Actor and model Sarah Ellen believes in the mood-shifting properties of fashion – so much so, she incorporates styling as a tool of self-expression in her acting roles, and more recently embarked on a new project, exploring colour therapy in her first solo art exhibition. When it comes to Ellen’s personal style, colour and shape play a central role too: the Sydney-based creative believes in dressing to feel good via a layering of unexpected shades and relaxed silhouettes. Her favourite look on rotation? Pyjamas by day. Here, Ellen shares her thoughts on the power of positive fashion.
Tell us about your style and what ignited your love of fashion?
“I would say the inspiration came from my dad actually, he had a love for old Hollywood and that really fuelled my love for fashion. I remember watching Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany's over and over again, dreaming about her style. That era of film definitely had an influence on my career and my love of fashion – and, in particular, I have always loved looking at the way that clothes can shape a character.”
So when you think about clothing, you see it as almost transporting, how so?
“When I worked on Neighbours a few years ago, [the directors] allowed me to style my character, they knew I had an interest in fashion and costume. That was a wonderful learning experience, it was challenging and fun and it added another layer to my work. So now whenever I take on a job I look at it from a deeper perspective, considering how I can be more involved in the storytelling; how can styling portray a mood? I do think that clothes can transform a character, a mood or space and I think that is what I love most about fashion.”
How then would you explain your approach to day-to-day dressing, can you describe your personal style?
“I just won't leave the house unless I'm wearing something comfortable – I want to feel as though I'm wearing pyjamas, comfort and ease is definitely my number one priority. I also like to approach my style without seriousness and a pop of colour – that might mean a shirt with an artful print, and vibrant colours. I love unexpected colour combinations.”
Tell us more about your love of colour because it is something you are exploring on a deeper level in new work:
“During lockdown I spent a lot of time painting. I'm currently working on my first art exhibition, based around an idea that has been with me for years – colour is a passion that has been there my entire life, and so I am exploring the idea of colour therapy and what that means in terms of art and mood. [Ellen’s large-scale oil and acrylic canvases feature floating organic shapes in vibrant hues]. With my art, I’m trying to take people on an emotional journey through colour, I think it evokes so many different emotions and it's subjective at the same time.”
Can you talk us through your edit from OROTON’s latest collection, which pieces were you drawn to:
“I do really love to wear a set, pieces that almost look like something you could wear to bed, so I was drawn to the Poppy Print Shirt with matching linen shorts and bralette. You can dress this look up with some jewellery, it’s versatile, so it ticks all my boxes. I also love the Strappy Sun Dress because it's comfortable, effortless and stylish all in one. I feel like this piece is a necessary staple in my wardrobe because it's breathable and feels so nice on, it's something that you could wear to the beach or to lunch. I'm always searching for beautiful quality pieces that will last forever and I'll only ever buy something if I know that it will stay with me forever.”
Lastly, can you share your tips on dressing with confidence in mind? How would you go about dressing for an occasion when you need that extra boost?
“I do believe that certain pieces can make you feel good, a colour can lift your spirits, comfort definitely comes into it too, and that idea of keeping your style authentic. Having said that, I also think confidence is a mindset and to achieve confidence, you have to achieve self-love. I think it’s so important to take good care of yourself, to be nice to yourself. Being kind and spreading love is what really matters, especially after what we have all been through. And so, in my mind, as long as you're working on yourself from the inside, you’ll feel good on the outside, too.”