Street Style from Down Under

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April 10, 2014

You did good, Fashion Week Australia. You did good.

It’s about time that we give it up for the Australians. They’ve mastered the art of looking cool. Parisians tend to assume all the glory in this category, what with their tousled hair and artfully drop-crotched denim, but Australians do laid-back differently. Theirs is style for the low-tide; beach-aware if not somehow permanently beach-ready.

But it’s possible I’m projecting. I spent a semester overseas in college, and at age 25 I’m still referencing, “one time in Australia.” It was undoubtedly one of the best experiences of my life. The ocean was my only extra-curricular, I spent more time on sand than I did in class and everyone was nice.

In fact they were more than nice — they were genuinely kind, and oddly enough their mode of dress seemed to reflect their personalities just as easily as their tans absorbed the sun. Good style seemed inherent. It wasn’t calculated, just ingrained. My roommate, for example, had established a uniform of singlets and white tennis shoes with hip-slung denim shorts. There was absolutely nothing remarkable about the combination other than the fact that I’d never before seen someone whose own easiness translated an otherwise blasé outfit into a look. 

If you could wear the adjective “mellow,” she did.

And so too do the women of current Sydney, obviously, as captured by photographers during Fashion Week Australia. I imagine their choices reflect the weather — humid and warm, but they’ve adapted — and I picture their process of getting dressed more a matter of what feels good rather than what is reportedly “in fashion” — which isn’t to say that trends are avoided, nor does it mean that statements aren’t being made.

Take the woman whose coat says “Sexsi” in a signage similar to Pepsi’s, or the one whose pink-fringed cape seems ready for takeoff to Outer space. They’re certainly saying something, it’s just that when I look at them knowing the context is Australia, I can’t help but imagine their accents connoting a very natural sense of “Oh this old thing?” And where trends are considered — check out the slideshow, they are — it’s as though Australians have figured out the very thing my roommate of Aussie yonder did: how to wear the attitude of mellow.

But like I said…for them, it must be inherent.

  • Karen Liesens

    I’m really surprised by the Australian fashion style as well!

    x Karen
    http://dressinginlabels.blogspot.com

    • Gabe

      Why?

      • anastasiaC

        yeah I want to know why too?? I actually think because of the seasons we are actually a step ahead from the rest?!…

  • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

    A few years ago, I met an English teacher from Australia who told me he’d left Australia for Europe because “people only wore bush clothes” in Australia (I hope I remember his words accurately enough) and had no style whatsoever.
    I see now he was quite wrong: thx for that :-).

    • Jackie

      That’s funny, when in “the bush” we dress appropriately but the rest of the time we have great style, often pretty casual but still style! We might be better of without that one!

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        Well, you’re lucky then: I have spent quite some time hiking the German hills last few years and still cannot really stomach the sight of “outdoor fear”, mostly manifested as hiking shoes worn with too nice trousers, a white blouse, a necklace with “organic” forms dangling down and loads of perfume … Sigh. While many women in Germany prefer comfortable clothes and I just melt with the crowd, too many of them want to go hiking and look and smell very urban :-( which I don’t like. There, I said it.

    • anastasiaC

      bush clothes? what the?? haha…when did he leave Australia? in the peak of the 70s?

      • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

        That was … 1998. I don’t tend to just generally believe what one person says, I simply remembered his statement because that was the first time I heard someone mention style as his most important reason for leaving his country. And since I don’t know Australia (yet! alas), that statement just lay there, uncontested and unproven, until I saw these beautiful photos.
        Oh and by “Europe” I meant Slovenia: I cannot tell you about the country he sought his sartorial refuge in, but many Slovenes say Slovenes do not dress very well, so. :-)

        • Kyla

          By ‘bush clothes’ I think maybe he meant that we go for comfort over style. I live in Sydney and what these people are wearing to fashion week is DEFINITELY not what you see on the streets. Standard Australian ‘style’ is a pair of thongs (flip flops), denim shorts and an unremarkable tank/ t-shirt of some kind. Its rare you see much else walking around

          • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

            He said something about the omnipresent shorts, yes. :-)
            It was also such a remarkable situation because I prefer walking around in unremarkable clothes (jeans ‘n’ sneakers) and am generally very interested in people who are or seem different than me.

          • anastasiaC

            im in Oz and never wear denim shorts or flip flops but yes, I do know what you mean by the ‘standard’ Uniform…esp in beach suburbs…yawn

          • lil

            Maybe not too the extreme shown here for some of the outfits for fashion week but if you spend enough time in the main CBD, people do dress like this, but its true we do dress very weather appropriate. That thongs/denim shorts/tee is more of a suburban look or beach areas. :)

        • Ebony

          It depends where you are as well…Sydney and Melbourne tend to be a bit more fashion forward and stylish than Brisbane for example, where I was born and bread. Brisbane is pretty suburban and meh for the most part. If you head up to north Queensland than yeah, “bush clothes” might predominate.

  • Quinn Halman

    This may just be my favourite collection of street style. Good on ya, Aussies

  • http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr/ Mafalda

    There’s so many great Aussie bloggers, and they’re definitely a season ahead!

    Mafalda ❤
    http://mafaldadotzero.blogspot.fr

  • http://weirdcult.wordpress.com Laura

    Totally agree! Aussies are always ahead of the game. So many great brands and bloggers down unda!

  • Evvie Clare

    Yeah, we’re pretty alright here in Australia #proud

  • Rebecca

    We do ok down here, thanks for the post.x

  • http://www.heyprettything.com/ Carolyn

    I feel the same way about my “one time in Australia”! Only good memories. And loving the fashion coming from there right now. xoxo

    http://heyprettything.com

  • Greta Gale

    I’m an Australian girl currently living in NYC – I always thought we were behind the game on fashion, but after living away from home for several months I’m starting to see your point, I think we just have a very unique take on fashion!

    x greta

    flourish-blog.blogspot.com

    • anastasiaC

      we sure do!!! after visiting the west coast of USA recently and a 2 day trip to disneyland with my kids, I know we are NOT behind…I saw glimpses of 80’s fashions (and not in a good way….) time warp?!

  • ThomasNMurray

    your so cute! i love that dress! http://qr.net/stx3

  • Victoria

    So in love with Aussie Styles these days :)

    http://neonscandal.blogspot.com

  • Marjorie Gavan

    Why can’t I live in a place like Australia! The people are so stylish, I love it. Here, when you are fashion forward you will be considered a weird, which is sad, really.

    http://coffeehan.blogspot.com

    • anon

      i live in australia, and there are very few places you can go dressed moderately stylish or forward where you dont get looks. and i have never really seen anyone dressed remotely similar to anyone in that slideshow. australians are many things, but stylish is not one of them, trust me.

      • Sarahismyfriend.

        I think it depends where you live, I see alot of people dressed like the above. Aussies do their own thing and they rock it.

        • anon

          i live in sydney though

  • http://thecoralcameo.blogspot.com/ Maya Schuller

    These pictures are perfect!! I just want to steal every one of those looks for my own closet :)

    http://thecoralcameo.blogspot.com/

  • Anna Proffitt

    I’ve not actually delved into Australian fashion yet but they sound like a pretty cool bunch

    aforvogue.blogspot.co.uk

  • kyla

    I always find foreigners opinions on Australia to be very funny. Australians seem to have this image that suggests we are all healthy, tanned, friendly beach bums who want nothing more then to go for a surf or chill out with a barbeque. It’s not a harmful stereotype at all, but I find it to be slightly misplaced regardless. Australia is one of the most obese countries in the world along with America. Our culture is HEAVILY influenced by America- most of our television is American. We have a lot of American food (Though we have a lot of everyones food) also. On top of it, Australia is an INCREDIBLY racist country. So the friendly thing is VERY off. I guess I just feel weird about it- in the same way that Americans feel weird about everyone assuming they are gun-crazed, junk food loving rednecks.

    • Kyla

      The main thing that sparked this was that it was mentioned in the article that Australians always appear ‘beach ready’. However I see a MILLION leather jackets etc in these photos and not many outfits that appear super laid back.

      • Nikki Lowe

        Thats because the temp had dropped a little during fashion week annnnd its FASHION WEEK. You cant dress like you’re going to the beach or hanging around your back yard. Thats like saying you’d be happy wearing a tank top and jeans to a wedding. Its really not as complicated as you’re making it out to be.

    • Kirsten

      Did you notice the political T-shirts “abort Abbott” and another about refugees. This speaks to the racism debate happening in Australia at the moment.

      • Kyla

        I loved those shirts and the one about the barrier reef. Glad they got photographed in them!

    • Sara

      Oh, interesting post. Obese? Really? I always thought that Australians eat lots of healthy food.

      • Kyla

        Yep. I don’t know how we rank now but for a while there we were definitely in the top 3 most obese countries.

    • Heather S

      YES this is what I thought reading this too! As a Brit living in Oz I found it initially a massive culture shock, granted there are millions of positives, but what shocked me was lots of racism, lots of unhealthy habits, lots of people with lots of money… lots of space though :) and there are enough friendly people but I guess I had an advantage, being white and blonde…

  • girlinmenswear

    You expect the habitants of beach side cities to live in denim cut offs and cossies all day, but actually the Ozzies dress really well, just look at the chicks from They All Hate Us and Gary Pepper Girl (included in the slideshow). The Melbourne-ites in particular have great style. I’ve just done a post on the shows at Australia Fashion Week, and they’ve got some really cool talent coming out of there – I just hope we import it into Europe! http://www.girlinmenswear.com

  • http://www.stylespectra.blogspot.com/ Isabella

    The Australian’s really got some great and original style!

    http://www.stylespectra.blogspot.com

  • Guest

    We definitely kill it in the fashion stakes down here in Australia! http://oldestfad.wordpress.com/

  • http://confessionobsession.blogspot.com/ Amalie Espeland

    ugh i so agree. i need to goo der man x

  • Lydia

    Love to see Australian style appreciated, we definitely are killing it in the fashion-stakes! I love everything Gary Pepper Girl put together and particularly love the ‘Abort Abbott’ tshirt. I need to buy myself one of them! http://oldestfad.wordpress.com/

  • Mari

    I find this post and the pics that go with it amusing… By australian fashion do you mean the fashion sets portrayal of fashion? Most of the pics are of fashion week and fashion people which is extra pumped up due to the bloggers and media attention and whilst i sometimes see this in the street i would not dare say that it is ‘australian fashion’. There are some amazing australians designers yes, and some very fashionable individuals but mellow would not be a word i would use to associate, rather hot, sweaty and lazy in many respects dying for cold weather in order to wear the big beautiful coats that winter allows… But, each to their own

  • www.LydiaWho.com

    Ah, so many amazing outfits! Thanks for sharing – inspo boost.

    – L

  • http://thoughtsofglam.com/ ThoughtsofGlam

    I think because they’re so isolated geographically, a lot of people assume they don’t keep up with the rest of the world. Their style has always been appealing to me, I think its a step up from other tropical places that stick to shorts and a printed flowly top–I’m looking at you Hawaii.
    http://www.thoughtsofglam.com

  • Natalie Ast

    it must be due to the AMAZING weather! they are so cool, in every way. great article and photo roundup! – natalie http://natalieast.com

  • http://le-gypsetaffair.blogspot.com.br/ Hanna V

    I had no idea what Australian style was, I mean I suppose we all know what French or British styles are because everyone talks about them but it’s nice to see something new and I like what I see too

  • http://www.looksharpsconnie.com/ Look Sharp Sconnie

    I need to get more normcore w/ my diet decisions

  • olithee

    I WANT THE SAME !!

  • http://consumingbeauty.blogspot.com Catherine C.

    I love to see Aus finally get some attention! They kill it in fashion, food, you name it. Though on the other hand I’d be totally happy if nobody ever found out how damn cool Melbourne is :) :)

    Cat x
    consumingbeauty.blogspot.com

  • nad89

    Australians are real fashionistas! Nice. visit shopably.co – makes selling on Instagram easy.

  • ALEXIS KLETJIAN

    There has been a big movement in fashion for years coming from down under. They have a terrific sewing community and great indie patterns that I’ve been purchasing for years! Glad to see people are taking notice.

    alexiskletjian.com

  • http://lordashbury.com/ lordashbury

    What once was a joke has turned into a real go-to destination for fashion week. People aren’t laughing anymore, and the Australians are making a concerted effort to really have their stuff taken seriously. It’s really worth commending.

    http://lordashbury.com

  • Tanya

    Just want you to know … you are naturally beautiful and have style! From a non-makeup-wearing Australian xo

  • Victoria

    Some of these photos look like they’re from a magazine spread! Great shots and clothes!

  • http://www.lezu.com/ L’ezu

    That “SEXSI” sweater/cardigan/robe piece is amazing! Love this… http://www.LEZU.com

  • Radlaid

    Ive lived in Australia all my life and on a recent trip to New York I was surprised at the way
    New Yorkers dress SUPER casual. Wearing jeans to a club……… so ALIEN.

  • Karli Davies

    As an Australian I Love this piece
    Ps. That girl in the pink- fringed cape is the talented WA designer Poppy Lissiman

  • bong