What happens when two women with polar-opposite taste trade wardrobes for three days?
Fashion Quarterly editor, Sally-Ann Mullin (above left), and Simply You fashion editor, Louise Hilsz, swap styles and find out.
Editor at Fashion Quarterly
Personal style: Dark, minimal, classic tailoring mixed with more casual pieces. From Monday to Saturday I’m anchored by my signature 5-inch stilettos. I’m more into texture than pattern, and my palette is predominantly neutral. If I have to wear colour I’ll choose ox-blood or a classic red hue.
Style icons: Kym Ellery, Carine Roitfeld, Christine Centenera, and Elvira from Scarface. Locally I admire immaculate beauty, Jaime Ridge, and I can’t look past Georgia Currie’s perfectly uptown scruff.
Typical work uniform: I like to be very polished at work. I often wear a matte red lip and always have my hair styled, either tightly pulled back in a low bun or side-parted and hot tonged into a retro wave. I’ll wear a 5-inch, pointed toe stiletto every day no matter what I’m doing – be it sourcing, or shooting on set. Slides and slipper mules? Forget about it. Block heel? Not on my block. Stilettos are my religion and I’m keeping the faith. I like my clothing tight and structured, with a voluminous element for balance. On Fridays I might wear fitted leather pants or denim with a loosely buttoned men’s white shirt. Almost every outfit is finished with a well cut, black blazer. I wear lots of large silver rings and I am partial to an obnoxious chandelier earring or silver cuff.
I dress this way because: The minute I moved from the casual world of film into magazine publishing, I started power-dressing. My role can be stressful and my clothes are my armour – they make me feel like I can achieve anything.
“Slides and slipper mules? Forget about it. Block heel? Not on my block. Stilettos are my religion and I’m keeping the faith.”
You’ll never see me in: Chunky shoes. Flatforms are what my nightmares are made of. Other no-nos include multi-coloured floral prints, large geometric patterns, shapeless dresses or tops, candy colours, handkerchief hems, studs, skulls, and glitter.
Louise’s style is: 1950s bombshell meets 1990s London club kid meets psychedelic unicorn. Her commitment to her personal style never ceases to amaze me, she always looks impeccable in her own, very unique way. She regularly embraces glitter, faux fur and PVC, and I’ve never seen her in black.
I’m least looking forward to: All the pink and purple I assume I’ll be wearing over the next few days.
I’m most looking forward to: Pushing some boundaries and reminding myself that fashion should be fun.
I expect: My three-year-old son and his classmates will love my new look and be rather disappointed when I return to black, beige and grey.
SALLY-ANN’S STYLE SWAP DIARY
I drop my son off at day-care wearing a fitted black Zambesi dress and caged stilettos and I collect him wearing a unicorn-print T-shirt dress and a multi-coloured coat complete with ears and a tail. I am swarmed by his classmates (they want to touch my tail) and I feel like a legend, although I receive a few sideways glances from the other parents. I know they’d love to ask questions but they don’t know me well enough.
I wake up excited about the prospect of getting dressed, having already come to the realisation that it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you look like Rainbow Brite. I choose an A-line, pink PVC skirt which I pair with a pastel neoprene biker jacket and teal 7-inch platforms. These take so long to put on I am 25 minutes late for work. As I walk into the office everyone stares and I feel like I’m taken slightly less seriously in meetings but perhaps it’s just jarring for people who are used to seeing me another way.
I have a very busy day ahead which includes meetings with two advertisers I have never met before and to be honest, I’m missing the familiar. The combination of a peach jumpsuit and silver quilted coat with bright orange trim still manages to put a smile on my face, but I’m looking forward to wearing black again – if only because it’s so time consuming having people want to talk to me non-stop about what I’m wearing.
Fashion editor at Simply You
Personal style: One word – kaleidoscope! I love to mix colour, print and texture as much as I can, whether I’m dressing for night, day, work or play.
Style icons: Anna Dello Russo – if I could have anyone’s wardrobe it would be hers. I love a matchy-matchy ensemble and she takes this to the extreme wearing head-to-toe runway looks from the latest collections. Gwen Stefani has a bit of a gangster lean which I’m all about, having grown up in the 2000s with many a hip-hop mad boyfriend, and I also love Katy Perry and Lady Gaga for their costumey style.
Typical work uniform: First of all, I despise the word uniform – the thought of wearing the same thing every day makes me ill. On days when I know I’m seeing clients or attending a launch, I’ll wear a colourful dress – always belted at the waist – heels, statement sunglasses and a coloured bag. In winter I’ll add a textured coat. On a shoot day it’s more casual; a jumpsuit, or boyfriend jeans with a vintage Disney T-shirt (I’m Disney crazy!) and colourful kicks like my custom Nike Huaraches. Then there are the days where there are no clients, no launches and no running around, and I can go wild with unicorns, fur, leather, sky-high platforms and costume pieces. I love those days!
I dress this way because: I love the idea of fully being immersed in your look and not caring whether it’s more appropriate for performing a pop-concert or going to the supermarket. All the dresses in my wardrobe suit my hourglass shape which means I can keep them forever and continue to play with colour for as long as I like.
“Navy stripes are my worst nightmare, there’s nothing more basic than a Breton top if you ask me”
You’ll never see me in: Pants. Aside from jeans I don’t really own them, they just don’t flatter my figure like a dress or skirt does. Navy stripes are my worst nightmare, there’s nothing more basic than a Breton top if you ask me. Mostly though you will never see me not wearing colour.
Sally-Ann’s style is: Sophisticated and chic in muted tones. She wears black well but can also flip the switch and carry off a nude look. She’s also known for her killer heels.
I’m least looking forward to: The monochrome palette. I really struggle with a look that doesn’t incorporate a statement colour (or five).
I’m most looking forward to: Playing dress-ups. I love mixing up my look even if it is in a different direction.
I expect: People I know won’t even recognise me. The one time I wore black to work I was mistaken for a makeup artist.
LOUISE’S STYLE SWAP DIARY
Outfit numero uno is chic Italian mob wife running from a wake to a business meeting: a black pleated skirt with lace cut-out detail, a slinky black camisole and a tailored black blazer accessorised with ornate earrings, some serious looking spectacles, and stilettos. It’s vampy but at work I feel weirdly incognito and kind of shy. I am quiet and keep my head down all day which is not my personality at all.
After yesterday’s all-black effort I decide to lighten things up with a white T-shirt, nude leather skirt, blush-toned bag and beige lace-up heels. I never thought I’d be so excited to wear neutrals. At an appointment halfway through the day a client who I’ve met a handful of times introduces herself to me. I suppose sequins and fur really are my calling card.
My final look is a navy wrap skirt with a ruffled, off the shoulder top. I’m digging the Latino vibe and so are other people, apparently. I hardly ever get hit on but at dinner with a friend, an older gentleman approaches our table and asks if he can buy me a drink. I am highly amused, especially because my own boyfriend’s reaction to my new look was to laugh and ask me what the hell I was doing!
Humour is important to me and this week I realised there’s no reason I can’t incorporate that into my work wardrobe more – although I’m more likely to invest in a Fendi monster bag-charm than a fur coat straight out of Monsters Inc. I also learnt that I have the confidence to have fun with how I present myself, and the strength to not care what the world thinks of me. The only thing I struggled with was the shoes. I felt like I lost my elegance, clomping along. At least I know I’m just as good at parallel parking in platforms as I am in 5-inch heels.
The stilettos were the biggest adjustment, literally. I had to move my car seat forward to drive as I couldn’t reach the pedals without my usual platform. I couldn’t walk in them either, they absolutely killed my feet. I don’t know how Sally-Ann does it. I enjoyed experimenting with a more sophisticated look but I learnt that I shine in colour and my day is more fun when I’m wearing a fun outfit. I might wear black next date night, however!