We’re calling it! Australia’s 10 best-dressed women

smh– What makes someone well dressed? Is it their ability to mix the high and low, effortlessly wearing Zara and Dior in the same outfit? Or a way of dressing that establishes a personal “brand” that others follow? Or, perhaps, it’s defying stereotypes to exude an individuality that occupies that space where fashion and art collide? Truth is, it’s all these things, and none of them. In some cases it’s a certain je ne sais quoi. But what the women on this list have in common is a style that cannot be divorced from their personality, and their personality shines through in every look they wear.

The Panel

Pat Ingram – Sunday Life editor-in-chief
Penny McCarthy – Sunday Life fashion editor
Melissa Singer –The Sydney Morning Herald & The Age national fashion editor
Eliza Iredale – Sunday Life art director
Danielle Castano – Fashion and lifestyle photographer

“The first time I met Carla, she was wearing a black jumpsuit with a deep V-neck, her signature dark sunglasses, and I thought, ‘Wow’,” says Melissa. Neither age nor the past 12 months have wearied Carla’s dedication to dressing up, telling Sunday Life last year she hoped women would emerge from lockdown in celebratory sequins. She has created a 55-year legacy to tailoring that few can match. “Chic and feminine, Carla has maintained a lifetime look of easy elegance,” says Pat.

Few show as much commitment to the “modern uniform” ideal as Christine, Vogue Australia’s fashion director and stylist to the stars. Rarely is she seen on the streets of Paris, Milan or Bondi, where she recently relocated from New York, without a perfectly-cut-yet-oversized blazer (usually from her label, Wardrobe.NYC), and a black pant or bike short. Her next chapter? Chic maternity wear (she’s reportedly expecting her first child with actor Joel Edgerton).

The co-founder (along with Sarah-Jane Clarke) of Sass & Bide might have a new project, ArtClub, but it still projects the same free-spirited, luxe vintage vibe that made Heidi one of the most influential names in fashion of the past 25 years. “Heidi’s innate style shows that boho can be so much more than floral skirts and fringe vests,” says Danielle.

“While she borrows silhouettes and styling notes from the traditional bohemian look, she keeps it modern with simple colour palettes and more structured pieces.”

Breaking the mould of how a “typical” newsreader should dress, Lee Lin blazed a trail for women on television to experiment with bold colour and prints (she once wore a Beatles tie on air on SBS, where she read the weekend news for more than 30 years) and championed lesser-known designers.

Lee Lin, who styled herself throughout her career, was also a red-carpet favourite, her 2016 yellow Logies suit among her most memorable.

At just 21, Adut has conquered the world of fashion, walking for brands including Chanel, Saint Laurent and Givenchy. But where her personal style really shines is on her warts-and-all Instagram feed, where she mixes relaxed off-duty style with the best of her red-carpet looks. And while she may have broken into the big time, the supermodel still holds Australian designers, including Aje, Dion Lee and Alice McCall, close to her heart.

Best known as one half of iconic label Dinosaur Designs, Louise honed her eye for vintage finds at a young age. But it’s her accessories for which she’s best known: a stack of brightly hued bangles never looks awkward or overdone on Louise. She’s also a study in mixing textures when it comes to jewellery, pairing leather with silver or a pair of statement earrings. Definitely a woman who believes it’s the icing that maketh the outfit.

Last month’s Golden Globes was a test of Hollywood’s capacity to toe the line between altruism and elegance and Margot nailed it in Chanel (she is one of the brand’s celebrity ambassadors). But it wasn’t just the gown, drawn from the brand’s 2021 spring/summer collection, but her effortless hair and make-up that earned her a place on best-dressed lists. Off duty, Margot’s style is just as chic, mixing quality basics with statement coats and heels.

The pandemic and working from home may have challenged the very survival of the suit but Tamsin, with her husband Patrick, are mounting a strong argument to get back into tailoring. With a background in interiors, Tamsin has turned wearing a suit into an art as effortless as a well-styled living room: inviting but cosy, sharp in the right places with softness where it counts – how we all wish we looked on our best day in the office.

The athleisure powerhouses are more than walking billboards for their own brand; over five years since launching P.E Nation, Pip and Claire have shown that luxe sportswear is more than fancy leggings and bomber jackets. Known for high-voltage graphic prints that defy the well-trodden activewear narrative, the duo have become a real-time masterclass in mixing streetwear with high-end pieces from brands such as Michael Lo Sordo and Balenciaga.

It’s not about the extravagance of the outfit when it comes to Penelope’s style, but an eye for design and small touches of refined elegance that make her an icon for women of any age. A simple swipe of red lipstick, or a necklace in the same tone as her breezy shirt dresses instantly elevates her looks. Like a well-designed building, Penelope favours pieces that stand the test of time – and isn’t afraid to experiment with bold primary colours.


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