definitely my kind of specialty shop. 


16 year old Joseph tuxedo Jacket bought when living in London, white silk Joseph shirt bought in last January's sales and the Goossens necklace

I think it's a classic piece and I've worn it a lot already with jeans/ trousers and a white shirt or top, or as pictured above with jeans on my way to the movies on Friday evening. 



So in terms of "Orchids on your Budget" I've stayed strong in the face of overwhelming numbers of emails entreating me to buy in the Internet Sales (and I've spent a lot of quality time unsubscribing from lists), and I've yet to set foot in a physical shop in Adelaide for the January sales… but I did buy one thing in the Netaporter sales. I'd been keeping my eye on it for weeks, waiting patiently until it dropped to 70% off. I have a feeling my Grandmother would have approved. It's a Lela Rose sheer lace coat (above). Not exactly a practical day-to-day item, it's definitely more a special occasion thing… but I think it's a timeless cut and will jazz up a plain black dress or trousers and top combo and providing I don't stack on the weight will be something that I'll be able to wear for many years to come. 


 So.. shopping. Still not my favourite pastime, but if I happen to be passing a small specialty shop on a high street with interesting bits and pieces in it you can guarantee I'll make a detour in for a browse. Somewhere along the way though, the race to sell cheap items at volume to the masses, rather than the single perfect thing to the individual has taken over the retail scene in Australia and not necessarily for the better. It's a great shame that the inducement to buy, and fast, has replaced the social aspects of browsing and carefully selecting.. and the old message that less is more.

43 comments:

  1. Hello Heidi! I'm really not a fan of shopping either, except perhaps when on holiday! As I am still in Paris, I am going to have a look for the Goossens store!... how interesting that they have been manufacturing the Chanel Sautoir necklaces for all these years! The two books are on my lengthy book list. I need to read more!!! xx

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    1. You should definitely pop into Goossens if you're still in Paris Jenny! They had the most gorgeous range of cabochon semi precious necklaces and earrings etc.
      The pile of books by my bedside is vast I'm afraid… not enough time to read. But the second one is tiny, so you can easily read it in an hour. x

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  2. I love and miss Georges sooo much! Melbourne had George's and there are very few stores in the world that had that feel. And I've been to stores everywhere. I wish they'd resurrect it and am surprised they don't considering Australians seem to shop like mad.

    I really don't know where to start on Kate's clothing but people rarely have an objective view on royalty and fashion so I shall refrain from commenting on that e crept to say it would be nice if she supported proper fashion houses instead of unsustainable Spanish billionaires wares.

    I think I've been to the store in flinders lane without realising. Don't know about you but when I wear a sautoir it tends to attract glances as if I've exposed some cleavage! ;p do you get that?

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    1. Yes!! I do feel like it draws a lot of eyes (the necklace that is… my cleavage (or lack of) generally doesn't).
      I wrote a little bit more about Kate but deleted as I didn't want to start a war about it and detract from what the blog post was about. People are very protective of her… but agree with your comments. Plus wish she'd start wearing proper underwear and weight her hems and stop flashing everyone. Oops said to much….!
      I think Georges would be very successful if it re-opened today as the retail landscape has changed so much here and I'm sure it would be very well supported. People are very sad about its closure even today. You probably have been into Christine. There's no sign, and just a nondescript door with tartan carpet leading down into an underground aladdins cave. One of my favourite shops in Australia, even if just to browse. x

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  3. As usual Heidi, you've hit the nail on the head.
    I was browsing the emporium in Melbourne and I found it uninspiring.
    You've just outlined why.
    I love Liberty and Fortnum and Mason in London.
    Such beautiful things there.
    I'm glad I know how to sew, cook and clean too

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    1. Yes, life skills! Lacking in the young today - everyone should be able to at least put on a button themselves (men and women).
      I walked around the giant malls of Singapore for an hour and they left me cold. Everything was either Hermes or Forever 21. Nothing in between, or even reflective of Singapore.. it wasn't very interesting. xx

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  4. Always so timely, Heidi! We've just starting thinking about purchasing a new car and the first saleswoman we approached was taken aback when I said it would be in 6 months to a year before we purchased. I told her I'm a marketing nightmare. I just want the one perfect thing to last forever and I'm happy to research and bide my time. I personally love shopping but I see it as research. Sales are depressing, all the things nobody wanted first time around. There are some beautiful images that you have included. I have my eye on a Blumarine jacket I saw on the Rue Faubourg last August. Half price but still impractical so maybe still not worth it!

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    1. So funny re the car and the saleswoman!! I'm not sure I'd have it in me to research a car for so long - I find them not that interesting, so admire your commitment!
      Agree re sales though - It often feels slightly deflating that things that were displayed as being so special when just in are reduced to being crammed on a rack with makeup smeared over them and slashed through prices on the tag. Jacket sounds very nice, even if strictly impractical. We all need a little whimsy and can't always be totally practical! x

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  5. I bought orchids on your budget and loved it so much!

    Gorgeous necklace and coat.

    I love shopping and browsing- the thrill of the chase and all x

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    1. I can't do general shopping anymore, although seem to have good stamina for online shopping!!
      Thought you'd love that book, it was fun! x

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  6. It's LIBERTY not Liberty's and MYER not Myers
    K xx

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  7. Heidi, this post really speaks to me. I agree completely with your sentiment about liking clothes/fashion but not enjoying shopping. I had not heard of Goosens, but so glad to have them on my radar now: thanks! The Lela Rose evening coat is fabulous and I think you will get a lot of wear out of it.
    I'm now in my third year of budgeting in excel my fashion spends and each year I am spending less and getting more quality. My sales purchase was a gorgeous blue tweed dress from Oscar de la Renta, which is a complete classic. The books sound fascinating too xxx

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    1. I think even if you've never set foot in Georges you'd find it interesting Charlotte! LOVE the sound of the ODLR dress.. and thinking hard of which dress it might be.... I've also been tracking purchases on a spreadsheet, and similar to you, quantity wise there aren't that many items, it's more about better quality/ more unique things and having things that last years. You should definitely check out Goossens though, they'd be right up your alley. Judging by the amount of positive comment on the necklace (from total strangers), it's definitely a piece that draws attention. x

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  8. Heidi great post. I couldn't agree more. I don't enjoy shopping at all and only shop in the CBD or online as I can't deal with shopping centres. I always know what I am looking for too so have to shop for a purpose rather than just for fun. I also try to always buy things with quality fabrics, cuts and with longevity in mind. I am disappointed that everything at the moment is made of polyester and other synthetic fabrics.

    I LOVE Joseph and have a black fitted jacket from there too. Yours looks fab.

    I always go on Netaporter or Matches patiently waiting for their sales. Your new jacket looks divine xxx

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    1. I tend to shop with purpose.. but often find it hard as I've got too fixed an idea in my mind of what I'm after. Agree with you about the synthetic fabrics. So much neoprene! I couldn't wear it, it's far too hot in Adelaide to wear thick synthetics in Summer.
      Joseph has always done good separates I think Fifi, and I'm not surprised you're a big fan of theirs too. I had a big wardrobe purge in early Jan and sent to the op shop a bunch of very old clothes from around the same era, but the jacket is a classic and made the cut. xx

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  9. The most interesting essay this Sunday morning – I too hate shopping in this present retail environment where quality seems not to matter except where indicated by a logo (as if that could be an indication!). As my almost 92-year old ex-prof regularly says "no-one knows anything anymore - they don't learn a damned thing in school."

    I live within two miles of two malls and refuse to go there as most of cry clothes shopping is done online. By the way, I'm a man, so it's easier as my choice is limited by age, gender and the fact I was brought up in pre-logo "designer" times.

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    1. So agree with you Blue about a logo not necessarily being an indicator of anything. So many designer clothes are made of synthetics. I understand that fabric technology has made this an attractive thing in many instances, but when you have cheap poly linings in an expensive garment you have to wonder why and how it costs so much (probably for all the advertising…)

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  10. Great post, Heidi, and you really hit the nail on the head re: younger generations having no clue about garment construction and fabric quality. I encountered this constantly while at Parsons. Gorgeous necklace!!

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    1. I loved following your time at Parsons on Insta Louise - so interesting to see all the work that goes on in constructing a garment. And now I'm looking forward to seeing all the gorgeous things you're going to create!! You'll have a ready made international clientele I think!

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  11. How much do I love this post and that lace coat! It's divine! How perfect will that be to wear for many many years, Lela Rose does such a good job with fabric and construction.
    How I dream to shop at a place like Georges, it sounds so civilized. What a perfect experience.
    Shopping malls are indeed horrible, I can't stand to go to them.
    When I was in Palm Beach last weekend we visited Worth Avenue, home of all the exquisite high-end shops (Gucci, Chanel, Hermes etc etc). Really a great destination for window shopping, we had such fun walking around.
    I'm looking for a special-occasion dress right now for spring and the pickings seem rather slim, though I do have my eye on a blue frock from Pink Tartan, a Canadian label. Made in Canada and they use exquisite fabrics.
    Very impossible to find silk-lined anything anymore though, with the exception of Lela Rose!
    xox

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    1. I really do find that Lela never lets you down - well cut for a female figure (rather than an imaginary female figure…) and so flattering. I'm hopeful this will be a long term wardrobe staple.
      You would have LOVED Georges Dani, it was such a gorgeous store, and people used to spend all day in there browsing. It was very civilised and the complete antithesis of modern shopping. Love the sound of the dress you're thinking about and can't wait to see it all unfold on your blog. It's always nice to have something to dress up for xx

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    2. I remember my great aunt posting beautifully packaged parcels of babies outfits for my babies in '82 and '83 - the store label - Georges. Not only were the clothes exquisite but the wrapping paper, ribbon as well! Totally agree with you. Adelaide has become totally lacklustre since DJ's move to their new premises. It reminds me of the old Coles variety store, only more expensive.

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    3. What lovely gifts to receive! I find DJ's depressing. I know a lot of people like it because it's new, but the old store had an elegance and presence (and was so much bigger). The new one can't compare, especially with all the special extras taken away (like window displays!!)

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  12. Hello Heidi, agree, agree, agree. Years ago (I'm talking 50+), even shopping in DJs in Sydney was a special event. My Mum wore hat and gloves and I wore my Sunday best. These days I can't bring myself to even go into DJs or Myer as they are no better than Big W etc. Price or provenance is definitely no measure of quality or style.

    I too have a spreadsheet and for the past two years I have been on a 'no new clothes' drive. I started with a big audit of what I have. Frightening actually.... eg I found that I own 50+ scarves collected over 35 years. From then on I have annotated each item on its way out and each item on its way in. I haven't been completely successfull with the zero acquisition policy but I am now adamant about quality. I submit for example: 3 of the worlds most beautiful suede jackets / coats from a superb tailor in Florence which I purchased last year.

    And I continue to keep my list of what comes in and what goes out. Whilst I understand the logic of mixing high and low I think I have enough of the 'low' to get me by for quite a while. And vale Georges. Yes, it was a truly beautiful store. Judith

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    1. There is definitely no sense of occasion to shopping in the big department stores now Judith - if you think Sydney is bad you should try Adelaide… the old store was beautiful, and it's now got low ceilings, not even window displays (it's behind a mall off the main city mall), no cafe, no pianist… nothing special in the stock (they only bring in the very safe, boring things so that they'll definitely sell). It's not a lot to get excited about.
      I too operate on a one in one out mode. I think I've got more than enough clothing, and try to whittle it down - you really only do wear a handful of things regularly. I too am a bit over low. I have a few bits and pieces that have been good, but in general they're never things I enjoy wearing, and if the racks of zara in the Op shop are any indication, no one else does either! x

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  13. Hi there Heidi - I have read your blog for a long time, but have never commented before: I felt the need to this time!
    I saw your beautiful necklace on Instagram last night and immediately thought it was Chanel too! So lovely to own something that has a story, and is not just another number off the production line...
    I now live in Melbourne but am a Queenslander originally, and wish I lived here in the time of Georges. I saw a fabulous musical last week called Ladies in Black which was set in a fictional prestigious department store called Goodes in the 50s. All I could think the whole was through was how much I wished a store like that existed today; many of the commenters about are right, I really think there is a void in the market today that would be so well filled by a store like this again.
    My favourite subject at high school was Home Ec - I feel I have lost so many of the skills I learnt though... so I bought myself a sewing machine last year, and have signed up for beginners lessons. My mother was a talented seamstress who made most of my clothes growing up - and I'd love to be able to learn those same skills
    Anywho - will stop rambling now :) Love your blog and insights!
    - Jacqueline

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    1. I didn't know they'd made a musical out of Ladies in Black! I'd heard that they were thinking of doing a movie… but you should read the book Jacqueline- it's fabulous! It's by Madeleine St John and was written in that era and is very funny. I think I'm going to have to get it out for a re read now, and I'll definitely try to get to the musical when I'm next in Melb.
      That's fantastic you've bought a sewing machine and are starting up again. I have my Mum's old Pfaff and it's mostly only used to sew on school labels, and hem things… but occasionally I do whip up something (not too ambitious). I used to sew a lot when I was a teenager, as I could never find what I wanted in the local shops (no surprise - I used to read Vogue, and was living in Adelaide!). Thanks for your comment, and so nice to hear from you x

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    2. Loved the M St J book "Ladies in Black" too. Believe it may have been based on Sydney DJs Elizabeth street Store, back in the day. Would love to see the musical. I was once a girl in black - worked in DJs in Brisbane during Uni hols. It was a v different store then. There was even a ladies' sitting area on one of the upper floors, near the restaurant. There were easy chairs and coffee tables and phones for customers to use. There was an attended parcels area where you could drop off your shopping bags so you could continue shopping unencumbered - or dine in the restaurant or visit special exhibitions at the DJs art gallery. As casual staff we worked hard and were trained to be super polite. There were also the floor walkers, tall dapper men in pin stripes and a carnation in their button hole who kept an eye on staff and customers and ensured they were served with courtesy and efficiency. Sadly those days are long gone.
      I love shopping in France - whether it's the department stores, boutiques or brocantes markets. So many gorgeous things and the sales staff are so expert. Particularly love the sales - they're real - not tat brought in specially. Discovered in Paris last June sales that in many places if you're on a shop's computer as a reasonable customer you can go in the day before the sale begins and they'll sell you the goods at sale prices. You just have to be quiet and discreet about it in front of others wandering around the shop. Such a delight to get the sale prices without the crowds.
      Must see that Goossens boutique in rue St Honore - walk along that street several times every visit. So many great boutiques - have a particular weakness for Astier Villatte - and nice to stop in at Hotel Costes bar for a coffee or a glass of wine and then drroool over the roses in the window of their flower shop. Strangely enough I have a Chanel necklace (bought in the rue Cambon during the Paris non-tour)- really rather similar to yours, only with a large black camellia and the odd CC logo.
      With a father who was feminist (though he didn't know it) I would never have been allowed to do home ec. I was always steered away from traditional women's courses, where they were optional. Father was keen for me to do the more academic things or art - not cooking or sewing. I'm still an incompetent at a sewing machine (in those days there were really good inexpensive dressmakers, usually widows with children to support - I used to design my own clothes, influenced like you by Vogue fashions, I'd draw the front and back and give the drawing to our dressmaker who'd do wonders with it). Didn't learn to cook till after I was married. Lots of strange and embarrassing failures, including with dinner guests. Oddly, my Dad could cook superbly, quite exotic meals, far better than my mother, though her apple tart was always a triumph and the best I've tasted, even to this day. Pammie xxx

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  14. Love this post! I know many people who are like you, always beautifully elegantly dressed, but don't like shopping! That Joseph jacket is so well made, is that a black or navy blue? Have been looking for a jacket like that in blue for ages and surprisingly they all have weird shoulders and sit like a box.
    I am always surprised when I look through fashion websites how poorly even really expensive clothing looks on models with gaps under arms, and darts that don't sit right/ Like a bad movie, how do these pieces even go into production?
    I know when we lived in London 13 years ago Joseph didn't make anything except in teeny sizes like you, but I think now they have included other sizes, always loved their pieces, but funnily enough never bought anything from them.
    I am a big fan of a couple of boutiques here, very seldom venture into huge stores, as you say too many things to choose from and then shopping is not a wonderful experience like it should be, just becomes panicky.
    We hopped on the bus for Home Ec and I do remember making invalids pudding. But what I really learned is that I could not sew and Mum did my sewing homework while I cooked every night, a job that lasted years, so from early age could cook most anything (though these days roast chook is about as elaborate as it gets.) My husband always said kids should learn more about money management.
    I also remember at high school making a copper tea spoon for the tea canister. It was not the start of a brilliant career in sculpture but it was fun.

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    1. I think kids should definitely learn about money management at school. It's kind of a taboo topic, and most adults don't discuss it with their kids, so how do they learn? So funny re the invalids pudding. I remember doing a whole class around Sago, Tapioca, Junket, rice pudding and Custard.
      The Joseph jacket was the only thing I bought from there all that time ago as I was so poor! I bought it in the last three months I was living in London and wore it everywhere. It's really been a great wardrobe staple. And I love their stuff now. Well cut, and good basics that last.
      It's good to have a couple of local boutiques that have a good edit and sales staff, so you're lucky you've found them! I've not really found somewhere here I love. There were a couple of shops in Melbourne that just always hit the spot for me, and I need to find a few places like that here. xx

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  15. Oh your blog post resonated with me! I recently showed a friend of mine from Latvia around Sydney for a week. she asked me where all the big street shopping strs were, and I must admit I had to pause. I told her that Paddington used to be terrific, but that in recent years many premises had become vacant, and the strip had lost its uniqueness. Of course, many locals attribute the decline of the ´high street' to The development of mega shopping malls. These Places are so souless, and we all end up wearing the same clothes.....carbon copies.....safe but so DULL!! Even my beloved Balmain has been beige-ified by the recent acquisition of Witchery. Ho hum. The poor little independent creative souls can't afford the rents.

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    1. I think it's a bit of a problem with the unique shopping streets - eventually the big chain stores start muscling in on the action, the rents go up and then the interesting shops that gave it the charm all leave. Melbourne is still pretty good for tiny shopping strips in hidden spots, but Chapel Street in South Yarra suffered the same fate as Paddington, which I remember was fantastic back in the 90's. xx

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  16. Yes, I often wonder too about the overstuffed racks of badly made dross and the noise and horrible lighting in the shopping malls has caused me more than a couple of migraines. I guess for a lot of people though the experience of shopping is pleasurable. I’ve noticed many old folk who, once the income is reduced to a pension, will often browse in the op shops searching for a ‘bargain’. I tend to look for ages before I purchase and I’ve recently taken to having things altered if they don’t fit nicely. It makes a big difference I’ve found. I too have couple of items purchased in small shops that I have had for years. I’m thinking of a red wool coat dress that I’ve had for twenty years and worn a couple of times each year. Strangely, I always get comments when I wear it too. Also a black smock type affair with dark grey sequins. Same story I think because they both fit well and are different to what’s around! Tonkath x

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    1. Alterations make the biggest difference Tonkath!! I'm a big advocate, but it can be hard to find someone good to do it. And classics that have that little point of difference and that fit well definitely stay the difference. I've been guilty of hanging onto things well past their prime for that reason alone (certain shoes spring to mind… what I wouldn't give to be able to conjure up another pair of the sandals I bought 22 years ago, and that I finally consigned to the bin sadly 10 years later!!) x

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  17. I"m thinking...did I just write this post? Everything, absolutely everything you said I agree with 100%. Don't know where to start with my added comments. I strongly agree that taking out Home Economics from the classrom has played a huge part in the prominence of the cheap and nasty "fashion" scene, the obesity problem and lack of financial know-how. A huge dis-service to our children.
    I just think quality in a lot of things in Australia has just gone down a slippery slope the last 20 years. We are not what we used to be.
    Linda C.

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    1. There is so much fashion in education, and a lot of it has caused us to lose our way I think. The concept that life skills are old fashioned and sexist has done a great disservice. Similar to spelling, which went out of fashion, and I remember reading a report not long ago from an education 'specialist' advocating that it didn't matter if children couldn't add and subtract themselves, as long as they could use a calculator, it only mattered if the answer was correct… not how they got there. Crazy!! x

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  18. You are a woman after my own heart Heidi, and I too would have written this post. The philosophy on shopping is spot on. I spent many a pleasant hour in Liberty when I lived in London and still have a travel bag I paid a great deal for, now 30 years old. The quality and selection of their merchandise was fabulous, much like your longed for Georges by the sounds of things.

    Your granny was a wise woman teaching you about quality and frugality and I too miss the fact that my daughter is not taught home economics like her mother was. Perhaps I could do my best to fill in the gaps where that is concerned, but there's nothing quite like the school experience for certain things.

    Adore your new necklace and it looks so chic with your jacket and blouse.

    Unfortunately, the retail experience here in America sounds much the same as Australia, with few exceptions. I walked into Neiman Marcus's elegant store on Union Square in San Francisco a few weeks ago with my daughter. As we were browsing, a sales assistant offered us some bottled water. Her gesture came at a perfect time because my daughter was bemoaning the fact that she was thirsty. Those little bottles made the difference between us staying and browsing at our leisure rather than leaving.

    Most of those little specialist shops that thrill are long gone too, thanks to ridiculously high rents and the cost of doing business in the Bay Area. So, so terribly sad. I think that is why I enjoy shopping in England so much as one can still find those little retail jewels.

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    1. I'm sure you are filling in the gaps very adequately CD with your daughter's education, I'm not sure there's anywhere in the Western world that now teaches home economics. It's really fallen out of favour.
      I've so enjoyed reading your shopping in London posts, and let's hope that it doesn't go the way of so many other places in the world where high rents mean the demise of specialty shops and the homogenous rise of the High Street in its place.

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  19. Hello Heidi... I read and commented earlier (above) .... but here is some more trivia....

    You might also be interested in the books by Genevieve Dariaux. The little volume titled "A Guide to Elegance: for every woman who wants to be well and properly dressed on all occasions" (available on Amazon very cheaply) was published in 1964. Of course, it is a little dated but very charming. The author was a Paruriere (accessorist) to the Haute Couture houses of Paris and eventually had her own line of courture before working for the Ricci (as in Nina Ricci) house. She also produced book called "Entertaining with Elegance". Both 5 stars!

    Yesterday I had coffee with a young woman who works in costume making for movies (she has worked with the famous CM and Baz Luhrmann). In between movies she teaches sewing from her own studio and tells me that there is a bit of a revival going on for women wanting to learn to sew. Young mothers etc. So perhaps there is hope.

    And lastly.. have you watched the rather quaint reality program on ABC tv on Friday nights (8.30) called This Old Thing: with Dawn O'Porter? Its about a vintage clothes enthusiast who shows women (and men) how buying vintage clothes and altering them to fit can produce a unique quality garment. Its all a bit whacky but Dawn is so enthusiastic that its all rather charming.

    Judith

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    1. I think I've heard of that book Judith.. I'll have to look it up properly! Thank you for the tip. That's also good news on the revival of sewing. I suppose Knitting had its time a few years ago, so sewing (and given how cheap sewing machines are now) is due its time too. Going to go off and look up iview to watch that program too! x

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  20. I hate to shop as well. So few great little shops these days. I adore that necklace. What a beauty!

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    Replies
    1. Am so pleased with the necklace!! I've already worn it a lot, and know I will do so more in Winter when I wear a lot more black x

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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