Best of Ballarat: What to Wear & Where

Best of Ballarat: What to Wear & Where

Candice DeVille - Ballarat Heritage Weekend Vintage Style

“What should I wear?!?” is by far the biggest question we’re hearing as we countdown to the exciting Ballarat Heritage Weekend.

While some vintage stalwarts and BHW regulars have had their looks ready since last year, we can all benefit from some style guidance and suggestions for the perfectly primped looks to pair with the wide range of events.

Plus, there’s no specific era or niche for this event, which makes it such a delight to both dress for and people watch! You can take your cues from all manner of vintage and create a look and style that’s entirely your own.

Since dressing up is one of my favorite pastimes — and our mission for our Vintage Current Fashion Fair — I want to share my personal recommendations and style/event pairings to inspire your ensembles.

Enjoy these vintage styling tips and templates, as well as our new #VCFF vintage styling contest (details below). I can’t wait to see you rocking your own classic concoctions around this wonderful heritage weekend!

Daytime Style Tips

Vintage Current Fashion Fair + Fashion Parades = The Serious Shopper 

Your dresses or tops should be button up or zip up, nothing should go on over the head. This gives you the ability to change quickly without worrying about messing up your hair or makeup (or the garments).

To handle cold mornings and nights but beautiful clear days, use simple layers. Opaque tights are one of my “go anywhere” secrets; they can be easily changed out for sheer stockings during the day and stashed away in your handbag.

With your accessories, keep it simple: scarves, bangles, etc., not loads of fiddly jewelry. And if you’re trying on outfits, you can also tie the scarf over your hair and face to protect the garment from makeup, as well as your vintage hairdo.

Hats add a classic style and interest while dealing with any wind or chill in the air. And of course, shoes that are suitable for walking, standing and browsing are a must. Even though there’s a City Circle tram to help you get from place to place, you’ll have a full day on your feet (perhaps two full days)!

Keep in mind the seasonal trends that will also inspire your look: tweed, velvet, boho embroidery, perhaps a dash of this year’s weekend theme … steampunk?

All of these tips, plus the examples in the style board below, will prep you for the Vintage Current Fashion Fair, where you can augment your collection and refine your look, and from there it’s a short hop to check out the beautiful fashion parades hosted by Charlotte Smith in the Mechanics Institute.

Vintage Style / Vintage Current Style Board / Ballarat



Tweed Ride + Carriage Rides = A Casual Afternoon Affair

If a leisurely bike ride, tea and scones or a late afternoon beer is on your agenda, a simply put together, casual look is in order. The Tweed Ride is a popular annual tradition, so a most excellent pair of trousers, and stylish sunglasses, are a must.

In the style board below, I’ve paired these wonderful slub tweed trousers with a 1950’s beaded and embellished cardigan, a camel wool suit coat and a brilliant pair of reproduction lace up boots. Classy, comfortable, practical and cozy, each of these elements makes the ideal blueprint for a head-turning autumn wardrobe.

Whether you’re traveling by penny farthing, horse-drawn carriage, double decker bus or the Circle Tram, you’ll look sharp and feel fine while taking in the historic downtown sights and events!

Vintage Style / Vintage Current Style Board / Ballarat

Dinner Date Style Tips

Fine Dining + Cocktails = The Smoldering Standout

Dressing for dinner is an art I’m very keen to revive. With so many stunning heritage venues to stage your dinner time debut, Ballarat is ready made to spotlight your wardrobe.

Be brave, be daring, be impressive. After dark, it’s time to add more luxury, capes, longer hemlines and statement vintage jewelry.

Make sure to book your dinner engagement in advance for time to enjoy a proper old fashioned cocktail and give everyone the chance to truly appreciate your upscale ensemble.

If you’re seeking recommendations, check out the style board below, and for dining ideas around Ballarat, consider the fantastic dining options we prepared earlier. As for cocktails, keep an eye out for our forthcoming post … 

Vintage Style / Vintage Current Style Board / Ballarat

Evening Wind Down

Fireplace + Cozy Room = The Sleepy Beauty

After a big day of shopping, sightseeing and catching up with pals, having the right wind down look ready is quite a treat. I like to pack my favourite tea, a good book and a deliciously warm wrap or knit for these autumn evenings.

For an overnight stay, make sure to bring (or acquire) luxurious pajamas, a velvet robe, slippers and sleeping socks.

Other vital elements to consider include:

  • Wide legs pants in cashmere, jersey or even a well cut fleece.
  • Knit tops that reflect your style.
  • A wrap, shawl or pashmina.
  • Infinity scarf to avoid bulking up the look.

There’s no good reason that your off duty look needs to forgo the vintage influence, so I’ve taken some familiar motifs and worked them into the easy, comfortable pieces in the style board below. These outfits and concepts will send you off for a restful night, ready to meet the morning refreshed and ready for another day of vintage style.

Vintage Style / Vintage Current Style Board / Ballarat


For the Gentlemen

Beard Competition + Craft Beer = The Classic Chap

Gents come into their own at this year’s Ballarat Heritage Weekend, with the Beard and Moustache competition providing the perfect stage to show off their commitment to serious facial grooming, and the Hop Temple BBQ and craft beer events.

Dressing the part need not be painful (growing a handlebar moustache is not required). With a few choice accessories to reflect his personality and taste for the finer things, polishing up a winning look is a snap. Here are some ideas in the style board below to get him going down the right road …

Vintage Style / Vintage Current Style Board / Men's Vintage Style


For One Lucky Winner … YOU?

Social Media + Your #VCFF Style = Personal Styling Session

Now, if you’re taking all this in and worrying that your wardrobe is not up to the task, we’re adding a new twist to the Vintage Current Fashion Fair …

While you can find and buy gorgeous fashions like these from our wonderful VCFF vendors, I want to ensure that your hair and makeup styling are just as on point as your wardrobe.

We’ve added a #VCFF Personal Styling Session Competition to the mix! 

Entering is easy — just three quick steps:

  1. Snap a photo of your Ballarat Heritage Weekend outfit (what you’re planning to wear, your dream look, or what you’re wearing throughout the weekend)
  2. Share it on Instagram or Facebook and tag @VintageCurrent (be sure to follow us!)
  3. Include three hashtags: #VCFF #CDVStyling #BallaratHeritage

We’ll select our lucky winner at random and notify them on Monday, May 9th, with all the details on how to redeem your session. Entries are open to anyone in Australia who ticks all three boxes above. Enter as often as you wish!

This special contest starts NOW and closes at midnight on Sunday, May 8, 2016. Good luck and we can’t wait to see you online and/or in person at Vintage Current Fashion Fair 2016!


Best of Ballarat: Where to Eat & When

Best of Ballarat: Where to Eat & When

With Ballarat Heritage Weekend close at hand, and 20,000 vintage enthusiasts converging on the charming historic city, we’re sharing our best tips for making the most of your visit.

So we’re dedicating part one of our special five-part “Best of Ballarat” series to those most critical biological needs: fine food and coffee.

Whether it’s before, during or after our Vintage Current Fashion Fair, here are our top picks for treating your palette right around the city …

Breakfast Pick: The Unicorn

The Unicorn Ballarat

The Unicorn is my pick for breakfast in Ballarat. The menu is full of unexpected and delicious choices (including vegan) and the artistic vintage vibe gives this venue a feeling of community. Situated in a stunning heritage building, the decor alone with its collectible vinyl is worth the trip. Be prepared to spend an hour or two simply reading the walls and taking it all in.

Verdict: A feast for all the senses! Make sure you take the time to visit the Ladies room, you’ll know why when you get there.

Lunch Picks: The Hop Temple, Golden City Hotel

With warm open fires, delicious craft beer and juicy burgers, The Hop Temple is a no-brainer for me. This is exactly the type of place that you can settle into for lunch and also make a night of (the next day, of course). The selection of craft beer here is something you must take seriously, none of this “just pop in for a pint”, no sir. Carve out some time to exercise your palette, bring your note book and get stuck into some serious tasting.

Verdict: Come for the beer, stay for the food and teach your palette a thing or two about the heady appeal of hops.

golden city hotel ballarat

Right across the road from the Vintage Current Fashion Fair at St Patrick’s Hall, is the Golden City Hotel. Large, light filled and plenty spacious for big groups, this spot delivers on both the food and drinks menu. I thoroughly enjoyed the lamb wrap, as my partner made short work of the spring rolls. They have an excellent range to please every patron, plus great selections for kids, too. If you get in early you may even get a group spot on the sofa by the open fireplace!

Verdict: Try the warm thai beef salad or lamb wrap for something healthy and hearty.

Afternoon Tea Pick: Little Bird

Little Bird Ballarat

There’s one cafe that reminds me so much of having afternoon tea with my Nana. Little Bird has become the go-to place for coffee meet ups for vintage fiends in Ballarat. Formica tables and chairs, old school cakes that look like they were lifted directly from the pages of the Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbook circa 1958, and a cozy diner feel set the scene. But the coffees and homemade sweets and delicacies are where you’ll find the most win. 

Verdict: Perfect for catching up with coffee, cake and retro selfies.

Dinner Picks: Cafe Merkama, Craig’s Royal Hotel

cafe merkama ballarat

Cafe Merkama may be one of the best kept secrets in Ballarat. Even many locals I’ve talked with had never heard of this little place. Opened only a couple of years ago by an Ethiopian refugee, Cafe Merkama serves simple, hearty dishes that encourage sharing and introduce your palette to an entirely new range of flavours.

Verdict: Perfect after a long hard day when you want comforting exotic food and a good chat with friends.

craig's royal hotel ballarat

A beautiful heritage hotel that you’ll want to do a bit of swanning about in, Craig’s Royal Hotel offers an impressive dining experience. Often a bit of a roulette, gnocchi has never been high on my menu choices when dining out, but this one was so impressive we’re still talking about it a month later! The grilled gnocchi at Craig’s Royal Hotel Restaurant (“The Gallery”) recently took out the title for Best Gnocchi at the Ballarat Rural Lifestyle expo, so there’s even more proof. I highly recommend you put this one on your list.

Verdict: Make a booking for this one and check out the menu ahead of time to give you plenty of time to make a selection, as it’s so hard to pick a favourite. Finish off your meal with what I personally believe may be the best coffee in Ballarat. It’s so good in fact, that I asked the Barista to pose for a photo so you can find her!

Readers’ Choice: Share Your Ballarat Foodie Picks

We’d love to hear about your favorite dining spots as well, while we prepare for the big Ballarat Heritage Weekend 2016 (and many other visits). Where will we see you?

Please share your personal favourites and insider foodie tips in our Vintage Current Fashion Fair Facebook group, and let’s all enjoy and support the local winners!


Get Ready for Vintage Current Fashion Fair 2016

Get Ready for Vintage Current Fashion Fair 2016

Do you remember “finding your true home” in the vintage community?

And how wonderful it was to discover that your passion was shared and cherished by others?

I do. It was at the best vintage fair I’ve ever been to (still to this day).

There, for the first time, I didn’t feel out of place in my 1940s suit, hair piled high. From the moment the first person tapped me on the shoulder and asked about the “soutache” on my lapels, I knew I’d found my people.

It was a long way from home, a plane ride away. I had saved for almost a year to acquire my own pieces of history. And although I went alone and didn’t know anyone there, when I walked into that room, heaving with smiling people, I felt instantly at home.


Finding Your Vintage Story: A Source of Inspiration

That experience set the bar for me on what an exceptional, authentic vintage fair and event should be: a community of like-minded people, with myriad styles and inspirations, brought together by their mutual love of historical fashion.

There were no hard and fast rules as to what should be worn and how. Instead what I found was a genuine exchange between friends, buyers and sellers, hardcore fans and the curious, all sharing their joy and finding appreciative homes for each treasure.

However, in recent years, as the vintage trend has taken hold, I’ve seen hyper commercialism chipping away at this wonderful camaraderie at the heart of why so many of us love vintage.

What I didn’t realize, back at that milestone event, was how much it would later inspire me to create and launch a new initiative to bring out the best in vintage for our community.


Ready, Set, Go! Breathing New Life Into Vintage Markets

I’m thrilled to announce the debut of Vintage Current Fashion Fair, coming this May 7-8 (Mother’s Day Weekend) as part of Ballarat Heritage Weekend 2016!

Having inherited my love of fashion from my mum, with her talent for sewing and restyling old outfits, and nurturing the love of vintage in my own daughters, teaching them to shop smart and appreciate styles from bygone days, hosting this event over Mother’s Day Weekend is an extra special treat for me.

mother daughter

Just as exciting is the opportunity to collaborate with so many talented, passionate vintage lovers around this event.

Thanks to our partnership with the brilliant teams at the City of Ballarat and Ballarat Regional Tourism, we anticipate a crowd of 20,000 enthusiasts at Ballarat Heritage Weekend 2016, and we’re working with several partners, vendors and sponsors to make this premiere event one for all to remember.

Here’s just a taste of what you can expect during this fun-filled weekend …

vcff lead

Pictured clockwise from top left: St Pat’s Hall VCFF heritage venue, local Ballarat fashion blogger Finding Femme, ladies ready for the Tweed Ride, Charlotte Smith on stage.

We’re teaming up with our good friend
Charlotte Smith, author of Dreaming of Dior and Dreaming of Chanel, to host an interactive session on how to discover and refine your own vintage style. Charlotte is also hosting an array of stunning vintage fashion parades plus her “In Conversation” sessions with the fabulous Catriona Rowntree and Claudia Chan Shaw (pictured below).

vcff guest speakers
Amongst our fast-growing list of wonderful VCFF vendors, you’ll find:

  • Audrey Scarlett Vintage a personal favourite for their extensive range of affordable pieces.
  • Frizzy Vintage with a great range of accessories and stunning Japanese vintage frocks.
  • Vintage Online who carry a superior range of genuine vintage jewellery to fit every budget.
  • Jack’s Daughter our friends set the standard for authentic vintage reproduction fashion (several of their designs are in my wardrobe right now).
  • Steady with Betty Vintage Clothing beautiful vintage pieces, with show-stopping gowns, featured in countless glamour shoots I’ve styled.
  • Recycology always makes me smile with their exotic collection of brightly coloured, fabulous pieces (including the most stunning burnt silk velvet kimono I had to have).

That’s barely the tip of the iceberg, as our plans and partnerships are rapidly growing, and the other key ingredient we’re looking for now is YOU.


Vintage Vendors, Makers and Sponsors: We Want You!

With over 25 years as a collector, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know some of Australia’s finest vintage vendors — the backbone of these events. Their tireless sourcing, restoring and curating is what makes these people as rare as the gems they sell.

The same goes for the vintage makers, who take the time to faithfully reproduce garments and accessories to our needs. From hoarding buttons and trim, to custom making the perfect piece just for you, these dedicated individuals are creating the vintage of the future.

And of course, the re-imagineers (a term I much prefer to upcycling), who allow us to see what is possible for things that may otherwise have reached the end of their lives. They breathe new purpose into pieces, giving us the chance to create a new story for them.


Join Our Vintage Current Fashion Fair Mission

We’re proud to be creating a new haven for quality vintage vendors and passionate shoppers to come together during Ballarat Heritage Weekend.

We want to bring back all the reasons you fell in love with vintage in the first place, and that’s shaped our mission for Vintage Current Fashion Fair:

  • It is unique – allowing you to explore your own personal sense of style to create something that reflects who you are.
  • It has a story – vintage has romance and history, quietly weaving the tale of social change through each hemline.
  • It is a responsible choice – wearing well and living through generations, teaching us about true value per wear and quality of make.
  • It inspires – No longer are we slaves to the vicious cycle of fast fashion and the dictates of trends, we get to write the story.
  • It represents real value – The hand beaded, pure cashmere sweater you find on these racks can be had for ½ or less the price of a mass produced high street version, and is made to a quality standard rarely seen today.

Whether you are a collector, a vendor, a maker or any manner of vintage enthusiast — anywhere in the world — if this mission resonates with you, we’d love to hear from you!

If you’re a seller of quality vintage, based or trading in Australia, let’s work together to help promote you and your passion. Click here to learn more and apply to be part of VCFF!

Learn more vcff button

(Note: If you’re not based in Australia, don’t worry: We’ll be sharing videos, photos, posts and more online, and you can catch the buzz via our #VCFF event hashtag.)

A Weekend Away in Sydney Australia

A Weekend Away in Sydney Australia

Thanks to NuffnangDestination NSWQantas and Rydges 

Planning a holiday to Australia is something I don’t really think about; living here and all that is. You become very used to your own backyard and take it too much for granted. Want great fashion shopping in Australia? Well I live in Melbourne, but I’ve done all that a thousand times. Sydney however, has a whole fresh face for me to explore and relax while exercising my bag lifting biceps.

I used to live in Sydney for a bit and you know what that means?

That’s right, I missed all the cool things that tourists get to see.

I never took a ferry, shopped Surry Hills (I need to go back all cashed up just for this), went to see an opera at the Sydney Opera House or even dined in the best restaurants. I just worked. Even when I’ve had the chance to visit the city it’s been a whirlwind and I haven’t given myself time to rest, relax and enjoy; something we remedied this weekend past.

I don’t often get to travel with friends, but when I do, it’s quite the production. All the prep that goes into thinking about our outfits, what tech we should take and just how much we can pack into the agenda. Early meetings at the gate for our Qantas flight become a major reunion, with other passengers politely reading their papers while we all hug and kiss and generally make a racket.

Vintage Current goes to Sydney

My agency Nuffnang, has just launched an office in Sydney and invited myself and the other Bloggerati to come and celebrate with them. Champagne in hand we overlooked the sparkling harbour from ECQ Bar at The Pullman Quay Grand. Destination NSW helped us select this stunning venue, taking keen advantage of the night views of the bridge, the lights rippling over the water and the all round glamour factor of Sydney in it’s evening best.

Nuffnang Sydney Office Launch party

Credit – Alexander Kesselaar of alexkess photography  (my crazy eyes courtesy of too much excitement!)

Before heading out for the big event, I was able to take a little time to relax in my room and watch the twilight dip over the cityscape. Being based at Rydges North Sydney made it exceptionally easy to get into the CBD for events, and visa versa, to have my friend come and meet me for brunch the next morning.

The friendships I’ve made through this blog are the things I treasure most about this opportunity. My friend Jaede, originally a Sydney girl, has been living is Las Vegas for years. I was fortunate enough to get a chance for the two of us to meet face to face over there in May and now on home turf. Nutella doughnuts and fruit salad at the breakfast buffet were the perfect way to catch up on all the gossip and plan our next meet up event.

Candice DeVille and Jaede


Even though I’d eaten first and second breakfast, I had a special lunch date to get to; so it was off to Burger Project!

A little known fact about me is that I love to eat. I truly dislike eating simply to keep the body going; I much prefer the endorphin inducing experiences you seek out of pure pleasure. Hamburgers haven’t sprung to mind for me in this category, until I visited Neil Perry’s Burger Project

You may remember the carefully hand made hamburgers of your childhood, those prepared by the couple who owned the local corner store. They have remained a distant memory and something no burger has ever matched for me, until now. I’m not exactly sure what the key differences are; the fresh produce, the way the beef is ground, perhaps it is the beetroot in the Aussie burger?

Whatever it is, Burger Project is the kind of place you feel like you should have made a reservation for.

Don’t rush this one; make it a highlight of your day.

Burger Project Sydney

Candice DeVille at Burger Project copyright Rachel Devine

Image by my buddy and fellow Bloggerati Rachel Devine

If this heavenly moment wasn’t foodie enough, Qantas had a real treat organised for our group; an evening with Neil Perry at the justifiably famous Spice Temple! Once I heard this I simply had to change my outfit plans for the evening, a simple black dress wasn’t going to cut it, so I hot footed (Uber’ed) it down to Surry Hills and popped into Hola Chica where I picked up a “spicy” leopard print number.

Sexy Leopard Print Dress Retro style

Feeling suitably sultry for the scarlet glow of Spice Temple, we began our evening with Chinese Zodiac cocktails (mine was a ‘pig’) and marvelled as the menu unfolded.

Neil Perry Spice Temple Sydney Candice DeVille

Neil Perry Spice Temple Sydney Candice DeVille

Neil Perry Spice Temple Sydney Candice DeVille

Neil Perry Spice Temple Sydney Candice DeVille

A 7am start on conference day is never my favourite thing, but in spite of that I have an amazing ability to get myself together when I have to. A hot cup of tea in the room and Croc Wrestlers on T.V work wonders to motivate you out of bed and out the door!

By 8am, and in the golden light of morning winter sun, the Bloggerati had descended on the Macquarie Room at the Pullman. Sitting in a room filled with the best and brightest of the Australian blogging sense is an incredible privilege. Having everyone share their tips, tricks and experiences provides the kind of community that enables us to be that much better at what we do.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

As I packed my bags, the scent of jasmine rice and chilli still infused in my Spice Temple outfit, I made a mental list of all the things I wanted to come back and experience. The days went far too quickly and even though we packed so much in, we could have easily filled another week. Sydney really is a fabulously exciting destination all year round.

Japanese Tea Gardens

Japanese Tea Gardens

Japanese tea Gardens San Francisco

Having these past nine weeks in the US has given me time to really enjoy and reflect on simplistic beauty. The changing of the seasons across the states, the cold I never see in Melbourne and the incredible transformation of the landscape. The Bluejays, Robins, Woodpeckers, Squirrels and Deer; all make the most romantic visions to this Australian’s eyes.


A simple afternoon in the Japanese Tea Gardens of San Francisco was another such moment of introspection and beauty. We would have loved to have the gardens all to ourselves, but none the less, sitting in the shade and watching squirrels play in the leaves gave me such a joy in the little things.

Daily Outfit – The White Swan

Daily Outfit – The White Swan

White Swan Inn Hair and makeup

San Francisco! What a city this is. I’ve only had the opportunity to drive through here once before and never really got a feel for it. This time has been quite different, including a stay at what has now become one of my favourite hotels in the world, The White Swan Inn.

As we were planning this trip, The White Swan Inn came up as a small boutique hotel in the area of town we wanted to stay. It is listed as San Francisco’s top 5 places to stay, but we weren’t clear why. I was quite partial to the pictures I’d seen in the reviews, all old world charm and chintz, as well as the description that it was more like a bed and breakfast. Still, there was the feeling that perhaps it may have been a little on the fusty side for our tastes.

Arriving to the discrete canopied entrance on Nobb Hill, The White Swan Inn appears as many period buildings with it’s double fronted glass etched doors and carpeted stairways. It is the little touches, that make the White Swan a superior choice.  The cleverly executed blend of modern highlights that bring out the charm of the old world, like the clashing geometric prints, the cubist china birds on the mantle and the houndstooth upholstered arm chairs, giving it a new vivacity.

The little touches are what make the White Swan Inn so amazing. A big jar of cookies freshly baked, sitting in the lobby for everyone to take as they please. Hot breakfasts served in the parlour and a relaxing wine hour by the fire in the same parlour. The champagne and personalised greeting card on arrival, the complimentary water and soda in the room daily. The fabulous make up lighting in the dressing room!

I’ve kept my travelling outfits simple and comfortable. Things that I can layer depending on the weather, as travelling up the coast means that each day brings a new surprise. From mist and chilly winds, to sunshine and bird song, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Just before I left I ordered these sailor pants through Modcloth, knowing I’d need something lightweight, wash and wear as well as things that didn’t crush. Their sailor styling with faux button closures and crepe fabric make them just perfect. They also have a small elasticated section at the back; something I wouldn’t usually consider, but since I’ve been indulging in all manner of local cuisine, it was essential!



I’ve put together this little showcase of exact matches or similar pieces for anyone who’d like to recreate this casual look.

This post contains affiliate links to things I’ve used or bought. When you use these links I receive a small amount of compensation that helps keep this show on the road.