If you’ve seen Kimbra—and, judging by the 256 million-plus views the Gotye music video she’s featured in has garnered, it’s very likely—you probably can’t think of her in anything else but body paint. The 22-year-old singer-songwriter promises that she’s a bit more covered-up (and certainly more stylish) for her current US tour, however. Take, for example, the ruffled turquoise confection she recently donned. “It has a strong shape and feels a bit theatrical while still having a freedom and movement to it, which I like,” says the New Zealander. With songs that range from jazz-inflected R&B to soulful pop, Kimbra is equally enthusiastic about having loads of clothing choices. As she explains, “I like to have the options so that I can dress according to the mood that night and keep things feeling fresh.” Before a slew of West Coast dates (she’ll also be back in September and October, in case you missed her), Kimbra let ELLE.com go through her suitcase.
Outfit breakdown: The dress is one I picked up for $20 in a Sydney opportunity shop, and I have adjusted it to fit with safety pins! The piece underneath is actually a sequin skirt, which I’ve used as a top in this instance; I also picked this up second-hand in LA. The shoes are a pair of wedges I got a long time ago, they’re just really comfortable to prance about in onstage.
I brought this outfit on tour because: I liked the color and the ruffled, exaggerated shoulders. I thought it had a nice drama to it.
When I travel: I pack about eight to 10 different pieces I can rotate, [especially] considering US tours are generally pretty long, but if one dress is feeling particularly right for the mood I may just wear it for most of the tour.
I always bring: lots of books for the long drives on the tour bus. They are my little escape.
You’d never catch me onstage wearing: something that would disappoint my parents.
My pre-tour shopping stop is: Melbourne op-shops. I always like to hunt out some vintage dresses down Chapel Street.
The best on-the-road purchase I ever made was: a black trench coat with multicolor jewels across the collar and shoulders. I found it in a Chicago vintage store.
Before I go onstage I always: do muscle warm-ups, focusing on my lats and pecs, so that I can work my body on stage to help me out vocally.
My favorite thing to have happened on tour so far has been: making lots of new friends, playing at awesome venues, and seeing Niagara Falls!