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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1 (April 1, 1935)

A Busy Morning Buying Nothing — I “Do” the Shops.

A Busy Morning Buying Nothing.

I “Do” the Shops.

The wind blew a little chill in the shadows, but the sunlight was warm and yellow on the roadway as I crossed from pavement to pavement. Plaintively the bow of an itinerant musician shook forth the notes of an ancient melody. The plate-glass shopfronts had a cold sheen and one peered to see what was within. Science has evolved a new glass, an “invisible” glass, which seemingly sets no barrier between shop and street. We have only heard of it, but the faults of plate-glass are immediately apparent.

What are the new colours in stockings? Anxiously I gazed at an elaborate hosiery display. I blinked, I puzzled, I laughed, and longed for someone to share the joke. The pair of legs was so amusing, so unnatural. The stockings covering them were impeccable, but the legs! The attitude was wrong and suddenly I knew why. Two right legs had been placed together. And further along, featuring the latest in dull-finish smoke grey, and the two left legs. I felt cheered and wished people would do things like that oftener.

In a different quarter of the town, unconscious humour is frequently met with, especially on “home-made” show cards. I remember the laughs I have had, but memory refuses to supply examples. Friends won't believe I once knew a Chinese laundryman named Wah Shing.

The corner window was admirable— composition excellent. A regal brunette, gowned for conquest, stared superbly at the street. Near her, seriously considering her, stood a slim, pale figure, neatly dressed in black and bearing over one arm a cascade of red net frills and a gleaming length of oyster satin. There was art in the arrangement. The colourings were right, attitude right, contrast excellent. The eye was drawn and held. And then the little fair one moved and slipped quietly away through a panel at the back! I breathed a disappointed sigh and wished for a moment that I could be a window-dresser in order to reconstruct my scene and experiment further with ideas from tableaux vivants.

That was the start of my morning. I spent the rest of a hurried time in a whirl of hats, 'slouches with delightfully folded and peaked crowns, charming pull-ons in velvet, haughty Russian toques, jaunty affairs exclamation - marked with a gay quill, models trimmed with jet (neither old-fashioned, nor ugly, as they may sound), felts with mixed colourings for “tweed” wear, Breton sailors, berets, and brief affairs to show your curls. I whisked through the neck-wear section in a flurry of frillings and fronts, tailored, demure or even slightly flamboyant, coveted a cravat in gold lamé and a Peter Pan set in silver, blinked happily at the new tinsel-studded velvet and decided we'd all have to shine this winter.

It started, if you remember, with chromium buttons and diamente. Now, even woollen materials follow the gleam. Metal-run fabrics are ravishing. Cellophane-run laces are adorable (but that's anothers story). That sequin cape with Elizabethan collar of silver lamé will be the focal point of your whole evening wardrobe. The gown one just naturally covets has a quilted silver wing-back. Let's all join the angels. And we fold our wings under an ankle-length wrap with a star-sheen.

For informal occasions, note this printed satin gown, beautifully cut, draped and clipped softly to a square neckline, and belted with a wide Juliet tie, knotted at the left side with ends dipping almost to the hem. Satin or velvet is best for the Juliet sash, and contrast is the thing.

It was a mistake to leave street wear to the end. After glitter and gleam, I couldn't raise the necessary interest in tree-bark coatings, camel-hair and knotted tweeds, chevron velours and homespuns. I approved the slim-fitting coats, length much the same as last year, and the high, rich collars of fur. Two-way and three-way fastenings were noticeable. Capes were important features. Sleeve treatments are still interesting. The newest pockets are slanting. And so home to lunch.