Why Perth will never equal Paris

Paris, NY, London and Milan – the fashion capitals of the world. Exciting hubs of cutting edge design and stylish good taste. Where the beautiful flock to see and be seen, and designers fight to outdo each other, sending one unwearable outfit after another down the catwalk.

Perth on the other hand – not so much a hub as a gaping hole. The universal dumping ground for the last 3 decades worth of dodgy trends. A place that shops everywhere send their unwanted stock to, and the fashion police earn more in a weeks overtime than your average divorce lawyer would in a year.

Lord only knows why some of the clothes shops are so bad here, it’s not like there isn’t online access to the rest of the world and a constant supply of current fashion magazines. Perhaps it’s because the city is so isolated that it’s inhabitants just don’t care, or because the over zealous customs officials are rooting out all the best stuff and selling it off on Ebay. Whatever the reason, I’d have to say trends here seem to be at least a good 20 years behind the rest of the world.

Think ‘Hillbilly Chic’. A sort of trucker meets 80’s Chav meets unwashed backpacker.

Of course the limited choice of shops really don’t help. They are enough to turn even the most fashion conscious into the worst sort of fashion victim – or phobic. The options range from the likes of Kmart, Target and BigW for your cheap and cheerful basics – with basic being the operative word. Most garments seem to fall apart in the wash, beg for mercy under the heat of a gentle iron or change several dress sizes hours after being removed from the hanger. You get what you pay for of course, so for kids clothes, which have a shorter life span than the average family camera, these shops are great.

At the other end of the rather abysmal spectrum is Myers and David Jones. Both shops are supposedly the ‘Creme de la creme’ of Aussie shopping. Say no more. I’ve been into each a few times, but have never seen anything either particularly special or stylish, let alone affordable. I had a voucher to use up for David Jones recently, and it took me several visits to try and find anything that I even wanted to buy. In the end I settled for a pyjamas top. I only managed half an outfit as the top alone came to more than the voucher, and I was loathed to fork out even more for something I didn’t actually need.

Several washes later and the stitching on the top had all but unravelled. The fabric had also stretched so much on the sides that if I’d leapt off our roof, I could probably have coasted all the way out to Rottnest on a wind current.

Funnily enough a set of pyjamas I bought from Big W 3 winters ago are still going strong.

When talking to other POMS here, the one shop that most seem to miss is NEXT. If I had a decent pair of well fitted jeans for every time someone asked why they can’t open a store in Perth, my wardrobe would be overflowing with denim.

Clothes aside, there also seems to be an underlying scruffiness ingrained into the WA culture. The mullet for instance is incredibly popular over here, and it’s not uncommon to see an entire family out and about, all sporting matching scraggly rats tails down their backs. I think that like the fashion, photos in mens barbers over here must be somewhat outdated.

The other trend, one that never ceases to amaze me, is the notion that footwear is entirely optional. Now I’m not talking about going barefoot to the park or the beach – that would be understandable. I’m referring to those I’ve seen without shoes in IKEA, the city centre, restaurants, supermarkets, the cinema and the most dangerous of all, or so you’d think, Bunnings.

Revolting, dirty looking feet aside,  surely there have to be some serious health and hygiene laws being broken as kids run across the urine soaked floors of the public toilets and straight down the fresh produce aisle of the neighbouring supermarket.

And needless to say, if such people don’t ever wash their feet, it’s highly unlikely they’d wash their hands..

I followed one such woman and her snot encrusted child around Coles last week, and snapped her for with my phone for proof. Given that she looked like she was probably capable of beating me to death with one of those blocks of cheese, I’ve airbrushed her features slightly. But to be honest, I very much doubt she’d ever stumble across my blog, or be able to read this post.

This shoeless woman I have to say was certainly not alone. I spotted several others, overgrown toe nails and all, hot footing it through the freezer section.


coles shopper


Perhaps people in WA feel there’s no point bothering with their appearance, because there’s really nowhere to dress up and go. I can relate to this, and know from experience it’s a very easy and highly dangerous trap to fall into. Before you know what’s happened, you can find that you’ve metamorphosed into a homeless bag lady, wearing the same old tracksuit for 6 days in a row and have forgotten to change out of your PJs on Sunday.

Now I’ve never been one for making a huge effort with clothes, or really caring that much about how I look, but a while back I realised I was starting to stoop to such a level. This was around the time I arrived at the school to collect my daughter and realised, as I went to get out the car, that I’d left the house in my slippers.

So the following weekend, when heading out to Coles to do the weekly shop, I dug around in the back of my wardrobe and put on a jacket, a scarf and my high-heeled boots – the sort of clothes I’d have once worn in the UK when popping out to fill the car up with petrol. Taking it one daring stop further, I took my hair out of a pony tail and dusted off my mascara,  pumping the tube vigorously to break the old clumps off the brush.

My son walked straight past me in the hallway, and then did a double take as he disappeared around the corner. I don’t think he actually recognised me. How sad is that.

“Oh you do look pretty Mummy” my daughter said as I appeared from the bedroom, clearly impressed with my ‘Extreme Makeover’. I loosely translated this compliment to mean that I normally didn’t.

“So where are you off to then, seeing as you’re all dressed up?” enquired my slightly suspicious husband.

With that I realised that I had better start making more of an effort, before I reached the day where I would think nothing of going to the shops still wrapped in my duvet, or end up with skin as thick as a rhinos hide on a pair of black and scaly feet.


18 thoughts on “Why Perth will never equal Paris

  1. Rachel,

    I’m still wiping away the tears from laughing, and I’ll have to change my pants too. Man, you can tell funny stories!

    But I have to say that this barefoot culture is what I love about WA – it makes us primitive African people feel right at home.

    You forgot to mention one thing – the sleeveless footy shirts. A real aussie bloke has to show off his skinny biceps and his ugly tattoos in a footy shirt. And if it doesn’t say eagles or dockers on it you may get killed.

    Good one.

  2. Hi Heiko

    Sorry about your pants – I hope you weren’t sitting on a dry clean only chair at the time!!!

    I’m all for barefoot, but round the supermarket and Bunnings??! Some of the feet I’ve seen when out buying my vegetables have been somewhat Hobbit like in appearance and it kind of put me off eating what was in my trolley.

    I completely forgot about the footy shirts, but fear I might just get lynched in the street if I bring sport into it….

  3. Oh how this made me laugh, we are a little more rural then Perth and oh how I miss Next and all the choice of ’boutiques’ in Debenhams and….. but no I love it here I just may have to go to the UK with an empty suitcase next time .

    So funny


  4. I lived 18 months in Brisbane and the barefoot thing freaked me out aswell as the wet ,just out the shower hair (could have been just greasy).
    I now live in Marbella Spain and about a week ago i drove to the supermarket with my 3 year old but forgot his shoes but thought ahh why not. On entering i received so many looks of disgust it was embarrassing, in the end a security guard asked me politely to put my boy in the baby chair in the trolley for the safety’s sake (who’s i’m not sure) but anyway its gross and shouldn’t be allowed..

  5. hey, rachel. thinking of migrating to australia and stumbled across your blog while doing some research. I LOVE IT!!!

    i live in karachi, pakistan…a HUGE, insane, busybusy city, with a crazy underground night life. i recently had a daughter and my husband and i decided that due to the current political climate here, for her sake, it might be a good idea to migrate,

    i spent a year in melbourne (one of my fave cities), finishing my post-grad studies and i’m guessing perth is nothing like it. am i wrong? please advise because based on migration laws, we may have to move to perth for 2 years before moving south.

    1. Hi Ishma

      Glad you came across my blog and liked it it!

      In my opinion, having lived in Perth and traveled to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the West coast is somewhat different to the East. Over here is it incredibly laid back, it’s all about the outdoorsy life style, the great beaches and BBQ’s. There isn’t much of a city to speak off and there isn’t a huge amount of buzz about the place, if you know what I mean. It’s a great place if you want to escape the rest of the world and pull into the slow lane, but if you’re used to a busy city life and ENJOY all that it has to offer, then you may well find it too quiet here, and dare I say, dull!

      It’s very different from Melbourne. Limited shops, no cafe culture (as everything shuts early) and not much in the way of good architecture or a sense of history. If you’re only looking to move here for a couple of years you should be fine, there are far worse places to spend some time and it’s a very peaceful and safe place for young children.

      Good luck with your move and I hope you come back to the blog again!

      Rachel x

  6. How true is this. Don’t think I will ever get over seeing shoeless people walking in the supermarket/Myer/David Jones………it’s just wrong.

    Thanks for all your entertaining entries on life in Oz.

    BB (in Perth)

  7. As an ex resident and lover of Perth and having visited most of the rest of the world throughout my life, I can say without hesitation, it is the lifestyle, laid back, casual, outdoorsy, BBQ’s and the lack of pretentious people in Perth that I love and m8iss so much.

    Love your blog, plan on getting back home soon!

  8. I just dropped in from PIO. Loved this eloquent blog. I have always wondered about this barefoot Ozzie thing. Its disgusting. If I was a doctor I would deliberately not treat them till last for being so stupid. Do they think they’re cool or exerting a freedom right. Like overtaking on the left on freeways.
    It should be banned along with fat noisy exhausts and vision limiting rear spoilers on cars owned by dick heads!

  9. Oh be fair. You are severely generalising. We may never be the fashion capital of the world, but for those who desire it, there are plenty of expensive boutiques to cater for all your fashion victim needs… personally, I get a fair few items from Target, but also places like Supre, Valley Girl and Temt which I assure you don’t make me look like a “homeless bag lady”. And I’ve never had a problem with their longevity…

    Now, what’s this I hear? The mullet is incredibly popular?? Where were you? Balga? Seriously, the majority of people I know have perfectly normal, nice haircuts… Same with shoelessness.

    If you feel like some “civilization”, go walk around Nedlands or Dalkeith for a while; I can assure you that most of them would never be seen dead walking around shoeless, in trackies with a greasy mullet…

    That being said, this is a rather funny article! Lol.

    1. Hi Sarah
      Of course some generalisation is taking place, if you read any of my blog you’ll know that you can’t really look at the funny side of life without it – but saying that, I think I was being fair! I live in Northern Suburbs of Perth, and up here some of the people really do look like their parents shared the same DNA. I was walking behind someone the other day in the shopping mall, and I’m pretty sure he had a club tucked down his shorts – I will endeavour to take some photos to prove my point!

      As for the clothes, it’s nothing to do with being a fashion victim, it’s about having a better choice of quality clothing at lower prices available on any UK high street.

      That said, at least you found the blog funny, so there’s a start 😉


  10. Oh my! we’re moving to Perth in Dec 2012. You’ve got me worried. What no Gap? No Zara, No Next? Blimey! Maybe I should think about opening an affordable, trendy, quality store. We’ve visited and found Perth a great place for families. We’re coming again next week for school interviews. Now I am also worried about the drug scene you spoke of…We’ll have to meet up when we finally get there…

    1. Many people have toyed with the idea of setting up a shop selling decent clothes, but it’s always a no go! Would have liked to meet up but thankfully I’m no longer there. We left Perth last June and have literally never looked back. It all seems like a rather distant memory for me now and I have to say the only thing I miss are the Tim Tams!! In someways it’s nice for families there, but my kids are far happier (and better educated) now they’re back. That said, I wish you lots of luck with your move and I hope you and your family have a wonderful life over there. Rachel 🙂

  11. Just love reading your blogs, I’m glad I’m not the only one who has picked up on all of these things. When my two nieces came to visit we played the game count all the people with no shoes. We managed a top score of 13 people just on a quick trip to Karrinyup shopping centre. Totally agree with the schools being better back in the UK, I was so concerned I took into school information about the British national curriculum and my child’s teacher reached the conclusion that the UK are about 8 months ahead of our primary school here in Oz. if a child is born in July or August then that would then be 1 year and 8 moths behind due to the school year cut off dates. Scary stuff.

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