Your personal style is just five minutes thought away
Dijanna Mulhearn has years of fashion experience – the past 25 years in PR, events, magazines and writing her own books. She has worked with brands such as Prada and Target and founded the syndicated newspaper column which has become the online style site Wardrobe 101.
From the age of 11, Dijanna remembers her mum bringing home copies of Vogue for her to paw over. She would cut up magazines to piece together her own looks in her own version of a high-end glossy.
It’s probably the closest Vogue will ever come to scrapbooking, but there is no denying the experience set this young girl from Bankstown on her path for life.
“Mum worked in a factory and dad was a butcher. There wasn’t a lot of extra cash around when I was growing up, but my mum encouraged my love of fashion. I had big dreams but as a Croatian girl from Bankstown, there wasn’t a lot of entrée into the fashion world or any idea how I was going to get there,” Dijanna admits at the launch of her second book in her Wardrobe 101 series.
Published by Thames and Hudson, Wardrobe 101 concentrated on putting together the perfect capsule wardrobe. The second book in the series is aimed at mothers, and was declared open for public consumption at the waterside home of friends at a recent morning tea.
“I think it’s so funny that much of the book was shot here,” she indicates the lawns and surrounds of the stately home, “one soggy weekend a few months ago now, and the very next day the crew and cast of The Bachelor moved in to shoot the recent TV series.
“My friends rented down the road while the series was filmed.
“In my experience,” continues Dijanna, “women have to spread themselves so thin. They’re busy at work and then they’re busy with a family and work and life and a partner. Is it any wonder the last person they think about is themselves? What I saw and was told by many mums was before they knew it they’d found themselves in a rut, their personal style lost to the breakfast clean up, school pick-up, Saturday sport melange.”
Wardrobe 101 for mums is about getting your mojo back – rediscovering your personal style, what you like, and realising you don’t need that many clothes in your wardrobe. You just need to find a look and you can use what you have to achieve it.
The central tenet is “about pulling together easy looks with little effort” and making a point of not becoming part of what Dijanna calls, the “faux gym” set: “Why would you choose to dress in Lycra? It’s the most unforgiving of fabrics and we all know you’re not going to the gym because we’re not.”
Dijanna Mulhearn is a perfect example of making your opportunities count and thinking laterally. At 17 she was working at Sportsgirl Bankstown. She was quickly promoted to its store in Burwood. Perhaps that career in fashion: styling models, working for the big brands she loved, writing and creating fashion moments, really was possible?
“If you know Sydney, Burwood Sportsgirl is a very long way from those heady Vogue features. I got a job at The Cauldron, a nightclub in the city. It was there that I began to meet people who really might be able to help me do what I wanted.
“I’ve always done voluntary work,” she continues, “and was a volunteer youth refuge worker at Oasis. I approached Oasis about doing fundraisers and we began this round robin pool/snooker evening. It wasn’t your same old cocktail party and the people I invited – some of whom I had met at work – loved that it was different.”
The snooker night received such a lot of media attention that Dijanna found herself gaining a profile for hosting unusual events that garnered great attention and influential guest lists. Work in PR with various brands followed, including doing the PR for Harper’s BAZAAR and finally, the dream job, working in PR and advertising for Prada.
“Prada was amazing. I worked a four-day week for them. They allowed me a day to do my volunteer work. I was doing respite care for disabled adults. I’d go to the fashion shows in Europe. I would write, style, do events and then along came Thommy,” says Dijanna, indicating her young son who has attended his mother’s launch morning tea.
“It was a bit on the unplanned side – the pregnancy – and when I went off to the shows for the first time when he was a little baby, I missed him so much I knew I had to resign. The Wardrobe 101 column, the website, the books and speaking engagements flowed on from that,” she explains.
The new guide deconstructs celebrity looks, pointing out what works and why. Once you’ve set upon a style, Dijanna then provides the basics for women to hunt out in their wardrobe or purchase. There are a few ‘absolute rules’. Number 1: ‘Love yourself now. Don’t wait until you are happier with your shape to make an effort with your look. Work with what you have now and know that all shapes are beautiful. Feeling depressed about the way you look makes it harder for you to reach your goals.’
You get the gist.