“I haven’t changed my wardrobe in YEARS,” an Instagram follower wrote to me. “And I don’t want to dress like my daughter. HELP!” I tried out a lot of different looks over the years before settling on my signature style. Here’s how I build my wardrobe so that it’s both exciting and practical – yes those two things work together -from work to weekend, all year long.
CHIC BLACK In the 90s, long before iPhones and street style, the only shade chic fashion lovers wore was black. I remember covering Paris Fashion Week when the audience was a sea of black outfits, not the peacock style you see today. My key to making black look modern now is TEXTURE. Whether the fabric is sparkly, shiny, ribbed or nubbly, or a plain woven material trimmed with feathers, sequins or ribbon, black works best for me when it’s far from basic. And I’ve fallen in love with wearing all black again. I’ve worn a tailored black wool suit with a metallic tee and sparkly boots, but I’d never ever pair the same suit with a plain blouse and boots.
SILHOUETTES I’m careful about the shapes I choose. I’m an average weight and height so prefer BODY SKIMMING pieces like a straight cut slim trouser or wider cuffed trousers, or a mid-calf pencil skirt, with a fitted jacket. Clingy pieces, or baggy oversized shapes, make me look heavier. To streamline my figure, I choose jackets with a defined shoulder and nipped-in waist. I rarely deviate from this body skimming silhouette – colour and pattern provide the excitement – the pieces remain simple.
PATTERN PLAY My go-to look is an artistic patterned jacket and eye-catching accessories. I’ve written about my love for Belgian designer, DRIES VAN NOTEN, many times. There’s something about his colour choices and artistic patterns that makes my heart beat faster. His work perfectly expresses everything I love about fashion. I chose carefully though – a body-skimming knee-length topper, or a pencil skirt – are my favourites. I went out on a limb with this skirt though. I’ll wear it for work with a tailored black jacket (belted to add waist definition) or a jean jacket and boots on the weekend. Dries’ pieces are so different that they are timeless and look just as good with heels for cocktails, or jeans and boots when shopping.
EASY DRESSES When in doubt, wear a dress. I love how easy it is to wear a simple body-skimming dress. Add a pair of heels and I’m good to go. This one, by designer Roksanda IIincic, is the perfect colour and I love the sleeve detail. I’ll wear it for evening cocktails, a wedding, or special work function. When a piece has this much going on – sleeve bows, vivid colour – I keep everything else really simple: my hair is down and no fussy jewellery.
STRIPES I’m obsessed with stripes – I have more striped tee shirts than I could ever wear. But I was nervous about buying this dress by Canadian duo UNTTLD. It was … really out there. And I was concerned that it would make me look too thick, or that I was trying too hard. But it’s so easy to wear … the black X panel and the easy stretch material make it work. And I’m going to love it for winter with boots and a black leather jacket.
SELFIE DOES IT This outfit is everything I love – my first Dries van Noten topper (bought years ago at Barneys), a YSL leopard pattern cross-body bag (animal patterns are timeless), a striped tee and jeans. I like to take selfies of my favourite outfits as reminders. So when I’m travelling, I can easily pull all of the pieces together when packing. And also for when those times when I’m feeling uninspired and need to dig out neglected pieces.
INSPIRATION Where can you start to get ideas? I used to read fashion magazines but now I find better and more realistic looks on Instagram. My favourites include: @blaireadiebee for her off-beat colours and simple joy for fashion; @bat_gio for her quirky fun sense of style; @victoriabeckham for her feminine approach to men’s styles; @jjmartinmilan for her printed designs for @ladoublej; and @tibi for effortless cool girl chic. Celebrity style I admire: Tilda Swinton, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett all excite me. The constants I look for? Colour, pattern and a sense of humour when it comes to fashion.