Monday, 8 November 2010

The lost art of accessorising

It's been a breakthrough week. Since my sartorial breakdown a fortnight ago on the back of months wandering in the equivalent of post-Christmas sale changing room confusion I have found my way back to somewhere resembling me. And all it took was getting back to basics. And by basics I mean beads.

I think every girl at some point in her primary school education goes through a phase of making strings of basic bead jewellery. It was a hobby I never quite got done with and when I packed up my Bondi life to move to London in 2008 I had nothing short of two enormous plastic crates full of every imaginable bead in every imaginable colour, cut and material. Never mind metres of stringing leather, ribbon, broken chandelier pieces, feathers and all manner of other trinkets and ephemera courtesy of a dark moment in my life otherwise known as That Small Addiction To Ebay.

Add to this over five years working in the auction industry before vintage became "fashionable" and costume jewellery a la grandma was made in China and sold on the high street and and my bauble collection was built with job lots of 1950s Czech crystal, marcasite brooches, princess rings (their actual title, not mine), opera length pearls and anything else that sparkled, dazzled or generally caught my eye.

I brought most of this jewellery with me to London. Little works of art that tell stories: the 1960s brass Finnish necklace that I found in an outdoor antique market in Munster, Germany while on my solo art pilgrimage. The blue spinel dress ring set in a silver shank that cost me the astronomical sum of $150 when I was 17 years old but have loved every day since. The rose quartz beads that my grandmother gave to me when she was cleaning out her jewellery box 10 years ago that swing rhythmically when I walk. And the jade butterfly necklace she wore to my Mum's wedding five years ago and that she gave to me when I was home in April. To name but a few.

Since moving to London I've added to my collection - handmade fabric earrings from Mallorca, green bakelite earrings from a little antique shop on the Left Bank in Paris that Mum and I came across, art deco necklaces from LBB for Christmas. I love it all but strangely, mostly, it's remained artfully arranged on my dresser and only tentatively, conservatively, worn.

My beautiful, unique, sparkling engagement ring, with its diamonds and little rare green garnets (LBB's birthstone as it turns out and a sign of constancy - auspicious indeed) has oddly only confused things. The question being, how to wear such a grown up, important piece of jewellery and still find a way to keep my other baubles from early retirement? That has been the challenge. Especially, as a customer at an auction viewing 10 years ago observed as she spied me trying on an inordinately large, garish dress ring, I've never been a delicate sort of girl....

The answer, I've realised, is to just wear it. In the last week I've been out in (diamonds and) pearls (thank you Prince) and crystals, and large rings and big earrings and anything else I've felt like. Strings of green beads with strings of more green beads. My days now start not with questions about the weather or jackets - but about which piece of jewellery I want to exhibit and how I might curate an outfit around it.

This all sounds spectacularly trivial but you have no idea how, in a world otherwise filled with job uncertainty, financial uncertainty and, incredulously, two pairs of skinny jeans, some fabulous time-worn, time-trusted accessories can be a girl's best friend. It's been like the bead version of the bread trail out of the fashion forest. I just can't believe it's taken me this long to realise the answer was staring me in the face the whole time.

Sadly there have been few other revelations in the last fortnight but there's been a wildly optimistic job application, some delightful girl dates for mid-morning bellini's and midday movies and, since Friday afternoon, an extended and still ongoing stint nannying in Barnes.

I honestly love these kids but anything longer than an afternoon school run and it's like psychological warfare with a tamigochi. But one - or in this case, four - that have the ability to press your buttons, never mind demand the constant feeding and entertainment. I am exhausted. And in a week's time I'll be back here for a week while their parents are in Australia. I'm psyching myself up by the thought of the huge cash injection it will mean, comforting myself with the thought that between 8.40am and 4.10pm I will have my days to myself and generally focusing on the end of week delight that will be the arrival of family. Assuming Qantas gets their act - and their engine - together....

There's little else happening here at the moment. It's cold and by 5pm it's dark and what's left of the leaves is a breathtaking mix of reds and yellows. It's beautiful despite the chill factor but I can't wait to replace the falling leaves with some crashing waves. It's six weeks until LBB and I will be back in Sydney and I can't wait. I have so many summer outfits to accessories, it's going to be fabulous.

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