Last time Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner told us what her clothes reveal about her. This week meet Mel Roets, stylish mum of two, who’s about to return to corporate life after maternity leave.
“I love going bare-foot,” Mel declares. She adds that “the thought of a handbag clutters my mind – too much stuff, especially with kids. When I’m out without children, I prefer not to take a bag at all.”
Some key themes in Mel’s wardrobe align perfectly with her personality: practicality and simplicity. But in a good way, like Parisian women who make simple chic look so, well, simple.
When I met Mel a few years ago, I was intrigued by her strong sense of style. She has a knack for mixing silk, pearls, leather and denim, without looking try-hard. The more I got to know Mel, I realised that her style was actually a combination of her clothing choices as well as her subtle mannerisms, gestures and her strong sense of self.
Mel attributes her no-fuss attitude to clothes to growing up in South Africa. “I don’t do stiff or snooty,” she says. “I prefer cool and plain – classic beautiful things with a twist.”
So what does her wardrobe say about her? “My clothes say I’m easy-going, straightforward and individual, but with a little mystery.”
“I was really confused about my style post-kids,” she adds. “It was a whole new era for me. I used to be really trendy, but then had to accept that I couldn’t be a fashion victim anymore.”
She’s quick to add that she still loves fashion: “the first thing I think about in the morning is what I’m going to wear today.” But fashion is a means of expressing herself (“when it suits me”), rather than something she feels compelled to conform to. “I’m not label-orientated,” she says. She’s most comfortable accessorising with her trademark scarves and long strings of beads. “There’s an Italian scarf I bought when I was 15 that I still wear and love.”
Trying to capture the essence of her style, I ask what inspires her. “It could be anything, maybe a vintage bicycle or a scooter. Or watching people in quirky cafes, like those you find in Paris – I’m inspired by street style. Books. Art. Old furniture. Traveling. For me, it’s not about copying a particular celebrity.”
Chatting with Mel, she exudes a laid-back chic that you’d love to patent and bottle. She’s humble, funny and enviably comfortable in her own skin. She laughs easily. And somehow that combination of clothes and accessories that might look clumsy on somebody else just come to life on her. She creates a look, then owns it.
“My clothes are really important to me. They convey the message about how I’m feeling, and in what space I’m in at that moment.”
Actually, what her clothes say so convincingly is, “I’m really happy being me.”
Biggest wardrobe disaster? “My grunge era – big t-shirts, lots of black, chunky black boots and torn clothing.”
Best outfit ever? “One is my wedding dress. The other is a pink vintage dress that I’ve had since 1999. That dress has a story. I was living in Cape Town and my then boyfriend (now husband) was living in London. We’d been dating a year or two, but hadn’t seen each other in 8 months. I bought that dress for his sister’s wedding, wanting to look amazing, not having seen my man in so long. We had such an incredible time together during those 3 weeks – sunset picnics on the beach, cocktails, fun with family and friends and the best new years ever. It was such a high before he left again. So that dress reminds me of love, romance, sunshine and some of the best times of my life.”
Top tip for women looking for their own style? “Wear what suits your colouring and body shape. Then follow your instinct.”
Mel’s vintage pink dress….best outfit ever.
Next week, Patrice Jones reveals what her clothes say about her.