IN CONVERSATION WITH KIRSTIE CLEMENTS

IN CONVERSATION WITH
KIRSTIE CLEMENTS


We caught up with best-selling author and ex-editor of Vogue Australia, Kirstie Clements at Jac + Jack Paddington, to speak about Summer dressing, classic style and the Australian fashion landscape. Photos by Britt Murphy.

 

Above: Kirstie wears the Paragon Shirt in black and George Pants in black.

J + J: Thanks for joining us today Kirstie, and welcome to our Paddington store. We're starting today with a quick-fire round: what was the last piece you added to your wardrobe?

KC: I was in Paris recently and went to a shop called Crimson which is run by Linda Wright who has very, very good taste. I bought some shirts — the perfect new boyfriend shirt, and some silk pants. Then I went to American Vintage and bought some trackwear for the plane, because I was in economy (laughs).

What are you most looking forward to about Summer dressing?

I love all of the cotton voile pieces that are coming out that are really fine and delicate, like the Rocco Shirt. What I also love about Summer is sandals, baskets, and espadrilles. I will definitely be injecting some colour, I endlessly love that boyfriend shirt blue, I am also loving pink and emerald green too.

What is your biggest regret purchase?

When I buy cheap clothes, I really regret it. The buttons come off, they don’t look good after the first wash, and they don’t give you joy when you reach for them. As I’ve gotten older, I’m very focused on fabric feeling, I don’t like synthetics and scratchiness. As a rule — cheap clothes, I regret them. Overall, you’re probably better off saving up and getting the investment pieces.

If you were stuck on a desert island with 5 items (including shoes), what would you bring?

I actually wrote a column about this the other day. I would bring a really long Italian linen scarf. I bought one recently at a fabulous shop up in Bangalow called Island Luxe. It’s really dark navy, overdyed in a beautiful, thick linen. You can wear it as a wrap, wear it as a sarong, or have a nap and wrap yourself up. That would be useful on the island because it would stop you getting sunburnt, so I would definitely take that. Probably a button-through shirt, a big, chunky cotton fisherman’s cardigan or sweater. Espadrilles or a reef sandal so you could walk around the island, and black linen pants. You don’t need a cozzie if you’re the only one on the island!

Weave yourself a hat?

Make a bag out of a coconut (laughs).

Do you remember your first Jac + Jack piece?

It was a big, oversized navy sweater that I loved. I knew the brand through work, we shot a lot of it for the magazine.

We caught up with best-selling author and ex-editor of Vogue Australia, Kirstie Clements at Jac + Jack Paddington, to speak about Summer dressing, classic style and the Australian fashion landscape. Photos by Britt Murphy. Above: Kirstie wears the Paragon Shirt in black and George Pants in black.

J + J: Thanks for joining us today Kirstie, and welcome to our Paddington store. We're starting today with a quick-fire round: what was the last piece you added to your wardrobe?

KC: I was in Paris recently and went to a shop called Crimson which is run by Linda Wright who has very, very good taste. I bought some shirts — the perfect new boyfriend shirt, and some silk pants. Then I went to American Vintage and bought some trackwear for the plane, because I was in economy (laughs).

What are you most looking forward to about Summer dressing?

I love all of the cotton voile pieces that are coming out that are really fine and delicate, like the Rocco Shirt. What I also love about Summer is sandals, baskets, and espadrilles. I will definitely be injecting some colour, I endlessly love that boyfriend shirt blue, I am also loving pink and emerald green too.

What is your biggest regret purchase?

When I buy cheap clothes, I really regret it. The buttons come off, they don’t look good after the first wash, and they don’t give you joy when you reach for them. As I’ve gotten older, I’m very focused on fabric feeling, I don’t like synthetics and scratchiness. As a rule — cheap clothes, I regret them. Overall, you’re probably better off saving up and getting the investment pieces.

If you were stuck on a desert island with 5 items (including shoes), what would you bring?

I actually wrote a column about this the other day. I would bring a really long Italian linen scarf. I bought one recently at a fabulous shop up in Bangalow called Island Luxe. It’s really dark navy, overdyed in a beautiful, thick linen. You can wear it as a wrap, wear it as a sarong, or have a nap and wrap yourself up. That would be useful on the island because it would stop you getting sunburnt, so I would definitely take that. Probably a button-through shirt, a big, chunky cotton fisherman’s cardigan or sweater. Espadrilles or a reef sandal so you could walk around the island, and black linen pants. You don’t need a cozzie if you’re the only one on the island!

Weave yourself a hat?

Make a bag out of a coconut (laughs).

Do you remember your first Jac + Jack piece?

It was a big, oversized navy sweater that I loved. I knew the brand through work, we shot a lot of it for the magazine.

Above left: Kirstie wears the Como Top in Dark Slick and George Pants in black.

What was the most rewarding part of working at Vogue for you, is there something that stands out?

What I liked the most was the teamwork. I used to love the Monday morning production meeting, you’d be sitting there with a big blank wall and you’d be all be going ‘what’re we going to put in the September issue?’ and everyone would bring their ideas — I liked the camaraderie of it. I loved the physical putting together of the magazine as well, so when it hit your desk you’d just be like: woah. Sort of steering it and putting it together — that was my favourite bit.

Before the era of international high fashion houses having the influence over the Australian market that they do today, you wrote wonderfully in The Vogue Factor about some of the local Australian designers you had worked with and commissioned for various shoots during your time at Vogue. What makes Australian fashion unique and what do Australian brands bring to the table for the market that differentiates us in this time of globalisation and social media?

In those early days when we didn’t have all of that influence of those international labels, we used to go to the Australian designers and they would make special clothes for the shoots that were real flights of fancy. [The designers] were super creative and really got really into it. Because it was such a small industry it was very collegiate and we were all in it together. Thinking about fashion weeks with all the Australian labels, everyone cared about our verdicts and everybody weighed in too, which was the best thing. And now everything is sponsored and the clothes are an afterthought. Not that all designers are doing collections that are afterthoughts but [the industry] is much more consumer-driven.

Why we differ here in Australia is due to our lifestyle. The pieces in here (gestures) are 24/7, 12 months a year kind of pieces. We get to experiment a lot more with skin here, things have more cutaways, are shorter. Every way you look at it skin is going to be appearing which is sort of interesting. It’s that casual attitude in a way, we’re well groomed, there will be skin showing, there’s something about that Ausiness that’s really beautiful. We’re not as done as people are overseas, there’s an easiness to it.

Thinking about the evolution of your own fashion journey, how has it changed or been shaped overtime?

It hasn’t changed that much. I think in one of my books I was saying, if I look at myself now and if I look at myself when I was 25 it’s not really that different — I was wearing a pair of Robert Clergerie loafers, jeans, an oversized tweed mens jacket and a t-shirt, and I’d wear that now. But what I have learned is what does and doesn’t suit me — I know frilly layers, as much as I admire them, don’t suit me, and I know I don’t like big prints. I’ve learned tricks like what is good for your body shape as you get older. When I was working for Vogue and I was constantly out at dinners and things I never packed down dresses, I just had great black pants and silk Chloe blouses or whatever with a red lip and that was it. I’ve always been into easy silhouettes — it’s always about proportion.

Above right: Kirstie wears the Paragon Shirt in black and George Pants in black.

In Why Did I Buy That you bring up the idea of a capsule wardrobe — what would be some starting tips for someone who is trying it out?

Have the basics covered — the blue cotton shirt, the black pants, jeans, a black pantsuit, a great white t-shirt, a black pump and a great sandal, whatever the ‘it’ bag is because that’s an easy way to update your look, great jeans that fit really well, a black dress, a trench. Get your friends to come over — especially if they’re fashionable. I’m lucky enough to have my ex-fashion editor, so she’ll come over and go “that pant would look good with that shoe”, or “put that shoe away for a season and we’ll come back to it”. [Chances are] you probably have it in your wardrobe already.

Someone was telling me they read my book and she shopped her own wardrobe. She pulled out a 10-year-old Vivienne Westwood dress and put it on with a sneaker and walked to work and everyone was commenting on it. That idea — grab an evening dress and put it with a sneaker — otherwise you aren’t going to wear it. Especially since Covid, wear things straight away. Don’t buy it and hang it with the price tag still on it, take it out and put it on.

Jac + Jack is built on the premise of quality, modern, foundational pieces. What are some of the hallmarks of perennial style?

Quality fabrics, the way things feel is super important to the way you feel about clothing. Every piece of good design comes down to the fabric. You can’t fix bad fabric — you simply can’t. Unless it’s something like you’re doing a recycled plastic outerwear that is like yeah, okay cool, I get that. But for something as intimate and beautiful like this (gestures) you’ve got to start with a great fabric base.

The right pieces just have a magic about them. If you put something on and you feel really good — you feel confident and comfortable and put together. It’s how it makes you feel as much as how it feels. It’s potential. Potentially you’re going to put this on and you’ll potentially feel better and look better. It’s this magic of potential. The other nice thing about clothing is that people do buy them for occasions, like my daughter is getting married, or I’m going on a holiday. There’s something really lovely about clothes keeping memories for you and making memories for you.

What colours are you currently loving as part of your wardrobe and can you lend some tips on how to incorporate colour? 

I'm currently loving pink and green together. I like pink and turquoise together too — that’s from an interior design perspective. I was just in Milan at the design fair and there was a lot of green and pink — really strong emerald green.

Sometimes people want to embrace colour so they pick out a really colourful print — that’s a lot for people who don’t wear colour and you’ll get sick of it really quickly. You should start by colour blocking — say you have a pink pair of pants, just see what that looks like with a green or turquoise shirt. If you colour block it isn’t such a commitment. Actually, it is quite easy to do head-to-toe, just pick a colour and give it a go. Dip your toe in the water but if you’re scared maybe don’t go for a crazy print or crazy-coloured coat. Go to Pinterest and have a look at different colour combinations — orange and lavender are beautiful together, or yellow and lavender — gorgeous.

Above: Kirstie wears the Como Top in Dark Slick and George Pants in black.

What was the most rewarding part of working at Vogue for you, is there something that stands out?

What I liked the most was the teamwork. I used to love the Monday morning production meeting, you’d be sitting there with a big blank wall and you’d be all be going ‘what’re we going to put in the September issue?’ and everyone would bring their ideas — I liked the camaraderie of it. I loved the physical putting together of the magazine as well, so when it hit your desk you’d just be like: woah. Sort of steering it and putting it together — that was my favourite bit.

Before the era of international high fashion houses having the influence over the Australian market that they do today, you wrote wonderfully in The Vogue Factor about some of the local Australian designers you had worked with and commissioned for various shoots during your time at Vogue. What makes Australian fashion unique and what do Australian brands bring to the table for the market that differentiates us in this time of globalisation and social media?

In those early days when we didn’t have all of that influence of those international labels, we used to go to the Australian designers and they would make special clothes for the shoots that were real flights of fancy. [The designers] were super creative and really got really into it. Because it was such a small industry it was very collegiate and we were all in it together. Thinking about fashion weeks with all the Australian labels, everyone cared about our verdicts and everybody weighed in too, which was the best thing. And now everything is sponsored and the clothes are an afterthought. Not that all designers are doing collections that are afterthoughts but [the industry] is much more consumer-driven.

Why we differ here in Australia is due to our lifestyle. The pieces in here (gestures) are 24/7, 12 months a year kind of pieces. We get to experiment a lot more with skin here, things have more cutaways, are shorter. Every way you look at it skin is going to be appearing which is sort of interesting. It’s that casual attitude in a way, we’re well groomed, there will be skin showing, there’s something about that Ausiness that’s really beautiful. We’re not as done as people are overseas, there’s an easiness to it.

Thinking about the evolution of your own fashion journey, how has it changed or been shaped overtime?

It hasn’t changed that much. I think in one of my books I was saying, if I look at myself now and if I look at myself when I was 25 it’s not really that different — I was wearing a pair of Robert Clergerie loafers, jeans, an oversized tweed mens jacket and a t-shirt, and I’d wear that now. But what I have learned is what does and doesn’t suit me — I know frilly layers, as much as I admire them, don’t suit me, and I know I don’t like big prints. I’ve learned tricks like what is good for your body shape as you get older. When I was working for Vogue and I was constantly out at dinners and things I never packed down dresses, I just had great black pants and silk Chloe blouses or whatever with a red lip and that was it. I’ve always been into easy silhouettes — it’s always about proportion.

 

Above: Kirstie wears the Paragon Shirt in black and George Pants in black.

In Why Did I Buy That you bring up the idea of a capsule wardrobe — what would be some starting tips for someone who is trying it out?

Have the basics covered — the blue cotton shirt, the black pants, jeans, a black pantsuit, a great white t-shirt, a black pump and a great sandal, whatever the ‘it’ bag is because that’s an easy way to update your look, great jeans that fit really well, a black dress, a trench. Get your friends to come over — especially if they’re fashionable. I’m lucky enough to have my ex-fashion editor, so she’ll come over and go “that pant would look good with that shoe”, or “put that shoe away for a season and we’ll come back to it”. [Chances are] you probably have it in your wardrobe already.

Someone was telling me they read my book and she shopped her own wardrobe. She pulled out a 10-year-old Vivienne Westwood dress and put it on with a sneaker and walked to work and everyone was commenting on it. That idea — grab an evening dress and put it with a sneaker — otherwise you aren’t going to wear it. Especially since Covid, wear things straight away. Don’t buy it and hang it with the price tag still on it, take it out and put it on.

Jac + Jack is built on the premise of quality, modern, foundational pieces. What are some of the hallmarks of perennial style?

Quality fabrics, the way things feel is super important to the way you feel about clothing. Every piece of good design comes down to the fabric. You can’t fix bad fabric — you simply can’t. Unless it’s something like you’re doing a recycled plastic outerwear that is like yeah, okay cool, I get that. But for something as intimate and beautiful like this (gestures) you’ve got to start with a great fabric base.

The right pieces just have a magic about them. If you put something on and you feel really good — you feel confident and comfortable and put together. It’s how it makes you feel as much as how it feels. It’s potential. Potentially you’re going to put this on and you’ll potentially feel better and look better. It’s this magic of potential. The other nice thing about clothing is that people do buy them for occasions, like my daughter is getting married, or I’m going on a holiday. There’s something really lovely about clothes keeping memories for you and making memories for you.

What colours are you currently loving as part of your wardrobe and can you lend some tips on how to incorporate colour? 

I'm currently loving pink and green together. I like pink and turquoise together too — that’s from an interior design perspective. I was just in Milan at the design fair and there was a lot of green and pink — really strong emerald green.

Sometimes people want to embrace colour so they pick out a really colourful print — that’s a lot for people who don’t wear colour and you’ll get sick of it really quickly. You should start by colour blocking — say you have a pink pair of pants, just see what that looks like with a green or turquoise shirt. If you colour block it isn’t such a commitment. Actually, it is quite easy to do head-to-toe, just pick a colour and give it a go. Dip your toe in the water but if you’re scared maybe don’t go for a crazy print or crazy-coloured coat. Go to Pinterest and have a look at different colour combinations — orange and lavender are beautiful together, or yellow and lavender — gorgeous.

AS SEEN ON KIRSTIE CLEMENTS

AS SEEN ON KIRSTIE CLEMENTS


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