Author & Stylist Megan Morton is a force to be reckoned with. She crafts a look for an interior as much as she does her personal style, flouting rules, embracing obsessions and when all seems to be edging towards the excessive she applies a healthy dose of restraint. Here she pulls back the curtain and gives us a look at her Double Bay home, her style and reveals what has shaped her aesthetic world.
When, as a child or teenager, did you first become aware of matters of personal style?
I could not even fathom it when I saw ‘it’ for the first time. My mother had a friend, an interior designer who had moved to our rural area with her young family to raise lamas. I couldn’t believe her; the eyeshadow (lilac!); her outfits (full white linen, pre-cottage chic!) and when I babysat her sons I noted drawings for white leather Roman blinds and letters she has written in Japanese Kanji. Between her and my devotion to the local mag ‘Hero’ and the airfreighted ‘Benetton' magazines, my mind was blown monthly.
Did you have early icons?
I used to scalpel out pages of work by British sculptor Henry Moore (I still have one framed in my house) and American artist Georgia O’Keefe from library art books.
Do think of you as having a signature style. What are your 5 go-to items?
In an age of manufactured taste, and when we can all ‘add to cart’ from top-to-toe, I feel it's really important to feel ‘you’ when dressing. Similar to when I am working with interiors I like to play to the room’s best assets. So, I like my hands and so I am always sniffing for more cocktail, pinkie ring action, suites of bangles and bracelet collections. For the same reason, I never miss a manicure.
I cherish belts for their ability to withstand all trends. I wear a lot of my vintage Geoffrey Beene and Dries van Noten belts separate to their original outfits.
I adore a flat shoe: Chanel, Dries, Italian slippers.
I love maxi anything. I have even had a maxi made for travelling out of track suiting so I can achieve comfort but still feel like myself while on the plane.
But most of all I am interested in the mashup of contrasts. I am always looking for a way to pair unnatural things together but in a harmonious and thoughtful way. I like to do this with colour, with clothes from different eras, with texture, tones and other treatments; pieces that create an altogether new feeling when placed together.
How would you describe your current clothing preoccupations?
Let’s just say my navigation has been, like most people, Covid thrown! It has made me realise though that every day is an occasion to wear something for yourself. And when you wear clothes for yourself, as opposed to for others, magical things really do happen. I’ve always viewed clothing as a form of self-care.
What do you think the relationship is between personal style and interior style?
It’s intricately linked, but what I have noticed from working both here and abroad is that the most cluey person in the room / studio is often the most quietly dressed. The best fashion stylists, in my opinion put so much thought and intellect into their job, what they wear is of little importance. The work speaks loudly so the clothes don’t have too.
You travel (or did travel) a lot – how did you plan clothing-wise for those trips? Is a Parisian sojourn completely different to an Indian tour?
Packing well really gets me off. Overtime I have really got it down pat. Nowadays I refuse to take more than a carry on-bag for all trips (bar Paris) because I like to be super organised. For a lot of people what they wear in their time away can stress them out. On my tours I give daily dressing programs as I want everyone to feel really comfortable and not worry if they have to think up another outfit for dinner etc. In India, fortunately I have all my clothes and jewellery stored there.
What matters to you when choosing a new piece? Is it instinctive or rational?
Like all solid purchases whether they be planned or binged, I feel it instinctively and never have to think twice. I often refer to my son because he seems to know. He also taught me the acronym ‘TITF’ which stands for ‘took it too far.’ He will often send me a TITFM message, which is hilarious shorthand for 'took it too far mum'! Thanks son!
As a tactile person how important is fabric to you?
While it is important, what's even more important, as a genuine lazy person, is the future care of the garment. I also despise dry cleaning and will do anything to not be part of the dry cleaning earth-damaging system.
Do you apply the same high/low rules to clothing as you do to interior spaces?
I know that real gems don’t distinguish provenance or price so I love to work both ends of the price scale into everything I do. I can splurge as much as I can save, for me the magic is in following this charm. I also love the idea that you walk into a room or spot an outfit and it doesn’t scream ‘lack’ or ‘overspent’. I like the tenderness of not knowing and it just registering as being charming and magical.
Clothes change how we feel – did any of the pieces in your selection give you a particular vibe. You look very carefree in the tangerine skirt.
The circle cut skirt, the subtle embroidery – it’s as summer as a Frosty Fruit after a beach day.
What advice do you have for how we can be more sustainable in our approach to clothing?
Swap with friends. Loan the things you love to people you love. Share the good fortune of owning beautiful clothes. I am having an analogue A- Z Christmas market at my studio (stay updated at @theschoolinstagram) and we will have a U is for Upcycling. I am going to sell, trade some of my Valentino shoes and other pieces so that can have second, and third, lives out there!
Give us your one best tip for dressing well.
Something idiosyncratic can really elevate an outfit, a room, a dinner, anything. Find your happy place with it and you will never have to look sideward for inspiration. It’s all in front of you, ahead of you and more than likely even in your cupboards already.
You like to push creative boundaries and your current project with Sydney-based photographer Maxwell Finch (great name) has produce some exquisite results. Can you tell us about that?
It was a Covid-19 promise to work the rest of the year on new projects that I have never worked on before. As I sent it out to the universe I stumbled across his work and gasped. We have an art date, weekly or monthly when our schedules allow and we spend the day shooting a single flower. The project is then printed on Duratran and will be projected for a campaign. So simple, so analogue, so time consuming, so rich and rewarding and wonderful.