Carmen Hamilton: How I Found My Personal Style

Australia has an enormous number of internationally recognised fashion bloggers for such a small population. There’s a handful of successful women—Nicole Warne, Margaret Zhang, Sara Donaldson, Zanita Whittington (to name a few)—that have marked their name in the fashion industry with the help of their fashion blogs. Carmen Hamilton, of Chronicles of Her, is another name on the list, and with the recent redevelopment of her site she's guaranteeing herself a spot amongst Australia’s best.  

No matter what industry you work in, it’s important to always be looking ahead, evolve with the times and reimagine what you do. Hamilton has done just that, with Chronicles of Her taking a slight shift away from a personal style blog, into more of a website, servicing women as though it's their own personal stylist. Hamilton has created a place for women to share shopping tips and outfit ideas, and our favourite part—view exclusive street style images.

You may not remember, but the origin of street style is from a really authentic place. It's essentially people snapped in their regular day-to-day outfits. So Carmen is revisiting the past and taking street style back to where it began, with real women, and real style.

To celebrate the relaunch of Chronicles of Her, we teamed up with one of our favourite Australian influencers to find out how she got her start, why it was time to evolve her site, and find out what’s next. And of course, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to play dress-up in some of summer’s biggest trends (think relaxed pieces, neutral colours, and easy stripes). It’s the Who What Wear Australia way to do summer. Keep scrolling!

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Paddo to Palmy Milan Dress ($239), Lack of Color The Russo Hat ($89), Susan Driver The Light Bracelet ($299).

WHO WHAT WEAR AUSTRALIA: How did the original Chronicles of Her begin?

CARMEN HAMILTON: It began as a hobby—as something to do when I was studying at uni. I was reading so many other blogs, I thought I may as well do my own. I was living in Queensland and I’d always wanted to get a start in the fashion industry. There aren’t as many publications in Queensland as there are in Sydney, so I thought it would be good to just start doing something so when I finally moved here [Sydney], I could show that I’d been working.

I used to look up tips on how to break into the fashion industry, and a lot of articles said you should start your own blog—it’s a good way to show that you’re passionate about fashion and the industry. I didn’t really think it through or have any strategic direction at the beginning, I just jumped in. I posted images that inspired me, and then I’d write little pieces about them, and then I slowly went into doing outfit posts—my mum used to shoot them for me! I was super embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to see me so we’d go into a park. I was wearing all op-shop stuff, basically. You’ve got to get quite creative to make that stuff look cool—but it’s debatable whether it looked cool or not! Now that I look back on it I’m like *shakes head*. When I started though, in 2011, thrift store/vintage style outfit posts were very much the vibe of the time.

WWW: We're definitely going to have a search through those archives now! Was your ultimate goal to become a fashion blogger? Is that what you set out to do?

CH: No, never. It was a means to an end at the time, and a way to gain experience and teach myself about digital—that’s how I thought of blogging. I was studying and did a double degree—Bachelor of Business (majoring in marketing) and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in journalism), which all helps what I’m doing now. I was studying journalism; so always thought I’d write for a magazine—that’s what I wanted to do.

 

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Bassike Dress (coming soon), Fella Swim Harvey Specter Full Piece ($265), Zimmermann Stripe Printed Scarf ($220).

WWW: Let's fast-forward a bit to when you first moved to Sydney. How did you do it? What did you do?

CH: I actually applied for a bunch of jobs before I moved, but I had no experience. I hadn’t interned anywhere relevant (except an internship at Channel 7, but I was doing news reporting), so I never heard anything back. It doesn’t seem to matter how well you do in school, or university, because there are so many people out there with good grades—it’s about your experience and the connections you go out and make.

The first job that I did hear back from was a tech start up. It was a digital magazine, and it was a really small team. I took it because I just wanted to get to Sydney and I knew if I had something that would cover my rent while I was here, then that would be great. Chronicles of Her was also gaining momentum at that time, so I knew it would be better for me to be in Sydney to help it grow.

I was in the job at the start-up for about six weeks, and then I heard of an entry level position opening at Vogue Australia and applied and got the job, which was a three-month contract. I worked my butt off for three months and eventually Vogue Australia made another position for me in the digital team. I worked there for about two and a half years, and during my time, I learnt a lot about digital publishing, what resonates with people, and how to write for the web. I’d studied it all at university but actually seeing it in real time, and what people respond to, was invaluable experience for me.

Vogue Australia then launched its blogging arm, Spy Style, and asked me to be a part of it—that’s when Chronicles of Her really started to take off—it was great exposure.

WWW: Do you remember at what point Chronicles of Her really went to the next level?

CH: I’m the kind of person that is always looking forward, so when something is doing well, I never really stop and acknowledge it for what it is. I’m always working on what’s next, so I don’t remember a particular time. But I will say, when I started creating content that was more practical, so ‘three ways to wear this’, ‘how to style white sneakers’ etc., not many blogs were creating that kind of content—bloggers were doing more beautiful outfit posts but the headline wouldn’t match what the post was about. When I started creating more service content, that’s when I started to see some more traction.

When I started creating content that was more practical... That’s when I started to see some more traction.

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Nude Lucy Dress (coming soon), Strateas Carlucci Bodice (coming soon), Monica Vinader Ziggy Round Pendant Necklace ($150), Susan Driver The Light Gold Plated Bracelet ($349), Senso Zulu Mules ($179).

WWW: Was Vogue Australia your last ‘proper’ job?

CH: No, I left there to focus on my blog and then was approached to work on the launch of The File. I was there for about a year, throughout the whole planning and launch of the site as its beauty editor. It was really great experience for me to be involved in the launch phase and to see how much goes into creating a website—I don’t think you can ever fully be prepared for it.

Eventually, the time came where I was missing opportunities for Chronicles of Her, and I reached a point and decided it was time to focus on my own project. I had always wanted the site to evolve into something bigger and not be so much of a personal blog, with more fashion content

WWW: And you recently relaunched Chronicles of Her—why the change in direction?

CH: I’d been putting it [the relaunch] on the backburner until I had time to fully focus on how I wanted it to be and how I was going to create that, and then I felt like there wasn’t anywhere that I could go that was image based and focused on how real girl style themselves. I felt like street style had gone in a direction that wasn’t so authentic anymore.

I spend hours scrolling on Instagram because some girl will catch my eye—there might be something about her accessories, or the way she’s tucked her shirt that really intrigues me and I want to know more about her and what else she wears—so I thought it would be really cool if there was a place you could go every day where you know you’re going to find those really cool girls that are aspirational but still relatable, with attainable style.

That’s the idea with the section Street 365 (which we’re really focusing on this year). We’re refining how we’re shooting the girls, I like that it’s not so candid and feels a little more personal rather than we’ve just accidentally shot them on the street. It’s one-on-one when we shoot—we talk prior to the shoot and let the girls wear whatever they want, but the point is, we want it to be them in their most comfortable state—what they wear on a day-to-day basis. We’re interested in what you put on when you roll out of bed in the morning.

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

I want it to become a place where people come and know they’re going to find an outfit.

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Georgia Alice Crop Top (coming soon), Morrison Corbett Pants ($299), Susan Driver Bangles (coming soon), Senso Zulu Mules ($179).

WWW: What’s your vision for the site? How do you see it evolving?

CH: We’re focusing on shooting a lot of our own content and making it shoppable so girls who like the Chronicles of Her style, can come to our site and find a new outfit. I want it to become a place where people come and know they’re going to find an outfit—like a digital stylist.

WWW: Do you see your Chronicles of Her brand expanding beyond the site?

CH: Yes… definitely. Stay tuned.

WWW: I think a lot of our readers would love to know, what tips do you have for aspiring bloggers?

CH: I used to always read these articles saying that you should have your own point of view, or point of difference, but I think when you’re sitting there trying to start, that can hold you back from starting because you think you have to come up with this grand plan that no one has ever done before. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I think the whole thing with blogging, is that it’s a personal point of view because you are your own person. Obviously it’s great if you can be the next Leandra Medine from Man Repeller and have a really particular point of view, but I don’t think you should hold back from getting started if you haven’t yet found your ‘voice’ or ‘place’. I think the sooner you get started, the better. I would just start! Get into it. You learn so much from just doing it. Every time you put a post out there, you learn something from it. This is the sort of industry that’s always evolving anyway, so as long as you’re across that you can evolve with it.

 

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Zulu & Zephyr Northerly One Piece Swimsuit ($170), Matin Pocket Shirt ($220), Bassike Silk Organza Drawstring Skirt ($395), Ray-Ban RB3548N Icons Sunglasses ($230), Matt Blatt Tafua Natural Bamboo Chair ($450).

WWW: Who do you look up to in the ‘blogging’ world?

CH: Emily Weiss. Everything about her. I love the way that she’s evolved Into The Gloss, and built a community, and used that to inform the brand. She’s transparent about how her brand is getting to where it is. It’s helpful for other people who are starting out to know that success doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s not really anywhere you can find that information online for this kind of industry.

WWW: The term ‘blogger’ is often met with negative connotations these days. What are your feelings towards the term ‘blogger’ and what do you think it means today?

CH: I’ve always called myself a blogger, I think there are people who say it like it’s a dirty word or its looked down upon, and I have experienced that in the industry, but I’m proud of it. To me it’s like you’re self-made, and I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of.

To me, the word blog is tied to something more personal, but I see Chronicles of Her morphing into more of a publisher. I certainly want it to have a personal touch and connect with people on a personal level, but rather it being solely a personal story about Carmen, it will be a story of the Chronicles of Her girl.

And who knows, we might have Chronicles of Him one day!

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Nice Martin Billie Jumpsuit ($139), Senso Zulu Mules ($179), Ray-Ban RB3548N Icons Sunglasses ($200), Susan Driver The Light Bracelet ($349), Matt Blatt Apia Natural Bamboo Stool ($150).

WWW: Where did the name Chronicles of Her come from?

CH: I wish I had a really cool answer, but it actually came from me sitting there thinking ‘what can I call this blog’? I thought about what words I liked—it was back in 2011—and there was [fashion brand] Chronicles of Never—and I liked the word, and thought about making it Chronicles of Carmen, but decided I didn’t want my name in it, in case one day if it became something bigger, I wanted it to be open to being more about women in general. So I’m really glad I went with ‘Her’. And who knows, we might have Chronicles of Him one day!

WWW: How did you find your personal style?

CH: It's evolving, but I've always been true to myself. I would say, my biggest thing is I always like a little play on the masculine/feminine vibe, and I've really refined it over the last few years. I really love androgynous tomboy style. For me, I think my look is quite feminine with my hair, so if I wear a really overly girly outfit, it’ll usually be with sneakers, unless I’m going to an event, but even then I’ll try and toughen it up with my accessories or makeup. That’s why most of the item you’ll find me in boyfriend blazer, jeans, and sneakers.

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Albus Lumen Hooded Lace Up Top ($450), Lonely Daphne Bikini Top ($110), Matt Blatt Tafua Natural Bamboo Chair ($450).

WWW: What are your online shopping hot spots?

CH: Matches Fashion, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, and I love Farfetch for those things that are a little harder to find and some of those cooler street brands. I’ve recently been shopping a lot on Need Supply—I think it has a good mix of high and medium price points and brands you don’t usually come across, but it’s really in line with my aesthetic. The pieces are clean with interesting shapes. And Mercantile Vintage for the Paris Georgia Basics line—I love the way it shoots and styles its pieces. It’s like shopping editorial.

WWW: What was the last item you bought?

CH: A Loewe Avenue Cross Body Bag in Red ($1115). I’d call it the 'entry level’ Loewe. I’m loving chains and hardware on bags at the moment.

I’ve always called myself a blogger… To me it’s like you’re self-made, and I don’t think that’s anything to be ashamed of.

Photo:

Dave Wheeler

Pictured: Posse Jane Dress in Stripe ($99), Sunday Living Grove Bag ($110), Senso Zulu Mules ($179).

WWW: How do you plan your outfits? The night before? Start with accessories?

CH: There are certain days where I wake up in a really particular mood and know exactly what I want to wear, but there are other days where nothing feels right, and I get changed 20 times—but I need to wear something that feels right or I feel off for the whole day.

If I’m having one of those days, I have a go-to outfit. Now that its summer I have a vintage denim Levi’s skirt from Tuchuzy and a plain white T-shirt that I throw on, and sneakers. That’s the good thing about investing in great denim— you know that if it fits you really well you can put it on and it always looks good. Either that or a simple black slip dress.

WWW: What Australian desginers are you loving at the moment?

CH: I really love Matin and Hansen and Gretel—I always love the cuts and shapes, always in really wearable fabrics.

 

What's your favourite look from our shoot? We'd love to know! Share in the comments below.

All palms supplied by MyFlowerMan.

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