Kirstie Clements: One Australian city to rule them all when it comes to style

When it comes to style, Brisbane women have it all over those in the southern capitals.

When it comes to style, Brisbane women have it all over those in the southern capitals. Photo: TND

There was a time in the not too distant past when a debate was often had about whether Sydney or Melbourne was more fashionable.

When I say fashionable, I don’t mean stylish, because personal style is a whole other thing and that is totally individual. But more like if a city had a fashion vibe.

It was often heard that Melbourne was more “European”, whatever that currently means, and Sydney was said to be (by people who didn’t live there) more “sexy and revealing” – whatever that currently means, given that one of the top trends at the moment in the fashion world is to go without pants.

As it turns out, the women of Brisbane can talk and walk and chew gum at the same time – because I’m in Brisbane, trying to find a shady spot poolside at the fabulous Calile Hotel and I’m going to venture that Brisbane is the winner.

The women of Brisbane can walk and chew gum at the same time because they manage to look sexy and chic. The luxe, beautiful way the women in this precinct dress is unlike anywhere else in Australia that I know of.

The glamorous set in Bondi and Sydney’s eastern suburbs is much more about wearing neutral-coloured activewear, a lot more casual and yoga-centric than the Brisbane Calile women and their amped-up cabana chic.

Here in Brissie, there are designer bikinis, Lucy Folk terry swim robes, Christian Dior book totes, Loewe baskets and expensive sunglasses for days. It’s not something I see on the northern beaches in NSW either, which seems to have a more laidback, Bassike-with-Birkenstocks, style.

Taut, tanned, terrific

One of the women I spotted at the Calile had a black bikini with silver Lurex thread, a black, wide-brimmed hat, cats-eye sunglasses and a Bottega Veneta tote.

It really is the most wonderful location to people watch, everyone taut and tanned and sipping rose in the pool, like Joan Collins but make it modern.

A visit to the newly opened and completely extraordinary TotalFusion Platinum health and wellness club around the corner doubled down on the glamour, with chic young women moving from reformer Pilates to ice-baths to snow rooms to rooftop poolside in streamlined Nagnata active wear and Saint Laurent sunnies, tapping away on their laptops.

This is not the Brisbane I remember from my youth, and which I always loved, because the eternally sunny capital was surprisingly home to some of the most pale and committed Goths and punks in the country.

We don’t see this Brisbane-type glamour in the Byron region either, which is a lot more Sydney in its embrace of boho/crystal/linen and textured knits, Spell dresses and cowboy boots.

High summer polish is probably spotted more on private yachts across the country. But Brisbane has democratised high-glamour poolside chic by taking it urban, which is really what Australia should have more of. A city, a hotel pool, a cabana, a Dolce & Gabbana.

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