I have known Tania for many years now, and have always admired her resourceful and authentic approach to style.  I caught up with her recently to find out a little bit more about it..

“About 90% of my wardrobe is second-hand.  It has always been like that, I think. I have always op-shopped and thrifted most of my wardrobe.  No, it’s not really a money thing.   Or necessarilly a conscience thing, although the environment and ethics of fashion is something that’s important to me.  I think that I just find op-shops more interesting and diverse.  Creativity is a big motivator, I think.  I see potential in things and that makes it more interesting.  Like this coat, which was actually a Kilt coat that had a huge collar and didn’t have these buttons.  I re-fashioned the collar and the buttons are actually brooches from Trade Aid.  I added some mustard coloured stitching to one of them to make it tie in with the coat.  The bag was an op-shop find.  But no, I didn’t intentionally colour-coordinate it with Monty’s leash!”


Shannon is one of my real-style corporate style inspirations.  Curiously, her style has become “Nelsonified” and much less corporate, a subject that we chat about in this week’s style story…


“When I lived in Wellington and worked for the Ministry for Social Development, the dress code was much more formal.  I would wear fitted dresses, suits, and tailored separates.  It was very much the corporate thing.  When I came to Nelson it became quickly obvious that this wasn’t appropriate!  Well, this was partly because of where I was working, Gibbons Construction,  but also the Nelson vibe.  We are much more informal here, and dressing up like that felt a bit wrong.  These days I will dress for the expectations of my working day, and as the business is in construction and I work with a lot of men, I tend to dress down.  No, it’s not a bad thing in terms of my own style.  I still dress for me, but it’s less formal”.






Kellie and I talked about tattoos, hair-cuts and how the image we project may or may not reflect who we are and where we’re at.  I commented to her that her hair cut gave her a hard, tough edge that didn’t seem completely in keeping with the Kellie I know.  This is how Kellie responded…

“I have always had this undercut, but I tend to wear it covered.  It’s funny that you should notice it now!  I did decide to wear my hair in a way that showed it off today.  Yes, I suppose it does make me look tougher and harder.  And I do feel a little bit harder and tougher these days, but I don’t think I am ‘hard’ or ‘tough’!  But then I am wearing a very girly dress and shoes.  What does that say about me?  I don’t know.  I dress and express myself in a way that makes sense to me.  I don’t consciously choose to dress in a way that says anything to anyone else”.


Jacqui and I are both fashion stylists, for Nelson’s ‘Admire’ and ‘Wild Tomato’ magazines respectively.  We also hold down day jobs as environmental planners for the Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council.  You could say, we have a lot in common…

“Yes I do love thrifting like you.  It’s my fast fashion fix.  I will buy things and wear them a few times until I have had my fun and then return them, often to the place that I found them.  It’s a more environmentally sustainable way of getting that shopping buzz.  And I suppose you could say I am a great supporter of local charities!  But no, my style and my wardrobe are not all second hand.  I do also buy new things, and more recently have been making a conscious effort to buy into really good quality foundation pieces.  You know, the ones that form the core of your wardrobe?  They never really date, and all of the fun stuff just works around them.  That way I can just have my fun with second-hand clothing, but also have that anchor of really good quality new things”.


As Jana and I have gotten to know each other better, through the real-style project, I have come to discover a lot of common values.  One of these is the idea and importance of authenticity…

“This tee-shirt is the real deal, a genuine souvenir tee-shirt from the Chatham Islands.  It is probably 30 or 40 years old, but brand new.  I love vintage tee-shirts, and I’m always picking them up.  This one was extra cool because it had never been worn.  Would I have bought the exact same thing brand new from Glassons or Jay-Jays today?  No way!  Which when you think about it almost seems a bit silly.  I mean, what’s the difference? But then the ‘real deal’ is so much more valuable to me.   The authenticity of something, the originality of something, it is important.  It might just be in our heads, but it matters.  I suppose it’s the same thing when you buy a designer label.  You might be able to get the same or a very similar thing elsewhere and much more cheaply, but it’s not the real thing”.


I love stories that involve family connections.  Kate’s story this week involves heirloom jewellery and the influence of her mother.  And one too many coffee martinis…

“My grandmother passed away earlier this year.  She gave all of her granddaughters a piece of her jewellery and I inherited these rings.  No, she wasn’t really into clothes like I am.  That’s definitely from my Mum.  We do have a very similar style, although mine is more ‘rock’ than hers.  What do I remember of those influences?  Well, I think I began to notice her style in my early teens.  I remember thinking ‘Mum has some really cool clothes’.  And so I began to raid her wardrobe, and have been doing so ever since!  These shoes were from her.  But the dress and bag are my own.  They are from a recent shopping trip with some girlfriends.  The dress is by Karen Walker and the bag is Deadly Ponies.  I think I had had one too many coffee martinis for lunch that day and went a bit crazy!”


One of the things that I find myself doing a lot of is using my photo session time with my well-dressed subjects to learn more about styling.  I like to find out how they put things together and what makes sense to them.  Like this, from Judy…

“I think that a really good investment piece is one that can be worn in any number of occasions and throughout the year.  I believe in investing in quality things, things that last forever.  Like this coat by Zambesi, that I’ve had forever and bought from Palm.  And the dress which is also Zambesi and was bought more recently for a wedding.  Yes, it’s about as girly as I will ever get!  A little black dress!  But both pieces are things you can wear throughout the year.  For me, the styling trick is to balance the lightness of them with something weighty on the bottom.  It anchors the look, like these boots.  They make the dress more casual and more wintry.  All of my outfits are like that.  If it’s lighter and more “girly” I will give the outfit balance with something heavy on the bottom.  Great outfits are all about the balance”.


Environmental sustainability and ethical manufacturing are buzz words in the fashion industry at the moment.  For some women of style, they are also personal values that have shaped their wardrobes and even careers.  Like Paula…

“A lot of my earlier decisions were around cost and affordability.  I love beautiful fabric and quality things, which generally means expense.  So I became resourceful in finding quality things that I could afford.  Trade Me, op-shopping and, most of all, making my own things is generally how I’ve been able to do it.  And ultimately it’s led me to a career in the business of making at The Little Beehive Coop.  It’s all about supporting local makers, especially women, and encouraging authenticity and creativity.

But you can’t get everything in this way!  I tend to buy knitwear, jeans and shoes new, as I cannot make them or source them reliably elsewhere.  In the past it was more of a money thing, but now I think that the environment and the ethics of where we get our things from is also really important to me.  Do you know who made your clothes?  I made this top, and the earrings were hand made by Marita Green, a New Zealand ceramics artist.  My shoes are Rollies, a quality Australian brand.  I have learned the hard way that it pays to spend more on quality, especially shoes”.dsc_0064.jpg




Amy and I had a lot of fun during this shoot, experimenting with shadows and playful poses.  We also talked about wearing things we own and love, taking risks, and not saving fancy things ‘for best’…

“I have friends who own some beautiful pieces, but they seldom get worn because they think they are too fancy.  Or living in Nelson, they feel they are too ‘out there’ if they wear them to work or whatever.  But I think this is a shame.  Nelson is not Auckland or Wellington but if we all started to be a bit more expressive, it would make things easier.  I mean when someone you know wears something brave it can give you ‘permission’ to do the same.  I think that if you love it, just wear it.  Yes, the jewellery is Black Matter by Benjamin Black.  I wore the scarf to liven up an all-black outfit, which is a bit of a signature of mine. Silk scarves”.