Real Girl Wardrobes - Amanda Collier

16 June 2015

When I first met Amanda Collier she had a very cool bob, not unlike Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O, and great style to match. Today, the 41-year-old online content strategist shares her favourite online vintage stores, her no-fuss approach to getting dressed and why she’s suddenly doubting her collection of striped tops.

How would you describe your style?

Fairly casual - boots, leather and vintage as well. Mine is more '70s and '80s but not disco '80s if that makes sense. Denim features a lot. I love mixing it up, so gorgeous vintage skirts and vintage shoes with simple white t-shirts.

Have you always worn vintage?

I've loved vintage for a long time but I haven't always been into it, so maybe in the past six years? Now I'm the world's expert on all the online vintage stores, eBay and Etsy. I love Need Supply, Spanish Moss, Yo Vintage!, COS, The Industry, Better Stay Together and Cut and Chic Vintage. There are so many more - I visit a lot - but Yo Vintage! has to be one of my faves.

Does that mean you don't shop for vintage clothing say in Sydney where you live? 

I will occasionally but I don't find really good stuff here, I like to get it online from the States. I've done the odd jaunt out to op shops in the country and every now and then you find a gem but hardly ever. Maybe twice a year you'll find something.

Is there a knack to wearing it, so you don't feel like you're playing dress ups?

Absolutely - mixing it with simple modern staples like t-shirts, sweaters and jeans.

It sounds like you have a lot of clothes because recently you had this thing where you tried to wear something completely different every day. Are you still doing it?

It didn't include weekends so it was just to work and it wasn't wearing jeans either, so I made sure it was all of my dresses and skirts that I was wearing.  I went for a month and I probably could've kept going.

Why did you do it?

I need to stop buying clothes and wanted to prove to myself that I really didn't need anything else. Also you start discovering clothes in your drawers, so my new challenge is to find a way to put all of my clothes out so that you see them.  I actually started moving them into sections of my wardrobe so the light, simple shirts will be here, the button-up shirts will be here, the denim skirts will be here, the longer skirts here. I can't believe I've gone this far but if you have it sectioned, then it's like - well I want to wear this kind of thing today, I'll look in that pile. Otherwise you might miss it, especially if it's a little singlet top.

Before you set yourself the challenge, were there items that you'd wear over and over?

I like really simple shirts like singlets and I have a few too many stripy tops. There’s a little piss-take video called Avalon Now where they're taking the piss out of themselves in relation to Redfern Now. So Redfern Now is all about tough lives and survival and Avalon Now is making fun of all the rich white people who live there and have tough things they have to handle in their lives - like the fact that their cafes close on Sundays. Everyone is wearing a stripy shirt in Avalon Now and it made me look at how many stripy singlets, t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts I have.

I think the media industry is pretty easygoing when it comes to what you can get away with wearing to work, so how do you navigate what's a work outfit and what's not?

I'm in the digital team and unless you're going to give a presentation to management, we can be pretty casual. It's a psychological thing as well, so even if I'm being casual, you still make an effort. You're not rocking up in the casual t-shirt that you might wear on the weekend when you're cleaning the house. 

What's your approach to hair and makeup?

I haven't even looked at myself this morning, so I don't have much of an approach. I did comb my hair though! I don't really wear a lot of makeup, partly because I never have time to put it on and partly because I don't feel like I look good in a lot of makeup. If I'm going to wear it, it'll just be light, like a powder. And hair? Because it's such a blunt cut, I’m considering going to a little hairdresser right near work, where it’s $10 for a men's cut and $15 for a ladies cut. 

You did have that really bold short haircut when I first met you.

I found a great hairdresser when I moved to Sydney and I had been growing my hair long. He first cut it into a bob and then we were looking at photos the next time I came in and he wanted to do something else. I said go for it, usually if I really like a hairdresser I just tell them to do whatever they want. It was kind of like that Karen O cut and it worked but it was such a pain to do, I'm not very good at doing my hair and I had to straighten it and dry it every single day. 

I'm really interested in your approach to winter, you're the first person I've seen wear a double coat!

That was not a fashion statement, putting my puffer jacket on under my leather jacket, that's only because I get so cold! Having said that I can highly recommend the Uniqlo puffer jacket because they squish up so small, so they’re great for camping or hiking and it fits under my leather jacket. Actually if you're talking about labels I do like Uniqlo, especially their underwear, it's so fricken comfortable.

I have a few quick questions and they're all different scenarios. First up, I’d love to know what you’d wear to a wedding or if you had to really dress up.

Sadly I never really get to dress up that much, maybe I should start a ball? I have a little selection in my wardrobe and I'll just pull out one of those dresses, something simple. I don't really have any vintage dressy dresses, they're kind of more modern. I did have this outrageous orange vintage gown and sadly I've just never been able to wear it. I bought it online years and years ago.

What if you were going out to dinner with friends?

I want to eat so I wear loose stuff, loose flowy dresses are the best for eating out. I don't get dressed up too much, it depends on how busy I am in my life, so if I've been super busy at work or other things are happening like moving house, I'll just wear what I wear during the day. But if I'm going to one of Sydney's really nice dining houses like Oscillate Wildly, of course I’ll dress up - do my hair, makeup, wear a nice jacket and wear my heels. 

What about on a weekend? Say you're home alone on a Sunday.

I don't think that should ever become public knowledge but one of my favourite things for being casual is this old sweatshirt with a Led Zeppelin kind of pattern that I found in Nashville, which has some great little vintage stores. It's so soft and it's a perfect fit and I'm wearing that non-stop. I just put my leggings on and walk up to the local milk bar.

If you’re walking around the city what kind of shoes do you wear? 

It has to be comfortable and usually I wear Nikes for walking, they're really solid. I walk to work in them and I ride my bike in them.

And then you change shoes when you get to work?

I have a little collection and it's running joke in the office - the shoe cupboard under my desk. People are disturbed by it. It just makes sense - if you're going out after work, you have your nice shoes there as well, or gumboots when Autumn hits Sydney. I have the most amazing pair of gumboots and they're always with me. I've had them for nearly 10 years, they're incredible quality. 

Finally, what influences your every day style? 

I take influence from real people, I follow a lot of people on Instagram and I will take a screengrab of an outfit that looks great. I have a little lookbook to remind myself the kind of stuff I do actually wear, feel comfortable in and like wearing and I found that helps me control what I buy. Back in the day I would keep a scrapbook - I'd actually print and cut stuff out.

Thank you Amanda! You can find her on Instagram and she also writes Pickle Lane Studios, a blog that takes you inside the studios and creative processes of Australian artists, illustrators and musicians. 

P.S You can find more Real Girl Wardrobe profiles here.

Photos by Bronwyn Purvis + Amanda Collier.

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