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Expressions: Of {Self}


An expression of self can be mediated through many forms. The most visual representation of our personalities is communicated through clothing. Our choices reflect the way we perceive ourselves and the way we desire others to perceive us. While clothing stores and fashion glossies appear to prescribe seasonal uniforms, we all have unique approaches to embracing trends and making them our own, or even dismissing these completely for looks that surpass the seasons. Whatever our positions on the fashion graph, there is one trait that should underpin the peplums or statement neckpieces. Confidence. A self-awareness of one’s strengths and abilities, the belief that as an individual you have the power to bring good into this world, that you are a creative being with the potential of living in a way that enhances the lives of others. It is a belief system that shuns frivolity but recognises the beauty of positive expression in all its forms.

Five ladies took an afternoon off to celebrate the causes of confidence and self-expression with tea taken at the beautiful surrounds of 10 2nd Avenue, Houghton Estate. It was just one instance of women coming together to affirm each othe’s sense of self and the perfect opportunity for a photoshoot to document this. Naqiyah felt that while her workshops introduced woman to personal styling, there was a still a need to visually display this. By highlighting five other woman, each of whom have a unique and personal style that readers can easily identify with, her message is clear; at whatever stage or space you are at in your life, take care of yourself and never stop loving what the Almighty has blessed you with.

The accommodating GM of 10 2nd Avenue, Mr Urs Kern, allowed the niQi team to use the space freely and Reservations Controller Leona Monyae was exceedingly helpful in putting together a suitable menu and advising on a time amid their busy conferencing schedules that would be most suitable for our photoshoot. It was very sincere service at such a beautiful venue in the ‘burbs.



Naqiyah Mayat: Event stylist and founder of niQi Living Luxe
(Click here to view Naqiyah’s style board on Pinterest)

I often begin with one signature item, like a piece of jewellery and coordinate it with other pieces of clothing to find one finished look. I rarely use that item on other fashion pieces, so it’s generally an item you will see me wear with that particular outfit. I buy clothing as I need them. With four kids, running a home and a business, my time is restricted. I use short trips to the mall to shop, so that my kids don’t have to spend hours out with me. I make sure they’re fed before going out and have something to keep them busy. I work out what I would team a look up with as I shop and try to find most of the pieces in one store. I don’t procrastinate and rarely ever come home and hate something I’ve bought. I generally only ever wear an outfit once I have the look complete, from shoes to the accessories.

Since having kids, I tend to shop for them more than I do for myself. A busy social life in most instances means not being seen in the same outfit twice. I purchase on-trend items from better-quality stores so that I can always pass them in good condition to someone after. When it comes to quality, I never compromise on handbags.

I adore accessories. I feel it completes any look and I love good quality neck pieces. I take particular care of my higher-end purchases and make sure I clean them every month with a suitable cloth.

I dress for my features by balancing the top part of my body to the bottom. I have chubbier thighs to I try to minimise them by wearing skirts. While I love wearing jeans, I make certain my tops aren’t too short so I don’t feel uncomfortable or too body-conscious. When I wear longer skirts, I wear tops with a snug fit in order to not look too frumpy.

I need to represent the fundamentals of my business and always dress to sell myself as a brand. I believe in what I wear and I know I can feel confident when walking into a room. No item of clothing can give you that, it’s all a mental state of being.

I try not to mimic one particular style, but I do look to magazines, bloggers and friends as an inspiration for what might be on-trend. My husband will always compliment me when I wear a new item. He is very fashion forward and I can rely on his opinion on what I’m wearing. After managing to return to most of my pre-pregnancy sizing, I wear jeans more often now and you might find me in casual tops from Zara in the week, paired with a pair of Supergas or Louis Vuitton sneakers. It’s a practical way to dress when having to manage meals before school rounds without spending hours perfecting a look before I leave. If I go out, my store of choice is generally Forever New. I love my black Jenni Button suit and I believe every women needs to own one black suit that can be worn to any event. I am mad about my hair and make certain that it’s always taken care of. I love the always on-trend ballerina bun and up-styles for when I’m working.

The more classical looks seem to be making a come-back, with recent movie releases bringing back a sense of Hollywood glam. I see gaudier styles being released and clothing with lots of detail on it. I’m hoping the frumpy look of lounge dressing falls away; the relaxed look is more suitable for the home.

Hair: Brandan Behrens and Garbriela Kleyhans at Paul James, The Glen
Skirt: Truworths
Jacket: Legit
Leggings and ankle boots: Forever New
Ring and chain: Aldo



Saaleha Idrees Bamjee: Freelance Writer and Photographer
(Click here to view Saaleha’s style board on Pinterest)

I’m very contextual when it comes to selecting my look for the day. When I’m presenting a workshop or meeting with a client, I opt for sharp tailored lines in solid darks, to which I’ll add a pop of colour or pattern to represent my creative side. When I’m off the clock, my wardrobe consists of classic pieces (jeans, blazers, jackets, shirts), quirky patterned items, vintage-look dresses and novelty t-shirts. I also favour an androgynous, preppy look that features hats and brogues. I love clothing and accessories with modern architectural lines. I’m not too much of an on-trend person and browse the stores and the net for pieces that speak to my own sense of style.

I shop impulsively, from anywhere, but I never regret my purchasing decisions. My big-ticket items include shoes and jackets. I once bought a red leather jacket in Florence in 2006 for a credit-card-cracking amount of Euros. I wear the jacket to this day and it remains a signature piece in my wardrobe.

I’ve just recently embarked on a journey to change my approach to exercise and eating. This determination to reach a healthy weight for my age and frame has spurred me to review my self-perceptions. For too long, I hid under layers of clothes that were often three sizes too big just so I could feel swaddled in a false sense of comfort. I now buy clothes that fit well and flatter and I’ve given away anything that was even remotely frumpy.

You’ll often find me wearing hats or some other head gear. I buy accessories based on their quirk-factor and uniqueness. I sometimes wear a small silver wishbone pendant because it reminds me of a memory from childhood. I also enjoy making my own jewellery (like shweshwe fabric earrings or a necklace made from buttons). The act of creation is very important for my general well-being and I feel deep fulfilment in being able to express it in various forms.

My clothing choices are generally modest and it can be challenging to find suitable items that do not display too much of the bobbly-bits. For extra coverage, my closet is never without long-sleeved inners, cardigans and soft jackets.

I browse Pinterest, online stores and the occasional glossy to glean what’s going on in the fashion world. While I don’t always follow the trends, it’s fundamental for me to keep current as it influences my design and photographic work.

Hat: China Mart
Jacket: YDE
Shirt: Jenni Button factory store, Access Park, Kenilworth, Cape Town
Coated Pants: Woolworths
Shoes: Errol Arendz


Fatima Gani: Designer and mum to a nine-year-old princess and a three-year-old prince.
(Click here to view Fatima’s style board on Pinterest)

Although I am generally attracted to what is on trend, I will not wear something just because it is in fashion. If I am not entirely comfortable with an in fashion item I will steer clear of them, harem pants for example. I feel that if you’re comfortable, you’re confident and that is the most important part of looking glamorous.

Because I tire easily of an item I tend not to spend wads of cash on it. There is no store that I will not buy from. My wardrobe ranges from Pep Stores to Castello.

I absolutely love to accessorize. A piece of jewellery can totally transform an outfit. Take caution when choosing pieces as it can overpower and you end up looking like a coat hanger. An accessory is an extension of your personality and has to tie in with the kind of personality that you have. A bunch of chunky bangles won’t necessarily suit an introvert, as the bangles make a bold statement.

I have a small frame and feel frumpy in loose clothing. Without compromising too much on modesty, I like to keep a sleek silhouette by tailoring my clothing. My husband loves my dress sense and lets me know it. Strangers in public often stop me and tell me that I look good and he just beams with pride.

I dress exactly the way that I feel on a particular day. I’m a generally jolly person and express that through my dress, hence the bright colours and feel good vibes that my ensemble emits.

I aim for individuality. I love being unique as essentially it is our diversity that makes this world such a beautiful place. So I would advise you gorgeous ladies to not to imitate a look, but to find your own fashionista within you. The aim is to be modern and well put together. Clean lines and confidence are a sure fire way to ooze style. There is not one type of fashion. For instance, if you’re girly, punk rock, conservative, hippie, hijabi, there are ways and items to look stylish. Colours don’t necessarily have to match, but have to be well coordinated.

When I see something that I like, I buy it. I’m not a person that will shop for an event like Eid or a wedding. 99% of the time I will have pieces hanging, waiting to be worn. That way I hardly clash with someone wearing the same item.

South Africa tends to hold onto a trend for far too long. I like to wear a new style when it’s new. Whereas South Africans are weary and will only wear a trend after it’s been in circulation for a while.
I predict neutrals having a big comeback after the neon shock, maybe pastels again for spring. Trends are always recycled traditions with a twist.

I strongly believe that if you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you will be a good mom and a fantastic wife. I want to pass on this on to other ladies through the fashion label I will soon be launching. Fati Gani will be a range of evening wear that embraces individuality and exclusivity. I will be on hand for each customer as their personal stylist and as I have both hair and make-up expertise, I can provide those services as well.

Top: China Town
Skirt: Mr Price
Tights: Woolworths
Ankle Boots: a boutique in Shanghai
Gold cuff: Lovisa
Chain: Lovisa
Watch: Chopard
Gloves: Forever New



Tasneem Vally: Beauty Therapist, Make-up Artist and Hijab Stylist
(Click here to view Tasneem’s style board on Pinterest)

I choose an outfit based on the weather, my mood, the occasion and if difficulty arises in compiling an outfit, I peruse through my scarf collection for inspiration.
No budget constricts the tapestry my mind weaves as I browse through various styles irrespective of location. I shop at boutiques, chain stores or even the local China Mall
I love to accesorise. The beauty of a sea bed is only as eye catching and breath taking as its unique and colourful living inhabitants, similarly to that of a plain outfit which is highlighted by the choice of accessory ( in other words no outfit is complete without one or two)

Fashion is meant to become unfashionable, an illustration should only inspire but never dictate an appearance, always strive to evolve in what makes you an individual. I feel one should find one’s own style personality and embrace it.

I’m an impulse buyer on most outings, which is not always a disadvantage as a women’s impulse or better known to man as intuition barely fails her.

My spouse, daughters, mother and brother are my biggest critics and when the Outfit Of The Day comments are minimal is when I realize my style has depreciated.
Fashion has always been a case of reinventing the wheel. Although not always a smooth ride! So once again find statement pieces that define your personality and use scarves, accessories and shoes to zhush up an outfit.

Jacket-Canal Walk
Skirt- Foschini
Accessories- Forever New

Tasneem Vally

Rowena Saloojee: Fashion Blogger, London International School of Fashion (LISOF) student and Make-Up Artist
(Click here to view Rowena’s style board on Pinterest)

Being a London International School of Fashion (LISOF) student and fashion blogger, dressing up has become a daily task. But trying to dress up differently everyday can be daunting, especially on a student’s wallet! Here are a few of my secrets on how I buy apparel, while still sticking to a budget and staying fashion-forward.

The inspiration
As a blogger, I tend to research fashion and the industry a great deal. I often visit other blogs and fashion sites such as and for ideas. Also, Pinterest is the hub of fashion pinspiration! Bloggers tend to be the trend setters these days, and when I visit international blogs I pick up trends: something that they all seem to be wearing. This generally reflects what we will see in our stores in upcoming months. Whilst I don’t covet a certain celebrity’s style, I do still keep up on their style. For local inspiration, I particularly like Grazia magazine, as they focus on what are in stores right now and have a range of prices. Also, they keep their social feeds up to date with everything fashion related.

Buying an item
But, when I go shopping, I don’t necessarily purchase what I saw online. I definitely keep my eye out for it, but I tend to buy what I like rather than what’s on trend. I visit a range of stores with a range of prices: from Cotton On to Zara.

How price conscious I am, depends on the item itself. I spend very little on a high fashion item, and tend to check around for the best price before buying it. However, I do save and buy classics that are exceptional quality, especially in winter. At first, I was very keen on buying clothes that were high fashion and extremely cheap, so I could wear it once and not care if I ever wore it again. These days I tend to live by the saying: “When you dress, buy less, but buy the best”.

I used to put masses of pressure on myself to not outfit repeat (at least not in front of the same people!). Now, when buying an item I need to be able to think of at least three ways to style it completely differently on the spot or I won’t buy it (unless it’s exceptionally inexpensive). Buying something that is good quality but versatile once can actually save you more money than buying cheap items more frequently.

Another tip: figure out your shopping technique. Do you need the opinions of others’ when you shop? If so, take a friend along: someone who knows about fashion, and will be completely honest with you without being harsh. You could also hire a person stylist to help you out if you truly feel out of your comfort zone when shopping for clothing for yourself. I tend to be a mixture of both. I don’t mind having people shopping with me, but I sometimes prefer to be a lone shopper. I’m very decisive when buying something, so I don’t necessarily have to have a friend with.

Styling an item
The key here is to be completely honest with your shape. Don’t wiggle your way into something too tiny, or wear something oversized to hide bits you don’t like. When styling your clothing figure out your strong points. Which parts of your body do you love, and which would you prefer to conceal. I can guarantee you that no one thinks “do you think she’s wearing a size 34 or 36 today?” Rather wear something that fits well, regardless of the size. You will feel absolutely amazing, and it will show.

I tend to shy away from jewellery, unless it’s a special occasion. If I do, I keep it simple and just one particular accessory: a ring or a bracelet or a necklace. However, I make up my clothes with bags and scarves. I love bright bags and scarves, especially in winter; it can change the entire look of an ensemble.

What to look out for this winter
Textures: Tweed, velvet and chunky knits are major this season and are all very easy to wear.
Shape: Cigarette style pants with tighter tops, or chunky oversized knits with tighter bottoms. Keep a balance of the two so you don’t look frumpy.
Colours: Neutral and warm colours seem to be bigger this winter than the bright variations. Skinny jeans have gone from pastels tones to more moody versions. Monochrome is definitely a biggy this season as well.
Accessories: I personally will be seen in a lot of ankle boots, and Hunters are definitely in for this season. Go for printed scarves this winter, and a big Celine inspired bag.

Jumpsuit: Rhoda Boutique, Mumbai India
Pearls: Mr Price
Shoe: Zoom

Foundation: The Body Shop and MAC mineralize skinfinish powder
Eyeshadow: Kryolan
Liner: MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack
Mascara: Maybelline Illegal Length
Lipstick: Revlon Lipstain Lipbalm in Smitten
Blush: Essence



Nazmira Saloojee: Stylist, Personal Shopper, Wardrobe Planner, Communications/PR Consulting and Make-Up Artistry
(Click here to view Nazmira’s style board on Pinterest)

My style personality could be described as romantic. I am inspired by nature, florals, soft feminine palettes, fun, pearls and jewels.

I choose my outfits based on my body type. I have a large bust and a small waist and so I try to minimize bust size by choosing good fitting bras, v-necks as opposed to round/polar necks. I focus on accessories that take the attention away from bust, such as long pearls or stand-out necklaces and I enhance my waist by using belts. My calves are more toned due to ice-skating so leggings always work for me.

My budget determines how much I’ll spend on vests, leggings, accessories and high-fashion items. However, I never compromise on the quality of my handbags, shoes and hijab styling scarves.

I’m big on accessories, which can convert any outfit from day to night, glam vs. dressing down. I’ll splurge on my must-haves; scarves, jewellery, good quality handbags and sunglasses.

I shop according to the events I may have to attend, looking at seasonal trends that fit my personalit. I am fortunate enough to travel overseas at least once a year and this is where I purchase my luxury pieces. For example, on a recent visit to Mauritius, I looked for items that I would not get in SA or that would be cheaper. I contacted a driver who took me to a factory store where I bought bags and scarves made in Paris and shoes made in Brazil. Pearls were purchased on the beach. Cashmere, made locally, were purchased at the hotel at a reasonable price, and perfumes and makeup travel collection, on the plane.

I often shop locally when things are on sale, and I look to stores and markets, including Mr Price, Market on Main, Forever New, Zara Nine West and Sissy Boy.

For style inspiration I look to Pinterest, which provides me with a wide variety of how to wear what, Glamour magazine, my sister Rowena and my mum who’s 50-something and still very stylish. Due to having resided in the UK for a while, I also look at what’s coming out of Europe. Above all of this, my intuition is my greatest asset when it comes to styling.

Anything that pleases your eyes makes you feel warm inside, whether it’s an exquisite art piece or a delicious pastry, this is how I feel when I’m dressed up. Dressing up allows me to change my personality to the environment and feel confident about it. If I choose a holiday destination, like Mauritius, where I’m surrounded by French influence, this becomes my inspiration. If I’m at a Little Black Dress event, I want to be able to make it my own, so even though I won’t be comfortable showing my legs, I can always opt for tights. If I’m skating, I want to look like a skater to be inspired to skate professionally. For me, dressing up is getting into character and the world is my stage. I use my destination as a runway. with appropriateness for each event.

I have the following style advice for the readers:

Be kind to yourself, fall in love with YOU, your body, please yourself first, the rest will follow
Dress for YOU, not your friends, husband, mother etc.
Be prepared for criticism, you don’t need everyone to love your look
Maximise your features, embrace what you have
Invest in good quality undies, this is your canvas. A great bra and tummy tucker can work wonders
Work with what you have and use it as a basic wardrobe, build on it.
You don’t need every colour of the same garment.
Think holistically, think in beautiful images of yourself
Take care of your body and soul, please your eyes with looking gorgeous
A manicure/ pedicure once a month is worth spoiling yourself with, even if its DIY
I see 2013 Winter trends consisting of leather, faux fur and head-to-toe prints as seen by Miu-Miu.

My winter wardrobe will include cropped leather jackets (Vero-Moda, India,Market on Main, Johannesburg) leather tights (Jane Norman, London, bought in 2009 and still going strong), suede with leather trimmings (H&M, Dubai, bought in 2011), fur coats (vintage), pastel green cropped jacket with metal embellishments (Zara, Market on Main, Johannesburg), bright coloured pants; especially electric blues, black lace and velvet.

Dress: Rhoda Boutique- Mumbai, India
Pearls: Mauritius, Grand Bay Beach
Black necklace: Sass Diva
Shoe: Factory store, Dubai
Scarf: Hermes, Mauritius
Tights: Foschini
Abaya: Vendor from Jordan, Sultan Bahu fete


Nazmira and Tasneem are offering niQi readers a special rate on personal styling.
For R1500 you will get 8 hours (which can be split over two days) of focussed consulting that includes:
Basic counselling
Skin analysis
Wardrobe consulting
Personal shopping
Scarf styling OR hair consultation

To take advantage of this offer, send an email to Nazmira on or Tasneem on quoting niQi as your reference.

Photography by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee and Rowena Saloojee

13 Responses
  • Zeenat Ismail
    June 6, 2013

    You Ladies look Beautiful. Especially my friend from Salon Sahiba – Tasneem Valley 🙂 . Looking forward to keeping an eye on your pinterest boards for inspirational ideas.

  • Layla
    June 6, 2013

    An inspirational and interesting read, thanks for the tips & insight ladies

  • tasneem kadwa
    June 6, 2013

    Beautiful mashAllah! An inspiring article and excellent photography…my favourite aspect of this is that the 3 ladies I know from this piece; Naqiyah, Fatima and Saaleha are shine inside and out! You rock ladies!

  • Anisa
    June 6, 2013

    wow what stunning pics…masha-allah!!!

  • Shameema & Hasina
    June 6, 2013

    can’t wait to join your next workshop!

  • Shameema & Hasina
    June 6, 2013

    cant wait to join your next workshop. looks like loads of fun!

  • atiyah saloojee
    June 6, 2013

    My Gawjus sisters….looking absolutely stunning and very inSpiring reads … Very good photography rowi.. Xoxo

  • Hajira Moosajee
    June 6, 2013

    Mashallah.Article was most inspiring,interesting and worth the read.

  • Mohamed
    June 7, 2013

    WoW, the pictures look stunning, love the write up. I

  • Shenaaz Moosa
    June 8, 2013

    Gorgeous, stylish, simplicity and well photographed…..
    Well done to you girls…..
    Keep on inspiring our young girls..
    Be Blessed

  • Faeeza
    June 10, 2013

    Naqiyah spectacular and inspirational piece. It’s so important not to lose ones “sense of self”, when taking on the role of wife and mother.
    Thank you for helping us all want to strive to be more, and looking va va boom whilst we do it!!
    To all the other lovely ladies, you are each a beautiful success in your own right. Good on you!!

  • Natasha
    June 11, 2013

    Absolutely beautiful pic…stunning ladies!