CARLTON has just been crowned Melbourne’s most fashionable suburb. That’s right. The home of women who look like casting rejects from Girls has just been unveiled as Australia’s style capital. The suburb where women are decked out in mustard-yellow culottes and grey-striped bowling alley shirts has just received a perfect style score of 100.
What has gone wrong in the world of fashion when women wearing mid-calf denim skirts, men’s brogues and the kind of eyewear usually sported by elderly priests for a court appearance are considered stylish? It’s all worn ironically, of course, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Carlton look is plain fugly.
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The list was compiled by data analyst Finity Consulting using consumer surveys and census findings. It found the top 10 most stylish Melbourne suburbs are mostly inner areas packed with young women and students who insist on wearing high-waisted jeans whether they look good in them or not.
(I’m in the latter category, which is why I haven’t worn them since I turned heads in high-rise terry towelling shorts in 1983.)
The top 10 includes the CBD, Southbank, Parkville, West Melbourne, North Melbourne, Clayton and Carlton North. The list also included two suburbs that are so hip you’ve probably never even heard of them: Travancore, which is near Flemington, and Cremorne in Richmond. My own east-side suburb, which admittedly has never been regarded as much of a style haven, received only 63 out of 100.
That is due, I suspect, to our local ladies’ love of puffer vest hoodies and saggy-bottomed leggings on the school run. To be sure, you won’t see a Gorman twilight dance print overall with acid-wash shorts and cowboy boots at my kids’ school gate.
The data file, which you can find by Googling fashionable suburbs 2017 and Defin’d, has some interesting results. Yarraville — the home of ultra-stylish normcore jeans and sneakers — received only a 66 due to its high percentage of “fashion agnostics”. Even Brunswick — the home of what one stylist called “90s Redux with a smidgen of festival grunge” — scored only an 80. (If you don’t know what normcore or Redux is, you’re probably a fashion agnostic yourself.)
That puts it on par with rock star bohemian St Kilda — which is hardly a hotbed of fashion — and just below “sportsluxe” South Yarra, which received 84. Even Toorak only managed to snag a 68, which is about the same as Sunshine, which has a decidedly different demographic.
Well, give me Sunshine’s Suzanne Grey floral tops and elastic-waisted pants over Toorak’s designer dresses accessorised with a facelift any day.
I have to admit I know nothing about fashion, as the decades-younger women in my office would confirm. Patent black pumps and opaque stockings — they’re in, aren’t they?
These days I barely stray out of Country Road, bought at greatly reduced prices at the Bridge Rd outlet store. Sometimes it helps to be the size of a jockey — especially if you like dressing in bright colours
Being an outlet queen makes me perennially one season behind, and often sporting clothes with minor imperfections, but no one seems to notice.
I should point out that when it comes to fashion, I have come a long way, baby.
Family photos saw me rocking an alarmingly large range of large-necked skivvies and corduroy homemade dresses in the 1970s, sometimes with reversible vests in contrasting fabric.
By the 1980s I had graduated to tracksuits and had one in a particularly alarming shade of poo brown. My mother used to call it my “leisure suit”, which she’d say with an American accent to make it more appealing. It didn’t work.
Around this time, I could also be found in velvet pedal pushers, Ken Done sleeveless windcheaters and V-necked jumpers that I used to inexplicably wear backwards.
By the 1990s it was tiny denims and crop tops befitting my proud pre-baby body.
But the good times didn’t last and within a few years it was mum jeans and Laura Ashley all the way.
These days I suspect I am the only woman in my office still wearing pantyhose.
I went to a marketing launch once and was the only lady wearing a brightly coloured jacket — demonstrating once again my commitment to bringing hi-vis to office wear. I stood out like a witches hat on the bitumen because the rest of the women were all in 50 shades of grey — but not in a good way. They shared a common uniform of skinny jeans, little boots, white shirts, grey jackets and hair parted in the middle cascading down in balayage waves. (I’m pretty certain balayage is French for black roots.)
There I was looking like a Qantas air hostess with my Zara orange jacket and Kate Spade (on sale) scarf. In fact, I’m pretty sure someone asked me if I’d just come from a shift at the airport.
Still, give me air hostess office wear in the suburbs over Jesus sandals and socks in Carlton any day.