What would Romance Was Born do?

If anyone were to ask me if I work well under pressure, I’d generally say no. But lately it seems for various reasons I’m leaving more and more tasks to the last minute, the most recent example of which happened late yesterday afternoon while trying to decide what to wear to the Romance Was Born Grand Finale show at VAMFF*. Despite having a wardrobe that spreads over two rooms, there was nothing that felt quite right for the weather (hot), the occasion (dress-uppy, but not in a red carpet or blingy, evening-wear way) and my mood (excited about the show but a bit tired from doing two Pilates classes in the morning, returning my fostercat to the shelter, shooting images for a future blog post and feeding and walking the dog and cat at my mum’s place which I’m housesitting – whew!).

As I drove back to my place from mum’s house, I mentally scanned my wardrobe(s) for the umpteenth time before remembering this opshop poncho which I have never really worn (although I did use it recently to style the Oxfam accessories catalogue).
Trying it on in front of the mirror, I considered wearing it as it was, but it wasn’t quite right – the voluminous sleeves and short hem somehow made my legs look like sticks when I put heels on, and the overall effect was too casual, as if I’d just chucked it on after a day at the beach (which is probably its true purpose, or at least I thought so when I first blogged about it). Obviously some tweaking was needed, but I was super short on time as I had to be out the door in about 40 minutes. Aggh! Pressure! Then I thought, “what would Romance Was Born do?” and started rummaging through my haberdashery stash. The solution was (as it often is to just about any problem) “add fringing!”
I bought a whole box of fringing at a market years ago and it had been patiently waiting until my hour of need (actually more like 20 minutes of need). All I had to do was pin it to the inside of the poncho’s hem and sew it in place. It’s taking me more time to blog about it than it did to make it!
Due to the poncho’s side seams essentially forming the sleeves, I couldn’t sew into them. I sewed from one end of the front to the other end and finished off that seam, then sewed from one end of the back to the other end. It’s a bit hard to tell but in the picture above, my finger is pointing to the end of each bit of fringing on the inside of the poncho.
Anyway, super simple, but I was so pleased with the result, which I teamed with a recently DIYed bag, opshop heels, a big necklace and bangles from Laos and my “Phoukham” earrings!
(I was also very pleased that Vincent Calderon from yourensemble.com shot some decent photos for me. Makes a nice change from my crappy selfies, doesn’t it! Thanks, Vincent!)VAMFF_Day8-1
While I wouldn’t advocate sewing up outfits with seconds to spare, this project did show me how sometimes pressure can be a good thing. Also, how sometimes simple is best. I mean, look at this poncho – it’s really just an oval folded in half with a hole for the head (just after I bought it I added the stitching up the side and the holes at the front so I could slip a narrow scarf through to tie around the waist for a bit more shape).
You could easily make this from an oval or even circular tablecloth – a smaller version would result in a top or tunic rather than a dress, of course. I loved the effect of the fringing so much that I’m trying to justify making one in a winter weight. Maybe (in true Melbourne style) black wool with black fringing and worn with a matching long scarf? Or in shocking pink with a contrasting fringe? What do you think Romance Was Born would do?
*I’ve been writing about VAMFF for The Weekly Review  so if you want to read my review of the Romance Was Born show, click here. If you want to read about some of the other shows, click here.
*If you haven’t been to the Romance Was Born “Express Yourself” exhibition at the NGV, you should! It’s theoretically for kids, but don’t let that stop you. If you can’t get there, here are a few photos I took for the Vogue Japan blog.