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Hey, I Like Your Style! Inside the experimental wardrobe of Tara Chandra

IMAGE VIA @TARACHANDRA_/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“Fashion is boring when you’re in a box.”

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 exploring the hyper-colour experimental wardrobe of fashion slashie, Tara Chandra. She’s an artist, op shop enthusiast and colourful eye makeup expert who describes her style as “a mix of street style, Y2K and Insta-girl”. Today, we unpack her fave local brands, “owl girl” evolution and why she’ll never put a ceiling on creativity.

Who are you and what do you like to wear?

Hi! I’m Tara, I’m a fashion content creator from Sydney. I also delve into digital art, sell secondhand clothes with two friends and do a lot of other random stuff. Also, I like wearing clothes. And lots of accessories.

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

 

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A post shared by Tara Chandra (@tarachandra_)


I’ve loved clothes and dressing up in cute outfits for as long as I can remember. When I was in pre-school, I exclusively wore dresses. Pants weren’t it!

In primary school, I was thriving. Every time my family picked up that glorious pile of black garbage bags filled with hand-me-downs from my eldest cousin… I popped off. Think lots of Y2K Supre (but way before anyone my age should’ve been wearing Supre).

In early high school, my style was questionable. I can confirm every Australian Gen Z pre-teen had their moustache, geek, owl, and or neon phase – and I was very much the owl girl. As my style went downhill, I discovered Tumblr and the fashion side of YouTube. Social media – specifically these two platforms – were pivotal in my style evolution. The kids today are built off of what Tumblr provided for us.

In 2012, I started experimenting with my style with the aim to recreate cool Jenn Im (OG Youtube style icon) outfits with what I could find for less than $10 at op shops. In 2013, I started a YouTube channel, a blog and a few months later, Instagram.

As my teen years went by, my style was less about copying cool fits I saw online and more about creating outfits I thought were cool, colourful and different.

I graduated high school in 2015 and since then, my style has both drastically changed and somehow stayed the same (I still own and wear pieces I wore in high school). My wardrobe is definitely heavily influenced by Instagram, but I still like to retain a personal touch with all my outfits. My style is less owl girl (thank God) and very much a mix of street style, Insta-girl, Y2K and thrift stores.

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

 

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A post shared by Tara Chandra (@tarachandra_)


Part of me wants to say yes, but I honestly cannot pinpoint a need to want to fit into a fashion box. I definitely experienced the want and aspiration to dress in a particular way – specifically in my Tumblr era – but I never felt confined to only dressing one way. I definitely still channel this mentality today with the way I dress.

I don’t have one style – take Fashion Week for example. I was rocking up in colourful outfits, experimental makeup and Crocs one day and the next I was dressed in all black with platform boots and intense black eyeliner running up the sides of my face. Fashion is boring when you’re in a box.

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

Awkward years were a major yes. Regrets are a no. As much as I make fun of my past self, I don’t regret the way I dressed. If I liked it at the time, that’s all that matters. Styles constantly changes. I will constantly look back on outfits in the past and think they’re ugly. But regretting them is a no.

If I was asked this question three years ago, I might’ve regretted my hot pink matching velour tracksuit paired with baby pink crocs – but 2021 Tara says I WAS SERVING! You would definitely catch me wearing that fit today.

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

 

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A post shared by Tara Chandra (@tarachandra_)


I want to preface this answer by saying that I rarely spend money on clothes. You might be surprised (or not?) but in the past six months, I’ve spent $140 on clothes (I track my money, is this very Capricorn of me?). I’m very grateful to be gifted so many incredible pieces that I don’t feel the need to purchase clothing regularly.

In saying that, I only shop second-hand or small designers if I do purchase clothing. This leads me to a very ‘influencer’ response to this question… my most expensive gifted piece is my Louboutin Mary Jane Bucket Bag.

The most expensive piece I bought myself is a beautiful one-off, handmade Astro Boy puffer jacket. My least expensive item is probably any of my secondhand pieces. I can’t pinpoint the cheapest.

What is the most meaningful fashion piece you own?

Anything that was my grandpa’s. When my grandpa passed away, we went through his wardrobe and picked out pieces that we wanted to keep before donating it all.

My grandpa was a well-dressed man with some very nice (now) vintage pieces. My favourite pieces I kept are his navy blue Burberry reversible jacket, YSL yellow cardigan and Camel cigarettes t-shirt.

What’s in your cart at the moment?

 

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A post shared by Tara Chandra (@tarachandra_)


Nothing, I don’t actively online shop! In saying this, I have been loving the Laura Callaghan X Lazy Oaf collection and Terminal Six stocks some sick pieces from some sick designers.

What fashion piece are you saving for right now?

I’m not saving for anything specific. If I see something I like, that’s worth my money and I know I’ll wear it, I’ll get it!

What are the wardrobe items you wear on repeat?

 

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A post shared by Tara Chandra (@tarachandra_)


My Kathmandu pink puffer jacket, fluffy Stussy jacket, black velour Joyrich X Tom & Jerry pants, Somewhere Nowhere pink fluffy corduroy pants, I Am Gia black and green strappy crop top and my Examples Plastikman alien t-shirt. As for shoes – my Naked Wolfe black boots, Feng Chen Wang collab Converse and white platform Crocs.

Who are your favourite local designers?

This is time to shout out some of my incredible designer friends! Dhilini hand-makes unique ‘wave’ like bags out of recycled fabric. Steph creates the sickest pieces from transformed unused clothing. Millie and Harry from Purgatory are changing the streetwear space with original designs – unlike anything else in Australia and Tesh from Examples is a self-taught graphic designer that challenges quality and originality with t-shirts, bags, pins and patches.

See more of Tara’s killer looks here.

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