Winter in Melbourne

We recently met our stylish friend, Maria, for wood-smoked cucumber martinis in a cobblestone alley, and the conversation quickly turned to womenswear. To cut to the chase, she has a complaint to register: clothing designed for women is not practical at this time of year. As a result, she typically ends up buying things like boots and coats in the men’s department.

While this does not keep her awake at night, it does bring up a question of why. Do not women, as much as men, need to run after a departing tram on a drizzly morning? Do they not, therefore, require a surface-responsive sole and a water-resistant upper on their boots? Could they not delight in the benefits of a jacket with a many interior pockets in which to stow a MyKi and keep one’s phone out of the sudden downpour?

We asked Maria to break down exactly how she wished such features would translate to her wardrobe. The response was unsurprising: as well as being highly functional and long-lasting, they would be rendered in virtually all black, with minimal detailing and clean, flattering lines. Welcome to Melbourne in winter.

Here’s the deal: functional womenswear is, indeed available for purchase in Melbourne. It’s just that it generally comes in the form of hiking and ‘adventure’ wear, articulated in muddy colour tones and, well, a bit on the drab side all round. It often seems to be either that, loud neon snowboarding attire or bust. Where is the middle ground for the intrepid yet urbane explorer?

In Maria’s dream winter wardrobe, key pieces would be multi-functional without necessarily shouting from the rooftops about it: for instance, a warm coat would double as a rain jacket without being styled like one, and a sneaker would handle like a hiking boot without looking overly utilitarian.