Kirstie Clements: The Australian labels offering chic without the eek

Photo: TND

I am fortunate to have lots of friends who are fashion stylists and who possess that eagle eye that looks past trends to see style.

I held a cocktail party at home last week for a fashion editor pal from Paris who was holidaying in Sydney. I invited many of the incredible women I have worked with, and learnt from,  over the years working at Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar – a lot of them now in their 60s and 70s.

Oh my goodness, the style in that room. Interestingly, the youngest guest – in her thirties – had just returned from an overseas posting and needed to buy new clothes.

She doesn’t buy the hottest designers, the seasonal must-haves. She conspicuously avoids them. She likes very classic pieces and then styles them to look amazing, putting a heavy brogue with a three-seasons old Prada minidress, or a huge white men’s shirt from Kmart, crossed over wrapped at the waist with some black shorts and her grandmother’s rings. She’s chic.

So I asked what were her favourite labels in Australia, now she was back, and her rather surprising answer was not all the designer labels you see all over Instagram. It was Perri Cutten, Sportscraft and Ginia.

Labels like that have been delivering Australian women good quality, well priced clothing for years, dressing women for real life and corporate life, without any Fashion Week fanfare.

“If I’m after a little black dress, I don’t want it with cut-outs or metres of fabric or sparkles,” said my friend. “I can always find a simple sleeveless sheath at Perri Cutten which is well made and fits beautifully.”

She introduced her mother into the brand, starting with a simple but elegant winter coat.

Sportscraft also topped her list for life basics, not for floral T-shirts and the like, but for the more tailored pieces like trench coats and blazers, a great anorak or a fab sweater.

Experience counts

There is a lot to be said for the labels that have been in the business for years and know their way around average woman’s bodies. Catering to those who are not model proportions, who are more mature and not interested in revealing large sections of flesh.

Her other favourite label was Ginia, a beautiful lingerie made in Australia which has branched out into RTW and has really lovely silk and lace slips in contrasting colours, and silk pyjamas.

Again, the slip dress and the camisole are staples in any wardrobe and can be topped with a black jacket or cardigan for a sexy, yet covered evening option.

The other brand I am going to throw in is Oroton, which although it is much more trend driven and a higher price point, has very beautiful, wearable and well-made pieces that last the distance.

I was on a cruise last year and so many of the chic older women who came down to dinner were wearing something from Oroton.

Oroton bags are also fantastic quality and design for the price. Expensive, yes, but nowhere near the absurd prices being asked at the luxury houses. And how much better does it feel to buy Australian?

Topics: Fashion
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