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.


Brooke and I caught up on a Friday afternoon and talked about how classic pieces can work well with a contemporary, fashion-forward style like hers.  She shared her thoughts on how to style a classic white shirt and jeans, the basis for this week’s look…

“I don’t think of myself as a classic girl, so I definitely need some bold statement pieces to make it more me.  The white shirt and jeans are classics but they have a twist, like the back panel of my shirt.  And then I will wear them with accessories that are more modern and edgy. I like to wear layers and texture to add interest to a simple look. Add a red lip and accessories and you’re good to go! My Jeans are Levi’s and my shirt by Cheap Monday.  The knit is a mohair one from Wanoa Four and my ankle boots are by Zara.  My jewellery is from Trouble & Fox.


Julie had just had her hair and make-up done for the Shine “Hailwood at Home” fashion show fundraiser for Hospice.  We had a chuckle about how odd it felt to be all “done”.  Although it always feels great to look glamorous, there’s a part of it that makes you feel ‘not you’.  This sparked a conversation about hair and beauty…

“I have naturally very dark hair, and no greys.  But unfortunately my hair is very fine.  So when I go blonde, my hair is thicker and more manageable.  And I do like being blonde as I  feel it suits my natural colouring.  No, I normally don’t wear a lot of make up, just enough to make me feel confident.  A swish of ‘bb cream’ and some mascara is usually what that means.  I do take good care of my skin though, and have been using a specific brand for a couple of years, with really good results. When I go out, I do apply a bit more make-up, but still not a lot. Actually this is one of the things – there are others, that I like about being part of these charity fundraiser events.  Getting my make-up done by a professional to suit the look has been enlightening!”


I can’t believe it took me so long to discover Nicki’s style!  I approached her on intuition, having met her once and gaining an impression of her sense of style.  My intuition proved right and I have since discovered that she is someone whose style is intuitive and uncontrived.  It is as if she doesn’t give it too much thought.  I asked her about this, and this is what she shared…

“I tend to just go with what feels right for the tone of the day, my mood and to some degree how I want to be perceived.  Sometimes I feel like I want to be taken more seriously and I tone down the accessories and lean to the classics, but at other times I want to be creative and playful and have a bit of fun with a few mixed message details.  But however I dress, it’s important to me to feel like I’m wearing my clothes and not the other way around. My influences?  Well, I’m going to say ‘vintage cocktail’. I love a dress and a bit of drama, all served up with the possibility of fun and a nod to more glamourous days-gone-by.  I wear dresses most days, although not cocktail dresses!  That said I’m not averse to dragging a bit of evening into day.  Life’s too short to sit on all those pretty things waiting for enough special nights!”



Kate has a fantastic energy in front of the camera, and a playfulness that comes through in the way she dresses.  A little bit sporty, a little bit street, it’s a very easy style that I look forward to seeing when we meet.  This week we talked about rain, cute socks and why winter is something to look forward to…

“I had to change what I was going to wear at the last minute, as it finally rained!  What I had planned was a summer outfit. And yes, as I often do, I raided Mum’s wardrobe.  But you know I actually look forward to winter.  I love winter clothing.  Winter has so much more possibility, textures, layers and warmth!  My top was made in Vietnam and pants by Moochi, my bag is Mums.  My shoes are Nike Air Force 1’s.  No, I didn’t coordinate the socks with the lace jacket, but I love to wear quirky socks to make an outfit a little more interesting.”


At the moment I’m obsessed with what I describe as “intuitive style” and studying women who seem to have a lot of it.  I am curious to learn more about how it is that they ‘know’ when something is right for them.  I asked Leone how she knows what’s right for her when she shops…

“Knowing what to buy for me is very much a feeling I get from a garment, most of the time. What I’m drawn to are the unique pieces, often the retro and vintage pieces. Certain fabrics stand out to me and I will scan a rack in a matter of seconds to see if there’s potential there.  I often know when I walk into a place if it’s got the goods.  I suppose its a feeling, as obscene as that may sound.  What I once defined as ‘my style’ in my youth is very different now. I often pick up items and think ‘sixteen-year-old Leone would have worn the ship out of this!’  Sometimes I will still buy those things!  But nowadays I am more aware of what suits me colour and shape wise.  Even though I still respond to a feeling about something, I make it a rule to try everything on”.

Clothes to hide in

My Style

How I feel and what I wear are closely related. I don’t think I am alone in this.  There are days when we feel stronger, more confident and attractive.  On these days we are more brave and daring.  And then there are days when we feel more vulnerable, ugly, fat or old, or more of whatever our particular insecurity might be.  On these days we may hide, play it safe stylistically speaking, and seek to be more physically comfortable.  This week’s outfit was chosen for a day when I didn’t feel like being seen (much less want to be photographed!)  It’s an uncomplicated, loose-fitting outfit with ‘distracting’ features to draw attention away from me.

Styling Notes

My ‘hiding’ clothes are long and baggy.  But not inelegant!  I chose this cute denim dress to help me feel secure without being dowdy.  While the shape and fabric were safe choices, the coloured straps and cute yellow buttons set a happy, encouraging tone.  They chat away quietly with colours of my bag.

And the bag is definitely the hero of the outfit, a hand crocheted bag made from up-cycled t-shirts!  It was made by New Plymouth based creative and ceramics artist Marita Green, who also made its ceramic button closure.  It’s a wardrobe favourite, something that appeals to me on many levels: It’s big and practical, cute, environmentally sustainable and ‘interesting’.  Most of all it’s great because Marita is my big sister!  That makes it even more interesting.

Being interesting is important to my style.  It’s a concept best defined by what it’s not. I don’t want to make predictable, sensible style choices all of the time.  I want to choose things that are a little bit different or unexpected…

‘Interesting’ is also the defining factor in my choice of vintage Christian Dior sunglasses – while I might have gone for more sensible, mainstream sunnies, there’s something crazy about these frames that make them the perfect foil for a day when I don’t want to be noticed.

I might well be a walking advertisement for Shine in this outfit, as my shoes, dress and long-line cardigan were all purchases from there!  My bag and earrings are both by creative and ceramics artist Marita Green (on Instagram and Facebook as @maritagreen).  My sunglasses are indeed Christian Dior vintage frames bought from a second-hand store many years ago.  I love them even though they are kind-of-bad 1970’s craziness!