A Frocking Good Summer Wardrobe

The best things in life are free. The second best things are very expensive” – Coco Chanel

I’m a gal with expensive tastes…which is why so much of our families budget goes toward filling our fridge. As I also love to look frocking fabulous, I’ve learned to hitch the hemlines on fast fashion so as to acquire the second best things in life, retro-spectacularly, for free.

As a young girl at home on the farm, summer always began bagly: raiding the top cupboard of my mothers wardrobe for my female cousins’ last season loot. Hours were passed riffling through high-waisted hot pants, mid-drift tops, shoulder-padded blouses, puffed-sleeved leotards, button-down shirt dresses, mini skirts and all manner of fluorescent dangly earrings…until my mother was able to locate an item “suitably appropriate for young ladies” to wear to our glorifying morning mass sessions on Sundays. Since technically I wasn’t disobeying any of the ten commandments, I didn’t feel it necessary to disclose the secret stash of overlooked ensembles I carried in my backpack for those after school playdates with the townies.

These days I am little more overt about my In Style acquisitions of wardrobe attire. Whilst happy to doll out the dosh on the occasional top quality, Australian made garment, my closet maintains a healthy position of financial equilibrium by, mostly, secondhand means. Op-shops, Clothing Fairs, Handmade Jobbies and Textile Tip Bins all rate highly on my Vintage Vogue salvage list. But, like many of my like minded lady friends who revel in the art of procuring their FCUK, D’Jones outfits unnew, the Clothing Swap Soiree is the clear headliner: Fashion Trafficking Redressed.

Straight off the rack, I’ve never organised one of these events myself. I leave that to our ethical fashionistas, Ami and Hils, who rotate hosting duties at the end of each season. Having now attended a number of these Frankiely fabulous events, I would however, like to spread the organisational word to all those keen to Russh into their girlfriends’ garters…sorry…let’s keep it above belt…their female friends’ raiment:

  • Fashion some gossip: start spreading the word early (3 – 4 weeks) via whatever means (email, texts, hand written invitations, social media) is most likely to capture your audiences’ attention. This gives people plenty of time for spring cleaning…and seaming if need be.
  • Cut on the bias: tell your crowd to leave their Vanity afFair at home. No really, anything goes (dresses, shorts, T-shirts, intimates, jewelry) provided it’s good quality. Seasonal garb is more likely to be shifted quickly from the hangers but you never know when someone is looking to get out of the big freeze in the winter or vice versa in the summer and, hence, in need of some out-of-season duds.
  • Make it A-line: c’mon ladies…how often do you get a chance to go on a shopping spree with just your wonderful gaggle of glamorous gals? With enough advance notice most can tee up a hubby, friend or generous neighbour to take up sprog duties for a couple of bubbly hours of Adult (female) only fun.
  • Embrace the elastic waistband: no social gathering is ever complete without some good quality tucker…and some bubbly. Since you’re hosting, pawn this duty off to your guests.

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  • Encourage adhoc embellishments: be creative with your garment display. Couches, backs of chairs, tables, camping drying lines, broom sticks wedged between book shelves and even clothing stands made from gum tree branches can be good possies for your wares. Don’t forget to clear a few rooms (preferably with full length mirrors) for fittings and to ask your guests to bring hangers.

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  • Start a fashion parade: OK. I’ve never actually seen this done but I’ve always thought it would be a good idea. If catwalk culture isn’t your thing, then encouraging your guests to go home wearing just a little something from their afternoon takings, can be a discreet way of saying thanks to the donor. An open mike – “infamous item anecdote” – session has also proven to be a great way to get the afternoon off to a screamer of a start.
  • Install an invisible zip: when the hubby (and kids) comes home, it’s time for your guests to perform a disappearing act. Since you’d probably like to do it again some time, you are much more likely to see a favourable prenuptial agreement if you keep it short and sweet (2 hours…max).
  • Punt on a Phili: now that you are kitted out for a day at the races (work, beach etc.), it’s time to say a big Grazia to a nominated charity or other philanthropic organisation. Think hard about this before advertising. Whilst well intentioned, dumping a large amount of unswapped items at your nearest charity shop is likely to overwhelm and overburden: most goods will ultimately end up in landfill. Local homeless shelters, Women’s Refuges and clothing recycling depots can all be good places to get you off to a Googling start.

After a Bazaar couple of hours of fun at my recent Spring Clothing Swap Soiree, it was time to call it a Woman’s Day. Free from the mental post-purchase – “How am I going to tell Scott about this one?” – persecution, I wobbled my way home on two wheels, backpack loaded with booty. The spoils: a summer shift dress for riverside lounging and a ravishing little number for the next Dine-In Date Night.

Shhh…don’t tell…it’s a Victoria’s Secret!

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