Five ELLE Women Tell Us About The Evolution Of Their Look

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Camille Charriere

Writer, Broadcaster and Influencer

fashioning myself

Noor-u-Nisa Khan

‘In France, I’m perhaps too English, and in England I’m perhaps too French.’ It’s a paradox that’s come to shape Camille Charriere’s style – and amass her 1.3 million social media followers in the process.

Her route was a previously untrodden one. A founding member of the first wave of fashion influencers, she has publicly documented her outfits for over a decade. Fresh out of law school in France and about to begin working at a London hedge fund, she started her blog, Camille Over the Rainbow, in 2010 as a form of escapism. It was her own ‘alternative reality’, somewhere she could anonymously explore the creativity stifled by her corporate career path and break free from the sartorial shackles she had felt growing up in France. ‘Very early on I was aware you were allowed to wear certain things and you were not allowed to wear other things. There really were rules to stick to,’ she says. ‘I always say London gave me wings.’

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After flirting with the Topshop era of peak accessibility, she graduated to the ‘Tumblr aesthetic’ that became an influencer signature. ‘We were all obsessed with minimalism when I was comingup in the fashion industry. It was the Phoebe Philo era… a lot of long coats with long skirts and turtlenecks and very Scandi proportions with a French colour palette. It felt very sophisticated compared with how I dress now.’

How would she describe her style now? ‘I sometimes steal my friend Cate Holstein’s [founder and creative director of Khaite] line: “Classic, feminine, with a twist of trash!”’ Spending time with designers like Holstein ‘who really love clothes’, coupled with a post-pandemic feeling of liberation, has led her to her current style mood, which is celebratory and joyful. ‘I felt like I wanted dressing to be fun again, I didn’t really care about whether people were going to like it or not. It was more about how an outfit made me feel.’ She’s enjoying the Y2K revival, having missed out on it the first time round (‘In France, not one person dressed like that. We barely just got skinny jeans’), and recently bought a pair of viral ‘parachute’ pants after seeing them on TikTok.

paris, france   october 06 camille charriere wears a black coat, a blue wool body suit with white embroidery and buttons, a leather belt, a black mesh skirt, black leather shoes with golden inserts, a leather bag, outside miu miu, during paris fashion week   womenswear spring summer 2021, on october 06, 2020 in paris, france photo by edward berthelotgetty images

Edward BerthelotGetty Images

Such fast-fashion purchases are rare for Charriere these days, though – a greater understanding of sustainability has pushed her towards the vintage and resale market in recent years. ‘I would even go so far as to say it’s made me fall back in love with fashion,’ she says, ‘because I think before the pandemic, there was a bit of fatigue. It just felt like everybody was becoming a bit interchangeable.’ She cites a preloved yellow croc-embossed Cavalli coat and a handful of Galliano dresses as some of her favourite pieces in her wardrobe, as well as her ‘epic’ jeans collection that dates back to her student days. This shift in mentality even influenced her wedding wardrobe: when she got married in December 2021 she wore an upcycled lace dress by Harris Reed to the reception, a vintage Chanel mini dress to the after party and a vintage Gaultier suit for the day-after celebrations.

It’s a bold move for an influencer to steer away from top-to-toe shoppable outfits, but one that she’s actively pursuing. ‘I’m very aware, as someone with 1.3 million followers, of my responsibility. Every time I post something, I know that the chances are people are going to want to buy it,’ she says. ‘But if I’m wearing things that are sold out or old… they’ll go and find something similar on a resale platform or make up their own version, which I think is the way we should be dressing.’

Nellie Eden

Beauty Editor and Brand Consultant

fashioning myself

Noor-u-Nisa Khan

‘My clothes have always been more confident than I am.’ Nellie Eden learned early on that there was power to be found in fashion. It was working as a Lycra-clad sales assistant at American Apparel that really ignited her love of clothes. ‘I wore swimsuits to work and disco pants five days a week,’ she recalls. ‘It was amazing to realise that dressing could be such a source of fun and influence. I was liberated by it.’ But when she started working as a fashion writer, she couldn’t replicate the joy. ‘I loved clothes and the act of getting dressed, but I didn’t want to sit around and talk to people about the [catwalk] collections.’ A period of sartorial rebellion followed: ‘If everybody was wearing floaty dresses and high heels, I’d wear something super-gothic, like a holey Rick Owens top with Dr Martens.’

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She found her people when she landed her first beauty editor role, where she and her colleagues communicated through clothing and self-expression. ‘I felt fulfilled and excited, and it was important to dress the part.’ She took on a more polished and ‘glamorous’ look, wore heels every day and started to invest in designer pieces, having reached a financial ‘sweet spot’ where she could buy a few things, but not everything.

Now a beauty editor and consultant for brands including Byredo and Marc Jacobs, she claims her style is now at its ‘most conformist’. Don’t let that fool you: while archive Prada, Chloé, Helmut Lang, vintage and current Jean Paul Gaultier, second-hand Chanel, Mugler dresses that she wears to weddings, and lashings of Pleats Please all belong in her wardrobe, it’s experimental young designers like Supriya Lele, Charlotte Knowles, Maximilian and Martine Rose that are her biggest sources of confidence now. ‘Martine is my uniform,’ she says. ‘I’ll be buried in my pair of camo trousers from her, I wear them every day. I’ve had to have the bum repaired four times.’

She says Rose’s ‘ugly, sexy, asymmetric’ aesthetic is closely aligned with her own, which also takes inspiration from Chloë Sevigny and Nineties art collective Bernadette Corporation. ‘I don’t want to look too nice. If I’mwearing a really gorgeous Nensi Dojaka top, I’ll want to wear tracksuit bottoms with it. I don’t want to be too orderly,’ she says, a non-conformist to her core.

Lynette Nylander

Editor and Consultant

fashioning myself

Noor-u-Nisa Khan

‘I still dress for that girl I was at 16.’ It’s a realisation Lynette Nylander had when she was trying on a ‘ridiculous’ tinsel-like Loewe dress at Dover Street Market recently. ‘It’s the same stuff that I was trying on as a teenager, when I dressed for the fantasy of the things I couldn’t afford, the places I wasn’t going and the things I wasn’t doing.’ She bought the dress.

Although her spirit was the same, 16-year-old Lynette’s look was far from the carefully curated floors of DSM. Instead, she was bunking off school to go to London markets in search of vintage Moschino and Versace, while drawing inspiration from a disparate array of women – from Kelis and MIA to Grace Jones and Kimora Lee Simmons: ‘Women that I thought looked really kick-ass and broke archetypes of what women of colour needed to look like.’

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At 19, after studying at London College of Fashion, she interned at the talent and marketing agency ITB under the mentorship of Emma Grede (now better known as the business mind behind Skims and Good American). ‘I used to come in wearing Levi’s cut-offs,’ she remembers. ‘I didn’t understand the premise of dressing a certain way for work. I think, in a weird way, that’s why I was there – to be the antithesis, the kind of person informing the people who worked there about the latest cool musician… [Emma] really let me be myself because I had value in other ways.’

It was a lesson that would repeat itself years later. After time working at fashion publications including i-D, she took the plunge and went freelance, and by doing so stepped off the hamster wheel of trends. ‘I’ve seen so much money wasted. I’ve seen myself feel bad because I don’t have a stereotypical fashion body. I can’t conform to trying to fit into someone else’s understanding of style… I feel better for [rejecting that], and my wardrobe is better for it, too.’

paris, france   october 01 lynette nylander and ib kamara of dazed magazine at the loewe show on october 01, 2021 in paris, france photo by melodie jenggetty images

Melodie JengGetty Images

Her closet is now ‘organised chaos’: Supreme and Stüssy sit side by side with catwalk pieces by Rick Owens and Loewe and more experimental designs by emerging designers such as Chopova Lowena and Vaquera. White tank tops are her signature – she has many, including a beloved Telfar one for going out – but lately she’s found herself ‘appreciating the beauty and ease of wearing chic black separates’ – a sign of the refinement she’s embracing as she settles into her thirties. But she’s never far from her teenage self: she still has some of her vintage finds, like a pair of Moschino Monopoly trousers and some Gaultier mesh pieces. ‘I’m still that girl,’ she says, ‘and I don’t ever want to lose that sense of wonderment in clothes’ – which is exactly why she’s currently trying to track down Loewe’s fantastical rose-heeled mules to go with her ridiculous dress.

Aja Barber

Author and Ethical Fashion Consultant

fashioning myself

Noor-u-Nisa Khan

‘My personal style came from a place of wanting to look like everyone else and realising I couldn’t.’ Raised in an affluent part of western Virginia but not well-off herself, Aja Barber had to find alternatives to the mall-bought must-haves her peers wore at school – and so her style story began.

She started thrifting before she was a teenager, using money earned from babysitting, and began buying secondhand pieces via eBay when the site was still in its infancy. ‘It wasn’t cool. No one else was doing it. But from not having the right thing, I really began to develop my own personal style,’ she says. It also fostered a ground-up interest in fashion that would lead her to the buzzy London style scene of the early 2000s. It was here she realised she’d found her personal look: ‘If I thought something was a bit too much before I moved to London, it was never too much after I got there,’ she says. ‘But I got really clouded by the popularity of fast fashion.’

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A summer volunteering at a charity shop changed that. She’d arrive at the premises each morning to stacks of donations, less than 10 per cent of which would be worth selling on. ‘It absolutely killed any desire for me. I’d look at clothing at the mall and think It’s just going to be trash one day anyways… I stopped chasing trends altogether,’ she says. Instead, she leaned into her self-acquired skill for finding gems. Like the $2,000 Marni dress she found online for $200, five years after first coveting it on the catwalk. ‘I wore it to every wedding and always got compliments. That didn’t happen when I bought a new fast-fashion dress. It changed my style; I realised I’d rather spend more on a very beautiful upscale dress that will have a resale value.’

It’s not lost on her that she cottons on to things well before the masses – from buying preloved to denouncing fast fashion. ‘I always say I’m early in, early out.’ So, what does the Nostradamus of fashion wear now? ‘A Junya Watanabe jacket with a thrifted body-con James Perse dress; that’s a very Aja Barber style.’ She describes her look as ‘very clean and comfortable, but at the same time I gravitate towards things that might feel a little bit futuristic’. She loves Japanese designers such as Watanabe, Issey Miyake and Comme des Garçons: ‘Designers that can cut things in a smart way. And those are the designers I can wear as someone who’s plus-size.’

Alongside writing and consulting, she offers her services as a personal stylist. Her key advice is: wear your best-quality clothes when you go shopping. ‘We shop to improve our lives, so when you have clear indicators of what good quality is, you know it can’t be improved by buying something of lower quality.’ Also, tune out the people who encourage you to buy. ‘Find places where you can be inspired that don’t encourage you to constantly spend your money, because it’s not the buying that’s going to get you there.’ Take it from her – and her 254,000 Instagram followers.

Renia Jaz

Digital fashion creator

fashioning myself

Noor-u-Nisa Khan

‘There’s nothing wrong with not knowing your style when you’re in your forties or fifties or sixties – you still have time to decide, and you still have time to change.’ Renia Jaz should know: six years ago, the 56-year-old was working as a court probation officer. Now she’s a full-time fashion influencer and part of a growing number of women who are proving that style shouldn’t be dictated by a number.

It was her family who persuaded her to start taking photos of her outfits and post them online, and so her Instagram account @venswifestyle – named in reference to her husband, who captures some of her images – was born. ‘I often had people saying, “You have amazing style, are you connected to the fashion industry?” And I’d say, “No, I just love dressing up. I just love fashion.”’ It was a hobby she’d fostered since her childhood in Poland, where she remembers witnessing her first fashion show at a department store, before buying a beloved quilted denim jacket. ‘It was my very first fashion piece that was a bit different to what other people were wearing. It made me stand out and I was very proud of it,’ she recalls. When she got her first job, she would spend her entire pay packet on clothes, often seeking out denim pieces that were hard to get hold of in Poland, and wear them to death.

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Her love of denim endures, particularly for Levi’s jeans. So too does the sartorial sobriety dictated by her former job in the criminal-justice system. ‘I still love a good blazer and nice tailored trousers. It’s part of me, but now I don’t mind if they’re pink!’ she says. Colour is a key component of her style, and she still looks to Miuccia Prada’s late 1990s collections as inspiration, as well as the style of Celine Dion and Tilda Swinton. But what’s most evident is her willingness to experiment, which has also seen her become a refreshing street-style star. ‘I’m trying to show other people that it’s OK to change your style. It’s OK to try new things. It’s OK to try trends,’ she says. Case in point: the Balenciaga floral Crocs and matching tights she recently wore while in Paris for Fashion Week. ‘That’s what fashion is about – having some fun. You don’t have to take yourself seriously all the time.’

paris, france   march 02 renia jaz is seen wearing black blazer, pants outside the row during paris fashion week   womenswear fw 2022 2023 on march 02, 2022 in paris, france photo by christian vieriggetty images

Christian VierigGetty Images

It’s an attitude that has been encouraged by her incredibly supportive online community, who often recommend pieces they think she should try, and whose ages range from 25 to 65 with a fairly even split across decades – proof that we’re more open than ever to diversity in the style sphere. ‘We know we want to be represented by women who are just like us,’ she says. ‘It’s nice to be part of the change that is happening.’

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