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Her Wardrobe: Sarah Kelly – Fashion Consultant

Jiawa Liu

Sky high heels, Chanel and the 60’s – these could be the words to describe an original Bond girl, or they could perfectly describe the enticing personal style of Canberra’s very own style maven, fashion consultant and business owner, Sarah Kelly.

Known for her many desirable statement outfits (one of which saw her take out Myer Fashions on the Field at the Melbourne Cup in 2009), Sarah has been making her passion for fashion a career with her consultancy business, Fashion Empire. Having admired her impeccable style at various events, I’ve always wondered what treasures lay within this savvy business woman’s wardrobe. I was, therefore, understandably stars truck when Sarah agreed to be interviewed for my ‘Her Wardrobe’ series. In this series, I delve into the diverse personal styles of real Canberran women.

I arrived at Sarah’s home to find her (numerous) favourite pieces beautifully arranged around her sitting room. In one corner was her collection of vintage furs and in another, her most iconic outfits. If that wasn’t enough, strewn across the room was a dizzying array of accessories, jewellery and bags in all the colours of a dreamy candyshop window.

It was immediately apparent that the world is Sarah’s hunting ground for beautiful designer masterpieces. Fashion, after all, is as much about acquisition as clothing oneself. Notable pieces on her sartorial trophy rack include the coveted Mary Katrantzou printed bell skirt dress and the Comme Des Garcons trench dress-cum-cape made famous by Victoria Beckham.

But the big designers aren’t the only names on Sarah’s hit list, she is also an enthusiastic patron of Canberra’s local talent. The gorgeous one of a kind mod chic dress Sarah wore at our meeting, for example, was by none other than Canberra’s own Suzan Dlouhy (of label SZN). The dress fitted exactly with Sarah’s 60’s siren persona.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t achieve Sarah’s polished style unless you can get ahold of designer pieces. Sarah is a lover of fashion, whether this high end of high street, and there are just as many pieces in her repertoire from chain stores as boutiques, her most frequented brands including ASOS and French Connection. Her amazing two piece brocade tank and trouser ensemble, for example, was a chain store steal from the latter.

What’s most uncanny about Sarah’s style is that she always looks so perfectly put together, whether she’s dressed to the nines in head to toe prints, or chilling on the weekend in off-duty sweater and jeans. So how does she do it? Coordination is key, Sarah says.

“My mantra is matchy matchy! You can have a lot going on, but I love to incorporate a colour twice to bring it all together. It can be as subtle as your earrings or your shoes and bag in harmony.”

However, no matter how great the outfit, it most certainly always comes down to one thing: hair. Sarah emphasises that a great hair style makes a world of different to the entire look.

“The effort made there speaks volumes about your outfit and has the power to finish the look every time.”

As for shopping for the perfect pieces, Sarah always pays attention to fit and proportion. Her advice is that everyone’s body is subtly different, and the goal is finding ‘the right cut for your own figure, whether it’s in jeans, a skirt or jacket’.

The fashion consultant’s own personal formula is simple: fitted pants, tailored blazers, and ankle boots – lots and lots of them.

While Sarah is definitely a ‘maximalist’, and loves her big prints, unconventional cuts and head turning accessories, she buys and wears only those styles that look good for her figure and fit with her personality. Every piece in Sarah’s collection is just so…well, ‘her’, even with the most outrageous of her pieces, like her metallic pink candy wrapper themed clutch and the bright neon green jumpsuit.

So perhaps the insight I am taking away from my peek into Sarah’s personal style is—now, forgive me if I start to make fashion sound like a martial art—to dress yourself well, you have to know yourself well!

  • Mel

    Can’t find a website for Sarah/Fashion Empire – can you please provide?

  • Great article Jiawa! Sarah Kelly is s brilliant Canberra fashion icon, and I am so flattered that she wears SZN 🙂

  • Thanks Jiawa, and thanks Sarah for letting Jiawa look inside your AMAZING wardrobe! London, Paris, Rome….they have NOTHING on the style of the Canberra women! Seriously, I looked and looked when in those places recently for fashion inspiration, only to discover that, them’s no place like home!

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