I’ve got quite a number of ’40s dresses. The pattern making is just beautiful. They look terrible on a hanger but as soon as you put them on they sit in all the right places.
And the most recent item?
The vintage gods were good to me. A girl I know was getting rid of all her ’50s swimsuits and skirts at Bondi markets. I got all these amazing pieces. They were all really loved but one of my favourite things to do is to bring things back to life.
What would you wear…
… on a first date? It wasn’t our first date, but on the day I met Elvis [Abrahanowicz, her husband] I was wearing a wig. I was dressed as Frenchy from Grease.
… a plane? I wear smart but comfortable, always. Never a tracksuit – I’ve never been that person. I’ll generally wear capri pants; they’re high-waisted and have a stretch.
… to the Oscars? I have a dress I bought from Golyester in Los Angeles, it’s gold and has this beautiful shawl. I would have to stop eating for a year to fit into it.
Your three wardrobe essentials?
I always have a scarf, either to go around my neck, to put in my hair or on my bag. A good pair of earrings. And my Swedish Hasbeens. I live in them. They’re a really beautiful shoe and I think they finish a modern-vintage look really well. They’re comfy and they make your legs look good.
What is the first piece of clothing you remember wearing?
I’m the fifth of six girls and I had a lot of hand-me-downs. We had a birdie dress, it was handed down from sister to sister and this thing never fell apart. I loved it so much, I tried to wear it under my school uniform. Then it went missing and my younger sister never got it. Many years later I found the fabric, remade the dress and wore it to my mum’s 70th birthday. I
have since made one for Maybelline, my five-year-old, and now I want to try to cut some of the hem out of mine and make another one for the one-year-old twins, Claudette and Esmerelda, so we’ve all had a birdie dress.
Your worst fashion mistake?
What clothing would you buy if money were no object?
What would you never wear?
What’s your print personality – floral, spots or animal?
All of the above, preferably all at the same time!
Can you remember your very first fashion moment?
When I was 12 or 13 we went on holidays to Laurieton near Port Macquarie. My mum let me take my sewing machine and I bought a ’60s dress from the local Vinnies and made it into a version that fitted me, with a matching headband. My sisters all laughed at me, but I remember thinking that it meant something. Because I’m one of so many kids, wanting to be an individual and stand out came at a very young age.
Sarah Doyle co-owns Sydney restaurants Porteño and Bodega, among others.
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale September 8.