One thing I’ve noticed about Brooke is that while there’s something very effortless and comfortable about her chic look, there is a precision and attention to detail too.  I wondered, how much forethought goes into her outfits and how she does she go about dressing each morning?

“I didn’t really pre-plan this outfit or think about it too much.  Usually I dress based on how I’m feeling that day, and what I will be doing.  Today was about comfort.  This dress is so easy to wear, and it has that 1990s Kate Moss thing going on – the strappy slip dress, the snake-skin print.  The rest was styled from there.  My blazer was a second-hand find, and my shoes were bought locally from that pop-up store in Morrison Square.  Gold and silver layers of fine necklaces, well they just worked with the colours.  No, I don’t think you need to compromise style for comfort.  I like to feel good about how I look, even when I’m aiming to be comfortable”


I have known Angela for many years now, the both of us involved in local fashion.  She has always had an independent style sense, one that is self-assured and confidently put together.  I caught up with her to find out more…

“I don’t really like to play too much by rules.  I like to mix things up and experiment with unexpected ideas.  I’ll always go with what feels right to me. Like, black isn’t really meant to be a colour for me, but does it really matter? I love this coat, the details especially, and it works wonderfully with my dress.  Yes, I like to challenge things, sometimes even throwing a hand-grenade to fashion convention. That’s the art of it, I think.   That said, I do think that there is a science aspect to dressing well too.  There are some clothing shapes and styles that just don’t suit certain body shapes, and you can’t get past that.  I do love Trelise Cooper, and yes this dress is hers.  I love her playfulness and rebellious use of fabrics, and even the way she names her garments with that same cheeky rebellion.  This dress is called ‘For Fox Sake”!  Just brilliant”

Just a small one…

…so that I have the space to figure out where the blog is going!  Life (read: ‘being a Mum, holding down a ‘day-job’, being a Fashion Editor for Wild Tomato, and being a blogger, and trying to stay healthy and sane’) has been a bit too full on of late, and I need some time to get my ship together.  I hope you’ll understand, and be there when I return in September.

Sonya xx


Everyone has different motivations or drivers behind their style choices.  For Nicky, being an individual, a little different, is very strong.  It has shaped her style over many years and continues to shape it today.

“I love colour, but I do also love black.  I would dress more in black but the trouble with black is that so many women wear black and they don’t always wear it well.  Yes, it’s an interesting motivation I suppose.  I like to be different, or more to the point, an individual.  That is a big thing for me, always has been. Playing with colour has so much possibility, and more opportunity to be different from others!   My pants were from Stacey and my shoes from Whitwells in Motueka.  I bought my bag from Shine and my necklace was from Jellicoe.  I bought my top from Marshalls.  It has closed down now.  No I wouldn’t say it was a shop I went to often but I find things I love everywhere”


I just love this woman’s style.  It’s inspiring, courageous and most of all, original.  What I love about originality is that it delivers newness and freshness. Originality is the stuff that sparks new trends and new ways of thinking about fashion, as well as pushing us to reconsider normal.  This is why I love Leone’s style so much.  She’s a fearless original…

“Lately, I have really been experimenting with myself and using fashion to do so. I know who I am and have always felt confident in expressing myself with fashion, but testing my comfort zone, well, that has been fun! Today I decided to channel my inner mermaid because, well, why not?! Winter gets a bit doom and gloom, so to combat that vibe why not add some sparkle to mine and other peoples’ days?  I was unsure of my boots at first, mostly the shape.  But I love the studs and how I feel when I wear them. The hat is part of a marine’s army uniform, and I am wearing it with everything right now!



It takes some courage to wear fur, even vintage fur, although most of us wear leather on a regular basis (and cruise the meat isle at the local supermarket without batting an eyelid).  Maria has never been afraid of her truth, which is to acknowledge a place for vintage fur, a topic she discusses in her style story….

“Vintage fur is something I love and always have done for myself and for the shop.  I know that it is a sensitive subject, but I maintain that when it comes to vintage fur, you are not buying into modern exploitation.  I certainly don’t support the trade of anything that represents modern unethical treatment of animals or illegal hunting of endangered species! But with items that are 60 or 70 years old or older, I feel that I am simply honouring a bygone era.  Hiding these things away doesn’t change anything!  This is vintage ocelot fur, and back in the day it was something for film stars and the very wealthy.  I bought the bag from an elderly local woman, some years ago now, and the coat came from a wealthy Auckland estate.  They are both beautiful pieces, and they are real treasures.”

The dress that’s older than what I was when I first wore it

My Style

It’s true.  This dress is older than what I was when I bought it.  It’s the oldest thing in my wardrobe, bought over twenty-three years ago. It’s a dress that has so many memories attached to it, from my first steady boyfriend (bought for his sister’s wedding) to the weddings of close friends and relatives.  It’s been to many a formal dinner, nights out, and a long list of special occasions I no longer remember.

It’s a great example of something that was not ‘in fashion’ when I purchased it, thus it transcended the fickly fashions of two decades.  There are lots of other things about it that have kept it in circulation too.  It’s a 4-season dress that works during the day and some evening occasions, it’s good quality and it flatters my figure.  Mostly it has the X-factor, that undefinable attribute that’s helped it get past every wardrobe edit, personal style overhaul and life-changing milestone since 1996.

Sadly, and somewhat poetically, it breathed its last breath on the day I wore it for these photos!  I blew out the armpit (!) which while possibly repairable, I will not fix.  It is time to lay it to rest…

Styling Notes

If I ever get around to teaching a workshop on outfit styling, there will be sections on principles of styling with ‘colour’, ‘texture’, ‘detail’ and ‘creating a look’.  In this outfit, the first three themes are well covered.

The dress is the hero, and from it everything else flows.  Colours represented in the print repeat, from the cardigan and shoes to earrings and handbag. The floral print itself is repeated too in the patterned hosiery detail and earrings.  Textures of the cardigan knit and patterned hosiery provide a depth and character in a way that ‘flat’ textures would not.

This outfit is simply a collection of items that work well together.  There’s no ‘look’ or theme, just harmony of elements…

About ‘creating a look’, this outfit is not a good example of one.  It’s simply an outfit, which while working well, doesn’t try to emulate a fashion theme or character.  It does not have its roots in any icon, theme or period.  It’s just a collection of items that work well together.

My dress was bought from a Hamilton fashion boutique in late summer of 1996, and the label is David Pond.  My cardigan is one by Elk from Shine, and my shoes were purchase a few seasons back from Tango’s shoes.  My bag is my trusty favourite from Trouble & Fox, my hosiery and earrings were red dot sale items from Farmers.






She’s a careful spender, a clever shopper or strategic wardrobe builder… whichever way you like to look at, a woman with great style who also has budget limitations is thoughtful in how she spends her money.  It’s a case of planned investment and considered choices.

“I wanted to wear my tartan pants today, a nod to my Scottish ancestry.  No, they are not my clan tartan, but I still think of tartan as my heritage and these come out every winter.  I have had them for quite some time.  The jacket is a recent purchase but something that really works my style.  I like anything military, and so the features of this jacket really appealed even though I normally don’t wear black.  I do tend to buy for the long haul, and I will save up over many months to buy things that I think of as an investment.  This bag is an example.  It was a special purchase, a gift for myself I suppose, following the milestone of my son starting school.  It’s too small to hold nappies and all that!  It’s a grown-ups bag!  I intend to have it for many years, eventually to pass on to my daughter”.


One of the things I love the most about the Real Style Project is that I meet women who have a vibrancy for living life well.  It seems that a determinant of great style is spark.  It’s that inner drive to be creative and express their best selves, no matter where they are at in life.  Anthea is one of these women…

“I see clothing as an extension of myself, a way to express my creativity. I love feeling good in what I’m wearing, and I’ve also learnt to love the feeling of having pushed my own style boundaries and getting out of my fashion comfort zone.  Being a mother has changed my clothing choices a LOT. Now it is important that my clothing is versatile and I’m able to move freely and comfortably with my kids. Heels every day have been replaced with flats and wedges. High maintenance fabrics are too hard. I need to be able to wash and wear (minimal ironing please!). I often end up running around in gym gear when I haven’t had time to change, but if I get a 2-3 days a week to spend time choosing my outfit and style for the day then I consider that a win!  I regularly look to Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and ideas on how to wear something I have in an interesting way”.


Influences on a woman’s style are varied, but one that is most common is that of family.  Our mothers’, sisters’ and grandmothers’ style, and the nature of our relationships with those women, can have a big impact on our personal style.  Nicki talks about a couple of style attributes she inherited from her family in her story below…

“I think we give and take aspects of our style from all of our experiences in life, and yes of course family.  These gloves were my grandmother’s, and I have been wearing them myself for many years now.  I love them.  The quality is amazing!  I am not sure if you can buy anything like them these days.  My lippy is also something I have been given by my family.  As in, my mother always wore lippy, even on the farm where we grew up.  She would wear lip-stick in the paddocks!  And so it’s something I learned from her.  Yes, the details of style are very important.  Like this dress, which has a very simple cut but which has this back detail that I really love.  And the brooch.  It adds something, a detail, and this makes it more interesting”.