“They’re just clothes and they’re meant to be fun.”

Describe your style.

Like a glitter pen vomitted on a 4yo girl.

What is the cheapest thing in your wardrobe?

I own a lot of Supre singlet tops which were about $8 each on sale. And those stretchy target bras which are like $10 for a pack of three.

What’s the oldest thing?

I’m not at all nostalgic about clothes. I’m ruthless. I like to cull them constantly and there are things I now regret throwing away. I saw my friend Paula Joye the other day wearing a Sportsgirl jacket we both bought when we were working at Cleo magazine together 20 years ago. She kept it and it looks perfectly right again. I sold mine or gave it away. D’oh.

The most expensive thing?

A Prada jacket which I bought almost 20 years ago in New York when I was obsessed with Carolyn Bessette Kennedy. I still wear it. I don’t have anything else that’s designer like that.

How do you store things like belts and jewellery?

I am obsessed with Howard’s Storage and spend many happy hours in there on weekends looking for fun new ways to store things. I have one of those coathanger, belt holder thingies even though I never wear belts. And my jewellery…..I buy those plastic hooks and hang my jewellery in the bathroom on the wall like this:

And I’ve just done a big re-organise of my jewellery using lots of old Howard’s Storage bits and pieces. I put lots of my earrings into a lipstick container!

How often do you add to your wardrobe?

What’s that thing they have in American courtrooms? The amendment which criminals use when they don’t want to say anything that will incriminate themselves? That. Look, for me, I’m adding to my wardrobe constantly. My clothes are like a hobby. My latest addition(s), from a shop in Melbourne called Habbot:

I also bought some great dresses recently from a local store called Marshmellow including this one (I got the image from their website):

How do you shop – online or in-store?

Almost always in-store. I find it immensely unsatisfying to buy something and not be able to take it home immediately. I also love the physical experience of shopping. Maybe because it’s alone time (usually, unless I’m desperate and I have a child in tow). The only time I shop online is when I’m looking for something really specific that I can’t find in store. Like a particular pair of trainers or something I’ve bought before.

I just love shops. I have a habit of losing all my inhibitions when I’m in a store, usually because I’m impatient. I can never be bothered to wait for a change room or get dressed.  My friend Vanessa who owns South of the Border says I’ve traumatised all her sales assistants because I run around in my undies grabbing things off the rack to try on. I once did that in the Byron Bay store and Chris Hemsworth was apparently in there with his wife and I didn’t even notice. TOO BUSY SHOPPING.


Sweet Papillon is another of my favourite stores. I wear lots of loose dresses from there and I make a beeline for it whenever I’m in Byron Bay. They also have an online store.

Do you ever buy things on Ebay?

Oh yes absolutely. I went through a massive eBay obsession a year or so ago when I became fixated on Nina Proudman’s red jacket that she was wearing on Offspring. I found out it was Tigerlilly and then fell deep into the rabbit hole of eBay, trying to hunt it down. I eventually found a second hand one and locked myself in the bathroom at a friend’s 40th birthday party one Saturday night after three champagnes bidding furiously as the auction ended. I got it! Let’s never discuss how much I had to pay for my second hand Tigerlily jacket.

How do you “organise” your clothes? Is there a system? Seasonal, colours?

I am constantly, constantly refining my system. It’s my favourite thing to do on weekends: rearranging my clothes while listening to podcasts. Woo hoo. The kids say: “Mum is playing with her clothes again.”  I rotate summer and using stealing, all available wardrobe space from my husband and children. I organise by thing (eg: long sleeve tops and shirts, t-shirts, dresses) and I prefer to have everything hanging because I’m a shit folder and very lazy. If things are in drawers or shelves I’ll just chuck them and never be able to find anything. During the week I do actually just chuck things onto a shelf and then put it all away on the weekend when I have more time.

Coat-hangers: wire or wooden?

Neither. Wire, no way and wooden are way too bulky. You need to maximise your space. To that end I have discovered the best hangers ever from Howards Storage – I have no idea what they’re called but they’re for shirts and they feel like kind of felt and they’re perfect for everything and you can cram so many of them in. Win win win.

I follow your Instagram account and I notice you wear a huge amount of a label called South Of The Border. Do you own it or something? What’s the story there?

Ha. No, I don’t own it. I wish I owned it. It’s a label that’s owned and designed by a close friend, Vanessa Cranfield, who I’ve known since our sons went to pre-school together 15 years ago. I was always mad for her style. I used to furtively stare at her in the playground except she says it wasn’t very furtive and I was just staring and it was creepy. Luckily, we became friends anyway. She’s just one of those rare women who look innately incredible and put clothes together so well and make it look effortless. I always look effortful if that’s even a word. Try-hard. That’s how I think I look. She didn’t work in fashion back then, she was a theatre costume designer and we lost touch for quite a few years when our boys went to different schools.


Then a year or so ago, I discovered this great little boutique called South of The Border near where I do my food shopping and I started buying stuff there and then I found out it was her label! It’s only a few years old and it’s just my perfect, perfect style. Bright prints and sequins and kind of beachy and funky and the way she cuts pants….oh my god. It’s like she’s my perfect fashion match. My fashion spirit animal. I can’t even explain it. Her clothes don’t just fit my body, they actually lift my spirits. They make me happy. We have a very symbiotic relationship; she gives me clothes and I wear what I love and give her back anything that doesn’t work. I also often buy her shoes and other bits and pieces as gifts for friends. I love that you don’t see her stuff on everyone and I’m asked about it whenever I wear anything I think because her clothes are just so happy. Ness has three kids and she surfs and she’s my age so everything is fun as well as comfortable. She also has stores in Cronulla and Byron Bay as well as Bondi Junction and she sells everything online too.

This is Vanessa when she bumped into a woman whose shopping trolley was the same fabric as one of her jumpsuits:

What was your wedding dress like?

It was fine. By a label called Tea Rose. I think it was the first or second dress I tried on. I was a pretty hopeless bride. My mum wasn’t with me, I was pregnant and in a rush and just went “yeah, ok”. Now I’ve lost it. Actually lost it. Must have happened one time when I was moving. I told you I was a terrible bride.

What are you a bit embarrassed about but would never throw away?

I don’t get embarassed by my clothes and I’m never upset if people say they hate things I wear or how I wear them. They’re just clothes and they’re meant to be fun. Fashion and style is such a subjective thing. That’s why I’ve never been interested in catwalks or high end designers or fashion magazines. That whole world seems to me to suck the fun out of fashion and make it terribly serious and precious and excluding.

What purchase do you most regret?

Oh too many to count. I’m a terribly impulsive shopper. A few years ago at the Byron markets I found this dress in a bucket of clothes. It was like $8 and I was like, AWESOME. And it was boiling hot and I just held it up instead of trying it on because it was the markets and ugh. So then I got home and I tried it on and I was really confused because the hem of the dress seemed to be caught. Except it wasn’t caught. And it wasn’t a dress. It was a poo-catcher jumpsuit.

I still own it because it’s funny and really comfortable. And then I told a friend of mine about it and she’s the editor of the Women’s Weekly. Then when I did a story with them the stylist who came to do the shoot said “Oh, Helen wants you to wear that poo-catcher jumpsuit you bought by accident.” And I’m very obedient on shoots so I did and here’s the shot:


And when the editor saw it she was like, I WAS ONLY JOKING. And that’s how my biggest fashion accident ended up in the Women’s Weekly.

Do you have an area of your body you’re self-conscious about that you dress around?

Yep. I never like anything tight around my stomach. And if I have to do TV I wear fat-suckers to smooth the line when I’m sitting down. Never for long though. And I buy the cheap ones from Kmart.

Is there anything in your wardrobe you’ve never worn? Why haven’t you worn it?

There might be a couple of things *cough* that I’ve bought that I haven’t got around to wearing yet. Shhhhhh.

What are your top three stores?

Three? STOP IT. For chain stores, I love Sportsgirl, Witchery, Seed, Country Road (and jewellery from Seed Kids). Ginger & Smart is my go-to designer shop and of course South of the Border. I just love everything they both do. For boutiques that sell a mix of stuff, Sweet Papillon Byron Bay,  Marshmellow boutique and Koh Woman are my faves.

Favourite place to buy shoes?

Ginger and Smart have been doing great shoes for the past year or two. They are so comfortable because they put this rubbery stuff on the bottom and use Velcro to do them up. But they’re still fancy. South of the Border are my go-to for flats and of course Havaianas are my weekend staple. I love all kinds of wedges too. And ankle boots!

What’s up with the pink boots? You wear them a lot.

I do. They’re from a shop I used to drive past in a taxi whenever I went to Melbourne. It’s in Toorak road, called JFahri and she does them in all different colours. One time I got the taxi to drop me off and I got chatting with the owner. I have a few different pairs but the pink ones are my favourites. I wear them like a neutral colour. With everything.

What’s the most significant item of clothing you own? Wedding dress doesn’t count!

The dress I wore to the hospital when I had my daughter. I didn’t wear it when I was actually giving birth because by that time I was naked and screaming but I found it the other day and showed it to her and she tried it on and my mind was a bit blown by the circle of that. She’s very into trying on my clothes and shoes at the moment. I keep telling her I will have to bind her feet when they get to my size because if they grow bigger it will be a total waste of my shoes.

How do you get away with the weird combos of clothes you wear?


I don’t think I do get away with it really. I just wear what makes me feel happy. It’s kind of hard to explain but my clothes are such a creative expression of who I am. They have a massive impact on my mood. Working in creative media offices my whole life has meant that I’ve never been restricted by external pressure to dress a certain, formal or conservative way. Except when I was at channel 9 on the executive floor and I self censored my clothes so as not to draw attention to myself. Black suits. Ugh. It was a terrible time in lots of ways and it’s like my clothes were in mourning for my bad career choice.

What items do you wear the most?

I have a Dotti cream coloured leather jacket I wear constantly. And a Sportsgirl denim jacket with a hood that I wear with a sparkly broach. They would be my go-tos probably. And South of the Border pants because they feel like trackies but look dressy. This is my Sportsgirl jacket:

What is it with you and sequins?

What’s not to like about sequins? They’re just fun. But I like to wear them in a really casual way with jeans or thongs or trainers. I have some great sequinned trackies from Sass & Bide and from South of the Border:

What do you pull out if you’re feeling like shit? Which item of clothing is guaranteed to combat bad vibes?

Great question. What I’m wearing has a major affect on my mood. Colour, colour, colour. It feeds me. And sparkly things. Anything that a 4yo girl would wear, basically.

Do you think about what you already own before you buy new things so it all works together?

No, no I don’t. I have this thing where I become convinced that a particular item is the missing link that will pull my whole wardrobe together. I did that recently with those Stan Smith Adidas trainers. I bought them in the wrong size because I couldn’t find my size anywhere, even online, and I was certain they would magically transform my wardrobe. They didn’t but I really love them.

How often do you cull?

Constantly. My favourite thing to do is cull. Make room for new things. We have big clothes swaps at Mamamia Women’s Network and I tend to offload everything there. It gives me huge joy to see other peole wearing my clothes. Very few people in the office are size 6 though so the few that are get all my shoes.

Do you always look stylish?

Are you on crack? Absolutely not. Look. Here is me after going for a run on the treadmill in my pyjamas. Or maybe I was doing the school run.