In a world where authenticity often takes a backseat, Keely Bradley has carved a path of her own. With her vibrant sense of fashion, the emerging content creator offers a captivating narrative, turning adversity into a wellspring of creativity and resilience. She’s not merely another name in the digital crowd; her story is a testament to perseverance, courage, and unabashed self-expression.
Having grown up parading down hallways in her own unique ensembles, fashion became a lifeline for Keely during the most challenging times in her life. Hospital bathroom outfit photos turned into style content admired by many, showing the transformative power of fashion as a form of self-expression and self-care. As the Australian-based creative navigates her journey with chronic illness, her unique blend of vintage and contemporary styles has become an emblem of her distinct narrative.
Yet, it’s not all about the outfits. Maintaining a delicate balance between public life and personal sanctity, Keely manages to let her audience in while keeping parts of her life just for herself. Unapologetically real, she truly connects with her followers by sharing personal trials and triumphs while preserving aspects of her private life offline.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Keely Bradley about her childhood experience, all things fashion, and mental health among other topics. Keep reading for the full interview.
First and foremost, I’d love to learn a bit more about your story—what was your childhood experience? What led you down the path of content creation?
I used to walk up and down my hallway as a kid in different outfits, I used to design clothes out of whatever I could find, I went through a huge phase of making jewelry and selling it out the front of my house. I always tried to add a little piece of me into my school uniform, and would stay up late trying on my clothes, creating different outfits.
Being chronically ill and disabled though, making content creation my job felt like it was only going to be a dream and a hobby. Content creation became my hobby that eventually I could turn into a job, which feels so surreal still, but I love it.
I’ve been posting my outfits for about seven years now, it began as an outlet for me to distract myself from what I was experiencing, I would post outfit photos from the hospital bathroom between appointments, and sometimes going to appointments was the only time I’d leave the house, so wearing something that made me happy meant I wanted to capture that.
Over lockdown, it became even more of an outlet, and I could really let my creativity flourish, I would take five outfit photos in one day, sometimes. I got diagnosed with another chronic illness during lockdown and trying to find something accessible that I loved was taking photos of my outfits. TikTok was still pretty new, I was using it more for pleasure than posting, but a friend of mine started to post, and it inspired me! It’s the perfect job for a chronically ill person!
Do you recall a particular moment or person that inspired your current approach to fashion and personal style?
Definitely my mum. We would go on so many shopping sprees, and she gave me my love for vintage fashion. She would make so many of my costumes as a kid, too. She always said to me that even if I felt bad, I should put on something that makes me feel good.
That being said, what are your favorite beauty and fashion brands?
For fashion: vintage and second-hand, first and foremost. Whenever I find a trend or piece I like on someone, I really try to find it second-hand first before purchasing new. When I am purchasing new, my faves are Highrack Studios, Motel, Brie Leon, Arthur Apparel, Lazy Oaf, Karla Laidlaw, Oats The Label, Sister Studios, just to name a few from the top of my head. My favorite beauty brands are Rare Beauty, Fenty, Laneige, Kiehl’s, Ceave, and Evo.
When it comes to building a wardrobe you love, I’m curious to know the building blocks of your style and how you ultimately choose what to wear.
I usually always start with one piece I want to style first and build it from there. I get a lot of inspo from Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest and Stylemine too, and just try to recreate an outfit with my pieces and change it up if I want to make it my own!
Although your clothing tends to be the main star of the show, how do you play jewelry and other accessories into your overall sense of fashion on a day to day?
I’ve definitely toned down the maximalist inside of me… I always wear my earring stack, and I used to always wear my ring stack but lately I have been loving my outfits without them. I have started to play around more with belts and scarves lately to add something else and I’ve been loving it! I think I’m preferring more practical and comfortable accessories, that add a little piece of me.
And also, are you a tote or handbag type of gal?
Handbag, but it has to be big enough to fit my water bottle in it!
Another thing that I wanted to ask you about was finding time for self-care and mental health—how do you find balance between sharing your life and keeping certain things just for you?
I have to admit I’ve always been wonderful at self-care. I love doing nothing. Mostly because my chronic illnesses make me need to or I’ll flare. Doing content creation as a job too, I get to pick my hours, which works really well for me and has really helped me manage my chronic illnesses to a point where I am doing really well!
As for sharing things online, I have always been a little bit of an open book with most things in my life, I have always loved to use online as a community, sharing what I experience has made me feel less alone, but one thing I haven’t shared from really early on is my relationship. As my account grew, I decided I wanted to keep that offline and just for us, I’m really glad I did. I’ve kept it so offline that most people have no idea I have a partner, and think he’s just my friend.
My partner has a small following of his own and posts outfit TikTok’s and people began to put two and two together when he started to film in the same location as me. I have begun to post little bits of him more recently, and we have thought we might make some outfit videos together, but we are both very aware that we don’t want it to become a huge part of our relationship. It doesn’t feel right for us.
I’ve also started to not share as much about my chronic illnesses, it’s really hard as I have so many people ask for more content around it, but it began to feel overwhelming after I was in a really bad flare last year. I wasn’t enjoying creating content in general and was thinking about stopping. I had an amazing conversation with a follower, who is also in a Facebook group I love for chronic illness support, said that I might not post chronic illness-specific content, but I am still a chronically ill person in fashion and doing what I do, which is something in itself.
I realized I needed to take a break from posting health-related content and get through my flare-up. I’m more wary now as I’ve grown a lot this year, and find unsolicited advice overwhelming, but I post little updates when it feels appropriate. I live with it every day, so keeping my space online as my outlet is what I need right now!
What about your tattoos? Do you have any that are really meaningful or are they mostly for aesthetic?
I am known to forget that I have tattoos often, especially certain ones, so I had to look over my body to remind myself what I have. Most of them are meaningful. I have some in memory of my mum. She would hate that I have tattoos, especially the ones just for aesthetic.
Having gained a sizable audience online, do you have any advice for bloggers and influencers who want to turn their hobby into a career?
Most importantly, be you! Keep posting and stick with it. It has taken me a good few years to gain a following, but just posting what makes you happy will resonate and reach people who also enjoy what you post.