My Style

Who knew that a cotton linen crocheted nightie from the 1930s could look something magnificent with an Officer’s uniform blazer for the merchant navy?  Well, I think it does.  It’s a great example of juxtaposition in fashion.  Wearing opposites, contrasts of the more extreme.  It’s also an example of an outfit that appeals to me on more than one level.  I love the mannish blazer, masculine, strong and assertive.  And the detail in the nightie is exceptional.  Someone spent many hours lovingly labouring away to make it, stitch by stitch.  It is a small work of art, feminine, soft and gentle.  Beautiful.

Styling Notes

It’s not an original idea – a linen smock over a black slip and opaques.  It hints at Victorian school-girl, or of a maid-servant uniform in a period movie.  But it’s a look that has always appealed to me.

In this case, the linen-cotton smock is in fact a vintage night gown, and the blazer is an authentic merchant navy blazer.  The black and white contrast emphasises the juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine elements, soft and hard, strong and gentle, dominant and submissive.

Given the strength of the gold buttons and Officer’s stripes, gold jewellery was the natural choice in accessories.  The white stone in the ring and watch face repeats the white of the nightie, helping to bring the whole outfit together.

The Merchant Navy blazer is a piece I discovered at Richmond Antiques and Curios.  It is a man’s blazer, but as I have a very boyish frame, it happens to fit me perfectly.  Coincidently, my nightie was also purchased from the same place (which is ‘my local’ vintage shop in Richmond), although on a separate occasion. My watch pendant is a favourite piece and also a vintage find, purchased from Eclectic, and the small white-stone ring was a very recent find from Trade Aid in Nelson.  The second ring is a piece I purchased from Shine, along with my ever-faithful black leather lace-ups by Elk.  Like my shoes, my sunglasses are ‘ever faithfuls’, investment buy sunnies from Matthews Eyewear.

Morrison Styles

Shelby English, Jay-Jay’s shopper

I love it that Morrison Styles is bringing diversity and character to Silk Purse, Oily Rag.  This week I talked with Shelby, whose street style look this week was all about Jay-Jays.  It’s great to meet a young person with a strong sense of who she is and how she wants to dress…

“We moved to Nelson from Australia where I was born to be closer to family.  My grandmother has not been well.  I really do love it here, compared with where we were.  The weather, the location, it’s just so much better.  I do miss some things about living there though.  They have some amazing huge malls and outlet malls that we just don’t have here.  At least not big ones like that here Nelson.  But the shopping is okay, and I am lucky that my Mum shops at Jay-Jays Morrison Square!  I like to borrow a few of her things and sometimes she gets things for me.  My own style is quite simple, like black and white mostly and jeans and tee-shirts.  Mum encouraged me to have a go at being photographed in my street style.”

Shelby wears sunglasses ($15), polkadot jumpsuit  ($44.99), faux leather biker jacket ($69.99) all from Jay-Jays at Morrison Square.  Her shoes are Vans ($120), available from  Amazon Surf Skate Demon also at Morrison Square.



Great style is, in part, a function of taking a considered approach to how you spend your money.  I like Annabelle’s philosophy, a blend of old and new and careful spending on the things that matter…

“Money has always affected my style, I suppose you could say.  I mean, I’ve never had a lot to spend on clothes, but style has always been important to me.  I guess that’s why I have always been an op-shopper.  But when I do spend more, it will be on something really important to me, like quality leather boots.  And this coat, which is from Kilt and replaced an old one that had long past it’s use-buy.  This hat was a more expensive piece too.  But it is something I plan to have and love and wear for a very long time, so the money is well spent.  The pin on my lapel is more of a fun piece, from Madam Fancy Pants in Wellington.  But again, it’s something I love and I think that it has a timeless appeal.  I think it adds…. something, interest I suppose, to the coat and my look”.

My Style

I remember everything about the moment I found, tried on and bought this silk dressing gown.  Yes, the blue and white floral piece I am wearing is a dressing gown.  It’s special because it’s the only thing I am ever likely to own by Christian Dior.  It’s pure silk, and I loved it the moment I put it on in the St John’s Ambulance charity shop on Rutherford Street.  I am not sure what the lovely elderly lady thought of me and my excitement for it.  It’s the most expensive thing I have ever bought from an op-shop.  I left $65 dollars poorer but with a huge twinkle in my eye and swagger in my stride.  It’s treasure hunting at its best.

Styling Notes

Needless to say, this look is all about the dressing gown.  But, because of that, it needed some serious grounding so as not to look too ‘boudoir’.

The sleeveless wool coat was the perfect complement and anchor to the gown.  It’s the kind of coat that you can keep on indoors, so partially covering the dressing-gown-ness of the main piece.  The black lace on the gown sleeves and pockets connected the two pieces well, giving the look strong coherence.   I wore a vintage lace slip underneath the gown to ensure I would be covered at all times!  My black boots and leather bag kept the look grounded and strong.

I tried on a few large white ‘statement’ earrings before settling on the large silver flowers.  While white would have been a great way to repeat the colour of flowers in the gown, the silver was more subtle.  I like the way the silver flowers look so similar to the flowers in the fabric.  A simple silver pendant completed the look.

My coat is a highly loved and treasure piece I’ve worn to death this winter, by New Zealand designer Wynn Hamlyn from Palm.  Although it extended me considerably in the financial sense, it’s been worth every cent.  As mentioned, my Christian Dior dressing gown was bought from the St Johns Ambulance charity store in Nelson.  I cannot recall the shop that I found them in, but my earrings were a $2 charity shop find.  My vintage lace slip was also a charity shop find.  I recall that I bought the Karen Walker pendant when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Harriet.  I’ve had my boots ‘forever’ and they were from Country Road.  My bag is by Status Anxiety, another item I’ve thrashed, and was from Trouble & Fox.



This week Kellie and I talked about identity, and how changing your hair can affect how you feel about yourself.  We also talked about self-esteem and the importance of feeling good to having a great sense of style…

“Yes, since I changed my hair, I have felt less confident about my style.  I used to have a 1950s rockabilly thing going on, and I would wear my frocks with my hair up in a bun or long and loose.  This cut has thrown me a bit.  I think it’s just taking a bit of getting used to, and I wasn’t really expecting to feel different about my style because of it!  Also, the winter can affect me a bit and how I feel about myself.  If I feel “fat”, though it might not be true, I lose my mojo a bit for my sense of style.  As I am getting older, that body stuff doesn’t affect me as much as it used to, but the internal dialog reappears”

Morrison Styles

David Walker, Barker’s Retail Assistant

One of the things I love most about the real style project, is meeting and getting to know new people.  I am often humbled by peoples’ stories, and enlightened by their take on the value of fashion and style.  This week’s subject David Walker of Barkers is no exception…

“In Sydney and other places in the world I worked as a chef, after training and working through the ranks. I was leading large, high-end brigades in top restaurants.  The job was emotionally, physically and mentally demanding, pushing every limit possible.  I was sometimes working up to 100hrs per week, which didn’t leave much time for anything else.  After 20 years as a Chef, I decided I’d had enough.  I returned to NZ to be among family and friends.   I love all types of fashion, particularly clothes I can enjoy wearing, and so the job at Barkers was perfect for me.   Working in retail is a ‘breath of fresh air’ in comparison to hospitality, due to the lack of stress and the slower pace.  Clothing is a form of creative expression which I always adore”.

David wears shirt ($89.99), pants ($99.99), bag ($299.99), jacket ($229.99), shoes ($75) and belt ($59.99), all by Barkers and available at the time of writing from the Barkers Store at Morrison Square (on Hardy Street).



How we dress often reflects how we feel about ourselves, good and bad.  This week Jana and I talked about how long winter can seem and how it can affect how we feel about ourselves…

“It’s been a while, because to be honest I haven’t felt like being photographed.  Over the winter I have felt a bit out of sorts.  My body has changed and many of the things I used to wear no longer fit me as well.  That said, some things actually fit better, but it’s taking some adjustment.  I used to just go to my wardrobe and throw anything on, but now I have to think about it a bit more.  You too?  Yes I suppose it’s quite common.  There are times when you just don’t feel as confident about things, and the winter can seem so long.  Yes, my boiler suit is a bit of a treasure!  It’s one of my favourite vintage finds”

My Style

There’s a lot of nerd in me. However defined, I often like to dress in a bookish, straight-laced kind of a way.  Among other things, this means I’m drawn to shirts buttoned to the neck, librarian skirts, brogues, glasses, handknitted cardigans, ‘nanna’ frocks and school-girl backpacks.  It’s a side of me I’ve chosen to amplify rather than hide, and when I dress in this way I feel a sense of peace.  Like, ‘this is me and I feel good like this’.  Oddly, it also makes me feel stronger within myself.  This to me is an example of finding a style that is ‘you’.  It makes you feel peaceful and powerful at the same time.


Styling Notes

Want to know how this look was put together?  It’s a look centred around me wanting to be very square for the day.  As above, it’s a way of dressing that makes me feel right in myself.

It was built up from the white shirt worn buttoned to the neck, and school-girl stockings with lace-ups.  I chose the clean, tailored lines of a denim wrap dress to emphasise the collar and cuffs.  It also has a hint of pinafore about it, reminding me of a nurse’s apron or my daughter’s school uniform.

A black leather back-pack was the obvious choice in bag, and minimalist jewellery and accessories, not wanting to distract from the school-girlishness.  The little bow pin brooch was a quirky and fitting accessory, reminding me of Girl-Guide acheivement brooches or military medals and such-like.

The white shirt is a silk Assembly blouse, purchased some years ago now from Trouble & Fox.  My dress is by Nelson fashion designer Robyn Reynolds, a piece that I’m really loving right now!  I’m wearing a second hand leather backpack from Nelson’s Eclectic, and sunglasses from Matthews Eyewear.  My ring is my wedding and engagement ring, but my studs were cheapies from The Warehouse.  My only op-shop finds this week are the bow brooch, to which I added the black drop bead myself.  My leather cuff-watch was a Nelson Recycle Centre find.


What a beautiful spring day it is here as I write this!  It seems criminal to be inside, but fitting to share these beautiful spring-like images of Emily-Rae and to share her style story…

“I really didn’t know what I was going to wear when you messaged me.  I am so over the winter, and didn’t feel inspired by my winter wardrobe.  Also, since Paxton was born, my body has been changing a lot, and I haven’t really invested in winter clothes.  I am looking forward to summer when I can wear lots of vintage boho pieces and the like.  Yes, the earrings are a bit unexpected, aren’t they?  I first put in some neutral coloured  ones.  Earring that you’d expect with an outfit like this.  But then I thought ‘this is too boring’.  A little bit unexpected is what I try to do with my looks.  It’s how I like my style to be.  And I’m really into scarves at the moment.  You can do so much with them, and they’re so cheap and easy to find in second hand shops”.


What do I love about Kate’s style?  Well, I love her rock-star chic look that’s a little bit tough (even though there’s nothing hard about Kate). I also love it that she consistently raids her Mum’s wardrobe to create it, and that she’s no label snob…

“Yes, I did raid Mum’s wardrobe again for this look!  She has some amazing things, I’m lucky that she lets me share her stuff.  I’m also lucky to be able to afford quality labels.  But I certainly don’t live by brands and labels.  Take this coat for example.  It’s faux fur, and a bit of fun.  I could have spent a lot on a designer piece but I knew it was more of a novelty thing for me.  Like, I would only wear it a few times this season, and so spending a whole lot of money wouldn’t really make sense. They were only $15 each, so I also bought a fluffy pink one!”