After moving to London in 2008, Brisbane-born Geneva Vanderzeil began documenting her DIY projects in an online journal she called A Pair & A Spare. Eight years later, Vanderzeil has designed a shoe collection, is a professional blogger with a sizeable social following, a published author and a freelance writer. Splitting her time between Australia and a studio in Hong Kong, Vanderzeil is at the helm of her own DIY business empire. She speaks about the evolution of her personal style, suitcase essentials and why DIY is so important.
Broadsheet: How has your style evolved since you began A Pair & A Spare?
Geneva Vanderzeil: When I first started my site I was living and working in London as town planner, and my DIYs were all about looking great without spending too much money, because I had very little. Fast forward a few years and although I have a little more budget to spend on what I wear, I still absolutely love the creativity involved in wearing something you've made or refashioned by hand. When I do splash out on something new, I'm all about buying quality pieces that last. So these days I'm a mix of high and low.
BS: How do you put outfits together?
GV: In the last few years I've focused on creating a really wearable closet that works for me regardless of what I'm doing. I went through what I call wardrobe rehab, culling, sorting and working out what styles suit me best. These days I like to focus on the colours of my outfits – making sure they all go together and pop, so the colour palette is usually where I start when I'm planning what to wear.
BS: Tell us about your go-to blogging outfit.
GV: In the studio I'm all about comfort, so it will usually be a simple outfit like a DIY skirt, a white shirt and a pair of sneakers. On days we're crafting it will be denim shorts and a T-shirt – got to be mobile and able to get dirty!
BS: You split your time between Hong Kong and Sydney. What influence has Hong Kong fashion had on the way your dress?
GV: If anything, Hong Kong may have made me a little more feminine in what I wear. When I lived in London it was a bit more raw and tomboy-esque, but in Hong Kong there's a focus on your feminine side. It's not something I've done on purpose, but I think it just happens over time.
BS: You travel a lot, what would you say are your suitcase essentials?
GV: I'm all about traveling with carry on – people are always shocked when they find out a fashion blogger is traveling with less than two massive suitcases! But I want it to be easy, and I know that being able to zip on and off the plane is invaluable. To do this you have to be really organised about what you take and how it all goes together – I recently developed a packing guide which really helps!
BS: DIY is such a big element of A Pair & A Spare, why is it so important to you and what can it do for a look?
GV: Sewing, crafting and just generally getting creative with what you wear allows your look to really reflect your style. Whether it's simply adding something to a chain-store top, or making something from scratch, chances are you're going to be more satisfied with your outfit. I also absolutely love taking second-hand shop items, things most people would think are awful, and using a bit of creativity to make them amazing. It's surprising how great something that's in your closet can be if you think outside the box.