Ever since I can remember, my mother has been incredibly stylish. I grew up in Australia where, 40 or so years ago, we had none of the big-name brands, so she would invest in beautiful things she really loved and then made the rest of her clothes herself. The ‘high/low’ attitude she had towards fashion rubbed off on me and it’s a principle I continue to live by, even now.
My first designer piece was a Gucci Horsebit belt designed by Tom Ford, which my mum gave to me for my 16th birthday. I don’t think it mattered that it was Gucci, so much, but I’d seen Madonna wearing one and I just wanted the same thing.
My style revolves around comfort and practicality. I don’t wear much colour and tend to live in my wardrobe basics, with either a great jacket, a cool pair of shoes or a statement handbag. There’s a real art to simple dressing – when I talk to my clients, I always say a great wardrobe isn’t about individual pieces, it’s about different parts of a puzzle you can wear multiple ways.
The piece I wear the most is, without doubt, jeans. I collect vintage Levi’s and hold onto all my old styles, even if they no longer fit me – they’re markers of different moments in my life. I always come back to Levi’s – finding the perfect pair of jeans is very personal, though. Just because they work for one person, doesn’t always mean they’ll be great for you.
Aside from my mother, my biggest style influence is Princess Diana. I met her once when she came to Australia and she was so cool. I love the way she’d wear a pair of jeans, a white tee and a blazer and look so effortless. I also love the way French women dress. The simple elements of French style have definitely influenced the way I dress.
The best piece of fashion advice I’ve ever received is that expensive clothes doesn’t equal great style – even if I was a billionaire, I don’t think I’d have a purely designer wardrobe. My mum always taught me to invest in a few great pieces and mix those with more affordable things – I’ve got pieces from H&M that I genuinely love, and I buy a lot of my basics from Zara. Price or brand has never been the biggest concern for me – it’s about buying a few beautiful things to elevate the rest of your wardrobe.
Investing in handbags and shoes is usually worth it. I went to a Dior trunk show recently and gravitated towards the shoes – you can get so much more wear from them in a way you can’t always with clothes. My penchant for handbags goes way back – I’ve always found a way to save up for the ones I really love. I remember for my first ever job in fashion, I came to the interview wearing just a white tee and black pants, but with a Chanel Chocolate Box bag I had won in a competition. The outfit was simple, but my future boss’s first question was “How did you get that bag?!” – I worked for him for 13 years and I’m sure I got the job because of it.
I never expected to grow such a large audience online. I used to be the head buyer of a large Australian retailer called General Pants (the equivalent to an Urban Outfitters or Topshop in the UK) and have always worked on the business side of fashion. I accidentally started a digital business with a friend, which expanded my global profile just as Instagram and blogs were kicking off. As things evolved, I didn’t love that I was becoming known for something I didn’t truly believe in, so I decided to launch my online styling platform Where Did Your Style Go? It felt as though there was such a missed opportunity and gap in the market to help women know how to dress and get the most from their wardrobe.
The best thing about Australian fashion is the way it caters to our lifestyle. I live in Sydney, where it’s very hot and we spend a lot of time by the water. These days, there are lots of amazing brands that have grown out of the need for something stylish that you can wear to the beach and out after. Zimmermann, for example, I’ve worn my whole life so to see it grow into a huge global brand is amazing. Some other Aussie brands I love are Joslin, which creates linen pieces with lovely feminine details, My General Store for versatile staples, and Bondi Born, which only uses sustainable fabrics.
To be honest, I wouldn’t swap my wardrobe for anyone else’s. I love all my clothes but I would love to raid my mother’s collection (and sometimes do). She has a few Chanel jackets from 30 years ago that are still in great condition, as well as some Versace from when Gianni was designing and vintage Yves Saint Laurent. I wouldn’t mind looking into the Editor of French Vogue, Emmanuelle Alt’s wardrobe either – mainly because she wears jeans all the time, like me.