Words | Pictures Carla Horvath

Local fashion is more than just an amalgamation of textiles and designs; it’s a story woven through the lives and streets of a city. From the avant-garde aesthetics of Tokyo to the effortlessly chic vibes of Paris, and right down to the beachy allure of Perth, each city has a local fashion scene, with uncovered trends, timeless pieces, and insider secrets. 

With expert commentary from local fashion stylists like Courtney Mills, we go beyond the surface to discover what really makes each city’s style unique. Perfect for fashion enthusiasts, travellers, and culture vultures alike, this series offers a comprehensive look at how local influences shape global fashion narratives. Prepare to be inspired!

Perth style: An evolving beach aesthetic

When asked to describe Perth’s fashion landscape, Courtney Mills delves straight into its distinct beach-adjacent appeal. “Perth style is much more beach-adjacent, like we’re about to walk into the sea at any time,” she says. This laid-back aesthetic has been a defining characteristic of Perth, offering a unique blend of relaxed yet stylish clothing options.

Authenticity is the cornerstone of Perth style

The stylist’s view on ‘outdated’ trends is nuanced. “If you buy things out of authenticity, guess what you end up wearing — the comfortable, familiar things you were trying to move away from in the first place,” she notes. Mills recommends frequenting shops that offer styles in sync with your personal taste. Brands like Scanlan and Theodore, with their penchant for classic pieces, offer minor variations in colours and fabrics each season, providing a safer alternative to trend-hopping.

Mills is acutely aware that the seductive power of trends can often lead to impulsivity, resulting in a wardrobe full of unworn items. Her philosophy is refreshingly straightforward: “Know your style, know how to dress your body, and only buy stuff for your lifestyle.” This aligns with her feelings for the fast-paced, consumerist nature of the fashion industry, which she believes excels in “getting people to waste money.” She suggests periodic “top-up shops” to freshen up your wardrobe with current season items that align with your core style.

Perth’s shopping districts

For anyone keen on plunging headfirst into the Perth fashion scene, Mills recommends two shopping districts. Claremont Quarter is praised for its quality brands such as COS, Mad about the Boy, and Adam Heath. Karrinyup Shopping Centre is a more suburban alternative featuring everything from department stores like Myer and David Jones to designer boutiques like Viktoria & Woods and Oroton. “If someone wanted a one-off special event outfit,” she adds, “Claremont is where you’ll find Perth designer Meraki Official that stocks lux modern statement dresses.”

Meraki Official

Fashion tips from Courtney for transitioning seasons

As winter segues into spring, Mills identifies a common mistake: clinging to comfort. “It’s a huge leap to go from leggings to a pub outfit,” she observes. Instead, Mills recommends investing in well-fitting pants as a transitional piece like chinos, wide legged cargos, or even a parachute pant for the right person (hot this season). 

High-waisted, linen, wide-legged pants are perfect for capturing that springtime vibe while offering comfort and ease. But it’s not just about individual pieces; it’s also about how you layer them. Mills advises ditching the notion that a stylish spring dress needs a denim jacket to complete it. Over-layering can leave you sweaty and restrict your outfit choices. Instead, focus on being happy with your base layers and use layering for fashion and warmth rather than as a cover-up. 

As you venture out of the winter cocoon, use the first warm day to wear shorts at home as a form of ‘exposure therapy’ before splurging on a summer wardrobe. And remember, the transition is not just about clothes; it’s also a psychological shift. So be kind to yourself—pale skin, unseen legs, and the universally unflattering change room lights are obstacles we all face. Navigate them with grace as you step into the new season!

How to elevate your outfit

For Mills, accessories are not just an afterthought; they can define your style. Whether it’s a chunky ’90s New Balance trainer for the fashion-forward or a classic Chanel ballet slipper for the timeless, Mills recognises that shoes can transform an ensemble. 

Her top tip? Curate a collection of quality sunglasses, advocating for a range that includes classic black, tortoiseshell like these Australian designed Locello sunnies, or gold wire frames. She recommends being selective with earrings and bangles, especially if you typically dress in neutral or monochromatic shades.

Don’t let your style journey end here. Working with a stylist or going to a workshop like Courtney’s virtual style school, can help navigate seasonal transitions or simply help to inspire an everyday look.