Karen Gee black shift dress. On air minutes later, her Sunrise colleagues ribbed her good-naturedly for being so on-trend.
“I’m not obsessed with fashion, but I’m interested in it,” she says. To that end, she’s recently become a fashion associate for Harris Scarfe. “I’m typical of their customers because I’m a busy working mum and I like fashion that doesn’t cost a fortune,” she says. “You’ll never see me Instagram the latest Oscar de la Renta clutch. I do shudder at what some of those things cost.”
Middle-age hasn’t changed the way she dresses so much as modified it. She still wears sleeveless dresses, but her hems are a little lower. She’s not keen on her double-d breasts – “I wish they were smaller” – and never shows them off. Likewise, if the stylist is showing her a dress, she knows instantly if it’s not right. “I’ll say one word: ‘Mutton.’ I’ll call it before they will,” she says with a laugh. But she also thinks clothes should be fun. When a Harris Scarfe colleague observes that Gillies is aspirational for women in their 40s and 50s, the woman herself laughingly interjects: “Yes, young women. Or the woman who likes to think she’s still young!”
Which brings us to work and how much longer she might continue in co-hosting duties. She says she has no desire to leave – “I’m staying if for no other reason than to annoy Larry” – but Emdur points out that since appearing on Dancing With The Stars in 2009, she’s something of a frustrated showgirl.
“Sometimes I think she has to tuck her jazz hands into her pockets,” he laughs, before revealing that during those many hours on the couch the pair have cooked up a retirement plan. “We’ve decided that long after the show has finished we’re going to tour around nursing homes doing dancing lessons for people. I’m quite excited about that and she’s very excited about that, too.”