Button, button, who’s got the button?

Betty bought this cape in one of Laura Ashley’s epic sales years ago, and wore it to death. It’s the perfect length for not feeling armless, it covers a handbag in the rain, it’s lovely for cycling in, and it’s not navy blue: edgy. To Betty’s surprise, it also gets a lot of compliments (along with some sideways glances, but to each her own). Betty’s only regret, apart from not getting the red one as well, was the distinctly naff buttons – so when one finally popped off, she decided to replace them with something more interesting.


The internet was fresh out of Midsummer Night’s Dream picture buttons, but after quite a while of keeping an eye out, Betty came across this set of three antique French postal service uniform ones on Etsy. There were sets of five listed on eBay, but only at horrendous prices. Betty snaffled up the thrifty three and found a fourth semi-neutral one at the fabric shop.




Et voila:


All looking a bit well-loved, but it’ll deliver for another day. Neither snow, nor rain, nor gloom of night…

Sunday best

Betty and the husband person caught the bus into town on Sunday. It was awfully nice. First off, Betty wore a funny hat – always a liberating experience. A young and honest friend at church greeted her with an enthusiastic, “You’re a baker!”


Afterwards, B and HP walked around the viaduct, and then sat for a while on the seats at the end of Queen’s Wharf. At least I think so. The one with the Cloud on it.



The tall building at twelve o’clock is practically Betty’s home. Or work, at least. Then the duo wandered through Britomart, made the obligatory duck into Lululemon (the husband person likes the reassurance of being asked if he understands the sizing) and Coucou and Made, and then went to Victoria Park for the next bus.

Betty returned home with tingly feet, salty lungs, a sample of Christopher Brosius’s Russian caravan tea on her left wrist and Jo Malone plum blossom on her right (both very nice), slightly muddy toes, and a hungry tummy. And she napped excellently. And behold, it was very good.


Adventures all round

To kick off this Thursday’s mandatory adventure, Betty had her hair cut. Viz:


Bob’s your uncle! And then Betty and the husband person went off to Vinyl in the Eden Quarter and had a spot of lunch, with curly fries. Betty has developed a sudden sensitivity to coffee and is going cold turkey this week to avoid bouts of dizziness, so she also had a lemon toddy. It was very nice, Vinyl being quite the thing: it’s also next to the sweetest old-school dancewear shop that sells superhero costumes.




All in all, a most excellent adventure.

Nice legs

Betty has rather a thing for stockings, although the budget does not stretch to as many Schiaparellis or Jonathan Astons as it once did. These, however, have been waiting in the drawer for an opportune moment: and what, gentle reader, could be more opportune than a moment with no clean socks? Betty threw caution to the winds and wore them to work.


They’re by Betsey Johnson, from Sock Dreams. Aren’t they nice?

Abi and Joseph

One of the interesting things about Pilates, from a sartorial perspective, is that it skirts in between some of the usual categories of exercise. It’s not like running, which requires warm layers and wicking and possibly racing stripes, or like ballet, which calls for regulation tights and hairnets. It isn’t ideally served by the baggy t-shirts of gym class (they end up around your armpits when you roll your hips up in Short Spine, and nobody wants to see that), the halter-tops of yoga (which are fine until your sweaty shoulders get stuck to the Reformer carriage), the low-rise leggings of jazz dance (as anyone who knows a Stomach Massage from a Balance Control will tell you), or the fisherman’s pants of contemplative bodywork (because, if it hangs into the springs, you’re going to lose it).

And that’s just doing Pilates — teaching it is another matter. You can teach in dress pants if you’re not going to demonstrate anything ever, and you can teach in skintight kneesies if you’re fourteen. The remaining 98% of Pilates teachers have to find clothes that are comfortable, easy to move and stretch in, presentable, and maybe even stylish and nice.

Enter Abi and Joseph. Abi, a teacher herself, developed her clothing line so that she could do Joe’s work without spending her life in unflattering trackies, and she now has a range of wonderful Pilates clothes that are also perfect for travelling and weekends. Betty met Abi a few years ago at a Pilates conference, and since then Betty has lived in Abi’s relaxed fit pants, which have a lovely wide waistband and easily roll up to the knees for serious working out, and her ballet wrap top, which is frankly the finest in the business.

She also makes a tee with the cues for the Hundred, in French, printed on the front. Can you imagine? The husband person gives this one to Betty whenever she doesn’t know what to wear. Betty likes it too.


Top Shop

Sometimes, when the boy person fiance is just chillin’, he will blurt out (or even text-message) the words “Top Shop”. Sometimes, when Betty has a spot of free time, she will wander through the Department Store, which is very near her work. Several days ago, the word muttered darkly on the lips of the beautiful people was Eyjafjallajökull. However, this morning, technology and modern British bravery will prevail, and Top Shop will open on the top floor of the Department Store, and all of Auckland’s fashionable and moderately budget-conscious will rejoice. No doubt they will queue up, as they did a short while ago when the shop opened for a weekend to sell the one measly order that had made it through the skies before the eruptions, and Betty will see them on her way to work.

Betty, incidentally, will not go in; she will race through town afterwards to meet the boy person fiance for a spot of premarital counselling, but she does want readers to be informed. Top Shop!

Epiphanies are always nice

The other day Betty was sorting out her camera bags, that she might take one to Parachute. She was, as always, surprised to realise that she owns several cameras: a trusty digital (Panasonic Lumix DMC F27, not bad, not breathtaking), an old Minolta SLR that belonged to her father until he rashly lost interest in it, a newish Minolta SLR that Betty has tried a few times to sell on TradeMe, and a Holga, as well as a rather nifty Olympus rangefinder that her mother may or may not still be attached to.

Along with these, she has a selection of camera bags. There is a big old one like a chilly-bin, a smaller squary one, and one molded obscenely around the lens. There is an old-school lens case that looks as if it could have been issued in the war, and a casual yet futuristic pod that the Lumix goes in. Apart from the old-school lens case, these bags are blue and black and as ugly as sin. Then there is Betty’s handbag, which is not ugly at all, and in which the camera usually finds itself. In fact, Betty once blew a colleague’s mind by producing a tripod from her handbag mere seconds after the colleague had wished aloud that she had one. Very often, there is a lens-cleaning pen with a retractable brush floating around in there as well.

Now, Betty is far from being an awesome photographer, though she does fondly plan to get better at it one day, but she does take photographs on an almost daily basis. Just imagine, then, how tickled she was to find that a genius photographer has designed a range of bags for the very purpose of being able to take photographs all over the place.

Her lovely website is Epiphanie Bags. It’s beautiful.

And look at the inside. Betty faints with the joy of nifty organisation.

Photos from the lovely Elle Moss at Diary of a Mod Housewife.

On sun and parachuting

There are a few fixed rituals in Betty’s year. NaNoWriMo is one; others have come and gone, like hot air ballooning every Easter (for something like five or six years, Betty forgets), or strawberry picking in the summer, or abseiling at youth camps. The most enduring, Betty reflects, is quite possibly the annual pilgrimage to the Parachute Music Festival every Auckland Anniversary weekend.

This is a little odd, since Parachute is not really Betty’s thing; she was introduced by her hip friends back in the late 1990s, and reintroduced by her well-connected and keen sister a few years later. Betty’s sister, for reasons related to autism and other awesomeness, enjoys few things more than planning and timetabling, listens devotedly to the radio, and loves fast food. Readers will therefore appreciate the significance of an event that packs dozens of bands into dozens of short timeslots, in a massive tent city peppered with literally dozens of hot dog stands, coffee bars and gourmet pizza marquees. It is like heaven.

It will, Betty readily admits, be fun this year: Switchfoot are headlining on the Mainstage, as they did in 2008, and Betty is quite quivering to hear them; there are also other regular highlights, like the World Vision installation (you line up for hours, wear an earpiece, and undergo some kind of simulated third-world horror; last year it involved sitting in a makeshift clinic waiting to be told if you had contracted AIDS; it was harrowing and very moving), the gourmet pizza, and the midday roller disco or barndance in the Palladium.

By far the most significant part of Parachute, however, is the sun. Betty has an unholy horror of sunburn. Though she spent her childhood tanned to a deep shade of acorn or teak, she is now Baltic pine at the very most, and not at all fond of getting lupus-like flushes of red across her cheeks, or that permanent dark nose-stripe that develops after a day or so of unprotected sun exposure. One year, despite her best efforts, Betty left Parachute with a burned parting in her hair, and a strip of her scalp peeled off in one deliciously satisfying and yet totally unacceptable piece a few days later. There always seems to be a spot — the top of a foot, a corner of neck, a strip of hip, an entire ear — that ends up blackened and blistering.

However, Betty chooses to live in hope. Armed with a small array of sunscreens, a pair of dark glasses, sleeves, and a hat, Betty will once again attempt to avoid burning. The festival is just over two weeks away, so helpful suggestions and recommendations are most welcome.

The much-awaited haircut

Betty was hoping that this would give the general impression — but, she realises despondently, not so much. The bits over the right ear are only about ear-length, and the layers you see flicking out to the left are only slightly shorter than the longest bits at the back. Do you follow? It’s actually quite structured when blow-dried. The short bit can be pinned back most conveniently for working out. I still like it.

Hairdressers and other mysteries

Betty had her hair cut today. This is not a frequent occurrence. There was a time when Betty’s hair reached fingertip-length, before she chopped it to shoulder-length a few years ago: it has fluctuated up and down her thorax ever since. Today’s haircut, however, was slightly bolder than before. Some of it is collarboney, and one piece can just fit into her mouth. It is a good haircut.

Many haircuts, of course, are not good: Betty remembers several, over the years. In the fingertip days, naturally, there was not a terrible amount of room for disaster — and, if it comes to that, Betty’s hairdressers tended to be good sorts of people. There was Carlos, who had only a very minimal number of fingers on his cutting hand, and a slightly larger number on his other one; he was a fine hairdresser. There was also Carlos’s apprentice, a young boy who appeared to have only been introduced in passing to some of the more challenging scenarios that would present themselves to him over his career: he looked at Betty for quite a while — she was in her mid-teens and at more or less the height of her length, as it were — and after some deliberation he sat down, cross-legged, on the floor, so that he could snip the ends.

In more recent years, however, there were some quite unusual hairdressers. The most staggering was a wee girl in one of the swanky salons in Casabella Lane — Betty chose her on account of the fact that nobody else could fit Betty in, and she was meeting the boy person friend that afternoon and could not afford to be choosy. The hairdresser became chatty, and asked Betty all about her trips to the big city, where Betty, at the time, was studying. The conversation went something like this:

Hairdresser: Do you go up for the weekend?

Betty: No, I generally drive up for the day. Sometimes, however, I stay for the night with friends, or I go to an hotel.

Hairdresser [recalling, through the haze of volumizer, a previous topic]: But do you not stay with your boy-friend?

Betty: No, no.

Hairdresser: Oh. He lives very far away, does he?

Betty: No, not really, but I don’t stay with him.

Hairdresser [knowingly]: Ah. Wife and children?

[Betty wonders for a moment whether this is a cute way of implying that Betty is some kind of upper-level Good Girl, waiting not only for matrimony but also for offspring before she moves in with the boy person. It subsequently dawns on her that this is not the case — but, alas, too late.]

Hairdresser [comfortably]: No problem, we’ve heard it all, you wouldn’t believe. I’ll just get the straighteners.

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