The #1 Way to Elevate Your Outfit (Without Spending a Dime)

Today, we’re taking everything you’ve come to know about summer dressing and turning it on its head. You won’t find brighter-than-bright hues or skin-baring minis here, but rather a palette-cleansing offering of pared-down neutrals and long, languid silhouettes. So why the sudden change? Because hitting the refresh button has never looked so chic!

And who better to serve as our muse than Nicole Warne, the embodiment of elevated style? The Australian beauty behind Gary Pepper Girl shows us how going monochromatic along with some smart layering can bring new life to your favorite pieces.

Bonus: We talked to Warne about everything from the key to starting a successful business so young to why she put herself on a Zara ban. See the looks below, and keep reading for our exclusive interview. 



On Warne: Tibi trench and dress; Annalise Michelson earrings and Wire Bondage Ring ($306); Catbird Jewelry Mignon Memory Rings in Rose Gold ($48 each).

WHO WHAT WEAR: You started your own company, Gary Pepper Vintage, when you were only 20, which is a pretty impressive feat! What do you think was the key to getting your business off the ground?

NICOLE WARNE: I think it was a mix of having the right strategy with the right product at the right time. Social media was on the cusp of exploding into the phenomenon it is today, and vintage clothing was a trend at the time, so when mixed together, it positioned my business ahead of its time. I think fear was also a healthy attribute. I had no security to fall back on, as my family lived in a different state and I was supporting myself financially, so the fear of failure, plus a deep passion for what I was creating, pushed me through those 100-hour weeks.

WWW: What advice do you have for young women looking to follow in your footsteps?

NW: I think it’s important to assess the reasons why you want to do it. If you’re not passionate about it and are doing it for money or fame, unfortunately this won’t be enough to push you through those brutal first few years where you basically don’t sleep or rest. Think about how you can be unique and focus on authenticity and longevity. Also having a strong set of brand morals is key to a successful business—you have to be able to say no in this industry.

WWW: What do you think is a common misconception about digital influencers or the business of blogging?

NW: I find the most detrimental misconceptions are that digital influencers aren’t intelligent businesswomen or don’t work long hours. Like any startup business, you cannot succeed without investing the right amount of time, effort, money, and love into it—it’s that simple. Like any other business or publication, you have to have a clear understanding of your audience to continue to adapt, evolve, and create content or products to cater to their needs and wants to survive. We’re all on the same mission to fulfill the needs of our communities.



On Warne: Edun blazer and pants from the F/W 16 collection; Sarah and Sebastian earrings; Catbird Jewelry Ballerina Collar in Yellow Gold ($334); Mansur Gavriel Circle Bag ($1095).

WWW: What has been a surreal career moment for you?

NW: Being announced on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list this year was definitely a career highlight, as well as being part of Business of Fashion’s 500 People Shaping the Global Fashion Industry list. It’s quite hard to grasp career highlights with my fast-paced schedule to be honest, but I consciously try to appreciate these moments every day.

WWW: You’ve traveled all over the world for work. What is your favorite destination and why?

NW: My favorite places have been Iceland and Norway, but these were personal trips with my fiancé. We love being outdoors immersed in nature; hiking is our favorite activity to do when we have time off, as we like to keep moving. The natural scenery we found in both countries was mesmerizing and the 11-hour hike to Trolltunga in Norway is still one of my fondest memories.

WWW: What wardrobe pieces always make it into your suitcase?

NW: I travel heavily for work, so I always seem to pack the same staples: tailored pants by Stella McCartney, pencil skirts by Roland Mouret, off-the-shoulder blouses, a few evening dresses, my box of jewelry (mostly Australia designers Ryan Storer and Sarah & Sebastian), a pair of pumps, and a thick coat for the plane. This combination of pieces gets me through every occasion.



On Warne: Zero Maria Cornejo Pia Jumpsuit ($1295); Trois Moet Choker ($40); Jennifer Fisher Long Loop Earrings ($355) and Cylinder Ring ($290); Catbird Jewelry Ballerina Bracelet in Rose Gold ($276) Mignon Memory Rings in Rose Gold ($48 each); Giuseppe Zanotti Lucrezia Wrap Pumps ($775).

WWW: How has your style evolved or changed since beginning the blog in 2009?

NW: As I started my business when I was a teenager selling vintage, my style was very colorful, preppy, and playful. As I’ve matured into a woman, my taste has also evolved. Now I appreciate high-quality fabrics with a flattering fit or unique silhouette, so I opt for a sophisticated, chic, and polished aesthetic to reflect this stage in my life.

WWW: So many incredible designers dress you, but do you have any favorite high-street brands?

NW: I love supporting our Australian designers like Dion Lee and Christopher Esber, but I also love mixing these pieces with high street brands like Uniqlo (the best-priced cashmere there is!) and Zara. I do prefer to buy one high-quality piece rather than 10 Zara pieces, though. I had to put myself on a Zara ban for a while there!

WWW: What was your last fashion purchase?

NW: I just went crazy on the Net-a-Porter sale and purchased a few pieces for Paris Couture Week by Rosie Assoulin, The Row, and Altuzarra. Funnily enough, they were all white or cream pieces. I think the European summer inspired my choices.



On Warne: Ji Oh sweater from the F/W 16 collection; Helmut Lang Crepe Square Dress ($357); Sarah and Sebastian Long Foam Earring ($620); Catbird Jewelry Mignon Memory Rings in Rose Gold ($48 each); Jennifer Fisher Chaos Ring ($265).

WWW: Our shoot was all about exploring long, lean lines and layering. Do you have any personal styling tips when it comes to pulling off these silhouettes?

NW: I love the long-and-lean theme, as long dresses always make me feel taller. I think the biggest mistake you can make when trying this trend is allowing the clothes to wear you by losing your shape in the layering or your height with the wrong proportions in length. Try using a belt to give your waist definition or styling a long trench coat over a maxi dress—the same length will make you look tall and elongated.

WWW: Do you think there is a difference in how Australian’s dress vs. NYC or L.A.?

NW: I think there is a similar aesthetic between Australia and L.A. given our warm climate and healthy lifestyles. Australians are quite effortless with minimalistic layering—it’s all about simplicity. The New York aesthetic is more business focused and urban—it’s about practical pieces with a sleek and cool edge. New York influences my style when I’m there, just like all the cities I visit.

Photographer: Sacha Maric; Hair: Clay Nielsen; Makeup: Katie Mellinger; Styling: Jess Roberts.

Love Gary Pepper Girl? Head over to Byrdie now to see Nicole Warne's incredible beauty editorial