My Style: Zoe Cleary

Portrait of Zoe Cleary of Nisolo shoes

Photo: Courtesy of Zoe Cleary

Which city has the best-dressed women?

Paris. They have just the right amount of natural authenticity combined with edgy elegance. Parisians have a way of making it look easy to look chic.

Please describe your style in three words.

Relaxed. Authentic. Refined.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Wearing clothes that are too tight or uncomfortable. Not only does it not look good, but you will be unsure of yourself all day long.

Do you believe in role models?

Why not? It’s always helpful to have someone to look up to for inspiration and motivation.

What are your favourite fabrics?

I can’t help but love soft, luxurious leather. As well as cashmere, alpaca, linen, Tencel and thin, soft cottons! Crêpe de Chine is the ultimate feminine, flattering fabric. I love them all!

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

Not really…

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?


What are the rules in the way you dress?

Own a few quality, staple items that become uniforms. Fast fashion is of the past.

Celebrities and style...

Celebrities can influence style for generations as can be seen in the grace and elegance that movie stars such as Greta Garbo and Grace Kelly added to fashion in the 20s and 30s. I just read an article about the influence that Grace Kelly’s wedding dress had on Marchesa’s SS15 wedding line, proving the influence she’s had on generations.

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?


A woman should always look like…

She feels comfortable and in charge of her outfit.

Who taught you what you know about style?

My mother. Growing up in Rome, she developed a very cultivated and particular sense of style while staying true to her casual Californian roots. As a child, I spent a lot of time following her around a store while she looked for that perfect sandal with just the right heel height and perfectly shaped toe.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

I usually pull together, hopefully in a different way from the day before, some combination of denim, leather and a soft drapey fabric like cotton, Tencel, crêpe de Chine, etc.

What is your biggest regret?

I don’t really think in regrets. Life is too full of adventure, excitement and surprises to have time for regrets.

The three essential things a woman should know about style are…

Know your personal style — don’t just buy a label. Flattering is more important than the latest style. A tailor can transform an item and give it a new life.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

I do a lot of browsing online. I go through spurts though where I won’t shop for a while and then I will binge shop online and in vintage/thrift stores.

We will never see you wearing...

Birkenstocks, even though I know they’ve made a resurgence lately.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

I love that there are awesome new designers popping up designing and creating in a more conscious, transparent and sustainable way. Two that I’ve been admiring recently are Maiyet and Reformation.

Who is the most stylish person you have ever seen?

I love piecing together aspects of style from different decades. Jane Birkin, Francoise Hardy, Edie Sedgwick and Patti Smith are some of the style icons I like to pull inspiration from.

What is the first thing you notice on a woman?

Her shoes!

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

My mom’s vintage Frye riding boots.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

My mom had a clothing line in the 70s called Malibu Media, and she had an album of the most beautiful photos of her and her friends modelling the clothes in the middle of complete wilderness. I’ve probably looked at those photos a thousand times. To this day, there are so many pieces that I would love to recreate. The clothes were very unassuming yet flattering and played on feminine, simple lines with a Bohemian twist.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

Yves Saint Laurent’s tradition of masculine feminine sophistication never fails to impress!

One article of clothing that a woman needs to pay close attention to is…

Her shoes! And her jeans.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

Comfort affects confidence and confidence directly affects style.

Who would you like to recommend for My Style?

My friend, Elizabeth Hunt. She is always flawlessly dressed and simply gorgeous.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

“Wherever you are, be all there” and “Magic is something you make”.

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