On a mission to not become invisible, Sharryn is renowned for her Boho style – part gypsy, part urban edge. We talk to this very Stylish Woman about her inspiration, and the many times she has sacrificed comfort for style.
Sharryn, where did your style journey begin? Were there any family influences?
Definitely. My mother and grandmother were always very dressed up, they even wore lipstick at breakfast. Nanna used to own a very exclusive boutique in King’s Cross back in the 30’s, in its heyday before the drugs and sleaze took over. Then there was my gorgeous Aunty – Phyllis Gibbs, who was actually one of Australia’s first film stars, silent movies of course.
After winning the first-ever Miss Australasia she got a film contract with Cecil B. DeMille, so she and Nanna went to the States. She did make the movie, called Odds On, but hated her experience of the film industry, so returned home to family.
Do you feel that your sense of style has gotten better over the years or just changed?
I wouldn’t say better, but it has certainly evolved. Though over the years I did start to experiment more, I discovered what suits my body shape better, and above all else, I try not to fit in. I love it when people come up to me on the street to comment on my outfit or accessories and they tell me I don’t look like everyone else.
Sharryn wears the Suki Kaftan from Zephyr Loungewear with necklace by Jillian Greg. Photo by Sandra Faye.
One of your favourite age positive hashtags on Instagram is #dontbecomeinvisible. Can you tell us about that?
This applies to women who might have reached a certain age, or are going through menopause, their body changes and they just don’t know what to wear, or where to buy clothes. So they take the safe option, and try to fade into the background. I don’t want women to do that, I always try to encourage women to wear clothes that make them stand out and be noticed.
You’ve also long had the travel bug. Do you think this has fed into your style?
Well, I didn’t think it had but looking back I have tended to adopt the style of the country I happen to be in. And then, of course, I come home with some new pieces, and then begin to experiment with adding it to my existing wardrobe. Travel definitely does feed that hunger of mine to find a point of difference in the way I dress.
And what would you say inspires your fashion choices?
A range of things really, but definitely things such as movies, music videos, Instagram, trying to find new boutiques, and reading magazines, I love magazines. I am always looking for new inspiration, and different ways to put outfits together. I might not go out and buy exactly what I see in a magazine, but it gives me ideas about how to build a look that suits me and my style.
The movie Annie Hall was a huge influence on me, she was very androgynous, very ahead of her time. She liked to wear a lot of boys clothes with hats and boots, shirts tucked in with braces, that sort of thing. I think I dressed like her for a good 12 months after seeing that movie. Barbara Streisand did a movie called A Star is Born that was set in New Mexico, or somewhere similar, and that got me into wearing Mexican ponchos for a while, teamed with big hats. I get inspiration everywhere really!
Do you ever sacrifice comfort for style?
Absolutely yes! I would do anything to look fabulous. A typical example of my doing this is what I call my god shoes. That stands for my going out to dinner shoes. I can’t walk in them usually, so if we go out, my husband has to drop me off right at the front of the restaurant. Then I toddle in and sit down, and then cross my legs so everybody can see my wonderful shoes.
I head carefully to the bathroom only once during the evening, again to show off the shoes, and then at the end of the night, I get picked up at the front door again. Because I simply cannot walk in the glorious shoes. My husband also likes to remind me of the time we were in Venice, and I had fallen in love with some shoes in the window of a small store. When I went in, they didn’t have my size, so I asked them – well, what size have you got then? They looked confused so I went on to say – well, if you’ve got the size smaller I can just try and wiggle into them, and if they’re a bit big I can just stuff cotton wool into the toes!’
Sharryn wears Linen Jumpsuit from Banana Blue. Photo by Casey Rafferty.
What draws you to the designers you like to wear?
I love that very Japanese, avant-garde style of fashion, that would have to be my favourite. I love clothing that has lots of possibilities, that I can potentially tie something at the side, or alter it slightly – always looking at pieces a little differently beyond just how they appear on the hanger. I also love the show Project Runway, I love to see what the designers are wearing themselves.
I like a more edgy fashion style, a lot of the Melbourne designers I wear are influenced by the Japanese aesthetic – Dogstar, Alistair Trung, Design by Jude, The Signet Bureau, ESS Label. And I love natural fabrics. Wool, silk, and of course linen and cotton. Linen is an incredible fabric, it can keep you cool in summer, yet warm in winter. Natural fabrics are just wonderful and versatile – they hang beautifully, and wash well.
Do you ever sacrifice comfort for style?
(Laughs) I think we might have to say summer for that one!I just come alive in Summer. I find I can still layer clothes because it’s rarely that hot here in Melbourne, whereas during winter you have to constantly cover up and go for long sleeves, high necks and have lots of layers to keep you warm. Summer clothing is also brighter, and colour is vital to looking good.
How do colour profiling and body shape play into one’s style?
Colour and body shape are the two most important things about dressing in general. I am a colour consultant, so I do try to stick my colours, which can be difficult in Melbourne as there is so much black clothing around. Personally, I am a warm colour palette.Wearing the right colours is so important because when you do, you come out over the top of the colour. I can wear bright green for instance, and it doesn’t overwhelm me. Or orange – orange is really my colour.
Understanding your body shape is also vital, as clothing can either bring out your best, or it can swamp you and make you look shapeless. I can make myself appear taller even though I am not tall at all, simply by choosing the right clothing and getting the proportion right.
Sharryn wears the Sharryn knitted top with Casey pants by Havana Blue with Menhir Pendant by Arcamedes.
Earrings by Jillian Greg. Photo by Valentin Zhmodikov.
What would you consider to be the key components of your personal style?
I like to wear a lot of headscarves, berets, hats, big bold jewellery – tribal type jewellery more so than costume jewellery, I am not a diamond person at all. I love African style jewellery, and I have a lot of jewellery made that I design myself. My style is a bit boho, a bit tribal, a bit gypsy, with a touch of chic sophistication.
Has getting older affected your style or expressiveness at all?
Ageing, well that is something I don’t actually do. Mary Kay used to say if a woman will tell you her age, she will tell you anything, so beware!
And what are you most looking forward to in the future?
Everything new. New experiences. Every time I look at my social media there is something new and exciting. I get so much out of my Instagram, and I really want to expand my technical knowledge a bit more.
And I am certainly never going to retire. Ever. That word is not in my vocabulary. I just want to keep doing new things, meeting new people and having fun, living life to the fullest while I can. And travel is always up there, especially to warm countries. My husband and I are off to Morocco next year, and I plan to spend more time up in Queensland and Bali too.