When you feel like you belong in another era


Jane Rocca

Julie Poulter.

Julie Poulter. Photo: Bonnie Savage



I've always loved the glamour of the 1950s. I love the tailoring, too. Everything is designed beautifully and enhances a woman's figure.

I started dressing this way when I was in my teens. Mum was a dedicated op shopper and I would tag along and buy anything old that caught my eye. It took a few years to work out what suited me and I've been wearing mostly 1950s clothing ever since.


Men usually open doors for me when I'm wearing a nice frock. Little girls stare in wonder and tell me I look like a princess. Women sometimes come up to me and say how much they love my outfit, and they wish they could carry off that style themselves.

I love the Lilli Diamond label and own cocktail dresses dating from 1951 to 1965. Some of the items I love include a white-fringed top and a capri pants set. Another favourite piece is a Monte-Sano & Pruzan fitted jacket with huge, cape-like sleeves I bought on eBay for $30. After some research, I found out the head designer there had been [Christian] Dior's apprentice – and lover.

I mix vintage with modern and reproduction pieces for my work as an advertising copywriter. [Julie is also an ambassador for Frocktober, which raises money for ovarian cancer].

I usually wear at least one vintage piece every day, even if it's just a brooch. I do the majority of my shopping on eBay and Etsy, but my favourite place to shop is Los Angeles. I love the clothing fairs, vintage stores and flea markets.

My husband wears vintage too. We both wore vintage on our wedding day, and my bridesmaids all wore matching 1940s Hawaiian dresses in different colours. Our home is fully decked out with 1950s furniture. We also listen to 1950s music and travel to rockabilly festivals overseas.



In my mind, the '60s era was "it".

It was innovative, modern, a time for Vidal Sassoon, the music of the Beatles, the photography of David Bailey. It was all about the miniskirt.

I first started dressing this way when I was 21. A girlfriend told me I should get a Marianne Faithfull fringe. I didn't know who she was, so I looked at a photo in a book in Dymocks and I was in love. I started to explore '60s music. For me, it was the music that inspired the fashion. Once I started idolising the people, I wanted to mimic their style.

I get a lot of compliments about my hair – it helps when you are a hairdresser. I always tease my hair – getting the '60s look right has a lot to do with the hair!

My favourite piece of clothing would be my leather jacket – a Schott Perfecto from New York. I love my suede driving shoes, like those worn by Jean Shrimpton, bought from Blue Velvet in London. I also love my Chloé sunglasses – they are a late '60s "summer of love" look. A friend made me a Marianne Faithfull dress with a paisley collar and sleeves – it's like a long-sleeve shift dress.

Most days I dress very simply. Brigitte Bardot inspires me to wear comfortable miniskirts, turtlenecks, tights and pointy flat shoes. In winter I am usually in a skivvy and in summer plain T-shirts.

I shop in a variety of places – usually department stores for tights, Smith Street and Brunswick Street in Melbourne for something different. In London, I found Miss Selfridges and Harvey Nichols have some '60s-inspired pieces.

I love '60s music and do a monthly DJ gig at Dr Morse in Melbourne. I only buy vinyl. My house is filled with vintage prints, vases and records. The '60s also inspire my travels – last year I went to Saint-Tropez, the home of Brigitte Bardot, and Liverpool, the home of the Beatles.



The '70s were full of colour and people weren't afraid to experiment with alternative cuts such as flared or high-waisted pants. Fur was accepted and people were more carefree. I don't think fashion was taken as seriously as today.

When I was 15, my dad's girlfriend used to manage [Collins Street boutique] Cose Ipanema. That's what spurred my interest in fashion and then I started mixing up things she would give me with purchases I made from the op shops in Greville Street, Prahran. My husband and I design retro-inspired furniture made in Melbourne and sold at our shop, Surround Interiors. I also make jewellery.

One of my favourite wardrobe pieces is a Thierry Mugler leather dress I adore. I also love '70s labels such as Courage, Dior, Louis Feraud, Embassy, Bazaar of South Yarra and Ivan Fredericks from California. I have a number of '70s garments from the House of Merivale and Mr John. Two of my oldest friends own the vintage store, Shag, and I buy from them.

I wore '70s dresses during my pregnancy recently. A lot of the dresses I pinched in with thin dress belts above my stomach, and the fit was spot on.

The '70s pushed the boundaries for fashion and design without too much limitation. It left us with style and fashion icons such as Diane von Furstenberg, Biba, Jerry Hall, Bianca Jagger and Yves Saint Laurent.

The 1970s gave us hippie chic, power dressing, glam rock and even punk, all within an amazing 10-year time frame.



The '80s are a fascinating decade because of the murky differences between high and low fashion. The average Aussie mum was rocking a Ken Done sloppy joe and craving Laura Ashley anything. Shoulder pads were the great social unifier.

In order to look really good, sometimes you have to embrace looking really bad. Embracing the "anything goes" excessive vibe of the '80s requires a healthy sense of humour. Most people dig it.

Sometimes my look is Melanie Griffith in Working Girl, sometimes Claudia from The Baby Sitter's Club – it depends on what story I want to tell. I love shopping at Vintage Garage in Melbourne, which excels at '80s glamour pieces.

I absolutely treasure a T-shirt dress bought by my mum from Sportsgirl in Ballarat showing a [Roy] Lichtenstein "crying girl" pop art face. Mum wore it in a film clip for my dad's band, Vertical Hold, in the '80s.

I'm a huge fan of the Retrosweat '80s aerobics class in Sydney. I also make jewellery under the name of Frida Las Vegas. It's about expressing fun and individuality through pop art-inspired perspex accessories, and I'm obsessed with op shop records from the new wave era, particularly from bands such as the Cars, the Motels, Human League and Icehouse. 

Photography: Joshua Morris, Thom Rigney, Bonnie Savage


This story was originally published on Sunday Life. Follow Sunday Life on Twitter: @sundaylifemag