Real Girl Wardrobes: Anne Barnetson

03 October 2017

It's been awhile since I posted a Real Girl Wardrobes interview so I am extra thrilled to introduce you to Anne Barneston, an illustrator, keen reader and a very snappy dresser. Anne works in a Fremantle bookstore with my friend Kristy, which is how I came to follow her on Instagram.

I admired her bold and colourful outfits from afar and took to reading books she'd draw too (I'm halfway through this one - it's fantastic!). In winter, I plucked up the courage to email and see if she'd share her approach to getting dressed. Today Anne shares some of her favourite Perth stores, two style lessons she learnt from her mum, and a good whisky for beginners. Let's get started:

Hello Anne, can you share what you get up to in a typical week? 

I have two bookshop jobs, but most of my hours are at New Edition. It's an independent bookshop in Fremantle, and keeps me supplied with reading. I'm an illustrator as well, so I fit in commissions for friends and sometimes jobs like court drawing or portraits. If I'm lucky I'll have at least one day at home to water pot plants and talk to the cat.

How would you describe your everyday style?

My everyday style is a result of two different inclinations - the desire to be a well-dressed, dignified, choosy individual like the idea of a Parisienne, and the intense magpie greed for novelty. Usually the outfits display a combination of the two directions, conservative with a touch of giddy aunt.

What's the weather like in Perth during winter? And how does that change the way you dress? 

Perth can be chilly and rainy but it changes so quickly, so I rarely carry an umbrella (it'd blow inside out anyway). Usually a coat with a hood will do if you're running from awning to awning. At this end of winter I'm longing to wear skirts and summery dresses but am resigned to jeans and boots. I've learned that if your feet are warm you can withstand more of life's challenges. Plus with layering, there's two or three good outfits inside each other! Bonus!

Your outfits are so colourful - I'd love to know who or what your style is influenced by. Are they ever inspired by book covers and what you're reading?

I've definitely had a few books influence the way I dress. A Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux was an obsession of a character in a novel by Kathleen Tessaro, and they reissued the classic 1964 guide to go with the books. It's full of stern directives such as the injunction not to wear black before noon, but also the idea of discernment. Elegance meant a way of choosing carefully and well, back from the days when one's style was an indication of character. My mum is a little like this, and taught me that you dress up to go into town and that looking good can be tremendously empowering.

Women in Clothes is a great collection of interviews and essays which I enjoyed, and that's played a part. Books like Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle, chronicling the Sydney Police archives of the 1920's, show that people will doggedly maintain an image and a look in the most bedraggled and poor circumstances.

I've got a few friends that I really admire and plunder methods and touches from - whether that's a dramatic flourish like Ruby Slippers, the importance of detail from Calliope Bridge, or the perfect shade of cool red lipstick (thanks Mum).

I'd love to know where you shop - do you have any favourite Perth spots? Do you ever shop online?

I'm a shopping opportunist, and I like to wander. I'll start by having a look through the bigger department stores to get a sense of where the seasonal trends are heading, and then maybe narrow down one or two label items.

I can't really afford to buy a complete wardrobe at any given time, so I do tend to buy the same basic items over and over to freshen them up. Other times I stumble across pieces second-hand, or through friends.

A couple of stores I call into a lot are Gorman (because their print collaborations are great), and local designer Natalie Donovan's boutique in Cottesloe, Wild Horses. The Archive in Fremantle have a great selection too. All these lunch break visits have added up to knowing the people who work there and it feels nicer to buy from friends and acquaintances.

In the same way I'm happy that designers can have a online store, so I'm able to access their work. Retailers like Andrea Povey of Northside Southside and Julia Davis of Flax and Fleece are small businesses run by ladies I'm pleased to know. It's fresh and new and excellent and I'm pleased to support them.

You sometimes draw your outfits and share the illustrations on Instagram - how do you pick which ones to draw? And when do you get time to do it? 

It’s hard to say why some outfits get a sketch and some a photo. I've drawn self-portraits forever, but I'm also fascinated with the economy of fashion illustration, that is the way they convey detail and form with the minimum. David Downton's work is a good example of this elegant skill. I try to draw every day, whether its a luxuriant hour at my desk or a quick scribble in my lap on the train to work.

What's your approach to hair and make-up?

Probably because of my smartly dressed mum, I went through a sustained tomboy/art weirdo phase, so not much idea of how to wear makeup. It all seemed a bit hard! But then I got into bright lipstick and the rest fell into place. I still haven't learned anything so advanced as contouring or grown my hair past my shoulders but now I enjoy the theatrics of getting dressed.

I'd also love to know about accessories - especially your approach to glasses - and whether you carry a handbag. 

I wear my glasses all of the time, so I'm choosy about the frames and tend to replace them every couple of years with a really good pair. I don't mind wearing them so much if they're well-made.

Handbags are another tomboy thing. I'll carry the same one for months, so I tend toward robust neutrality. I have a few nice ones for going out (the most notable being the enormous silver foil one which looks like a big lolly) but at the moment its a grey canvas tote I got in the Alcatraz Prison gift shop. It fits a trade paperback, my drawing supplies, and all the other stuff (23 lipsticks and an interesting rock).

Could you share what you'd wear in the following scenarios: to work, to a wedding, on a lazy Sunday.

Ooer. Work is usually black skinny jeans, a tee and shoes I can stand up in all day. Boots like the gold Dr Martens in winter and glitter jelly sandals in summer.

A wedding is a good opportunity to get fancy! I think I'd break out a frock - either a wrap or slip dress, and my highest pair of clogs. And then a big pair of dangly earrings too!

A lazy Sunday would involve a fluffy sweater, a worn-in pair of sloppy jeans, and bare feet. Good for making a cuppa and taking it back to bed with a book.

One last question... I love your whiskey bottle illustrations and was wondering whether you could recommend a good introductory whiskey :)

There's a delicious one called Nikka Whisky from the Barrel, a Japanese blend in a little square bottle. I hope you enjoy one with the last of the cooler weather!

Thank you so much Anne! You can check out her illustrations on her website, and I highly recommend following her on Instagram too, for outfit and book inspiration.

Photos and illustrations by Anne Barnetson. 

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