Something happens when I regularly photograph the same woman over a period of time.  I learn what makes her smile and relax, and what brings a spark to her eye.  In Catherine’s case, this means chatting about finding beautiful fashionable things – clothes, designers, brands, looks – that make her feel happy. And dancing…


“Gregory is a label I have recently found, that really appeals to me.  It’s grown up, but still very modern and edgy from a design perspective.  I now have a few pieces from them.  This dress is by Gregory, and it’s become a favourite, although I can’t really wear it with flats or I look a bit ‘mumsy’.  It needs the heel to lift it.  No my heels are not new.  I have actually had them for some time, and they are by Doc Martens, although you wouldn’t call them “Docs”!  The dress is actually very dark blue… apparently!  But I think it looks black to me, and when I wear black I like to mix in non-black things.  It keeps it interesting.  Like the shoes, and the bag.  The bag’s an old favourite by Deadly Ponies”.


I caught up with Amy a few days before Nelson’s Fashion Revolution event.  We talked about individual style and being aware of the impact of shopping decisions.  We also talked about re-living unfulfilled teenage fashion-fantasies, such as owning a pair of Doc Marten boots…

“My style is really a mix of the more expensive and ‘cheap and cheerful’. But being more environmentally sustainable is something I do think about a lot more these days. For me, sustainability is about buying mindfully. Like this skirt, which was a cheapie from Zara. Everything else I am wearing is high quality and I plan to have for a long time, but the skirt is a fun piece that I know will probably date. I will wear it a lot for a few seasons, but I know it wouldn’t be a ‘keeper’.  Why spend $600 or more on something that won’t stand the test of time? My boots, which are Doc Martens, are keepers and I know they will last and be loved forever. Yes, I can see why you might say they aren’t entirely in keeping with my usual style. But they are still very me! As a teenager I really wanted them but could not afford them. But now is my time.”

I was feeling like “the shizz”…

My Style

I was feeling good when these photos were taken.  It was a reminder to myself that when you align a great outfit with a great mood you create this internal powerhouse of potential.  That is to say, suddenly you can take on the world!  Even though you know you are and never will be a sex-goddess, A-list celebrity or model-like beauty, you have your own thing going on and, actually, it really is all that you need.  That’s the goal.  Feeling like you are and have everything you need…

Style Notes

I have two dresses like this one.  It is a style that works for my body shape, my personal style, and my practical needs.  It makes sense to me, and when I wear it I feel strong, feminine and a little bit pretty.

It’s also one of these pieces that can be ‘dressed up or down’, an idea that while somewhat cliched has great truth.  On this day I dressed it down, anchoring it with sneakers and caramel coloured leather, ‘non-blingy’ ethnic-like jewellery and a vintage blazer.  And here’s the cinch for this look…

Individually, each accessory item did not connect or complement with each other.  But through the colourways of the dress, everything was represented.

None of the pieces individually made sense with each other without the dress – a caramel-brown leather satchel bag, white lace-up canvas sneakers, a blue, white  burgandy striped 1940s vintage blazer, shark’s tooth earrings.  But together, united through the colours in the dress, they all connected and balanced with each other.  They made sense, although eclectic and stylistically unrelated.

My dress is a reversible one by Kilt, and my blazer is a wonderful treasure I found in Eclectic.  It really is an authentic blazer from the 1940s and I believe it was picked up in the States by Maria (from Eclectic) on a buying trip.  My shoes are Keds, glasses and silver pendant by Karen Walker from Palm and other jewellery were all op-shop or second-hand shop finds.


Laura and I both agree that one of the keys to great style is “owning it”.  Which is to say, if you feel confident and comfortable with your look, you can pull just about anything off.  Exploring your comfort and cultivating confidence in clothes is a continuous thing, and its’ an idea Laura touches on in her style story…

“I saw the gorgeous Maria on your blog today and feel a little boring and mainstream following after her! Yeah, I do agree though, you just have to own it, whatever you decide to wear.  I have stopped following rules so much now that I am older, but I would love to do it more. I want to do more mixing of patterns and colour.  I love colour in all its forms.  You will often see me in bright colours, but I am equally fond of the earthy colours such as olive, and also my favourite, mustard. I am not sure how I feel about mustard being so ‘in’ this season. I have loved it for a while and so it is cool to have so much to choose from.  But then I feel a little possessive of it, like, it is everywhere and I am not sure I like the popularity of it”.


Few I know have the self confidence to wear what Maria does.  And it is true, not everyone should or indeed can! But what I am reminded about everytime we get together is that Maria is not afraid to be herself.  It does take courage, but when we do it we are encouraging others to do the same…

“It is an incredible outfit, for sure, made from a lightweigh neoprene kind-of fabric.  It’s from the 80s.  I do find myself drawn to the 80s a lot, perhaps it is the boldness of that era?  This outfit does have a story.  I found it in shop that I originally discovered in the States when we were on honeymoon, back in the 80s.  We were staying at a hotel not far away from this crazy market where you can buy all sorts of outrageous things.  But it’s no ordinary market.  Highly dangerous place to go, no doubt full of dealers and shifty people.  You don’t feel safe there.  Anyway, there is this amazing second-hand shop and it sells a lot of really incredible second-hand pieces.  We have been back many times since.  And yes I do always find things for myself, like this one, bought on a recent shopping trip”.


It has been some time since Daniella and I got together for a real style shoot.  One of the things I have missed is her incredible ability to find and style complete looks made up from opshop finds.  I have also missed her careful and highly considered approach to putting things together, a simple and gentle approach that she talks a little of here…

“A part of me struggles to talk about the clothes I wear, as I am wanting to understand beauty in a way that goes deeper than what is on the surface.  But if I was to explain why I enjoy opshopping, it’s because for me it’s like a treasure hunt. I love the unknowness and anticipation of what I could find. It’s my quiet time to explore and search for things that intrigue me.  I ponder what I would feel wearing this item I find, almost like there’s a story or emotion attached to the look I wear.  This outfit shows simplicity for me and a gentle approach.  I admire so much people’s creativity in how they dress but most of all I want to understand who someone is. That is how I would love to be seen, that someone would not just see what I wear but be intrigued by who I am, my story”


Minimalist style can be misinterpreted as simple, and it often goes unnoticed.  But that it flies below the radar does not mean it is lacking in style, effort or thought by the wearer.  A minimal take on style is often a very measured and disciplined approach to what each item is and how it relates to the total look……

“My style for work is contemporary and minimal as I work in a corporate environment, but I don’t think of it as simple. I usually wear only one statement piece of jewellery with an outfit, and most of my jewellery has a special and personal meaning to me. This greenstone was gifted to me for Mother’s Day last year from my step kids. It is my most precious piece of jewellery and I adore it.  It is the perfect contrast for my top, being a colour opposite. It hangs just so in the ‘v’ of the neckline.  And then the top goes with my hair colour, which although almost black, it has those reddish under-tones.  Black pants and boots of course are the natural choice for me. I like the cropped length of the pants, which work well with the boots and my petite form.  I’m quite short, so I need shapes that  don’t overwhelm me.   For me, the outfit doesn’t need more.  It’s right just as it is, and so yes, while it’s understated, everything belongs.  Does that make me a minimalist?”


It was Nicky’s asymetric earring combination that first caught my eye, but I quickly came to discover that this was the tip of the fashion iceberg!  Here she shares her style story, and introduces to us the origins of her love for fashion…

“I love clothes, and I have always loved fashion.  I was the youngest of four girls, and my mother would always comment on how I was a bit different than my older sisters!  I never really liked to dress like everyone else did.  I remember when mini dresses were ‘in’ but there I was with this midi-length skirt that was very forward for back then, especially at Tapawera Area school, which is where I went for my later high-school years!  In those days everyone really did dress very much the same, and trends could be so strong.  I remember platform shoes, and flared slacks and big hair.  But like I say, I’ve always tried to be a bit different than everyone else.  I love colour, and detail, especially in handbags, scarves, jewellery and even nail-polish.  Yes, I do have lots of glasses frames too!”


For a long time I have known about Frith’s thoroughly extraordinary vintage style, following her on Instagram and hoping to photograph her for the blog.  Because she is not Nelson-based, this has been a challenge.  So I was very thankful to bump into her when she was in town recently, and even more grateful that she allowed me to capture her style…

“I wouldn’t describe myself as a purest, no, but I do dress mostly in clothing from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  But I haven’t always been so committed to it.  While I have been buying vintage for over thirty years, I have only really worn all vintage for the last decade or so.   Why vintage? I love to know that my clothes carry a story. That they’ve lived other lives and carry the DNA of previous owners. Clothes back then were valued and cared for more far more than now. So the clothes are often well preserved because of this, and a lot of my clothes that are 70-80 years old are still in fantastic condition! I’m not sure if we’ll say the same about modern clothing in the future.  No, I don’t really buy new things, very rarely.  But I do have new things made for me, mostly from vintage fabric, made to authentic patterns from back then, by local dressmakers.  Being sustainable is important to me, and beautifully made things of the highest quality.

Nerds who tell stories

My Style

My inner nerd is strong.  But she’s a bit shy about it.  Being a nerd is not cool, even though we’ll occasionally accept that pretty girls in glasses look cute, and a sexy woman dressed uber-conservatively can be a turn on (apparently).  But I am neither of those things.  Real nerds are never sexy, not usually very cool and always a little on the outside.

Now I am sure that psychologists would have a feild day with all of this – Why am I hiding and who am I hiding from?  Why do I have an aversion to cool?  And why does being on the outside make me feel safe? – Who knows!? My only explanation is that my love of nerdy styles is simply an unconscious response to images of looks that appeal to me.  My mood-board is full of them.  Girls in pinafores, buttoned-up blouses, flat shoes and glasses.  It’s a look that has inspired many outfits, including this week’s one.

Styling Notes

However you choose to dress, creating a ‘look’ is a helpful way to bring ideas together.  It’s a method that differs from styling an outfit: When you style an outfit, you begin with a central item that you want to wear (or use, when styling for others) and add to it to create a total outfit.  But when you create a ‘look’, you begin with a concept, a theme, a feeling, an inspiration.  Your starting point is an idea, rather than an item.  What is your story?  What do you want to say?  What inspires you and speaks to your heart?

Creating a look, as opposed to styling an outfit, is a kind of story-telling opportunity

When I styled this week’s outfit, I wanted to show my nerdy side and all of its glory.  I wanted to celebrate this side of me and amplify it for maximum effect. I created a look that attempted to tell you a story.

A buttoned-to-the-neck collared shirt and glasses frames were my go-tos.  I referenced school-girl chic with black lace-ups, white ankle socks and a leather back-pack.  My dungaree dress covered me from head to toe, a nod to utilitarianism and perhaps even religious conservatism?  My grandpa cardi ensured no part of my figure would be noticed, and is an acknowledgement of the librarian who resides in me.

My dress and shoes are favourite wardrobe pieces I would happily wear every day, both from Shine.  My leather backpack is a wonderful piece I discovered in Eclectic, and my glasses are Age Eyewear frames from Matthews Eyewear.  I picked up my grandpa cardi from a wee fashion boutique in my hometown of Taupo.  My shirt was an op-shop find.