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?

Sarah with her eldest daughter
Maybelline, both wearing birdie
dresses inspired by the frock
handed down from sister to sister
when Sarah was a child.
Credit:Courtesy of Sarah Doyle

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?

Asymmetric haircuts!

What clothing would you buy if money were no object?

Vintage Dior.

What would you never wear?

Low-rise jeans.

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.

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