Real Girl Wardrobes: Sophie Kesteven

08 November 2017

Sophie Kesteven is a journalist from Far North Queensland who has spent the last little while living in Canberra, where we met at work. I loved seeing her outfits each day, they were always eclectic and fun. Sophie's just moved to Sydney but before she left, she came round for some cake and shared her bowerbird approach to shopping, a favourite dress that once belonged to her grandma, and how she manages super bright lipsticks. Let's get into it:

How would you describe your everyday style?

I would say I'm a chameleon. I remember when I was working up north, I could have my hair down and wear a certain style one day, and the next have my hair tied completely back and look almost like a different person. Being a bit of a chameleon can have its advantages because you can really mix up your look - it's mysterious in a way!

I really love how you put outfits together - where do you think that comes from?

I think a bit of that comes from my mum. She's not afraid to wear colourful clothes and I definitely get a bit of that from her - be proud, embrace all of the different colours, and I think that's a Far North Queensland thing too. I like to inject a bit of colour into my surroundings and patterns as well.

I'm in no way a person who will go out and buy expensive, designer gear. If I stumble across some nice designer stuff at an op shop, I'll buy it. But I think it goes to show that you don't have to buy the most expensive thing on the rack to put a nice outfit together.

Where do you take inspiration from? 

I would say as well as a chameleon, I'm a bit of bowerbird. If I see something vibrant, I'm there! It's nice to wear bright clothes because it's reflective of your mood and maybe makes you a bit more approachable to other people. Some people like to wear neutral colours and they do it really, really well and some people like to be a bit daring - maybe it doesn't always work but sometimes you've got to take that risk!

I’ve seen you in a few amazing pieces that used to belong to your grandma or aunt - how did they find their way to you?

Up in Ainslie, there's the old family house and they're starting to look into selling it or renovating it, so they're starting to clear out a lot of things in the house. I've had the opportunity to go through a lot of the old wardrobes in the last six months.

It's amazing coming across all of these different things because my grandparents and my aunts and my dad grew up in Italy and Rome for a lot of their childhood. You see a little bit of influence in some of the fashion there.

If you've got good quality clothing, hold onto it because it’s so easy to let something go and be like, ‘Oh, I'll never wear this again’. But you never know, in another 30, 40, 50 years time it does come back around and I've seen that in the wardrobes of my aunt and my mum.

How do you shop for clothes?

I can go to the shops and try on about six different outfits and I'm just not happy! When I was in my teens I would be like - yep, I like this - but now that I'm in my late twenties, I'm getting a little bit more fussy about things. I think it's important to know your body shape and know what outfits work well on it.

Are there any particular shops or labels that you love?

I like going into little boutique places because I think you can find some good quality clothes. When I was in Townsville, I'd go into a lot of the boutique shops there. There was a lovely Italian lady there, Enza, who came to know me quite well!

And when I was out at Charters Towers, in a little country town for my first newspaper gig, there was a boutique down the road. It had just as nice things in it as some of the places in the surrounding towns and I became really good friends with the shop lady there too.

I don't mind Zara because they do have a lot of colourful things but I don't know if we'll have it in 40 years time - is it still going to be as good quality?

Do you ever shop online?

I have shopped online in the past but I find for myself it can be a struggle because I might like the look of something and it arrives and it's more like on a top on me than a dress because I have a long body. I'm 5'11" so I have to keep that in mind as well. I would love - if I had the time - to get my own label off the ground and cater to taller girls.

What's your approach to accessories? Do you carry a handbag? 

My mum and dad get out to Italy probably once every three years. My mum is really good to me, she comes back with a nice Italian leather handbag, which I will wear the hell out of for the next three years.

But I think one of my favourites is a leather handbag that has this rainbow crochet bit on the top of it. I got it from the Witches markets when I was in Bolivia. It was really functional, it had some nice inner zips. It was this nice tough, dark leather but it softened over the years.

What about hair and make-up?

I go through phases. I used to straighten my hair all the time in my teens and early twenties, now I'm starting to embrace my own look a little bit more. I think it's nice to go with the natural look sometimes because it doesn't look as forced.

With make-up, I like bright lipsticks but then I also like matte lipsticks, particularly if you've got a super bright outfit on - it's not too crazy. I probably have at least 15-20 different shades. If you choose to wear a really bright bold colour, sometimes it's better wearing it just out for drinks. Whereas if you're having a big meal it can get on your chin!

Something I would like to get a better at is eyeshadow and the eyes. I've only recently started to teach myself how to use eyeliner properly.

Do you have any go-to outfits?

There's a dress which I call the handbag dress, which was my grandma's dress. If she went out to work, it was a dress she could put in her handbag if  all of a sudden her husband said - we're going out for dinner or drinks with friends. It didn't crease or anything like that. It goes quite well with some fun shoes. If I was to do my own label, I would design a handbag dress for all the women out there!

How do you pick an outfit for work? 

Some days I feel like I'm just going to be in the office, so I'll wear some pants and a nice top. But I also like wearing dresses because I find dresses very comfortable! I think in the work environment, it's good to wear dresses that are knee length or a little bit longer.

And I really embraced boots since living in Canberra. I bought a nice pair in Kingston and they're Italian. Italian has always been my thing but they're just the most comfortable boots.

What do you wear if you're going for a drink with friends?

At night I like to wear dresses that showcase the waist a little bit. And things that fall nicely on you and your particular figure. And again, I love shades of blue, I love shades of green, yellows, the earthy colours as well.

And on a lazy Sunday? 

If I'm still going to go out and get a coffee, I'll wear some ripped jeans, probably a singlet and some sneakers to go along with it. If I was staying in the house, I'd probably be wearing a loose summery dress or some bamboo pants with a comfortable flowy top.

Lastly, what are you looking forward to wearing now that it's warming up?

I would like to wear my handbag dress a little bit more often. Also I've got a pink dress that I bought when I was in Mackay from a local designer there, Jason Chetcuti. I was covering a fashion show for work and this model came out wearing this beautiful pink maxi dress.

Pink isn't a colour that I've been drawn to in the past but I just thought - wow, it's such a statement piece, I've got to have this! So I bought it and the first occasion I ever wore it to was the Mackay beach races and it was perfect for that occasion.

I wore it in Canberra in my first couple months of being here. I went out for lunch with some family members and there was a couple sitting at the table next to me. And when they finished, they lady came up and she said - I just want to say that you look absolutely beautiful. And I was like - I need to wear this dress more often!

Thank you Sophie! And good luck in Sydney :)

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