How one artist curates her wardrobe with second-hand pieces

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What are the three essential items in your wardrobe?
I love a good arts centre T-shirt – nice soft cotton with a screen-printed drawing or digital print. Vintage cotton dresses – a Mexican dress with beautiful floral embroidery is a favourite. Usually it would be pants but I’m pregnant and I can’t even think about wearing jeans! So, my third choice would be a maxi skirt.

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Can you remember a favourite item of clothing you wore when you were a child?
Floral bike pants.

And your first fashion moment?
When I got my driver’s licence I’d drive the hour or so from Wellington Point up into West End in Brisbane after school to go to a store called Box Vintage. That’s when my obsession with second-hand shopping began! I still have a few treasures from then.

Can you remember your worst fashion mistake?
Nothing specific. Sometimes I do look at myself in the mirror halfway through the day and think, what am I wearing?

What’s at the top of your fashion wish list?
I’ll keep an eye on what’s coming out of the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair’s fashion shows – I love the wearable art. I’m also excited to see North’s collection – they collaborate with Indigenous artists and do amazing designs on beautiful linen. I have a few of their stunning pieces.

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Is there anything you’d never wear?
Tight clothes, such as a fitted dress. I don’t wear much black. And I can’t do polyester any more.

What shoes do wear most often?
Teva sandals or ’70s leather flatforms.

Who’s your favourite fashion icon?
I love everything about Frida Kahlo’s style – her hair, the flowers, earrings, the long skirts tucked into blouses and kaftan tops, all the beautiful textiles, embroideries and embellishments.

What do you wear on a casual Sunday?
I weave for a few hours, so something comfortable. Maybe a loose African dress from the op shop.

Elisa is a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards; natsiaa.com.au.

This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale August 22. To read more from Sunday Life, visit The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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