My weekend was lovely for a number of reasons. Firstly, my parents were visiting from Knysna, which translates as good food, more good food, shopping and lots of laughter. My mother has as bad an affliction as I do when it comes to clothing, although hers involves a full-blown shoe fetish which is the bane of my father’s existence. This of course resulted in her purchasing two pairs this weekend – one pair of nearly-new leather Camper pumps from Stock Exchange (‘I had to buy them, they’re four times the price in the actual store!) and a pair of brown, low-heeled vintage Bally’s, courtesy of the Biscuit Mill. My dad looked on in silence, an abandoned bratwurst in one hand and a clutch of our other shopping bags in the other.
My mom and I had set off earlier that morning, intending to hit the You and Me and Everyone We Know market, but had gotten sidetracked on our way down Kloof; a quick browse at Stock Exchange. Previous ‘quick browses’ had resulted in my intergalactic Diane von Furstenberg mini, and a few other obscene cant-live-withouts. I promptly fell in love with a Day Birger frock in the window – the floatiest, witchiest concoction of tight waist, high collar, button through, full skirted bliss. Slightly diaphanous on the legs and a fraction too tight at the waist. Perfectly addictive. Perfect. I immediately started plotting ways to make it mine. All the way to the Biscuit Mill I mulled it over. My tax return had just come through from SARS. A deposit? A lay buy? So not my style.
People watching, mule-sipping and wandering ensued (including a chance meeting with the lovely Crystal Birch, stylist and milliner-miss, but more on that later). I took my mom to The Cat’s Meow to browse through lovely mother / daughter owners Laura and Barbara Meek’s parlour of treasures; walls of vintage dresses, quirky knick knacks and collectibles, and other delightful oddities. I realised about three dresses in that I was in for trouble, being pressed for time and with two dresses already slung over my left arm, a scary gleam in my eye. My mom hustled me into the change room, prying my fluttering fingers from the furs and velvets I passed en route. Laura and her mother Barbara have such a great eye for the unusual and the beautiful, and it shows in their collection and the care they take to dry clean each piece. I flew through a pile of five or six dresses, scuttling in and out to show Laura her wares and turning to admire cinched waists and full skirts. We narrowed it down to two delightful choices, but it wasn’t easy.
This dropped waist, moss green, glittery little sweetheart of a thing has the most lovely off-green lining and I just had to have it, simply so no one else could. Not sure when and where it will make its debut, but I was powerless to resist this perfect rosette detail, and the fact that the label inside reads ‘Debutante Cocktail Wear’.
It was love at first sight with this cinched waist day dress. I just love the cut, which looks almost burlesque when on, and the rows of subdued floral print. The pleated skirt and conservative neckline balance out the curves to maintain that ladylike charm. I cannot wait to wear her! It makes me want to put on a pair of cat’s eyes (Tom Ford tortoise shells, please), sling on a little handbag and go do the week’s shopping in style.
This obviously means that the Day Birger frock is out of the picture, both financially and psychologically, because these two gems completely distracted me from my initial infatuation. Laura’s prices at The Cat’s Meow are also really good and it’s a pleasure to browse in her beautiful shop. I could spend hours in there, trying on, dreaming, talking vintage. Her genuine love for each piece and enthusiasm when she sees them on is also so befitting a place as dear as The Cat’s Meow. I would far rather spend money on an unusual, one off beauty like the ones I am now delighted to call my own, than spend on dime-a-dozens from chain stores. Trying them on again this evening completely revived me from my post-Olivia’s-birthday-hangover and the exhaustion that had started to set in. I flitted around the flat with a smile on my face and my father snorted and spun his usual line: ‘You’re such a little clothes horse’. Happily so! I think he may finally be starting to deal with this lifelong fact.
In other news, my SARS fund (which should have been called my straight-into-the-credit-card-fund) was put to good use when I bought a one piece from Accessorize that I’ve had my eye on for months; a nautical, frilled little thing that looks surprisingly elegant on, considering it features horizontal stripes and is not cut, as my father loves to remind me, for buxom lasses. For some reason, though, it really suits me, a rare and fortunate change for me, natural foe of all things strapless. I’m a sucker for anything striped and / or frilled. And it’s nice to have a one piece to alternate with your bikini.
Buxom shmuxom, I say.