Your style questions answered

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 48 Comments

The year has got off to a flying start and with that has come a tonne of emails into my inbox.

I’m doing my best to stay on top of them but I am only human. Whenever I get a fashion or style question that I think others may be interested in, I’ll answer it in a blog post like this.

If you have a question you’d like considered for this, please email me: [email protected] – I can’t answer all personally but if it has a wider appeal, you may get ideas from these posts.

Please don’t message me via the Facebook page – the page gets hundreds of messages and it’s almost impossible to manage as you can’t file them away for answering.

Let’s get stuck in and get your style questions answered.

Black dress pants

I am after a suggestion of brands/cuts for a dressy black trouser to wear with the lovely Sass and Bide top my gorgeous Mum has given me. My plan is to wear it to a cocktail event in February and perhaps a wedding in May. As I am 5ft 4 and a 14-16 on the bottom half I find finding trousers a little difficult. I would like to style it with a heel and a metallic clutch to highlight the beading on the neckline. Andrea

This is such a great way to plan out an outfit for two different occasions and if you buy right with the pants, they’ll serve you beyond those occasions and become very much a part of your wardrobe.

For a dress pant, I suggest looking for a different fabric. Something with a sheen to it  – like the ones from Target pictured below. Leather or leather-look is still very much on trend this season too. The Blue Illusion pants below are amazing on – don’t be fooled by the skintight look on the mannequin. I’ll be wearing mine a lot this autumn/winter. Otherwise, try a pair that is of a softer fabric and drapes elegantly over the hips and tummy and down the leg to a tapered finish. That tapering is key for them working with a heel – or any shoe for that matter.

Black pant options for cocktail event

1. Trenery silk pant $129 (on sale, limited stock) | 2. Target sateen pant $40 | 3. Seed viscose/elastane pant $129.95 | 4. Blue Illusion leather-look pant $129.95 | 5. Mela Purdie technical fabric pant $299

What colour handbag?

I’m a 36-year-old with an 18 month old. I have my 20-year school reunion on at the end of the month and the dress code is cocktail. I recently purchased the black Mossee shift dress you featured in your Model and Me series and was planning on wearing that. My style question relates to handbags and shoes. I was thinking of wearing either black or nude heels and would like to know what colour handbag would best suit these shoe colours. I’m probably going to wear gold jewellery. I haven’t been out in ages and feel slightly out of touch with what’s “in” at the moment. Paula

Either colour shoes would work with the dress. In the original blog post I wore black and leopard print shoes and a neutral-coloured clutch with a pineapple on it! The clutch works back with the necklace and the leopard print … because, well, I treat animal print like a neutral.

In this recent outing (pictured below), I wore nude heels and an over-sized black and cobalt blue clutch. The blue works as a pop of colour but the black pulls it all together as a whole outfit. The nude shoes work as an extension of the leg and tie in with my hair colour.

You could look at a black and gold clutch with black heels; a nude and black clutch with nude heels; a pop of colour in a clutch with a secondary colour that works back with the black of the dress, the gold of your jewellery or the nude or the black heel.

Mossee dress | Salita Matthews necklace | Karen Millen clutch | Nine West Australia heels

Mossee dress | Salita Matthews necklace | Karen Millen clutch | Nine West Australia heels

Winter travel wardrobe

I follow your blog and love the no-nonsense approach to fashion.  I am a mum of two kids under three and I also run a business so am incredibly time poor. I am lucky enough to be accompanying my hubby on a business trip to Europe for ten days at the end of February and am in a panic.  After three years of pregnancy and babies I have NO clothes.  I need to start from scratch now and need to do this before we leave for our trip.  Can you give me any advice on the essentials I should be buying for my trip and also suggest some stores that may have some winter clothing options as it will be cold when we are there?  I have your book (which I love) and am intending to do the wardrobe clear out but may not have time before I go. Megan

I’ve been chatting with Megan and she is well on the way to having her travel wardrobe sorted. If you’re not a regular international traveller (of all seasons) it’s a difficult task at the best of times but when you don’t have much notice then it’s even harder because the shops are filled with opposite season clothes. But. There are ways around this.

It will be cold. Very cold. My 19YO is in Europe at the moment. There is snow in his Instagram feed. It’s a kind of winter we don’t come close to experiencing in Queensland so flying there from a Queensland summer was a shock. Having said that, most places are geared up for the cold with heating. It is only when you’re outside that you’ll actually feel the cold.

The number one essential? A heavy coat. Not something you’ll necessarily have in your wardrobe – or will find in the shops right now. My advice would be to either borrow from a friend or relative or hunt down an end-of-season bargain via international online stores. Try ASOS, Next, Shopbop, and Bloomingdales.

Other everyday essentials: boots, jeans, thermal underwear and socks, gloves, layering pieces, scarves, hat. Early-season boots are coming in store now (try Styletread). Metalicus always offers up layering pieces throughout the year. Stores like Kathmandu stock thermal underwear and socks all year round.

For official dinners: a little black dress that can be worn with tights and heels or black pants and a knit. You’ll head out with your big coat on top and into a heated space so the layers underneath don’t need to be so extreme compared with when you’re out and about during the day.

Winter travel capsule wardrobe

1. ASOS coat $164 | 2. Kooringal cap $29.95 @ Birdsnest | 3. Metalicus top $119.95 | 4. Metalicus knit $129.95 | 5. Everyday Cashmere stole $225 | 6. NYDJ jeans $199 @ Birdsnest | 7. Django and Juliette boots $199.95

Shopping in Cairns

My husband and I are going to Cairns in June for a holiday. We will be staying near the Esplanade and I was hoping that you could let me know of any good shops there. Kerry

This one’s for you, dear SY readers. It’s been 10 years since I visited. Have you travelled to Cairns recently? Are you a local? Share your shopping tips for Kerry.

Got a question? Email me: [email protected] Got something to add to my advice above, fire away in the comments below!

Comments 48

  1. Shopping in/around Cairns. We stayed in Palm Cove (40 minutes north of Cairns) two years ago. The boutiques underneath Peppers hotel are divine. It’s a beautiful day trip too. There’s also a boutique in the lobby of Sea Temple Spa and Resort where we stayed which is gorgeous.

  2. Fabulous post once again Nikki! Your answers to reader questions are posts to book mark for reference undoubtedly!! I loved Sonia’s suggestions too and completely relate to all the great advice about Uniqlo, I recently invested in navy work trousers and a light merino navy cardigan ..both for $100 ..absolutely worth it:)

  3. For down jackets have a look at their Halo down jackets are from $89 and pack down to nothing – best bargain ever i think – free postage if you spend over $100 – they have lots of merino etc too. I don’t work for them or etc but i think their stuff is great value!


  4. Hello from Cairns, Queensland.
    We love what you do here in the ‘Styling You’ blog!
    … Yesterday you were asked about shopping in Cairns, hi Kerry …

    Peony Rose Collection is a boutique in the Cairns CBD shopping area, Grafton Street … (though very shortly we are moving to a nearby picturesque village, Yungaburra, on the Tablelands, a 45 minute drive inland).
    We love to share our fabulous collection of “Contemporary Australian Women’s Fashion” with shoppers from our city & region, and with visitors from all over the country, and seas.
    … So please share our welcome to anyone visiting these parts.
    … I know loads of our lovely fans are your fans too!
    We look so forward to seeing you in our part of Australia.

  5. Thanks Nikki and SY ladies for all the tips for travelling in Europe during the winter. I am looking forward to doing some shopping when I get there….love that the winter sales will be on!

      1. Me too Nikki! If I can’t get a few things in London then Switzerland could be a little chilly….brrr! Oh well….I will just add a few extra layers. Thanks for the travel wardrobe inspiration.

  6. I’m also a big fan of Uniqlo – great that now available here in Oz. I used to get my mum to send me emergency packages from the UK! The heattech range is fabulous – lightweight singlets and long sleeved tops in particular. The cashmere range is also really good.

  7. I live in Aberdeen (north-east Scotland) and my husband is from Queensland so I’m fully aware of how chilly Europe is for Aussies! I always recommend merino socks to people; they’re expensive but boy are they worth it! Gloves, a cosy hat and a puffy coat are a must although you’re probably better buying those in Europe as outdoor clothing specialist shops have them all-year round for mountaineers. As Nikki said, layering is key and wearing long-line vests under tops is a great way of ensuring your kidneys are kept warm.I’d also recommend the UK shop Rohan for travel clothing too, for hot and cold weather climates. They’re pricey but worth it, and the sale for winter clothes is on just now too. Have fun and remember to go sledging in the snow!

      1. You’re welcome! Smartwool do nice thinner merino leisure socks which are good for wearing with converses etc. Tiso’s sell them.

  8. Lots to think about from this post – thanks Nikki. Love the black pants and especially love the winter suggestions. Those D&J boots – swoon. We’re travelling to Europe in December/January and are spending 2 weeks in Norway (including Christmas at Tromso in the Arctic Circle). Brrrr. Been thinking about how to keep warm and look a wee bit stylish at the same time…. Super jealous of Megan’s travel plans – wish I was travelling somewhere THIS month.

  9. That black shift dress is just gorgeous and would look totally fab with gold jewellery and a pop of leopard. Classic but stylish and a little edgy. Love!
    I’d also recommend Sussan and Forever New for black pants. Both stores always have numerous styles in stock all year round. It’s worth trying a few different pairs to get to know the type of pant that suits you and you feel comfortable in.

  10. Hi Nikki, I live in Cairns and can suggest some places to shop.
    Grafton St in the CBD has many small, locally owned boutiques and I would recommend it as a place to start. My favourite shops there are Tea Lily and Sassi Shoe Boutique. Go to Cruze Coffee for coffee only, or Caffeind for brunch or lunch, also on Grafton St. Vintage Seeker is a favourite vintage store in the Ocean Walk arcade between Grafton and Lake St. Splash has the greatest selection of swimwear and can be found at the Pier shopping complex on the Esplanade and Cairns Central. Cairns Central is the largest shopping centre in town and has a Myer, Target and many chain store boutiques. Check out local designer Vivienne Francine who has a store just next to Myer. She has fantastic tailored pieces and racewear. And lastly I would also recommend ‘The Eye’ boutique on Shields St, stockists of Camilla, resort wear and swimwear. Hope this helps. Cheers!

  11. I love it when you do these features.
    My other travel tip for winter would be to look at Kathmandu for thermals, I have cute striped long johns and a long sleeve top that are brilliant for a base layer, and the tops really just look like a t-shirt if you need to strip down inside. I bought mine for less than $20 each by joining their loyalty club.
    Also, those black pants have me thinking that I really need to replace my cropped dress ones….

  12. Great advice Nikki,I am glad leather accents or leather look is still in fashion because I bought a beautiful pair of pants late last winter with leather panels that I didn’t get to wear.
    I’d love to buy a cape style coat for next winter,I must get on to that,thank you for the reminder Nikki Xx

  13. Hi Nikki and Megan, I’ve just returned from a 3 week trip to London, Norway and Brussels and this is all very good advice. A very warm coat is a must, and most people were wearing down coats, and so the suggestion about the light-weight, packable down coat is a really good one. The other thing to consider is to take things that are easily washed and dried in your hotel room (each of the hotel rooms that we stayed in did not have guest laundries and the hotel laundry charges are exorbitant). I took three pairs of ponte pants (Sussan has a good selection), and a selection of Metalicus and Vigorella wool-blend tops and tunics, woollen scarves, and Icebreaker thermals. The latter can be a little expensive, but they are very durable and warm. However, one of the most important items is thicker-soled warm boots coupled with woollen socks. You can feel the cold from the pavement through the soles of your boots (if they’re thin-soled) and lots of walking on cobbled streets can be very hard on your feet, if they’re not adequately protected.
    Have a wonderful trip Megan.

    1. I agree Megan, down jackets are the most popular on the streets of Milan at the moment. Lightweight but warm, so perfect for traveling. And I also agree with your suggestion about thick rubber soled boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Finally, don’t forget a little pair of leather gloves. I wear mine all the time once the temperature drops below 8, as it is most days at the moment. Ciao

  14. all good advice thanking you nikki! … as I think we all suffer from outfits amnesia! … I do anyway! … but being rectified with my new outfits folder ;0 photos of moi, as well as others! … it really helps to sort it!
    you are brilliant at inspiring us to be real and organized! cheers to you!
    with love from m:)X

    1. I can also vouch for Uniqlo – they have really good winter clothes. For a trip a couple of years ago, I purchased a version of this coat. It hurt at the time but has more than paid for itself. It’s warm enough for northern hemisphere winters as I’ve used it for winter trips to Melbourne and a cold night at the football. A friend borrowed it for a winter trip to the US and reported back that it was brilliant.

        1. Another Uniqlo fan, bought knitted gloves of high tech material with pads on fingertips so you can use your phone…$10 in NYC and daughter bought a matching puffer jacket and funky puffer bag… Cheaper than Northface, colourful and bundles down to next to nothing in luggage. Kathmandu or Mountain design for black puffers and thermal basics. I saw a lot of thick headbands covering ears in Central Park, similar to one I got in Snowgum

  15. Hi Nikki, I’m sure you’ve given Megan great advice, but another option to think about for the coat ‘issue’ is to buy one over there. Would need to be early on (as in day one), but Europe does coats so well! My 19 year old has just returned from Boston (yep, buried-under-two-meters-of-snow-Boston) and he observed that Bostonians wear ‘normal’ clothes topped by a sensational, wind-cheating coat. For Aussies (especially northern ones) thermals are a must though!

      1. Too true and good point. I like Meg P’s link to the Uniqlo site – Japan does winter very well too! We in Oz may not think much of the puffer coats, but they pack tiny, are very light and very warm and generally offer better wind protection than a wool coat. And everyone wears them in Europe (well, almost).

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