Hey, I Like Your Style! Inside the wardrobe of Sydney-based stylist, Marisa Suen



“Currently, I’m in my archive clothing era.”

We know personal style is a journey (I’m looking at you, Tumblr years), so we’ve introduced a new series Hey, I Like Your Style! diving into the fashion psyche of our favourite creatives. We’re talking the good, the bad and the 2007.

While the internet has made our fashion icons feel closer than ever before, even the most effortless of outfits came from a closet with some (well-dressed) skeletons. Clickable product tags, photo archives and lives chronicled in 30-second clips just don’t tell the full story.

For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section.

These are the stories behind the wardrobes, exploring how we develop our own personal style. There’s a brilliance behind the way we choose to express ourselves and at FJ, we know every outfit has a story.

This week, we’re stepping into the ‘archive era’ of stylist and multidisciplinary creative, Marisa Suen. Working between Sydney and New York, Marisa’s wardrobe is comprised of local labels, handmade gems and a curated selection of Issey Miyake, Bottega Veneta and Commes Des Garçons (among others).

With a penchant for fluid silhouettes, textured fabrics and varying shades of black, Marisa has honed the all-important ability to recognise the pieces she’ll love forever. When she’s not supporting the work of her talented friends (like Ramp Tramp Tramp Stamp’s Niamh Galea), Marisa is collecting pre-loved, archival pieces. Take a peek into her style evolution below.

Who are you and what do you like to wear?

I’m a stylist and multidisciplinary creative. I like to wear clothing that makes me feel good; I’m especially attracted to pieces that look silly, odd and have textured fabric manipulation.

What has your style evolution looked like? Do you feel like you’ve gained confidence in the way you dress?

I feel like my style has always centred around the same silhouettes – super baggy and loose-fitting pieces; like I’m almost ‘dripping’ fabric. Sometimes I also experiment with more structured, menswear-like outfits. A recurring theme in my wardrobe is buying and wearing a lot of black (mostly textured black pieces), with random phases of clashing prints and graphics.

My outfits are very dependant on my mood and my plans for the day. For example, when I’m on set for a shoot I’ll most likely wear comfy wide-leg pants (with pockets) and a tee – I need function and practicality. I think I’ve always felt confident in my style because I’m dressing in pieces that make me feel good, so the rest doesn’t matter. Over time, I’ve gained the ability to recognise the pieces I’ll love forever over the items I’ll only want for a hot second.

Currently, I’m in my archive clothing era. I’ve always held an appreciation for it, but it wasn’t until recent years I started to really fall in love. As of this year, I’ve generally only shopped pre-owned pieces, aside from shoes. Despite this, I’m a sucker for supporting the work of my friends and am always in awe of their handmade creations!

Personal style is a journey. Have you ever felt like you needed to fit into a particular fashion box?

Honestly no. I’ve always dressed in the way I wanted and a lot of the time my outfits are dependant on my mood. Even when I worked in a big luxury fashion house where the office dress code was ‘corporate casual’, I got away with bending the rules because my outfits were deemed ‘stylish’.

Take us back to those awkward teenage years. Do you have any fashion regrets?

Probably! I mean I’m wack, sometimes I regret an outfit I wore a few hours earlier. But at the same time, who cares? Why regret it? It was a decision you felt was right at the time, so there’s no shame in embracing it!

What are the most expensive and least expensive items in your wardrobe?

The most expensive and least expensive items in my wardrobe are both Comme des Garçons. The most expensive is a mix fabrication SS 2006 dress, the least expensive is a panelled black Comme tricot long sleeve I found pre-owned for a few dollars in upstate New York.

What is the most meaningful fashion piece you own?

A pair of star shorts my boyfriend made for me one summer. They’re made from ‘reverse garbage’ deadstock furnishing fabric. It was a very thoughtful gesture as I didn’t (still don’t really) own any summer clothing and it was SO HOT. He handmade them for me.

He taught himself how to use a sewing machine and do simple pattern-making a few weeks prior. He even made them in the way I like my pants, with an elastic waistband and pockets – comfortability and functionality! They kind of remind me of a potato sack… which makes me love them even more.

What’s in your cart at the moment?

Despite buying two new pairs of black shoes recently (Bottega Veneta Puddle boots and Pêche heels), I’m deciding between Z Coil black sneakers, Rombaut ballerina flats or Sinobi Geta doubles. I’ve never been in such a shoe-craving phase! I’ve been justifying my shoe purchases by calling them ‘investments’.

What fashion piece are you saving for right now?

I always have an ever-growing mental list of items I’m saving up for, despite having a tendency to ‘get over’ pieces relatively fast. The following items are ones I’ve been thinking about for a while: A bag from either Molly Goddard, Marshall Columbia or Paula Canovas Del Vas, specifically one of those spikey bags! I’d love a piece from Walter Van Beirendonck to wear or add to my collection.

Also, the Margiela Tabi slingbacks (though I’m no rush – I’ve had the ankle strap one-inch heel ones for years and they’re still painful after hours of wear). I’ve also been trying to talk myself out of the Bottega Flash rubber mules… I just bought a very similar pair.

What are the wardrobe items you wear on repeat?

The pieces on repeat year-round would be any version of black wide-leg pants. They’re definitely my wardrobe staple. I own too many pairs and while people say they look the same, they’re all completely different.

For the current muggy weather, I’m obsessed with my AW 2008 Issey Miyake cardi. It’s the ideal layer, it’s so comfy and adds fun, textured daggy-ness to my outfit. I also thoroughly enjoy a boxy XXL tee in the summer.

Who are your favourite local designers?

My friend Niamh Galea’s label Ramp Tramp Tramp Stamp (@ramptramptrampstamp)! I love how experimental she is and how her pieces can usually be worn in multiple ways. Another friend, Aggie Choi, owns the Sydney label Pach Project (@pachproject) and she stocks really thoughtful staples.

Both their labels are conceptually incredible. I also adore Stella Vendetta (@stella__vendetta), it’s an upcycling dream! And I’ve frothed over Seb Brown’s jewellery for years, I’m very slowly collecting pieces. There are also a lot of amazing Australian designers that don’t have their own labels yet, like Grace Broederlow Nanai, Andriana Fu and Mei Zhang, to name a few.

See more of Marisa’s killer looks here.

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