THE ART OF GETTING DRESSED: NICOLE PAPASAVAS.

 
 

“Getting dressed is the functional way I express my style.” Nicole Papasavas.

 

As we introduce the 8th chapter in our mini-series The Art of Getting Dressed, supported by Uniqlo, we would like to introduce a woman who manages to achieve aspirational personal style whilst balancing a huge commitment to work, study and family.

Nicole Papasavas is perhaps better known for her family's iconic restaurant Stalactites, than for her name alone. Running a thriving business balanced with studying a double degree in Biomedicine and Science and looking after her two young children, means that Nicole's approach to her wardrobe is sometimes more of an afterthought than for others featured so far in this series. It is her effortless approach to dressing, combined with her hugely busy life that singles her out as a perfectly unique inclusion to The Art of Getting Dressed.

 

Do you make considered style choices or is dressing a subconscious part of your daily routine?

Day to day, when I am in casual/mum/uni mode, I don’t spend too much time getting dressed. My style choices are still conscious though, as I’ll take a second to think about how I put a look together according to my plans for the day. Apartment living with kids means we spend most of our days outdoors, so a practical approach to my wardrobe is essential. Think jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt or shirt.

When I’m dressing for work I tend to figure out what I am wearing while in the shower and visualise the different elements. I often start with one item, like a white shirt with a black detail or a pair of black slides or loafers, and build the rest of my look from there. This generally means that I’ll spend less time dawdling and won’t be late.  

For special events, think weddings, parties or races, I usually start to plan an outfit a few days earlier. Working in the city means I can visit my favourite stores easily while on a break to make any last minute purchases.

Is dressing a form of self-expression?

I tend to dress for comfort and function first, but I also consider my clothes an opportunity to show who I am before I have a chance to express myself verbally. First impressions are important so our personal style plays a huge role in how we present ourselves/are perceived.

How would you describe your style?

The first words that come to mind are tailored, classic, understated, boyish but feminine. While I do pay attention and consider current trends, I use these more as an accent rather than head to toe direction. I love well-made clothing constructed from beautiful fabric and have most of my clothes tailored as I need to feel confident that they fit me well. I don’t like anything too tight or restrictive but also, because I am average height and a petite size, I feel swallowed up if anything is too oversized. Colour plays a big role in my style as well. Most of my working wardrobe is typically darker colours like black, grey or navy paired with white shirts, but my evening/dressed-up wardrobe is where I become a bit expressive with colours and patterns like red, blue, and floral prints. 

What was your last purchase and why? are you constantly updating your wardrobe or do you have more of a long-term relationship with the clothing you wear?

My last purchase was a multi-coloured wool knit with a relaxed slouchy fit - perfect to wear with denim jeans or layered over a slip dress as we come into Autumn and the days become cooler. I have a little obsession with knits right now. I usually like to update my wardrobe with pieces that will last me for many seasons to come. I recently found a red coat which, whilst still inline with current trends, has a classic cut, shape, and style that I hope will give it real longevity.

When updating your wardrobe, are you an intentional shopper or do you look more broadly for something that speaks to your personal style?

I am definitely an intentional shopper. I can’t say I enjoy the process of shopping. I find it to be just another task on the endless list. I only truly enjoy shopping when I’m on holiday. It's actually one of my favourite things to do with my husband so it helps that he loves it more than I do! I think trying to juggle children, home, work, school, and life, I end up feeling very pressured and like I am always running around and so pressed for time.  So… my favourite way to find what I am looking for is online! I love it. The problem is though once I do find the item I need, I often end up with a few sneaky extras in my shopping cart!

 

Clothing can sometimes evoke a feeling or mood, what do you want your clothing to say?

I love the classic cool Parisian style and think there is nothing more beautiful than that truly understated, minimal, make up free Parisian woman. This effortless impression is my ultimate style goal and is also reflected in the people I find inspirational. Clothing is only part of the equation, though, and I feel that hair and beauty are also important parts of getting dressed and putting together a look.

Do you think your style has changed over the years?

I think my style is forever changing and evolving. In my 20’s I wore black head to toe. Looking back I don’t feel I understood myself enough to confidently experiment much with my wardrobe choices. It was during this time I looked to others for reassurance or to help me choose what to wear. I always felt like while I had a sense of my own style, I didn’t have the confidence to fully express it as I was scared of judgment and was full of self-doubt. Now in my 30’s (especially my late 30’s) I have had two children, and grown through life experience which has helped me allow myself the permission and freedom to express my style more fully and without fear or doubt.
 

Where do you find inspiration for outfits? Does social media play a big role and if so who do you follow?

I find inspiration for outfits mainly through social media, blogs, and websites. Personal Instagram accounts would have to be my main go to because once I find something inspirational I love to click through to the associated blog and read more about their personal choices. For daily 9-5 style, I love the chic and stylish Barbara Marcelo (@barbaramartelo) and Sara Donaldson (@harperandharley). For off-duty weekend inspiration, I follow the casual and cool aesthetics of Julie Sarinana (@sincerelyjules) and Andy C Singer (@andicsinger) for their laid back easy styles. I also find inspiration in my friends, particularly Niki Paras, who challenges me to be more daring and I love her classic but very cool and edgy style.

Do you have a style icon?

My main style icon, who I identify with the most, is Emmanuelle Alt, she is trendy yet wears classic pieces and is very modern.

One piece of clothing you couldn’t live without and why?

I could never choose between my white t-shirts, jeans, white shirts, and blazers. Take them away and I have lost half of my wardrobe!

Do you dress to be comfortable or confident?

Comfort means different things to different people, but to me, it means clothing that fits properly, isn’t tight and restrictive or loose and oversized. I have to say I dress to be comfortable first then confident second.

Do you dress for nine to five or five to nine?

Nine to five – or ten to seven in hospitality time. When putting an outfit together I tend to start off with a more casual look and dress things up from there rather than having to tone things down. I don’t think I have ever been known to overdress.

Does dressing warm make you happy?

Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons to dress for (even though I prefer the weather in summer). I love layering long cardigans with blazers and coats. My Pinterest is 80% winter fashion. In the middle of summer, my husband was looking at my online deliveries perplexed as they were full of winter coats and knits!