Shelley Mokoena is a fashion designer and interior designer specialising in bold looks
In the right hands, white is a delight, and someone who knows this better than most is Shelley Mokoena.
If colour drives mood, then it’s easy to see why Shelley has such a calming presence. Her sleek, subtle outfits are anything but muted, though. As one half of Prime Obsession – the twinning duo often confused for sisters – Shelley’s aesthetic has grown from a thrifting business into a clothing line.
“Our collection is very much a reflection of us. It’s about structure and volume. We’re both very passionate about all-white looks, and the line is very much aligned with what we’ve been putting out all these years.”
Having studied interior design, a career she pursues today, Shelley’s style is heavily influenced by architecture.
“My style is minimal, with simple silhouettes that sometimes use more elaborate clothing. I’d rather go with wide-leg trousers than skinny pants. I love boxy shoulders. My style is simple, but says a lot because of the structure and the volume of the clothing.”
It’s important to note that while white is the absence of colour, it should be perceived as a colour in its own right when constructing an outfit, and Shelley knows that the peaceful tone is not only great at reflecting light, but the best way to bring out whatever other colour she pairs it with.
Shelley believes that our current infatuation with colour has to do with trend, and that "people are experimenting more with bold colours because that is what is trending now. It's what is available in-store, what we see on the runway and see on the people that influence us. Rich Mnisi, Thebe Magugu, Trevor Stuurman, Kwena Baloyi, Yasmin Furmie...”
Colour is associated with feelings, and while blue goes with sadness and black symbolises death, the colour white can brings feelings of tranquility to whoever wears it. A colour associated with weddings and baptisms, evoking purity and newness, Shelley knows how it has the ability to energise, and has some tips for getting the most out of your summer whites.
“White is so airy. There’s a feeling of lightness. It's a calming colour, a happy colour, so wear it in layers. To give it an edge you could wear it with torn-up jeans. It all comes down to what you wear it with and how you wear it.”
The most important part of all that is confidence, and as a woman who has always been confident in her style, Shelley’s secret is knowing what works for her and then sticking to it.
“I’ve always loved fashion and have gradually grown with my style. I don’t think I’ll ever be truly done. I’ll keep exploring.”
And because style is eternal, if you buy something that you love then chances are that you’ll want to wear it forever. It makes sense that Shelley looks after what she's got.
“I don’t know how old some of the pieces we thrift are, but I love how if it’s a good piece it tends to last, both physically and stylistically. Then someone else finds it and breathes in new life.”
And while most would consider white a provocation for spills and stains, or a danger shade, that’s exactly what Shelley enjoys about it: the high-risk, high-reward nature of white.
“I like crisp, clean white everything, from homeware to my wardrobe, and even if I have to be more careful and care for it more often, that’s fine. It’s worth it. I also love red wine, so luckily my mother taught me everything that I need to know about stain removal. I’ll soak my whites in a bucket of water and washing liquid and afterwards wash by hand.”
Thrifting has left Shelley with an innate sense of wanting to look after the things she's got, and like her you can ensure that your clothing gets passed on to the next generation by refusing to let it fade and using Ariel Washing Liquid. #NoCompromise