Style, not (necessarily) Fashion.

March 19th, 2010 LIKE WHAT YOU READ? SHARE IT!


By Mandy Lehto


Some women find inspiration in fashion magazines.

And some make their own rules.  They’re the ones with a true sense of style, sometimes eccentric or quirky, but always arresting and memorable.

Clothes give a glimpse into the life of the woman who wears them.  Ultimately, this is what real style is about, isn’t it?  It’s a reflection of the inner woman, complex and intriguing, full of stories, grit and experiences.

There are no rules for this look.  These women are just particularly adept at dressing themselves.  Their clothes appear comfortable and natural in a subtle, nonchalant way.


Meet Vilma Vitols, mezzo soprano and boxer.  Her clothes are as unique as her profile, and she describes her style as ‘funky, sexy and sporty.’  Vilma loves colour, particularly green (‘my opera friends refer to “Vilma green”’).  She also has a penchant for leg warmers and silver shoes.

Vilma could easily be papped by The Sartorialist, riding her bike, dressed in a fabulous hat and chiffon scarf from Kensington Market.  Her equally fabulous work wear consists of vintage 50s-70s evening dresses picked up at second hand shops.

My friend Sanja Jurca Avci, designer and script writer, thinks she’s not a fashion person.  She doesn’t like shopping (‘there’s too much choice’).  And yet she’s always ‘disarmingly elegant’, as a mutual male friend describes her.  How does she do it?

‘My instinct guides me,’ she says.  Her look usually includes a scarf, a belt with an interesting buckle and jewellery – pieces that create the backbone of her outfits (like the colour green might do for Vilma).  Then Sanja adds whatever else ‘feels right.’  In winter, she goes for a certain amount of black to feel enclosed and protected.  In spring, colour bursts forth from her wardrobe.


We love women like Vilma and Sanja, whose clothes suggest something private within their character, something offbeat, artistic and intriguing.  The ease in such a look comes from being true to one’s self.  Nothing looks forced.  Nothing screams ‘I’m trying too hard.’  It looks fun and experimental; not at all contrived.  Think Carrie Bradshaw in Sex & the City.

In stylist-parlance, these women are ‘creatives’, at home with striking and unusual combinations, unfazed by what fashion currently dictates.  Their look is unplaceable, not vintage, high street or couture.

It’s unmistakably individual.

Vilma and Sanja are reminders that clothes are a reflection of the mood and spirit of the fascinating woman who wears them.  It’s like playing dress up as a grown up.  But this time, you’re really just being yourself.


Seeking more? Let’s get you there.

Sign up for The Juice, a twice-weekly hit of no-nonsense wisdom.


“Transformational, life-enhancing stuff.” Joanna Chin, COO, Langland