She may spend her days crunching numbers, but Melanie May is hoping her passion for fashion and a way with words will give her something else to bank on in the future.
The 25-year-old home lending manager is the new local face of fashion blogging for retail giant Westfield, using her keen eye for detail and ability to tell a story to create fashion and beauty content for the Kotara shopping centre’s digital platforms.
While the Newcastle woman completed a Communications degree at University, she has spent the past few years working in the finance sector. But in 2016 she finally came full circle to combine her two great loves - fashion and writing – in one pursuit after launching her own blog.
After gaining traction among her followers, Melanie approached Westfield Kotara late last year to see if they’d be interested in collaborating on some content, the first of which saw her weighing in to the Spring racing style stakes in the lead up to the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
“I’ve always been absolutely obsessed with fashion and I’ve always been an avid shopper,” Melanie said.
“In February last year my partner and I went to America and came back completely inspired and on fire for life. I work in finance full-time, I’m a home lending manager, although straight out of school I studied communications.
“Coming back (from America) and trying to work out how I could make fashion a greater part of my everyday life was definitely a challenge initially. The blog was my way to have my own voice and to provide little tips and tricks that I’ve learned along the way.
“I’m not necessarily the type of person that can look at any body shape and say this looks good on you, but I take pride in my ability to style a beautiful outfit for myself and explain how different options can work for somebody else. That’s where the blog really came about.”
The majority of Melanie’s blog posts include images of her wearing the clothes – an element she believes helps keep the content, and her advice, more real and relevant for the average shopper.
“For me growing up I was obsessed with Shop Till You Drop magazine specifically, that was one I was always drawn to and the beautiful women, they were so slender and perfectly poised with plumped lips - absolutely perfection - but I think that has warped the view of what beauty is,” she said.
“I’ll style myself (for a blog) the way I would if I was going to dinner, or on a date or whatever it is. It’s a little bit more real, it’s kind of ‘this is what you get in the store,' and ‘this is how you’ll look in real life’ and that kind of comes out in the editorial.
“I’m a really nice size 12, I’m not slim, I’m very average with what Australia would be. I think it’s about making what works for your body beautiful, and taking inspiration from what comes from the magazines and movies. I believe that it’s definitely about how does that work for your body and your lifestyle and your budget.
“My first collaboration with Westfield was for the Melbourne Cup, and when it was posted on Facebook, it was funny reading the comments, which were like ‘Finally, a normal sized model.'
“To me, I’m certainly not a model, and that’s not the way I want to portray myself. I’m definitely a real person and I definitely prefer blogger over model, although a lot of the photos are of myself.
"To see those comments I was like ‘Yes, that’s what it is about, it’s about empowering the average woman to be beautiful and love fashion."
“With the upcoming content we’ll be styling multiple outfits, which provides so much more diversity and options, no-one wants to see just one thing because not everything suits everyone’s style or everyone’s body shape.”
When it comes to personal style, Melanie said her favourite fashions are always evolving. However, she does hold faithful to a few classic pieces.
“For me, fashion’s a journey and even though there definitely is a faux pas here and there I think it all really tells a story of where I’ve been and where I’m going,” she said.
“I grew up in a single-parent family, so my Mum actually sewed a lot of my clothes. I spent a lot of time when I was younger trawling through the material at Spotlight and trying to envision something, going through patterns and looking at different things I wanted to do, and so I feel like, from a young age, fashion was a world of opportunity for me, I wasn’t necessarily restricted to what was on the shelves.
“My style is definitely very feminine, ironically my favourite colour is pink and I hardly ever wear it. I definitely love dresses and skirts, I like flowing outfits but something that cinches in at the waist to still show a feminine curvy shape.
“Previously I loved a monochrome style, but I have a lot of colour in my wardrobe now, so I’m definitely about colour, patterns and shapes. I’m definitely not shy about colour – so many bloggers are.”
With making a statement on her mind, Melanie said one of the most exciting trends for her this Autumn/Winter will be the red trench coat.
“I think that using colour in a wardrobe is definitely a way to make things a little bit more fun,” she said.
“Life can be so boring, so monotonous. It can be so scheduled and structured that I think colour just makes it so much more exciting, anything could happen, you can take your outfit from day to night with a little bit more colour as opposed to making it safe by sticking to more neutral tones.
“I think red is a fantastic colour for Autumn/Winter, to wrap yourself in an oversized red coat, what an incredible statement to be making with your fashion.”
Boots of various lengths and a splash of denim are also on the hit list of trends to watch out for this Autumn/Winter.
“Over the knee boots are starting to come out in a major way and also ankle boots that cling a little bit more, that are made out of a stretchy neoprene are absolutely amazing, they’re beautiful,” she said.
“Distressed denim isn’t going to go anywhere and it looks so effortlessly chic in every season, but I think in Autumn/Winter it started to come out a lot more.
“They’re my three staples – get a really good pair of boots, a really good pair of distressed denim and a nice staple coat.
“I think that February and March are the perfect months to start building that Autumn/Winter wardrobe because by the time the cooler weather hits you’re kind of scrambling to find something that may be out of stock or is something that you absolutely love.”
The blogs will be displayed on both Melanie’s and Westfield’s websites – www.melaniemay.me and www.westfield.com.au respectively, as well as both of their social media channels.