The ever-chic Cara Stizza is stepping into our wardrobe today to play hypothetical work dress-ups. Why? Because thinking of a new clothing recipe every weekday can be gruelling, especially when seasons are changing and we’ve been back at the office for a while now.
Cara is certainly certified to offer sage advice on getting dressed for work, and making it look easy. She’s the founder and creative director at the Melbourne-based architecture and interior design studio Made For, specialising in workplace design. Her most recent project was converting a standalone warehouse in Melbourne’s Cremorne for Frank Body’s new HQ.
She’s nailed a ‘low-fi cool’ aesthetic that radiates put-togetherness
Cara is one of those frustratingly stylish people who almost exclusively dresses in Acne and Alexander Wang. You’ll see her swanning from café to construction site to knockoff wines in a bewilderingly simple but interesting ensemble of clothing. She’s nailed a ‘low-fi cool’ aesthetic that radiates put-togetherness, but this busy woman is also a leader of 15 employees and an unruly toddler.
As a longtime Harrolds shopper, Cara is kindly walking us through her blueprint for building out a trusty on-duty office capsule. She also chats career, style ethos and best enclaves to nab a good post-work pinot Northside — it’s one worth reading and taking notes from simultaneously.
Cara, welcome! Can you tell us a bit about your interior design and architecture studio, Made For?
Made For is a full service architecture and interior design studio based in Melbourne specialising in workplace and residential design. We believe our power lies in the intersection between bold creative vision and strategy-led execution. Our insights-led approach has led us to design the workspaces for a diverse cohort of business and brands, from slick corporates to cult startups.
Starting Made For was a bold step for me as a young woman in the industry. I wanted to toss the rule book out the window and chase after big, exciting clients doing interesting things – I think it’s the best way to grow, evolve, challenge yourself and learn. Six years later, I’ve got an incredible team of about 15 people. We’re fortunate to have a very tight-knit company culture, which filters out into how closely we work with our clients, suppliers and network of creatives.
A notable recent project of yours was the new Frank Body HQ. Talk us through the concept and design — what was your vision and what’s special about its execution?
Frank Body was at an inflection point in their growth and needed a space that would carry them into a new phase of their business. They’re such a bold, cheeky brand so we were able to approach the design concept from a place of real playfulness, which is always so much fun. There’s also a lot of grit in the brand and in the business. That juxtaposition was a really interesting dynamic to start designing from. We landed on a concept of ‘a fistful of self-care’. With the industrial bones of a warehouse in Melbourne’s Cremorne, we applied a colour palette of green, burgundy and pink alongside materials including terrazzo, timber and stainless steel.
The ‘wow’ element of the space is the breakout zone, where you’ll find a black and white terracotta checkerboard floor and second-hand furniture mixed with one-off local pieces and whimsical cabinetry – it’s just so much fun. To cap it all off, we commissioned a mural by the incredible Bobby Clark. Frank Body gave us a lot of creative freedom, and it’s all at play here.
Along with an eye for interiors, you dress with sophistication, colour and quirk. What are some of your go-to outfit ideas/pieces for off-duty wear?
Firstly, I feel that you always need a great shoe to go with any outfit. I wear my Tabi boots by Maison Margiela to death — they go with absolutely everything. I love a boot with an outfit, so I’m eyeing off some knee-high calf boots by Bottega Veneta for winter! I’m always looking for pieces that can be dressed up and dressed down, and for me a trench coat is the ultimate hard-working addition to a wardrobe as it can be worn in so many ways. Eyeing off this number from Aaizél right now for something that pushes at silhouette slightly more than a classic Burberry, for example. Off duty, I love to wear a baggy jean, sneakers and a tee. I look to designers like Lanvin and Saks Potts, both of which have some very fun pieces right now. Lastly, a great bag – one that is roomy enough for everything and anything I might need for work, life, parenting. Acne’s Agele bag ticks every single box.
And when it comes to work attire, how do you plan for a day at the helm of Made For?
I feel so lucky to work for a studio every day. I missed having a reason to dress for the day when we were all WFH! Weekdays are pretty busy between toddler life and running a business, so there isn’t much time to plan in the morning. Knowing I have built a wardrobe with good quality pieces means I can grab and go and feel comfortable and like myself during the day. Comfort is a high priority for me as my day is so varied. I might be at my desk, have back to back meetings, working with samples in the design library or out on site.
What are your top tips for combatting dressing fatigue from Monday-Friday? Because it can definitely get repetitive.
I like to keep dressing Monday – Friday pretty simple. I make sure to have some staple items that look great with anything. Some must have items for me are a comfortable pair of jeans, a pair of tailored black trousers, a lighter neutral pair of trousers, an oversized blazer and a classic trench. These staples allow me to mix in coloured tops and shirts, keeping things fresh and fun. I also love to wear my two-tone Versace necklace to funk up an outfit. It’s about having the building blocks to feel confident and effortless in incorporating pops of colour, texture and trend-forward pieces.
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We hear you’re an Alexander Wang and Acne kind of girl. What do you love about these two brands specifically?
To me, both Acne Studios and Alexander Wang’s aesthetic is cool and effortless. Both labels mix classic style with bold colour palettes, and I love their eclectic use of materials. They also both have extremely high quality fabrications, which means I can enjoy wearing their pieces for many years – this is so important to me. Other personal favourites for everyday wear include Jacquemus, Wynn Hamlyn and Maison Margiela. Maison Margiela and Wynn Hamlyn have such a cool, easy urban sophistication going on. And then the playfulness and vibrant colours that Jacquemus is using is great for adding in that layer of surprise on top. For evening wear, I can’t go past some of the silhouettes by Christopher Esber. His pieces have a beautiful structure to them and feel truly unique.
My style has certainly evolved over time
Where do you think your inherently effortless style comes from?
My style has certainly evolved over time. I have become more experimental only in recent years, exploring bolder colour choices and statement pieces. I don’t think my style came to me naturally! There was a lot of trial and error to find out what worked for me. My rule is that I try not to over complicate things – less is always more. Now, I love getting away with investing in fewer but better pieces.
For any Melburnians on the hunt for new interiors, can you list off a few fabulous local brands you’re loving right now?
As a one stop shop for decorating your home, Modern Times on Smith Street has a perfectly curated selection of original artwork, local furniture designers and ceramicists. Pan After in Collingwood have lovely furnishings and homewares to complete a home as well, including amazing towels and blankets, great coffee table books and beautiful objects. For furniture some of my go to places include Grazia and Co, Jardan, Living Edge and Domo.
Lastly, for trans-seasonal eating and drinking in your city, where is on the top of your must-dine and wine wish list?
Marion Wine Bar in Fitzroy is my favourite place to go for delicious food and a great wine selection. It has a chilled atmosphere and never disappoints! I also love sitting outside, under the umbrellas at The European & City Wine Shop on Spring St. My local, The Moon, is always fun for a quiet snack or after work drink. Lastly, I’m a pasta girl, so I simply can’t go past Tipo00 for amazing Italian food.