I have always styled my racing looks and really enjoy doing it but it’s also labour intensive. I have to source multiple options for every race day, and that includes my outfit, shoes, jewellery, and headwear. This year, I not only had several race days to attend but I had presenting commitments with 7 Racing that saw me having to also style outfits for those occasions, and not only that I had to ensure that my outfit was able to work on camera and co-ordinated with the other presenters. That’s a lot of outfits! So I enlisted the help of stylist Jess Pecoraro to make it happen.
Jess is the go-to fashion and celeb stylist for the likes of Jesinta Franklin and Gemma Ward and Delta Goodrem. She’s got a great eye and knows what I like and gets my style which is critical when you’re working with a stylist. We’ll often start by taking a look at the events I have coming up and what each look requires. For example there are strict dress codes for big race days like Derby Day and Melbourne Cup which we need to adhere to, and if I’ve got TV commitments I need to ensure that what I’m wearing works well on screen as well as the other presenters I’m working with. Additionally I work with a few key brands during spring racing so it’s important that we factor them into the styling process. It’s a big process and there are so many considerations to be made that it’s great to have someone to look after it all as it makes everything a little less hectic.
I’m quite open to trying new looks and Jess pulled together a number of different outfits for me to try. We did a few fittings at home to see what would work and the accessories to match. This can become quite a lengthy process as we experiment with different options to lock in the final outfit, all the while making sure that I’m keeping to dress codes and incorporating certain brands. I’m always able to direct the outfits where I want them to go but Jess is able to put forward combinations and suggestions of how everything could work together which is great as often it can be hard to have a vision for every outfit. That’s the great thing about working with a stylist.
I often get asked why I work with stylists and one of the reasons is that it’s great to be able to collaborate with someone else and get a fresh opinion or point of view on fashion. I know what I like but sometimes I might miss something that would look great, that someone else from the outside looking in might see. And being able to push boundaries and try something new is what fashion is all about.
With a growing movement towards approaching fashion in a more conscious way, never has it been more important to build a functional, versatile wardrobe. Ensuring women have the building blocks to create myriad looks that they feel confident in is something Kristin Todd, a stylist for over 10 years, has worked hard to do in her personal styling sessions and workshops.
Now Kristin has penned Style Sessions: Perfecting the Art of Dressing, a book that aims to change the way women dress by arming them with the knowledge and advice to help them feel great in what they wear, and also to make the sometimes intimidating world of fashion a whole lot more accessible. Here she shares her valuable advice on the key items every woman should have in her closet, to the secrets of being stylish and why we shouldn’t be a slave to trends.
What are the key pieces every woman should have in her wardrobe?
Every women, no matter her taste, should have a CORE wardrobe—her “perfect fit in every category”. It is the backbone of a wardrobe. Some people like to call these the classics or the basics.
These pieces are:
The colours to look out for when building your Core Wardrobe are neutral, black or white. They should be without detail, print or pattern. They have no real identity or genre in their appearance, so that they can take on any identity. Once you have a Core wardrobe in place, you will always be able to create an outfit. Add in your Taste pieces after the Core has been established.
What’s the secret to good style?
The secret to good style is marching to the beat of your own drum! Allowing your individual flavour shine through brightly. Knowing what works for you as an individual is important, every woman has very different boxes to tick. Tick your boxes in the way your outfit fits you, and represents your taste. Understanding what are your best parts and using your outfit to bring them to the surface…now that is style.
What’s the key to a functional, wearable wardrobe?
You may have a hundred pair of stiletto heels sitting neatly on your shoe shelves, but if you are a PE teacher, those investments are really just ornaments!
The key to a functional wardrobe is equipping yourself with items you need for what you are doing with your time. Before you head out to the shops, break your life into categories. The biggest category should represent the largest part of your wardrobe. If it doesn’t you need more items in that category to fill those gaps. There is no need to fill your wardrobe with cocktail dresses if lounge bars aren’t a part of your weekly lifestyle. Take the time to think about your lifestyle needs, then stock up on your needs first, before your wants.
I also find it helpful to invest in items that can do a lot for your wardrobe, like jeans, they are trans-seasonal, can move from casual to smart casual, hardwearing, day and night, comfortable, practical and the cut I wear, makes me feel comfortable and stylish. They tick a lot of boxes in my lifestyle.
What are the common mistakes you often see women making when it comes to fashion?
Many women are so focussed on trend they may lose sight of whether or not that particular trend is working for them. Style and trend are two different things. A stylish women knows what works for her, and builds her wardrobe based on careful selection. A women who is focussed on trend will wear an outfit just to fit into a trend, regardless of how the trend may take shape on her shape. I see this mistake a lot, especially with teenagers.
What’s something you wish more women would do when it comes to styling themselves?
I often see looks that are almost there! I say, if you’re going to go for it with a look, then really go for it!
Putting together a look is a head to toe concept. All the pieces of the puzzle come together to make a picture or to communicate a single message. Consider how your nails, lip colour, hairstyle and your accessories fit into your look…not just the clothing items. Complete your whole look ladies!
For women who feel a little intimidated by fashion, how can they become more comfortable with it and make it a part of their lives?
Every women needs to get dressed every day. Dressing is a necessary part of life. Instead of looking at dressing as “fashion”, use dressing as vessel to promote your personal wellbeing, if you feel good about the way you present yourself, you’ll set a positive tone for the day ahead. Don’t get caught up in fashion and trend. Wearing things you love will immediately get your good endorphins going. Focus on dressing in colours you love, prints and patterns that make you feel good. The garment shapes in those colours, prints and patterns will need to be right for your body, but the market has never been bigger or more accessible, you will be able to find your best fits in your favourite fabrics, enjoy hunting for them.
I also find it is helpful to align yourself with a few boutiques, brands or labels who get you! They get your size, your style, and your lifestyle. Every brand comes with its unique attributes, and your best brands/labels will be your first go-to when you are looking for a new outfit. This will save you from wandering aimlessly from shop to shop. Good stores also have the right accessories for their collections, the complete look is already done for you to save the thinking.
What are some things you think women need to retire from their wardrobes?
I am hesitant to advise the removal of a single fashion item from the wardrobe, as fashion moves so quickly, I may end up eating my words and that item may be happening again very soon. There are always a handful of women, who can absolutely use their creativity in ways which can make even the most hideous statements appear attractive. With that in mind, I won’t comment on a single item.
I do have some tips for clothing removal on a broader scale which I like to stick to…
The bane of my existence is pilling! If you garment begins to pill and it cannot be saved, it requires a quick exit from the wardrobe. That garment is done! To counteract the pilling, always invest in the best quality you can afford and care for your items properly.
Aside from the pilling garments treat your wardrobe as valuable real estate! Anything that is not relevent for the style that represents you best right now, is clutter, and a cluttered creative space won’t allow you to reach your outfitting potential. Take out the items which are no longer relevant! It’s not necessary to completely part with those items, they may be required again one day, just keep them away from your wardrobe for now.
What are your tips for dealing with an “I have nothing to wear” moment?
Get the Core wardrobe sorted, with the CORE in place, you’ll always be able to make at least three outfits with any ‘taste’ item you bring into your creative space.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a stylist?
Without hesitation, it’s helping women enjoy the reflection they see in the mirror. It’s not important for women to change who or what they are to be stylish. What is important is to find a style that fits who or what they are perfectly.
Instead of focussing on the things you don’t have, draw your attention to the things that are truly great about you and help those parts along with a great outfit that celebrates all of your best parts. Clothes cover, that’s what they do; cut and detail will showcase. Dress in outfits that are working for you not against you.
What are some fashion rules you live by?
Goodness, there are a few..
Quality over quantity.
Invest in the real.
Belts, sunglasses and bags are important!
Good style is being an individual.
You only get a single opportunity to make a first impression. Make it a good one.
If you could only wear one outfit forever, what would it entail?
Relaxed tailoring head to toe, drawn in at the waist with a belt!
I love the casual/elegant look! Comfortable yet chic ticks my boxes, for my body, my lifestyle and my taste.
Have you always wanted to know what it’s like to be a stylist? Jess Pecoraro has dressed the likes of Jesinta Franklin, Pia Miller, Carissa Wolford…and me! Having got her start as an intern at Cosmo before becoming the Fashion Editor of Women’s Fitness, Jess is now a freelance stylist in demand. Australian Fashion Week is one of the busiest weeks in the calendar for the Sydney-based stylist who is not only attending the shows but styling attendees and the show of a label about to debut at #MBFWA for the first time. I caught up with Jess before the craziness really hit to talk styling celebrities, the perks of working in fashion and the one thing she insists every girl should invest in.
How did you get into the industry?
I pretty much started straight from school. I was lucky enough to have a friend whose friend worked at Cosmo, so I started as an intern. I interned for probably two years, pretty much every day. My poor parents were like, “When are you actually gonna get a job?”
[I said] this is a job but it doesn’t pay. So I borrowed their car and didn’t have any money for food. So it was just like they were funding my job for a good two years. And then I was lucky enough [that] Cosmo created a role for me as a wardrobe coordinator, which pretty much is an intern but you get your [name on the] masthead. So from there I I worked across a few other titles at Bauer, and now I’ve been freelance for probably four years.
Was the end goal always to be a stylist?
Initially no. Being at school I just thought there’s nothing in fashion for me and I just didn’t realise a role like a stylist existed to be honest with you. So I thought okay, I’m going to go to university and study languages because I could speak Italian and wanted to live overseas. I went into my Orientation Day [at university] and just walked around and thought, this is not for me…So I took a gap year and with that I decided okay I need to do something in fashion.
What is it about fashion that you love?
I guess I was brought up in that environment. My mum’s a designer, so I’ve got a few years of me at age three walking around her showroom pretending that I was dressing an imaginary person saying ‘you shouldn’t wear this with that’ and so it started from a young age. It’s always been me, I guess.
What does Fashion Week entail for you?
Manic week! I guess it’s also the lead up that gets quite crazy. I feel like I am quite organised, but it’s always that waiting for something or waiting for someone and everything always seems to happen the day or two before the shows begin, so it’s a lot of prep. I’ll be styling a show this year as well as dressing girls attending shows, as well as attending shows myself.
Can you tell us a little about the show you’re styling?
Yes, of course. I’m styling the Pereira Fitzgerald show. They’re two young designers, so it’s their first year showing at Mercedes Benz [Fashion Week Australia], which is exciting. I’ve come on board because it’s very much my style. Clean lines, effortless and quite classic pieces that you could wear every day.
What does it entail when you’re styling a show?
From the start we sat down with the designers to go through all their mood boards and their designs. I’ve gone through each piece and said this is what I think, or maybe we should cut that out. We want a strong collection. And then [I did] castings.
So you cast all of it?
Yes. Everything from the models to the style, hair, makeup and shoes.
Where do you find your inspiration when you’re styling a show?
I guess from a mix of things. I’m very old school. I still buy magazines, so I think that’s my first point. We’re lucky enough now with Instagram, it’s a big, big inspo, and I can do that in bed at night. Also my surroundings. I like travel and [the Pereira Fitzgerald] show is inspired by the Italian lifestyle which fits perfectly with me.
You’re styling shows, you’re going to shows, you’re also dressing amazing celebrities. Can you give us a few hints of who you’ll be dressing?
I’ll be dressing [Victoria’s Secret model] Georgia Fowler only for one night. I’ll also have Jesinta Franklin who will be attending a few shows and Brooke Hogan, who’s a young influencer from Melbourne.
When you’re dressing someone like Jesinta Franklin how do you go about it?
At the beginning it’s always quite hard when you work with someone, because you’re trying to get their sense of style. I like to have all my girls look different but still have that touch of yes, she was styled by me. So I guess with Jesinta, we’ve worked together for everything so I know her style. We always go for classic pieces but I think with her attitude, she can rock anything, which changes that look. So if it is just a plain black suit with a pair of glasses, bag and shoes we can change that outfit.
Do you work closely with her in choosing the looks or do you just put together a wardrobe?
We work very closely together so I I fit her probably once a week. We also coordinate even for day-to-day outfits. She’ll send me a snap of what she’s thinking of wearing, and I’ll say yes, or maybe change the shoes or the bag. It’s quite nice to see how her style has changed ever since we’ve started working together,
What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing beautiful clothes and having a look at things that the public doesn’t get to see and also using stuff before it actually is released. I get so excited when I get a lookbook to pick from that no-one’s seen. And also meeting great people. I’m really fortunate to be around such really lovely people. People always say to me, “Is it a bit bitchy?” but I’m really lucky that I’ve got a good group of ladies around me.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Working on a mix of different things at the same time. So at the moment I’m working on a show, dressing people and I’ve got three shoots as well that have nothing to do with Fashion Week and lookbook styling. So I think its just getting your mind at different stages. Like this morning Georgia [Fowler]’s going to Cannes when she leaves [Australian Fashion Week] so I’m dressing her for that so it’s completely different styling— we’ve got gowns and jewellery. I’m like the courier driver and everything! I’ve got a good team of girls as well so that makes a difference. Having them on board just makes me stressed and when you know you can trust someone as well, so they can do those little jobs for you.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing at Fashion Week?
I feel like lots of clean, classic line. A few designers will definitely add some prints. I’m excited to see Hansen and Gretel, they’ve created something fun. So that very classic, tailored style, I’m sure we’ll see that. I was very excited to see Camilla and Marc’s show.
What is the number one key wardrobe piece that every woman should own?
A black blazer. And invest in a really good one— I always say that to my clients. Yes, it’s a big investment to buy a Saint Laurent or Balmain [blazer], but you’ll have them forever. I think that’s my number one. A white T-shirt, good denim, and probably just an easy dress that you can wear day or night, depending on your shoes.
What’s your number one styling tip when you’re dressing?
Don’t follow trends. As much as we obviously do want to be trend-driven and make a statement, you still have to have an overall classic aesthetic and then add little bits and pieces with your shoes and handbags. I think that’s a good way to add a trend in. And also dress for your shape. We see models [wearing something] and are like “that’s amazing” but if you’re petite and short then it doesn’t work. So it’s also dressing for your body shape.
Fashion Week Five
Shows I attended: Albus Lumen, Bianca Spender, Anna Quan Location: carriageworks Fave show: Albus Lumen Biggest trend I saw: Earthy tones, silky soft fabrics and shirting with a feminine twist, The highlight of the day: Sitting down with Jess Pecoraro chatting fashion, styling and celebrity dressing