The Style Alumnae, Series 2 with Janice Breen Burns

Name: Mrs. Janice Breen Burns

Janice wears Agent 101 Dress and Mon Colette Coat Dress

Occupation:Writer/fashion editor/editor/fashion commentator

What’s your definition of style?
Confident, easy self expression.

You inspire and empower many women with your own style, who are your fashion icons and inspirations?
Thank you! I’m always thrilled to hear when my writing – about women who dress well to accurately express themselves – inspires others.

I love women with a knack for “harvesting” fashion, cobbling bits from here, bits from there, to compose the perfect ensemble to fit their psyche and self. They can be anyone: film star, shopgirl, middle-aged mum. I have no preferance for expensive brands, or cutting-edge trends. What matters most is originality. It is more enjoyable to see than “cookie-cutter” looks that are very nice, but make everyone appear similar. Fashion can help us meld with the masses, or standout like a sore thumb. I guess I love “sore thumbs” the best.  Some of my favorites – rather gorgeous sore thumbs who are relentlessly true to themselves – include Alannah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Iris Apfel, Jenny Bannister, the late Isabella Blow, Anna Schwartz, Hayley Hughes, Anna Dello Russo, Kristine Walker, Alexia Petsinis, Michelle Lamy, Christine Barro, the late Diana Vreeland, Veruschka, Estelle Michaelides – thousands more. I couldn’t possibly list them all! Many of the women I admire are not celebrities either, or even particularly well known. The women and girls, for example, who line up every spring for fashions on the field competitions at Flemington, Caulfield and around Australia. The love and care in those ensembles! I get palpitations! (I love my work.)


Why did you select this Micky In The Van outfit and what are your thoughts on the label?
Estelle chose this for me (it was a timing thing): black wool bell-sleeved frock-coat and slim-fitted dress with deep, inverted front pleat. The wool has a fine waffle texture and swings dramatically if you want it to. The bell sleeves are 3/4 cropped and more glamourous than I normally have the courage or thought to choose for myself. In a way, Micky In The Van epitomises what I love about fashion now. Estelle “harvests” the best of trends and swirls them into classically glamourous silhouettes, often with unusual fabrics and off-beat details. She manages to achieve modernity with a backnote of something that you can define yourself.


What are three key items of clothing/accessories/footwear that you believe are must haves?
It depends on your style. For me, I buy the finest coat I can afford for winter and for summer, the dress or ensemble I know will be a cool fall-back for stinking-hot days when “sweaty” and “flushed” aren’t attractive boardroom looks. I can’t think of a third.


What would be one essential piece of fashion advice that you’d like to pass on to the sisterhood?
I have two:

  1. Almost anything worn with a straight back, chin tilted upward and a direct, confident gaze, will be remembered as a good look
  2. Slow down. Impulse is the enemy of style. Matching clothes to your psyche and life is a delicate art with options altering every time you open your wardrobe or walk into a frock shop. Take time to think, and always have a pre-styled option ready for when you must dress in a hurry.

What is a mantra/quote that you follow that has helped you with your success?
“Feel the fear and do it anyway” is the way I live and, “We criticise in others what we fear in ourselves” is the way I think.

My footnote on style:
My own style is deliberately low-key, bordering on matronly (which I like), appropriate for my age (I hope), more heavily reliant on careful grooming and Australian design (99 per cent) than trends, but with a ping here and there, of drama. When I was younger, I was flambouyant. Now, I compose my wardrobe in a way that enables me to observe – “people-watch” if you like – without drawing attention. It’s my look.



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