Fashion-industry vets Sophie Barker and Annie Carroll launched their online fashion directory, Homeroom, earlier this year.
The site highlights the best in Australian fashion while helping you to shop – and style yourself – better. You can explore, for example, curated edits such as the best flats for winter and timeless trenches, or browse with filters like “emerging designer”, “size 18+” and “First Nations designers”.
Who better, then, than Barker and Carroll to be our new fashion agony aunts. In their new monthly column for Broadsheet, the pair will solve your fashion and styling quandaries, from where to find breast-feeding-friendly black-tie attire to how to incorporate trending cargo pants into your summer wardrobe without feeling like an extra in an early 2000s film clip.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
For the first instalment, it’s all about injecting some fun and colour into your work wardrobe. Prepare to farewell that sea of grey and navy.
Hey homeroom, I’m a woman who wants to incorporate more colour into my office wardrobe, but I don't know where to start. What are my options? – Beige & Bored
Dear Beige & Bored,
After the joys of wearing fluffy pink slippers during endless Zoom meetings in the pandemic years, we wondered why we’d felt the need to dress like monochrome office lemmings in the before times. In a sea of beige, black, white and grey, there’s something uplifting about wearing a flash of red or a streak of green to the office.
Colour maths 101
Incorporating colour into your workwear wardrobe can feel intimidating to the uninitiated, especially if you err on the more understated end of the style spectrum. The easiest place to start is to keep things neutral and add just one pop of colour in the form of a brightly coloured accessory. A cobalt blue kitten heel will transform even the most well-worn white shirt and black trouser ensemble.
If you want to push it a little further, use the shade in said accessory as a colour guide for another layer, like a shirt or even a pair of socks. In other words, keep colours complementary while you find your feet: blues and greens, reds and pinks, oranges and yellows. Before you know it, you’ll be colour blocking like a pro. In the meantime, consider the following outfit scenarios…
When it’s the first day in your new role and you want to make a colourful impression
Blue and green are the colour rookie’s gateway hues. Local Melbourne designer E Nolan makes some of the best shirts going, and this striped blue cotton poplin button down creates the perfect polished base for trousers in a jewel-tone variety of green. Play up the soft blues of the shirt with a pair of denim block heels and accessorise with a soft green beaded necklace or a seafoam silk scarf. A long-line white vest is the perfect blazer equivalent for the warmer months and adds a finishing layer of polish.
When it’s 30 degrees on the commute, but you need to channel “cool, calm and collected”
Nothing complements a lick of the rainbow quite like a neutral base. A perfect pairing for summer 2023 is a pair of tailored, long-line shorts and a sleeveless vest in matching shades of cream. Melbourne label Friends With Frank is making the quintessential rendition. Add colour with a printed scarf tied loosely around your neck – we love this perfectly fishy Oroton number. Echo the tones in your scarf by swapping your black tote for a yellow cross-body bag and layering a pair of delicate red earrings. Want more? A pair of marigold sunglasses and fire-engine red sandals will be the cherry on top.
When you’re running the meeting at 9am and dinner at 6pm
You’re nailing two fashion birds here: perfecting the maxi-skirt trend while seamlessly weaving colour throughout. Again, our base is neutral but we’re starting our palette with this pistachio green blazer, which will work a treat with a form-fitting white tee tucked into a tailored chocolate maxi skirt. In keeping with the formula of complementary colours, to further energise the look add a pair of buttery yellow sandals like these and a pair of warm yellow earrings. A white bag like this one will be great on its own or accessorised with a silk twill scarf like this lime-gradient number.
When it’s Friday and you have an unofficial long lunch
Pink and red are best friends – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We’re leaving the office hem length in the ’50s and pairing this fairy-floss pink mini with a bright red poplin button down, an ideal open layer to a simple white racer tank. This Henne brown blazer is the perfect neutral accompaniment. Accessorise with soft-pink earrings and a pair of cream flat sandals from Melbourne label A Emery and you’ve got one foot in the weekend already.
Sophie Barker is Homeroom’s creative director and resident maximalist. She’s also a renowned Australian fashion stylist, with clients and collaborators including Dior, David Jones, Vogue China, Elle France and more. She’s been wearing cowboy boots since she was nine.
Annie Carroll is Homeroom’s editor and resident minimalist. A public relations advisor and communications strategist, Annie has worked with some of Australia’s most influential arts, fashion, design and lifestyle organisations. Annie has been searching for the perfect white shirt for three decades.