Let me set the scene for you. It was 2008 and I lived on the Gold Coast. I was 21, my hair was bleached blonde, my eyebrows were way too thin and the op-shop revolution had a very strong influence on my wardrobe. I mean it—I literally lived in dresses seven sizes too big, worn with wide leather belts and dusty vintage bags. Plus, it was always hot, which meant I never had the opportunity to wear a leather jacket (one of my favourite clothing items, ever). Things had to change.
I decided to move to Melbourne for a few reasons: Fashion; to pursue my dreams (of writing and fashion). Food; Because, Melbourne. And fashion again; because I was sick of the consistently warm temperature.
Keep scrolling to discover how my style changed, the second I made the move to Melbourne.
The first week I arrived in Melbourne, two life-changing events occurred. First, I learned how to catch a tram. Second, I saw a man walking down Bourke Street Mall wearing a pair of pink tie-dye leggings, a denim jacket with a gold sequin hood and high top sneakers. What really struck me (other than the fact he was wearing pink tie-dye leggings) was that not one person glanced sideways in his direction. It was in this moment that I knew Melbourne and I were going to get along great.
Over the course of the next nine years, I have been through a series of fashion revolutions. In 2009, I wore strictly head-to-toe black, chunky studded jewellery, and listened to Metronomy on repeat. Then in 2010, I had a second love affair with vintage, pairing pastel baby-doll dresses with torn stockings and Doc Martens (the Courtney Love effect). 2012 saw me in clashing bright colours and even brighter prints, while in 2015 I became a full-blown tomboy, wearing only sneakers, beanies and my boyfriend’s T-shirts. Now? I’m neatly placed somewhere in the middle, dressing in oversized denim jackets and glittery nails. I’m pretty happy here, and I have to say, the resurgence of all things ’90s, and now the ’80s, is perfectly in line with where my style is at.
Reflecting back on my personal style makes me think: Would I have experienced all of these versions of myself had I never left my old hometown? Probably not. The warmest piece of clothing I owned was a lightweight cardigan. But can a city really impact your fashion choices that much? It only takes looking at the cities and towns across the country to realise it can. If there was a line-up of people from Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane, I think I could tell them apart just by what they were wearing. Australia has such a broad climate, and to really understand your style and sensibilities, it can often take an interstate move.
Your likes and dislikes obviously evolve as you grow and change, as does what suits you in your new environment. Take for example, my new life in Melbourne. I was suddenly introduced to freezing cold temperatures, so the Victorian capital changed the way I dressed not only due to aesthetics, but also because it had to. That lightweight cardigan wasn’t going to do much on dark wintery mornings.
For me, Melbourne changed the way I look at fashion and style overall: I’d always found it fun, but now I see it as a form of expression, a part of me as much as the scar on my knee, or my love for peanut butter.
So this is my love letter to you Melbourne, for presenting me that magical man in pink tie-dye tights, and making me fall more in love with fashion every day and giving me the inspiration to always try something new.