In 1994, Miuccia Prada described getting dressed as “something you can go to the psychoanalyst to find out about, because there are so many personal things involved”.
Whether we like it or not, she was right. Our clothes communicate things to the world about who we are, what we do, where we’re going and, every so often, our mood.
It’s no wonder that for some of us, getting dressed can be so riddled with indecision that it feels daunting, while for others, it requires barely any thinking at all.
From planning ahead to dressing based on the day’s mood, styling an outfit as creative play or working from a core capsule of staple pieces, we asked four fashion professionals how they tackle getting dressed.
For an early riser like brand director and creative consultant Matthew Lennon, planning is crucial. He makes sure he packs a bag the night before to save himself from having to think about an outfit when his alarm goes off.
“I always look at the weather forecast and think about what I’ve got on work-wise that day … do I need a change of clothes for dinner that night?” Planning facilitates his active lifestyle, allowing him to go straight from the beach or yoga to the office.
He also has a system in place to assist him with shoe choices. His footwear is dictated by the silhouette and colour of his pants. “A darker, slimmer leg calls for a more streamlined sneaker, whereas a wider pant in a lighter shade might match back well with a tan sandal or loafer.”
And he opts for layering and accessories in case something doesn’t go to plan, like the weather, or a bad hair day. “I’ve got an unruly mane, so often incorporate a hat or cap if I haven’t had time to completely tame it.”
Divya Venkataraman, a content editor and writer for Vogue Australia, says: “When I’m getting dressed, I start with a single piece in my wardrobe and build around it.” She picks a standout item like a pair of velour pants, an 80s baby tee, or tangerine kitten heels, and commits to styling it into an outfit.
She says this adds an element of challenge, but that it helps her find different, unusual combinations within her wardrobe and prevents her from getting caught in the trap of emulating someone else’s style.
When dressing this way, she emphasises how important it is to feel good in whatever she chooses. She won’t leave the house if she feels she’ll be continually adjusting and fidgeting with what she has on – feeling like herself and being comfortable is key.
The speed styler
Gabriella Pereira, the designer and creative director of Beare Park, takes just five to ten minutes to get dressed each morning. What enables her to do this is her winnowed-down wardrobe of high quality, classic pieces and the fact that she finds a huge amount of comfort in repetition when it comes to dressing. “I am usually reaching for a slight variation of the same look each day,” she says.
Since the looks are tried and tested, she knows she feels confident in everything she owns. “This makes getting dressed in the morning effortless and enjoyable,” she says.
Building a wardrobe where everything works well with everything else does involve following some rules. Pereira says most of her clothes are black or neutral, which makes mixing and matching the pieces easier. She describes the styles she opts for as simple and androgynous: oversized jeans, tailored wool pants, crisp cotton shirts, man-style blazers and crew-neck cashmere sweaters.
And other than “a few special gold pieces of fine jewellery that I never take off” she doesn’t wear any other accessories. She doesn’t even carry a bag. Instead, she relies on pants and jackets with pockets and carries her laptop, notebook and phone under her arm.
The dopamine dresser
For model and founder of Mob in Fashion, Nathan McGuire, what he wears is dictated by his mood and the vibe of where he’s going. He starts by assessing these two things and intuitively reaching for colours that he feels suit the energy of the day, then he builds an outfit around them.
“Depending on my mood, sometimes I colour-block in muted or earthy tones,” he says, while other times “it’s super casual and street with pops of bright colours”.
Rather than plan an outfit ahead of time, he gets dressed as he goes, taking time to look in the mirror to make sure the outfit is working and assessing how he feels in it. This allows him to play with layers (like a hoodie under a denim jacket) and accessories (beanies if it’s cold and jewellery for dinner) until the look is complete.