When one of Australia’s top fashion stylists has a baby, images of babies in front rows and heels pushing prams spring to mind. But as Kelly Hume so humbly proved, no one is exempt from the relentless demands of new motherhood, regardless of their fashion pedigree. “I'm pretty sure I spent the forty days pounding the pavement down country streets with Bea in the Bugaboo,” she says...
As the Style Director at Stellar magazine and with a resume that includes GQ and Sunday Style, Kelly has styled every big name in the industry, from Nicole Kidman to Miranda Kerr. Now with three-year-old Beatrice in tow, her own style has evolved (“you will rarely find me in a stiletto these days, whereas it was a rare day I didn’t wear heels to the office pre-motherhood”), and while she still subscribes to a work uniform that would have most of us drooling in lust, she also embraces practicality. “On my days off work I very much like to be ‘off-duty’,” she says. “It’s very important for me to not have to worry about what I’m wearing and the way I look on those days. My personal style is so tied up in what I do that the expectation is naturally there that I always make a certain effort. Weekends are so precious and not nearly long enough so I really want my focus to be on nourishing my family, both physically and emotionally and I find that so much easier to do when I am disconnected from that world.”
We visited Kelly and her daughter Beatrice in their idyllic home in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire to discuss all things motherhood, style and why sometimes, a stomp around a shopping centre can be the making of a sane mother.
Tell us about yourself and who makes up your beautiful family...
I am the Fashion Director of Stellar Magazine and freelance stylist/creative consultant. I am constantly trying to juggle my professional career with being a conscious and considerate mother to my very spirited three-year-old daughter Beatrice and a present and supportive partner to my husband Josh. Also, I need to give our dog Agnes a bit of regular love too.
Can you share a little about your own childhood?
I grew up in the Sutherland Shire and have what I imagine to be a quintessentially suburban Australian childhood of the ’80s. I’m the eldest of three and liked to think I was the ‘organiser’ amongst the neighbourhood kids. The suburb in which we grew up in was only really being developed when we moved there so there was still lots of bushland and scrub to explore, build many a fortress, hunt for worms and make mud pies. I also ran a bike riding competition every Sunday afternoon with the prize being a Caramelo Koala from my mum’s secret stash. It was pretty idyllic and we really only played inside on a rainy day.
What inspired your love of fashion?
I was very pedantic about what I would and wouldn’t wear from a very young age. I loved getting dressed of a morning and was always putting on concerts for my poor parents. Neither of my parents nor anyone else in my family was particularly into fashion as such but my Dad works in the music industry so there was definitely the freedom and encouragement to be creative from a young age.
You’ve worked with some incredible brands and personalities. What have been some of the highlights?
I have shot so many incredible people over the years, some more famous than others but the images I look back on and still love so much are those I did of Nicole Kidman for Stellar with Nino Munoz in LA. When I’m creating an image, for me, it’s not so much about the clothes but creating a feeling and working with the photographer to capture an energy and authenticity and I think those shots really captured Nicole’s spirit. Every fashion show I have ever styled stays with me as well. I really love being involved in the whole process of interpreting a designer’s concept and making the show an experience.
You stepped away from the city life in search of a slower pace and moved to the south coast of NSW for a year – can you tell us about what led to that decision, and how it played out?
We had been living in Elizabeth Bay for many years before I fell pregnant and often discussed moving down to the South Coast where my husband grew up. My father-in-law was very ill with cancer and Josh was offered an opportunity to run both Bannisters properties in Mollymook. We relocated, buying a house in Milton, just before Bea was born and stayed for about a year, heading back to Sydney not long after Josh’s Dad passed away. Country life in a very small town just wasn’t for us on a full-time basis. We love visiting every month and spend much of summer there, but without our close friends and my family close by, we just couldn’t make it work. That coupled with the distinct lack of international food choices was enough to make me move somewhere where Uber Eats existed.
What does life look like for you now? Is there a happy middle ground?
We moved back to Sydney and rented a terrace in Zetland for a year while we decided where we wanted to buy, finally settling on the Sutherland Shire where I grew up. We are so so happy here. It’s the perfect compromise between country and city life. We’re close to the beach and my family, we have a lovely backyard and back on to bush so it’s very similar to the childhood homes we grew up in. Bea has space for a trampoline and a vegetable garden and I can order Vietnamese takeaway on a Friday night!
On my days off work, I very much like to be ‘off-duty’. I don’t particularly want to bump in to people from the fashion and media industries when I’m at the farmer’s market with my family and have to make small talk. It’s very important for me to not have to worry about what I’m wearing and the way I look on those days. My personal style is so tied up in what I do that the expectation is naturally there that I always make a certain effort. Weekends are so precious and not nearly long enough so I really want my focus to be on nourishing my family, both physically and emotionally and I find that so much easier to do when I am disconnected from that world.
What does an average day look like for you today?
Life is pretty busy which is the catch-cry of every working mother I’m sure. Currently, I work three days a week in the office and one from home with freelance on top of that when I can fit it in. I try my best to be super organised and routine-based and I find when I operate this way in the physical, I feel much more calm and centred emotionally.
On the days I work I run a pretty tight ship. I get up at about 5:30 am and try to have a moment to myself which will involve a five-minute Kelee meditation and some journaling as well as a cup of tea and toast before Bea wakes up. Josh leaves the house at 5am every day, so it’s on me to get us out the door on time. If I haven’t prepared something over the weekend for dinner on a work night, I will put something in the slow cooker before work so we just need to steam some rice and greens when we get home. I generally shoot the cover of the magazine once a week so I try to get to set by 8:30 am and wrap in time to pick Bea up from daycare. I have very much cut back on all the events and parties I attend since becoming a mother. I go to the bare minimum if I am honest and I think whilst that has definitely effected by bottom line in terms of visibility in the freelance world, I wouldn’t change it. Of an evening, we eat dinner together fairly early as a family on those rare nights Josh is home from work in time and once the endless bedtime routine is complete I will prepare Bea’s lunch for the next day and watch an episode of something on Netflix with Josh before reading, meditating and going to sleep. I find on those days that I am too shattered to meditate, it oddly takes me longer to fall asleep and then I have vivid and frustrating dreams. It’s my major form of self-care.
How do you approach the manic mornings?
By being as organised as I can be. Generally, that looks like doing as much as possible the night before; packing lunches, laying out clothes, planning the dinner prep for the following evening and getting to bed early so I don’t wake up grumpy and exhausted. I loathe feeling hurried but sometimes it’s unavoidable. I’m not afraid to whip out the iPad and let Bea watch multiple episodes of Bluey while I shower and get ready.
What about the mental load? How do you go about sharing the load with your husband?
In my experience, women definitely carry the mental load as well as much of the running of the household and I find when I am pre-menstrual especially, just getting through the day and everything that entails can feel insurmountable. My husband is definitely one who is happy to help when asked but does need instruction as much as I need to relinquish control and my need for perfectionism.
What helps you to unwind?
For me, making the time to exercise is non-negotiable. I attend a boutique fitness studio three-four times a week for a high-intensity circuit class. I practised yoga for the past ten years and only started a more vigorous exercise routine when I was diagnosed with PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder) a year ago upon the recommendation of my specialist and it’s been a game-changer for me. I never regret a class.
What does self-care look like for you?
For me, self-care is about not always putting my needs last. Making sure we do attend a mums and bubs class on the days I am with Bea, making the time to meditate daily and telling my husband when I need some time to myself – alone. For me, that is the absolute biggest luxury but also completely essential. After several hours with my own thoughts, doing what I want to do, rather than what I need to, I feel far more clarity of mind and generally come back to the family unit feeling rejuvenated and positive.
What was your experience of early motherhood like?
I’m not going to lie, early motherhood was tough. I had a level 3C tear and had to have surgery two hours after Bea was born. I lost a lot of blood and because of this was extremely fragile those first few weeks. The hormones made me hyper-emotional and very sensitive to what I often construed as criticism but in hindsight was probably just unsolicited advice. We were also living three hours from my family and friends and I really missed having that support. It wasn’t until Bea was about three months that I started to come out of that fog. Those first forty days are so important for the new mother but I’m pretty sure I spent the next forty pounding the pavement down those country streets with Bea in the Bugaboo trying to get her to sleep. She was a shocking sleeper once that four-month sleep regression hit and it was the only thing that worked for me.
How do you approach dressing each day? Do you subscribe to a uniform?
Getting dressed each day for me is rarely stressful because I do subscribe to a fairly concise uniform. The colour palette is largely limited to black, navy, blue, white and camel and of a winter I generally wear straight leg jeans and a cashmere knit with a blazer or a cigarette trouser with a bodysuit and oversized jacket or coat. For summer I’m in jeans and a tee or a dress in an interesting fabric or cut. I like to take a slightly 90’s approach to the way I dress and favour designers such as Phoebe Philo, Acne, Prada, Max Mara and Totemè for statement pieces and Bassike, Jac & Jack and Uniqlo for staples that last. Quality over quantity and I never subscribe to fashion fads. I am still wearing pieces I bought ten years ago and plan to until they fall apart.
What is your biggest style tip for mothers who may be struggling to find their style after babies?
I feel that when many women become mothers practicality becomes paramount and I completely understand that. You will rarely find me in a stiletto these days whereas it was a rare day I didn’t wear heels to the office pre-motherhood. However, I think it’s SO important not to lose your sense of self that comes with getting dressed of a morning. If you have good quality but simple pieces that all work back with each other, it takes the challenge (and time) out of putting a look together.
Kelly using the Bugaboo Lynx, available online and from Baby Bunting from AUD $1,499
What are your tips for first time parents?
My advice for new parents is really to TRY not to get too hung up on any one phase and to know that ‘this too shall pass’. Adjust your expectations around going out and having the life you had pre-children. Try and have a sense of humour about things, and remember, you’ve totally got this, even though sometimes it feels like you really don’t.
Where are some of your favourite spots to take Beatrice in your neighbourhood?
We love spending time outdoors and our home backs on to a fire trail. We love going for long walks but the stamina of a three-year-old doesn’t generally extend past about 800 metres so we take the Bugaboo Lynx with us every-time because it’s so lightweight. To be honest, on the journey back, we can almost guarantee we’ll have a sleeping girl when we get home (which is where the extendable sun canopy and reclining seat come in handy). The Lynx also gets a workout around the Sutherland Shire Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning and on the gorgeous coastal walk down at Cronulla on a Sunday. It helps that it fits in our boot so easily with the one-piece fold, so we can have a way to transport Beatrice wherever we are.
What is one thing you wish pre-parent you knew about?
I desperately wish I knew that if you walked around a shopping centre for long enough, your child WILL sleep in the pram and with any luck, will stay asleep whilst you enjoy a coffee and a browse. You don’t need to pace aimlessly around your dining table as I did on the occasional rainy day.
The Bugaboo Lynx is available online and from Baby Bunting from AUD $1,499
What's currently on your list of loves?
-Is it bad that the first thing that comes to mind is my slow cooker? It just brings me so much joy and satisfaction to come home to a hot meal after work. I find fattier cuts of meat make a great curry.
-MCT Oil – a shot before I leave the house gives me a definite pep.
-Loco Love or Pana chocolate when the day is done and I can finally sit down to watch…
-Younger – I am obsessed with this show and love it almost as much as I love…
-Phoebe-Waller Bridge who wrote the cult British show Fleabag. Highly recommend.
-Handmade ceramics. My husband would argue my obsession is getting a little out of hand but I am always scouring gift shops in small towns, antique stores and markets for them.
-Organic, preservative-free wine is a game-changer as I don’t get the headaches I used to after even one glass of normal wine.
-A facial or massage at Luna Apothecary is seriously delightful.
In association Bugaboo Lynx