I found Elizabeth on Instagram where here colorful creations immediately catch your eye. She possesses a rare ability to put an enviable artistic spin on styles from across multiple decades. Her stylish and visually striking outfits of the day are daily surprises that keep you coming back for more. I was lucky enough to interview Elizabeth and tap into her artistic genius.
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
My interest in all forms of fabric extends back to when I was a little girl; making clothes for my doll from scrap fabric my mother had left over. I began sewing clothes for myself from the age of thirteen, after taking up Secondary School studies in Home Economics. I always knew I wanted to become a teacher; though despite developing a great love for sewing and cooking, I decided to honour my love of Art, qualifying as a Visual Arts teacher at the end of 1981. I was pleased I had the option to major in Textiles, studying weaving, dyeing and printmaking.
Excelling in Linoblock printing, it was a natural progression to incorporate this technique into the fabric of garments I designed and sewed for myself, and then as an aside to my teaching, later in 1984, for boutiques on consignment. I operated under the label “Tpinjii Designs” (an Anglicised name I adapted from my Maltese heritage – a word meaning “to draw”).
After winning two fashion awards (1987 & 1988), I decided to leave the Education profession and focus on my love of fashion, developing Women’s Wear ranges with a focus on unique fabric prints, asymmetry and a touch of the avant-garde. Returning to teaching fulltime in 1991, I continued designing and manufacturing my collections for another three years, ceasing to trade under Tpinjii Designs at the end of 1993. Since then, I spent a short time creating formal and wedding gowns for a select group of clients; but these days my fashion focus is purely on extending my own wardrobe!!!!
As a point of reference which age group do you belong to or perhaps you are willing to share your age?
I was born in 1961. I’ve just turned 54.
Can you tell us a bit more about what you do and why you started sharing your photos on Instagram?
As I mentioned previously, I have been an Art teacher since 1982, owning and operating a fashion label for 10 years during that time. I stopped teaching fulltime at the end of 2004, and since then have taken up various positions in the Education sector, from Public Relations to Supply (Relief) Teaching.
At the beginning of this year (2015), I decided I would like to return to the Fashion Industry in some capacity, but realised that I didn’t have a current Visual Portfolio of my styling, which I could present to prospective employers. As I was on call each day for teaching and had to be dressed ready to go anyway, some friends pointed out that I therefore had a ready-made photo, and suggested that I use Instagram as my platform. Through my posts I hope to tell a complete story through my ensemble and (whenever possible) the environment that I “stage my pose in”.
I currently have a foot in both Education and Fashion – working part-time for Japanese-Australian designer Akira Isogawa and the rest of the time doing teaching call-outs as required. In my “spare time” I enjoy sewing, visiting thrift & vintage stores, cooking and spending time with my teenage son.
How would you describe your own style?
My style is definitely eclectic. It’s a combination of clothes I have sewn, thrifted, been gifted, up-cycled and repurposed, as well as designer and vintage pieces. I’m hopeless at throwing “things” out, but the beauty of this, is that I have many clothing and accessory pieces (from across several decades), which I set myself the challenge of utilising in my daily ensembles. I have never been a “slave to fashion” so I guess my style has never been “in” nor “out of” fashion but running the course of my creative self-expression to honour what “feels right” for me on any given day. It’s for this reason I chose the Handle “timeless_styling” for Instagram.
How has your style developed over the years?
I would say that my level of Adornment is the main development of my style. I have amassed quite a collection of hats (both vintage and contemporary) as well as costume jewellery.
The inclusion of vintage clothing in my wardrobe has also added to this development, as this has called for the need to “research the style” and subsequently “interpret” the era of these pieces into a modern context.
I am also hugely inspired by The Advanced Style “movement” developed by Ari Seth Cohen……and long to be like his muses “when I grow up”!!! Studying their collective styling has definitely influenced the development of mine. I love everything about their expression & philosophy, and hope to have the opportunity to meet with some of these amazing inspirational women one day.
What would you consider the most important components of your style? Do you feel you have a signature style?
Colour & Pattern teamed with Adornment are definitely my main trademark. I enjoy layering and presenting some form of “Wow Factor” in each outfit……whether as a colour accent or statement piece. Detail is also very important me. Everything I wear has a purpose for being on my body…..from the visible……….to the invisible (even my lingerie must co-ordinate!)
I have always been attracted to asymmetry and texture, feeling that both these components add an additional point of visual interest. Their inclusion in an outfit can be subtle, but one or the other will most often be included. Sewing my own clothes has given me the added advantage of being able to play around with each of this either at the point of construction or by embellishing the fabric.
Where do you live and how does that influence your style?
I live in Brisbane (the capital city of Queensland – a state of Australia). It’s probably fair to say that the sub-tropical climate of where I live has had a subliminal effect on my choice of wearing bright colours and patterned fabric……but ultimately, it’s my personality which is responsible for how I have chosen to bring this together in my ensembles.
What inspires your outfit choices the most?
Inspiration can appear in all forms………I don’t have a set formula. I will begin with one item (such as a piece of jewellery, hat or fabric – for example) and allow the ensemble to grow somewhat organically until I feel I have achieved a visual balance.
External forces can also be fun to gain inspiration from: I recently discovered a wall near where I work, which I felt would serve as a fabulous backdrop for an Instagram photo……it was covered in remnants of poster paper, glue and blutack. I delighted in interpreting those textural markings in my choice of fabric and accessories for that particular outfit.
Do you take things like color profiling or body type into account when you dress?
I work with a broad colour palette. Though I’ve never had my colours done – over the years, I’ve learnt which colours “work” better on me than others…..and if I really want to wear a colour which I know can make me look insipid or washed out, I’ll either wear it away from my face, or add a scarf/jewellery which will “throw” warmth to my skin. As far as body type goes, I am most conscious of being short waisted, being broader in the hips and that my body shape has altered, so there are certain styles which I am no longer as comfortable wearing…………..but again, over the years I’ve learnt to create silhouettes which complement and (hopefully) flatter my body type. Having said that though – as with colour – I am also prepared to sacrifice that element of flattery if I wish to make a strong sculptural statement with my outfit…..All in the Name of Artistic Expression!!!
Has your style changed at all after turning 40?
As I have, and still wear, clothes which I made in the 1980s and 1990s, I’m more likely to say that my style has grown rather than changed! I have been interested in the design and sensibility of Japanese design for nearly 40 years now. – being particularly in awe of the work of Issey Miyake and Akira Isogawa. I feel this is the deepest essence of my style – drawn to treating my body as the 3-dimensional form that it is…….creating an interesting viewpoint from any side.
Working with vintage clothing has only occurred in about the last 10 years, and I’ve found great joy in combining these garments with contemporary pieces I’ve sourced, to create a unique look.
Do you believe in dressing ‘age appropriately’ and what does it mean to you?
That’s an interesting question! And one that is probably way too complex to fully analyse in this space. I certainly feel that on a personal level, I’m conscious of how much “skin I expose”……but I have no boundaries in terms of theme, decade or silhouette when it comes to putting an ensemble together. Dressing appropriately for the occasion or circumstance (such as cultural guidelines in a foreign country) is also important to me. I believe there is a fine line between dressing sensually and provocatively……….the former is always more exciting both visually and psychologically.
Would you say that at this stage of your life you are now more, or less interested in fashion, style and the way you look?
Fashion has only ever been a guideline for me. I have always been more interested in style and presenting myself in the best possible way. First and foremost for myself and then for anyone who cares to look (and hopefully) enjoy what they see. As I’ve become older, I’ve become more confident in how I express myself and prepared to break “fashion” rules and having fun along the way. I have always worn makeup to compliment my look; the basics of which always include mascara and lipstick (if nothing else).
Why is the way you look important to you?
I am a very “Visual Being” and have always surrounded myself with colour and elements of beauty in my decor. Dressing myself as I do, is a mere extension of this. I also owe it to my self-esteem, not to become complacent and develop a level of comfort which could spiral into invisibility.
I enjoy the challenge of creating new looks (and certainly Instagram has been a positive platform and motivator in this regard). As a teacher, I have always felt it is my duty to act as a role model for teenage girls, to inspire them toward being creative with their styling as well as the importance of being well groomed……to respect themselves and take pride in their existence.
Do you follow trends? And if yes, which trends excite you at the moment?
I don’t follow trends, but tend to follow my creative urge, which can be inspired as much by a garment that I’ll see in a fashion magazine as a beautiful piece of fabric that will direct the silhouette of the ensemble.
Being fortunate enough to sew and having amassed a substantial fabric collection – I have never felt the desire to slavishly follow Fashion. I have a huge collection of Vogue Patterns which are carefully filed by designer. I constantly refer to them and my fabric collection, to interpret elements of trends which I find interesting.
Do you have any fashion and style tips for women over 40?
The origin of the word “Fashion” is from the Latin term ‘facere’ and the French ‘façon’ meaning to do, make or shape. So my advice to women is to work towards making their own individual shape, rather than be dictated to by current trends.
Find silhouettes that they are comfortable in and then build upon this with your accessories.
For those who shy away from colour, perhaps begin with one item that will add that ‘POP’ or ‘STATEMENT’ to your ensemble and allow yourself the freedom to experiment, explore and enjoy. Wearing clothes should be about having fun and feeling good.
Anything further you would like to add?
Ultimately, wearing clothes should be about what you enjoy and feel comfortable in. Our life in the 21st Century is very fast paced, and sadly, it is unlikely that we can return to the days when “getting dressed up” and the “glamour” of posing in front of a camera was particularly special.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t still take pride in how we look, placing a small amount of extra effort in our appearance can have a magnificently positive rippling affect for ourselves and those around us.
Try it sometime I can guarantee it’ll bring a smile to your heart!
Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for giving us a glimpse into your colorful and amazing style! Connect with Elizabeth and follow her style journey on Instagram.
Which of Elizabeth’s outfits is your favorite?