It's 2.30pm on a sunny Saturday in the Goldie. Like most of Australia, in lieu of the Summer holiday that didn't happen, we're having an extra long weekend away.
it's so lovely here. not everyone's cup of tea but there's something in the gold coast air which makes me feel relaxed and energised all at once. I'm happy and productive here, and the long stretches of coast and multitude of magic little beach towns mean it's entirely possible to find your own little oasis.
this morning Cam, Racer and I were hanging at the beach in our little oasis. It was hot and sunny and the water was perfectly clear and warm. We were playing a beach version of diggers and trucks. mid game I looked up and noticed a guy walking past us. He looked exactly like my first ever boyfriend Rob. On double take it wasn't him but suddenly I was headed on a little trip down memory lane.
I was super fortunate to have a really close knit group of friends for my final years at high school - about 10 of us, a fairly even split of guys and girls, and a few coupled up, like me and Rob.
For a few summers after school finished we had the most EPIC summer holidays together. We piled into barely roadworthy VW beetles and Falcon station wagons and headed to beach-side camp grounds along new zealand's sunny east coast. We used to take the spare tyre out of the station wagon boots, fill the cavity with ice, beer and wine coolers (hahaha, i know!, wine coolers!!!), and surf, sun and play for days on end. I've forgotten a lot over the years, but I remember so much detail about those holidays. They were the best.
It was the era of Beverly Hills 90210 and one day we took a 90210 style beach shot. When the roll of film was finished we legged it to the pharmacy and printed out 10 copies. I don't know where my copy is, and I'm trying to track down one of the originals - I'll add it when I find it, because I think we out Beverly Hills the Beverly Hills crew. It was an awesome photo and it's still clear in my mind, making me smile as I type. If you weren't a teenager in the '90's here's the reference. BH90210 was legendary.
The point is, an unintentional 50 paragraphs later, all this came flashing back and I realised that the bikini 40-something year old me is wearing today, right now, is basically EXACTLY the same as the bikini 18 year old me was wearing in that photo. Same style, same colour. Literally a carbon copy.
Which got me thinking. My style, although evolved and vastly improved (ratio of shit outfit:good outfit was probably 50:50 back then, whereas it's closer to 15:85 these days), is basically the same, well over 20 years on!
18 was when I started to establish my own style and, with obvious age appropriate additions and subtractions... and many a questionable fashion deviation, it's been my formula ever since.
It's really worked for me so I thought I'd share the list of items I've consistently had in my wardrobe since I was 18!! (a long time ago) as they may work for you - or your daughters, too.
Here's the rundown of my life style :
Bright [in my case, orange] block colour bikini. I rarely wear colour but I do love a bright bikini - nothing says summer like neon against tanned skin. Can't remember the brand back then, possibly moontide which I loved but no longer exists. Matteau now. Always a 90's style crop top and high rise bottoms.
Plain white tee. My first indispensable white tee was age 12. i swapped a beautiful mohair/wool black cardigan with my friend fiona for it (Mum was not entirely happy). the cardy was worth way more than the tee but it was the perfect tee. and I suddenly had so many outfits (ironically it would have been perfect under the cardy I'd swapped it for, but hey, can't win em all). It was the beginning of my love of white tees. when that one finally fell apart my next perfect white tee, and the few following that were from Max (featuring GIANT removable velcro shoulder pads back then, hahaha). they were about $70 which was the equivalent of at least $200 now and everyone thought i was crazy spending that money on a plain tee but i didn't. white tees were my wardrobe backbone and they still are. bon now. feel free to add shoulder pads - it actually DOES uplevel your whole look, especially with a high waist jean. probs not '80's large though ;)
Well fitted denim finishing just above the ankle. In super pale blue, a black and a classic washed blue. no rips. Back then - tight with a little ankle showing in super pale blue and dark black (can't remember the brand), and rolled at the ankle true blue 501's which i LOVED.
I like my denim to be fitted through the waist, hips and thigh, tapering out from the calf for anywhere between an "open at the ankle skinny" to a straight fit to the ankle. Although it's different for every body shape, I do recommend always going for high waist and fitted through hips for the most flattering finish. And never shy away from buying the same style in multiple colourways. If the fit is perfect - which is really hard to get - stock up!!! Your wardrobe will thank you for it. Well fitting denim is a wardrobe hero.
Cool Sweater. Go as expensive as you can afford. back then mine was a naf naf mustard yellow one with the actual coolest print/embroidery on the front. it cost $165 which was ALOT back then, even for a fully employed person let alone a student like me (I layby'd it) - like the equivalent of about $400 today. But my god it was worth every penny. i wish i still had it, i'd be wearing it now. In the absence of that awesome sweater (and me being able to afford to make bon ones for the moment), Isabel Marant étoile.
Cropped black leather biker jacket. Unknown brand bought from a school trip to surfers paradise back then (ha, also ironic that I now write this from the gold coast - although not surfers hahaha). now - Magali Pascale. My current Magali one, almost 10 years old!, still has a few years left, but when i replace it I'll opt for a vegan leather one.
Some seasons I 'rest' my key pieces and bring them back into circulation a year later. My leather jacket had a little rest last year, I wasn't feeling it, but it's back and ready for action in 2021. I wore it out for dinner a couple of weeks ago with a lightweight sir gown and it felt so good.
Strappy sundress. then - fitted through the bodice, short lime green one that my awesome Mum sewed for me because I couldn't find the perfect one. steele now.
Blue Denim shirt. There was this menswear store at the mall in Pakuranga which was really cool and very expensive. Rob and I loved it and we went halves in a cool bomber jacket and a denim shirt. Which is hilarious as he weighed over 110kg and played in the front row of our first fifteen and I barely weighed 50kg and was skinny as a rake. We were also 18 and still both lived at home with our parents but somehow the share arrangement worked and (when it was my turn) I rocked my massively oversized blue denim shirt or my bomber jacket and white tee with 501's and short tight mini's and thought I was pretty cool. hahah! Now, denim blue shirt from blanca
Dress pants. Back then, again from Max. Fitted through the hips with a loose-ish leg and side pockets (I've always loved that hands-in-pockets slouch). Now Black ones from Chloe (they're an investment but my current ones are 5 years old and still look new), white ones from Sir.
Short shorts. I used to sew my own shorts, using the same base pattern which I modified - with a high waist band, fitted though the hips then flaring out. Darts and a centre hidden zip at the back, big deep side pockets and pleats at the front. Made as short as I could hahah. I sewed them to fit me like a glove. My fave pairs were navy with white polka dots, and a pair I made from left over heavy weight black muslin. Now, marle or one teaspoon high waist bandits in organic denim.
Statement skirt. This is also an area I feel comfortable deviating into colour with. Back then I used to buy 50cm!!!!! of cotton fabric, often a liberty print, and make myself super simple mini's. Now, ganni, sir or vintage (one of my faves is made from a repurposed kimono). I love to go bright here and pair it back with a white tee. So simple but so effective.
This outfit - a good white tee paired with a statement skirt has taken me so many places - and it'll take you too. Mix it up depending on what you're doing with either flat strappy sandals, a classic white trainer, an understated pump, or a cool, little bit chunky ankle boot.
Birkies. Literally exactly the same then and now! I know!! I love the circularity of fashion. Not the actual same pair but same style - White arizonas. The only difference is now I get the vegan ones.
White trainers. Old school Converse chuck taylor's and reebok classics back then. Veja now. I switch between esplar and campo styles and pretty much always go with white on white. This season I'm contemplating the comme de garcons play converse. I love a fresh white trainer to ground an outfit.
Strappy flat black sandals. Can't remember the name of the store and it doesn't exist anymore, in fact the entire MALL it was in doesn't exist anymore, RIP Howickvile. Andrea Biani slingbacks from the store in Howickville back then (don't judge me, it was early 90's!). Ancient Greek now.
and there you have it - 18 items from when I was 18 years old... to a few more than 18 years on. It says something about the circularity of fashion - around a 20 year cycle. And also the power of personal style and a pared back wardrobe.
I don't feel bored by my style, I mix it up enough with slight variations and statement pieces, and weirdly I get a great deal of comfort knowing that I've been kind of consistent. I also know what works, so on the days I'm stuck for what to wear, I've got a really tried and tested formula for a quick outfit fix.
I hope this guide takes you on your own style led trip down memory lane (clothes are wonderful memory sparks), or inspires you to create your, or your daughter's, own life style.
Big cheers to all time faves, and 90's style rolling on round again. I'm off to watch an episode of 90210 - and track down that photo xx
Comments will be approved before showing up.
by Linda Smyth October 07, 2021 6 min read
by Linda Smyth September 23, 2021 4 min read
please check your inbox for discount code