Q&A with stylist Sally Mackinnon
Q: When did you first develop an interest in style and fashion?
A: Probably around the time I got my first Barbie! I had a huge fascination with Barbie and paper dolls. I loved dressing them up and creating my own fashion parades.
Q: Tell us a little about your professional background and experience
A: Many of my clients know that I used to be a Primary School Teacher. It’s something that I’ve never hid from clients (well perhaps in those early days when I was still teaching but had to pretend I was a very experienced stylist!) I taught for 13 years and for two of those – 2007/08 – taught for 4 days a week while I started Styled by Sally. Within 18 months at the end of 2008 I resigned from teaching and went full time with my styling business. It was a big move but one I knew was going to work, but I don’t regret it for a second.
Q: Favourite holiday destination?
A: Easy- New York. With the second being my off-grid property on French Island, Victoria – yes it’s an actual island!
Q: Describe your personal style
A: My style really can change day to day but I think essentially it’s a mix between minimal – modern and classic with edge.
Q: What are your favourite wardrobe items?
A: BLAZERS! Blazers just complete any outfit and I have a quite a collection of them 😉 I’m also quite partial to a good statement shoe.
Q: What’s your most recent purchase?
A: In 2023 I’ve pledged to buying Australian made clothing (unless I’m travelling overseas) and I recently bought a fabulous pair of relaxed black trousers with a fringed hem from one of my favourites, bassike.
Q: Favourite designers or stores?
A: As mentioned, bassike is one of my favourite local labels, and others include Camilla and Marc, Esse Studios, Arnsdorf, Dominique Healy. My international faves (the ones I covet) are Tibi, Toteme, The Row.
Q: Any fashion regrets or faux pas?
A: The thing about fashion is that at any time, what you wear is often a reflection of what’s in fashion. So at the time, we think we look great! On reflection, perhaps not so good. So no regrets but on reflection my deb dress from 1988 was pretty hideous- puffy sleeves and enough lace and fabric to make a dozen tablecloths.
Q: What wardrobe staple could you not do without?
A: A good crew neck white tee.
Q: When you shop for yourself, what’s your decision making on a purchase?
A: I do a lot of online shopping these days as I can access brands not available in Melbourne – these include Australian labels. I guess like most women, I have to ask myself “how much do I love it?” and I also ask, “do I have something similar?” but I’m also very good at envisaging how I’m going to style the item back with my wardrobe.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working with clients?
A: I enjoy making shopping easy and fun. I love watching someone’s reaction when they look in the mirror and see themselves looking completely different (i.e. better) I enjoy making people’s lives that little easier by teaching them how to look and feel their best in clothes.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see clients make with their personal style?
A: Not trusting their instincts when it comes to deciding if they actually like something or feel good in it. Too many clients (women in particular) settle for OK when they instinctively know something is ‘off’. My advice is not to settle for OK, and when something you put on doesn’t feel great, take it off and try something else.
Q: What are your top 3 styling tips?
1. Forget the rules!
2. Wear what makes YOU feel good
3. TUCK IN!
Q: Minimalist or hoarder?
A: I might have a lot of clothes but I definitely lean towards being a minimalist with some personality.
Q: Chocolate or cheese?
A: I would say I sit smack bang in the middle since discovering Tony’s chocolate! I love chocolate and cheese equally.
Q: Favourite Movie?
A: Stand by Me is my all time fave, but A Star is Born with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga was just amazing.
Q: What Sex and the City character most resembles your personality?
A: Miranda (in the original series) but now I probably resemble more of Carrie’s current life in And Just Like That.
Q: What is something about you that might surprise people?
A: I love HIP HOP!
Q: Describe your personality in 3 words
A: Driven, sensible, considerate
Q: Do you have any style icons?
A: I am currently obsessed with Tibi creative director Amy Smilovic and her ideas and advice on personal style. I wouldn’t say I have a style icon as such but I love to follow some amazing woman on Instagram for inspiration.
Q: What’s been your biggest achievement to date?
A: The first was during Melbourne’s hideous lockdown in 2020 when I put the callout to my Instagram followers to try and get Trinny Woodall to follow me. The next morning I woke to find a new follower! That was pretty damn exciting. And the second was being invited to meet Trinny during her 2022 visit to Melbourne… by Trinny herself! I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to top that!
Q: What do you love doing on your days off?
A: Try to sleep in! Generally it’s enjoying brunch with my husband, having a foot massage (perfect after a long week on my feet) and an afternoon movie, chardonnay and popcorn at Kino Cinemas on Collins St. We sometimes also just buy popcorn and bring it home to watch Netflix!