Creative Dressing: Summer Party Jackets

This year in Victoria the hot weather has been a long time coming and everyone is relieved to be finally ditching those winter clothes.  In Australia we have the advantage of end of year holidays in the warmest months when we can wear our summer finery.  Dressing up for summer parties can be expensive and it is good to have items that can be used in different combinations so that they last for more than one season.  In Melbourne there is also the unpredictability of the weather that makes choosing an outfit tricky.  You never know when a cool change will make the temperature plummet from above 30 degrees to the chilly teens.  A great solution to this dilemma is having a summer jacket to go over your lighter clothes.

I have been collecting these types of jackets for several years and switch them around with different tops and skirts to create new looks.  This has saved lots of time and money and reflects my own style of dressing.  Vintage Japanese Haori jackets are among my favorite pieces.  I bought a couple of these at a Japanese store in Melbourne, and while not dirt cheap, were great value because they are beautifully made and each is unique.  I also have several less expensive Indian made jackets: one floral Haori inspired; two identical made of lace in black and green; and a black sheer one.

I like to mix these jackets with vintage clothes and accessories and newer items for my own individual look.  I have a black contemporary skirt that goes with different tops under all the jackets.  For a 60s look I wear the skirt with a vintage black sequined top and a 1930s bugle beaded necklace both inherited from a relative.  This looks great under the red and black 60s Haori.  If I want to appear even more colorful, I wear the red floral Haori with a camisole top and the skirt and accessorize with a Chinese enameled buckle belt and Venetian glass beads, souvenirs from overseas trips.  For a cooler look I put the same top and skirt under the Indian floral Kimono jacket, together with a black leather belt and a Scottish green enameled pendant.  Combining clothing and accessories from different cultures and eras in the one outfit creates visual interest, as well as being fun.

The lace and sheer jackets completely change the feeling of the skirt and top.  For that little black dress effect I wear the black lace jacket with the leather belt and a vintage bead necklace found at the op shop.  Switching to the sheer black jacket creates a different outfit, especially when you add a chunky colorful eighties necklace and the Chinese enameled belt.  For a softer look I replace the jacket with the green lace version and wear this with a floral Indian top, tied with a matching sash and the Scottish enameled pendant.

There are many more ways that I can wear these jackets.  Putting them with a longer skirt or with pants allows many different combinations. Then there are the endless changes that can be done with various accessories.  Sticking to a base color like black means that you can get away with buying a few good quality shoes and bags that make an outfit appear stylish.  I see these jackets as pieces that I can keep for years, as they are timeless classics and do not get the same amount of wear as everyday clothes.

If you want to do something similar you can find suitable vintage jackets at local recycled clothing stores and on the internet.  You might be lucky and find one at an op shop or a Sunday market.  For new items there are ethical Indian clothing stores to be found at major shopping centres and on-line (like Tree of Life and Ishka ).  Just buy what appeals to you and develop you own individual sense of style rather than following fashion fads.  After all, what we wear is another form of self-expression and it makes you feel good to dress for yourself.

The following is a link to an Australian website where you can buy genuine Haori jackets:

japanmade.com.au – Haori page

Kat

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