Dressing oneself is an art where creativity reveals itself in several contexts. The art of knowing which colours work. The art of understanding proportions.
And then, there’s the art of unexpected and striking combinations, where you really skirt the edges of courageous dressing and see how much you can get away with before you crack.
Paisley with Rococo. Textiles with monochrome. An unexpected brooch with colour-clashing heels. Done wrong, this melange can look clownish. Yet executed correctly, this flair for the eclectic can elevate you to a sartorial icon, of Daphne Guinness or Iris Apfel proportions.
While I appreciate those eccentric mavens, I never thought pushing those creative boundaries could be anything I would be bold enough to try. With a palette of cream, black, white and gold, I abhor most patterns or colours, bar the odd shot of cobalt or crimson in my otherwise austere scheme.
Nonetheless, parallel to the desire to blend is also the subversive dream to shine. Perhaps beyond our identity that has been conditioned to look, dress and blend a certain way, there is a spiritual theatre, an emboldened alter ego, dying to be witnessed. So, with the transition I’m journeying through in life, finding myself newly single and with the world at my feet, I felt it’s time to push the edges of my style and discover who I could truly be.
The opportunity to dress more pointedly actually found me. Under no circumstance did I think I needed it, especially since I recently had a rather thorough wardrobe edit with a chic and on-trend fashion consultant only a few weeks prior. Yet when I befriend a client of Australia-wide stylist Gessica Marmotta, and thumb through her digital new outfit library, I knew I had the option to delve even deeper into my wardrobe and see what it delivered back under Marmotta’s watchful eye.
In Gessica’s world, Western-inspired leather Ferragamo tunics are effortlessly worn over Shakespearian chiffon Zara blouses that billow over vintage oxblood leather pants, which are in turn worn, ends slightly agape, over 3.1 Phillip Lim faux-crocodile skin blue booties. The look is finished with a cobalt vintage brooch (to catch the blue in the booties), jauntily pinned to the pussy bow blouse. It’s eclectic and it works. I feel at once dressed up, overdressed, grandiose and out of my depth… After all, this is my first bold outfit.
Zara blouse, Ferregamo leather tank, vintage J-Brand oxblood leather pants, 3.1 Phillip Lim booties, vintage brooch, Dior sunglasses.
Gessica encourages me to wear the blouse bow tied loosely and brooch to one side from time to time, in keeping with her penchant for style that is a bit asymmetrical to the eye (and in line with my kooky personality!), rather that the more conservative centering I used in these photographs.
Seeing me sweat, Gessica tones things down a notch by replacing the oxen leathers with a more streamlined Missy Skins suede black pant (all items in my wardrobe) and dainty lacy Jimmy Choo pumps. The effect is immediately sleek, something still flouncy yet elegant and understated, a glamourous-enough look to have me sauntering into my next chic dinner party without feeling like the centre of attention.
Missy Skins suede black pants, Jimmy Choo lace heels, Ferregamo bag, Ferregamo tank, Zara blouse, vintage brooch, pearl ring from Byron Bay.
However, Gessica doesn’t let me get off that easily. She encourages me to push the envelope of style, and indeed, sport the leather ox pants with the blue crocodile-inspired pumps for my next occasion. Even my start-up co-working space.
Her philosophy? Not to be like any other stylist that stick to rules. Gessica is all about disrupting your style by shaking it up in the boardroom, the office or just the weekend, without overt OTT.
I waiver to be so conspicuous at work, but it’s only Look One. Perhaps I need to get warmed up. We proceed with more winter layering, jumpers over jumpers and clusters of bangles and bracelets that in my wildest dreams, I would not have put together. I enjoy the permissiveness of wearing things I previously thought impossible. Suddenly even my tightly edited wardrobe comes alive with a thousand new combinations.
I know these looks don’t appear overly flamboyant, but these forms of layering bracelets, belts or lace is a far sojourn from my usual jeans / booties / big watch combo. For that is, I believe, our quandary. Daily dressing is habitual, rather than theatrical. We dress for uniformity and convenience, rather than expression.
Vintage lace top, xx flares, Zara heels, Ferregamo clutch, vintage panther bangle, Amber Sceats bracelet, Samantha Wills earrings.
But what if we were to approach it with the flair of a painter? Would that increase the value of our canvas, or the exciting journey of our life? I was drawn to work with Gessica because pushing the envelope is her style. She coaches you, mentors you to show, essentially, how regal or outrageous you can be. She is, on a more cognitive plane, the ultimate ‘pattern interrupter’.
Indeed, the 3 hours we spent together broke my everyday conventions and several weeks on, allows me to play like a kid in my wardrobe. I’m more partial to colourful or unusual combinations than before, channelling Ana Dello Russo or perhaps Gilda Ambrosio from Attico.
A glimpse through her style files on the blog showcase an artful flair for print clashing, which I would say is her passion. Whereas one would recommend to ‘wear only one loud item per outfit’, Gessica rolls her eyes and smiles at that premise, rather believing that several striking (nay, fabulous) elements need to come together like harmonious art.
Like every other stylist, she too works with aesthetic rules (or should I say, non-rules), which favour anything that defies convention. Rather than looking to the runways for seasonal trends, Gess is all about a fluid mix of colour, clash and silhouette. Rather than a practical look for day and night, she dresses you to stand out, to let your essence shine every minute of the day. Perhaps our essence is, therefore, a lot brighter than our conditioning lets us recognise… that would make sense.
There are many reasons to get a stylist. To look cool. To look professional. To feel chic. To express who you are. And as I said, many of us still dress within parameters of convention, yet quietly screaming for a more excitable life. Yet does that not begin with how we style ourselves daily?
I’ve worked with many talented people in the past and adored their visions for my wardrobe – channelling a sexy LA boho vibe, minimalist urbanite or designer posh. I have loved all those looks and knew that I was definitely on-trend.
However, Gessica Marmotto is the stylist to hire when you’re ready to shine. To make a statement and proclaim boldly, here I am.
Saskatoon The Label rabbit fur vest, Oscar De La Renta Belt.
Images by Leeroy Te Hira http://www.leeroyt.com