Today we are super excited to feature our very own Deborah Gates (55), who has been a YLF member for 10 years. She lives in Victoria, Australia, and documents her outfits on her Instagram account, Stylish Murmurs. She loves black and neutrals, but also enjoys adding some colour. Deborah’s style incorporates avant-garde pieces, drape, skilful layering, graphic pattern, lots of volume, and structural interest. She also has an amazing collection of dramatic jewellery, and favours designers who are transparent with their supply chain. Finally, her sleek platinum blonde angled bob, and polished make-up are also an integral part of her style.

“I saw a term in a book, ‘chic avant-garde’, and I have kind of adopted that. I think my style is a mix of avant-garde, architectural, minimal, and classic elements. I am very drawn to Japanese design. The combination of artistry and function fascinated me, and makes for very interesting yet wearable pieces. In the past 5 years I have grown in my confidence to simply wear what I like and not be swayed by trends. I no longer need outfits to be conventionally flattering and it’s often a silhouette or garment shape that appeals to me. Dressing is definitely a creative outlet for me and it’s about how I feel, and what I want to communicate on any given day. One thing that hasn’t changed is my love of black. I do incorporate colour but black is my constant and I feel happiest and most ‘me’ in my black outfits.”

Deborah Gates - 1

I always think of harem pants as “very Deborah”, and here she goes all out with a voluminous pair with a very low crotch point. The jersey fabric has great drape which adds some shape, as do the elasticated hems. She’s paired the pants with a sleeveless trapeze-style top in a graphic black and white pattern that gives the effect of architectural structure. This kind of avant-garde volume-over-volume look is trendless and easy breezy for the hot Australian Summer. Our 5′ 2″ petite blogger’s black chunky sandals with wide straps ground the volume. A black leather cuff, black hoop earrings and a unique rubber-like layered necklace complement the drama of the outfit. Deborah’s super polished bob adds sharp-lined structure to everything she wears. And her trademark red lippy adds a pop of colour.

Deborah Gates - 2

Navy and black is a chic colour combo. The way the neutrals have been masterfully layered here brings out their depth. Deborah is sporting dramatically wide palazzo trousers with a cowl neck tunic in a navy blue that reads almost like a denim. The asymmetrical, diagonal lines of the hemline and half-moon drape of the tunic draw the eye up and down, thus creating vertical integrity. Our blogger adds a second layer consisting of a black gilet, again with asymmetrical hem. The angular-edged hem on the longer side of the garment together with the fitted shoulder on the blue tunic temper the volume of the outfit. Black sandals peeking out from under the trousers lengthen the leg line. Deborah further plays up angular and circular shapes with her black bangle and round earrings.

Deborah Gates - 3

Deborah is a black and neutrals gal at heart, but wears colour with equal pizzazz. Case in point, this gorgeous midi dress in a vibrant red and blue plaid. It’s slightly fitted under the bust, which adds structure, and then gently sweeps out into a classic A-line skirt. The diagonal short sleeves are flattering and add a touch of volume. Deborah edges up the pretty with black suede open-toed booties, black nail polish, long black earrings and an edgy rubber necklace with barbed wire effect. Her polished red lipstick matches her dress perfectly.

Deborah Gates - 4

The black and white gingham blouse is the star of the show in this polished casual Spring look. Pairing it with simple black pull-on pants lets the top do all the talking. The wide rounded collar, batwing sleeves, asymmetrical hemline and thin band with black buttons running through the fabric make this blouse into an arty eye-catching piece that needs no other bells and whistles. So Deborah kept it simple with chunky black Birkenstyle-esque sandals and oversized circular earrings. Her striking platinum blonde hair, red lippy and nail polish are the perfect strong finishing touches.

Deborah Gates - 5

Straight lines are not in Deborah’s dictionary. For this eye-catching look, she is wearing a black A-line midi skirt under a flowy midi tunic with charming daisy print. The exaggerated asymmetrical high-low hemline creates tons of of movement and offsets the volume. The clever contrasting floral print — black on white in front, white on black in the back — adds playful visual interest. As a third piece, Deborah picked a black sleeveless sweater with shark-bite hemline that creates extra angles and even more interest. The ribbed knit paired with the patent black footwear bring subtle shine to the look. Black opaque tights under the black skirt lengthen the leg line, and the crisp white soles on our blogger’s platform brogues match the white in the top, and her blonde hair. Exclamation point earrings are the quirky finishing touch.

Deborah Gates - 6

As always, Deborah enjoys playing with layers and proportions, and this time she does it in this marvelous light neutral colour palette. White palazzo trousers with a thin grey horizontal stripe create volume and draw the eye from left to right. She adds a sleeveless linen tunic in light grey with white diagonal stripes that create a kind of argyle plaid effect that draws the eye up and down. The shark bite hemline on the tunic top does its magical line thing, and adds a bit of shape to the wide, flowing volume on the leg. White Birkies under the white trousers lengthen the leg line. And of course Deborah has found the perfect artful necklace to create extra visual interest, while also keeping her jewellery in the neutrals family.

I’m looking forward to hear what you think of Deborah’s amazing looks. Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out the rest of her outfits on her Instagram account.