The science of influencing with The Girl Who Lived For Clothes

While we’re irked by petri dishes and probability, there’s an intrinsic sartorial science that goes into crafting a Saturday night outfit or a fashion-centric Instagram grid. Do the shoes clash with that metallic ear candy? Can those pants meet with a strapless sans Lizzie McGuire midriff throwback?

The Girl Who Lived For Clothes’ Miranda Lewit-Mendes is an expert in calculating covetable ensembles and sharing them with her following of fashion fiends. Clad with colour and confidence, Miranda’s approach to influencing inevitably strays from the crowd.

Scientist by day and Melbourne blogger by any spare moment in her fascinating schedule, this girl seems to be a jack of all trades. A combination of quippy captions and eccentric style make her Instagram an addictively ‘moorish’ scroll. Today she talks to us about her quintessential flair for clothes and applying method to the madness of the influencer scene.

Your page is a tapestry quilt of colours and textures. What makes you stray from a monochrome aesthetic?
I think the real question here is why is a monochrome aesthetic the default. In a world where we have such an incredible range of colours in everything we see around us, I see no reason why I would want to contain myself to living my life in black and white. I spent quite a few years suppressing my style and my desire to dress boldly due to being worried about what others would think.

I finally don’t care about what others think, so there’s no chance that I’d place another extreme limit upon myself such as only wearing black and white just because it may be more appealing to the Instagram community. For me, being restricted to only a tiny portion of what fashion has to offer would be torturous process… like if someone took you to a buffet and said you can only eat one thing (I love food almost as much as I love fashion). That said, some people really do just love monochrome and you should always dress for you!

How do you construct an outfit?
I don’t really have a set way to construct an outfit, but I normally start with a piece I want to wear (e.g. a new top or skirt) that’s appropriate enough (or vaguely appropriate anyway) for the occasion I’m going to and build around that. Often by the time I’ve messed around with the outfit and thrown a few hundred pieces on my floor (only to remain there for the next few weeks of course as an obstacle for myself), I actually end up not wearing the original item I wanted to at all.

My outfits are normally created in a process of matching a few pieces and then slowly building an idea of what the style of outfit will be (e.g. girly, edgy, preppy, etc). Once the foundation is set, I add in the missing pieces such as jewellery, shoes, jacket, makeup and handbag in order to point the outfit in its final direction. I like to know exactly what activity I’m going to be doing in the outfit before I get ready or I really struggle to find direction.

You’re a scientist?! Tell us a bit about your career path…
I studied Biomedical Science at university and I also spent a year doing an Honours research project in genetics. I’m currently working in pharmaceutical consulting, where I have done a few different things including research on the pharmaceutical industry in Australia, monitoring of the safety of pharmaceutical products and providing medical information about pharmaceutical products to patients and doctors. I’m hoping to go back to university next year and do my Masters in a more specific healthcare area where I can work with patients.

How exactly do you juggle blogging and Bunsen burners?
Thankfully I work in an office, not a lab, and my work is very forgiving of giant fluffy objects and bright colours roaming the workplace. Aside from lab work boring me, I don’t think I’d be able to stand covering up my outfit everyday with a lab coat. I generally have 1/2 to 1 day a week to dedicate to doing photoshoots, and then the rest of the time blogging squeezes in whenever it can – public transport to/from work, lunch breaks, between sets at the gym, before bed… Trying to stay up to date with blogging is like desperately chasing something that you know you’ll never catch.

Do you set time aside each week specifically for The Girl Who Lived For Clothes?
No not really, I usually just try to fit in blogging around whatever I have on that week. I like to squeeze a lot of different things into my life, so it really depends on the week. I try to prioritise seeing friends and relaxing on the weekend, but inevitably this often turns into me running around like a headless chook between blogging and socialising activities. Luckily, I happen to be really good friends with a lot of bloggers, so time dedicated to blogging such as going to events, or photoshoots, is often socialising too.

How important is it to have hobbies and passions outside of your day job?
So important! I sort of sit at the opposite end of the spectrum where I probably have too many things I want to do at once, but it means I’m never bored and I never get sick of anything. Having both blogging and science means that I can stay passionate about both. If I was only doing one thing, I would become way too invested in it and it might stop being enjoyable. IF you have a range of passions, then if for some reason you don’t want to do one of those things anymore, it won’t matter, as there’s always something else to do.

Quickfire: fashion or science?
Both. Can’t live without either, sorry!

When did you decide to give blogging a go?
Ahhh, I actually wanted to start a blog when I was still in high school. I kind of did start one, but that’s a story that should remain buried deep, deep, deep inside a locked cellar never to resurface. It was at the time when I wasn’t confident at all in expressing myself through my style because what I wanted to wear was different to everyone else. And in high school, the judgmental stares (which I now find oddly validating) were all too much. I hoped blogging might reach people somewhere else who’d be less cruel than teenagers at an all girl school.

Describe your Insta aesthetic in a sentence…
My Insta aesthetic is crazy and fun, but also secretly quite calculated (the science influence).

Who takes all of your incredible outfit photos?
Mostly my wonderful blogger friends! Klara from @klarabellle, Bianca from @biancamelb, Fei from @feivenfan and Tri from @tri.edition take most of my photos. #Themumwholivedforclothes very capably took over this role while I was travelling with my family.

Imagine that you’re stuck in a massive creative rut. What do you do?
Hope tomorrow will be better because I’m already 30 minutes late, my entire wardrobe is on the ground, and I’ve got no other choice but to wear the outfit I don’t like that much, haha. Some days I’m just not feeling it, and sometimes the only thing to do is wait till tomorrow and hope some creative inspiration appears. Another option is to look at a past outfit I really loved and felt amazing in and adapt that.

Tell us the top 3 fashion brands you’re loving right now.
I’ve always found it hard to pinpoint specific brands as I fall in love with ‘pieces’ as opposed to a whole brand or collection. I think Instagram has also kind of ruined certain brands for me too due to the way people obsess and go crazy over certain ones on Instagram (not to name names, but Gucci I’m looking at you), to the point where you’ve seen a certain item or brand a million times over and it starts to almost feel… predictable. That said, there’s definitely a lot of brands I admire.

I think Acne is often portrayed as a minimalist brand, but a lot of their pieces are actually super maximalist and kick some serious ass behind everyone’s monochrome backs. I also appreciate how Balenciaga has been pushing boundaries in the shoe department. For the same reason, Vetements have done some cool things – the DHL tee, not one of them.

The blogging scene is heavily saturated. How do you stand out from the crowd?
You said it yourself in the very first question, staying away from a monochrome aesthetic. The fact that a large proportion of Australian bloggers do stick to the monochrome aesthetic means that as a result, my page innately does stand out from the crowd. I also write longer captions to try and connect with people one level deeper than with just a photo. It’s more fun to follow a person than a group of photos, and it’s easier to share personality when there’s some writing too. Plus, I try to write about funny or silly things that have happened to me – it helps add some personality to what can often be a quite serious photo.

You were in Europe recently. How did a change of scenery impact your blogging style?
It made me want to take photos of everything! I didn’t really change my blogging style, although I did upload more scenery-focused pictures than I normally would. I also changed my editing style as I was inspired to do something a little different. I think the biggest change was unfortunately when I came back and wasn’t motivated anymore… as everything in Melbourne… is kind of ugly.

What are your top tips for editing your pics? Do you have a specific filter you like to use?
I probably wouldn’t take editing tips from me as I’m pretty lazy – I just edit on my phone using Lightroom and VSCOCAM. I use a Lightroom preset and a VSCOCAM filter and I muck around with colour. I should really edit on my computer but I don’t have that everywhere with me!

Where would you like to take The Girl Who Lived for Clothes?
I would love to have the opportunity to do it full-time for a bit, however, at this stage it’s not really feasible. Instagram can be hard to navigate with its changing algorithm and this ban and that ban and people paying for posts and so many people buying followers/likes, etc. It’s a bit of a nightmare. So I try not to rely on too much eventuating. I’d love to keep working on it, but regardless of whether it grows or not, I’ll still love getting dressed everyday… and that’s the reason I started it in the first place anyway.

The Girl Who Lived for Clothes

All images: @thegirlwholivedforclothes |  Interview by Genevieve Phelan

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