Anna Stothard Winter 2016

I am an avid hoarder of autobiographical objects: of beer bottle tops, toy soldiers, dog eared books and shoes. I still own the black pencil skirt I bought in Bloomingdales, age sixteen, while falling in love with my first boyfriend. I own a pair of knee-high winter boots given to me on my eighteenth birthday, which walked me through a year of funerals, love affairs and friendships until the soles broke on a night bus between Clapham Junction and Swiss Cottage. Sunglasses from formative holidays, cocktail dresses from memorable evenings, stilettos from an awful break up. Like the protagonist in my most recent novel, The Museum of Cathy, each of these curated possessions represents a memory and tells a story.

My most precious piece of clothing is a silk patchwork ball dress with layers of voile under the skirt, which used to belong to my grandmother. It teeters somewhere between charmingly eccentric and really-quite-ugly, like what a Raggedy Ann doll might wear to a ballet recital. It’s knicker-flashing short at the front, long at the back, and sticks out like a tutu, but I love it.

My grandmother was hawk-eyed in a sale, so her wardrobe was full of eccentric bargains. As a badly dressed kid with birds nest curly hair and glasses often held together with tape, I used to love sneaking in there to touch her Ossie Clark jacket with red fabric buttons, her floor length Bill Gibb lace coat, her soft white silk blouses and odd cocktail dresses. “Vain trifles as they seem,” as Virginia Woolf writes in Orlando, clothes “change our view of the world and the world’s view of us.”

When my grandmother had the first of many subsequent strokes she began to pack away her daffodil yellow harem pants (unworn and with the label still attached), BIBA suede boots and perfumed cashmere. As her memories fell away, her high-necked Liberty dress with button cuffs no longer held meaning for her. It became complicated enough for her to keep the most basic sense of ‘self’, enough to be aware that she liked milk in her coffee and the smell of lavender, let alone think she might ever wake up one morning and be the sort of person who wears a purple velvet cap at a jaunty angle. So she gave it all away, putting much of it in boxes for me and my mother.

 

I adore all her clothes, but the ballgown somehow encapsulates her humour and sense of the absurd. I have worn it a few times, but mostly it’s a a memory object that sits, with a wink and a smile, in my wardrobe. Every time I see it I’m reminded of getting the giggles when she came back from a shopping expedition with it stuffed into a Waitrose bag (to avoid being found out by my grandfather), and tried to persuade me that a strapless pink patchwork ballgown would be a useful addition to the wardrobe of a gawky teenage girl who at the time mostly wore black jumpers and wanted to blend in.

“Nobody I know wears things like that,” I frowned, raising my hands reluctantly while she pulled a haze of bright pink over my head.

“You’ll love it one day,” she replied, doing up the zip with a flourish.

 

 

 

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Venetia Archer in Body Frock

Letitia Dress By Body Frock

Entrepreneur Venetia Archer had the idea for her beauty concierge app doing killer hours researching pirates as a risk analyst, and having absolutely no time to go and get her hair done. A positive dynamo, she showed off Body Frock’s latest capsule collection and some seriously good hair on a sunny afternoon in Chelsea.

If you had to list 3 must have items in your wardrobe what would they be?
Jeans. Cropped, long, ripped, coloured, all of the above! Plus a chic winter coat and that fail safe dress (mine is a treasured black Alaia).

Can you remember your first item of clothing that made you feel like a grown up? What was it?
A plastic pair of heels I received as a party gift when I was very small. I’ll never forget that moment, I thought I was absolute a bomb.

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Joanna Nude Lace Dress By Body Frock

Do you have any major style faux pas?
Yes! Early 2000s. Juicy couture, Von Dutch and Christian Dior. Labels everywhere, and so OTT.

Is there any piece of clothing you’ve always wanted to own? Why?
The Row did some black python leather leggings years ago and I have never forgotten them. Those, a white shirt and brand new all white Stan Smiths would make my dream outfit.

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Louisa Dress By Body Frock

Would you say you are a shoes or a bag girl?
Shoes. I tend only to wear an envelope clutch as a bag, whereas I love all sorts of shoes. I am a big fan of trainers (Gucci and Stan Smith), and Aquazzurra heels.

Do you have an all time favourite style purchase?
Yes. A Prada sea anemone bag. Its dark red, with hundreds of studded tassels coming off. It’s my sea treasure and I’ll never let it go.

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Molly the blogger behind the marvelously names Mother’s Always Right (if not ask gran) has found the perfect mum summer shoe. They can be put on in two seconds flat, are incredibly comfortable and have the potential to be worn with jeans, culottes, cotton dresses… you name it!

What is it about your outfit that makes you feel most comfortable?

Since having kids I’m definitely a convert to flats – but when you’re wearing trainers like these it doesn’t feel like a compromise. I love that these sneakers go with everything, including my current go-to wardrobe item for summer: culottes! Teamed with red culottes and a denim jacket, I’m comfy enough to run around after my two daughters but also feel stylish and up-to-date. This outfit does everything I need it to do and more.

If you had to list 3 must have items in your wardrobe what would they be?

Trainers! They go with everything and are perfect for the practicalities of busy mum life, but can also bring a new edge to most outfits. I really love putting trainers with unusual outfits – like teaming a pair of slip-on trainers with a pretty dress or smart pair of trousers for a whole new look. Pinafore dress – I have a couple of denim pinafores which have been great for both winter and summer. When it’s cold I layer them up with long sleeved tees or buttoned up shirts and thick tights, but in the summer I wear them with a vest or a light t’shirt. They’re so versatile and also incredibly comfortable. Culottes – I’m living in my culottes at the moment. They’re proving the ideal answer to our unpredictable UK weather as they’re the ultimate in-between outfit. I also love how they can be dressed up with a pair of pointy flats, smart top and statement jewellery (a look I recently wore to a friend’s wedding) or dressed down with trainers or Birkenstocks and a casual tee.

How would you define your style?

Laid-back and colourful! I’m often drawn to pattern and colour in my clothes and love toexperiment with new accessories and prints. My life as a busy working mum means I need clothes that work as hard as I do, so there’s no point investing in killer heels or ball gowns as I’d have nowhere to wear them!

Can you remember your first item of clothing that made you feel like a grown up? What was it?

Last summer my mum (an incredible seamstress – she made my wedding dress!) made me a beautiful midi length shirt dress from a vintage Vogue pattern she’d had since the
1980s. I adore it and feel like a proper grown-up when I wear it in the summer. My mum had a similar version back in the 80s when I was growing up.

Who do you look to for style inspiration?

I love Fern Cotton’s style and often hanker after her outfits. She’s not afraid to experiment and is a fellow trainer lover. The A Beautiful Mess sisters (Elsie and Emma) are another two of my style crushes. They always look fun and don’t take fashion too seriously. Fritha from Tigerlilly Quinn has a real flair for putting vintage outfits together and is a fellow colour and print lover. And I love Erica Davies from The Edited’s take on style. She always seems to find the most flattering shapes and sources outfits that I can see myself wearing.

Do you have any major style faux pas?

I was really into Indie music as a teen and had a huge crush on Blur’s Damon Albarn. His girlfriend at the time was Justine Frischmann, the lead singer of Elastica, who had this very cool, cropped directional haircut. I decided it would be a good idea to get a Justine. Worst mistake ever. I came out of the salon looking more like Chesney Hawkes – earning me the nickname Little Man with the older and less forgiving kids at school!

Is there a piece of clothing you’ve always wanted to own? Why?

Pretty much since the dawn of time I’ve wanted a leather jacket. I’ve nearly bought one SO many times, but never quite taken the leap and made the decision. I think I’m always looking for the perfect one and have been searching so long now I’m not sure I’d even recognise it if I found it!

Would you say you are a shoes or bag girl?

Shoes, definitely. In fact, the only bags I currently own are baby change bags!

Do you have an all time favourite style purchase?

I’m far too fickle to just choose one. If you ask me today I’ll say my culottes, but tomorrow it might be my ripped boyfriend jeans. Next week it’ll likely be my denim pinafore. Saying that though, I do have a gorgeous coat I live in during the colder months. I won it on eBay for the grand sum of £2.41 and it goes with almost every outfit I own. Best £2.41 I’ve ever spent!

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Arianna Trapani in Little Black Dress

Irina Dress by Little Black Dress

Beautiful shoulder detail is the key from Arianna’s Daily. She looks good enough to awards ceremony in her Little Black Dress. 

Arianna Trapani in Little Black Dress

Irina Dress by Little Black Dress

What is it about your outfit that makes you feel most comfortable? If you had to list 3 must have items in your wardrobe what would they be?

Jeans and simple t shirts are my go to as I love nothing more than a casual look. Another item that I think is essential to have is the classic little black dress as I’m a monochrome girl at heart. It’s also such an effective way to look chic with no fuss.

How would you define your style?

Laid back casual with a touch of glam 😉

Can you remember your first item of clothing that made you feel like a grown up? What was it?

I actually remember my first top that I bought myself was a crop top, I felt so cool back then. We are talking 90’s here and it’s so funny to see their comeback…

Arianna Trapani in Little Black Dress

Irina Dress by Little Black Dress

Who do you look to for style inspiration?

Pinterest, instagram and blogs are my favourite places and where I spend hours admiring the constant inspiration. There are many women that their style totally inspire me but two that are definitely at the top of my list are Sincerely Jules and Lucy Williams – They bring a new meaning to effortless chic

Would you say you are a shoes or bag girl?

That’s a tough one as I am probably both but if I have to choose then definitely a shoes girl. I sometimes do buy the same shoes in different colours – that’s how bad it is!

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Chef Georgia Cummings makes the most delicious brownies in the world. She’s inspired by her super chic grandmother who feels like she’s going to fall backwards without heels on and modelled a series of adorable summer dresses for us..

If you had to list 3 must have items in your wardrobe what would they be?

A navy jumper I bought from The White Company 4 years ago and wear every other day. Their clothes seem to be getting more and more beautiful, I also just bought a few pieces from their new Summer collection. Good underwear and a pair of tailored trousers (I’ve recently converted from jeans).

Can you remember your first item of clothing that made you feel like a grown up? What was it?

My first handbag, a gift last year from my brother. It’s a beautiful tan, saddle leather Ralph Lauren bag from Bicester Village.

Do you have any major style faux pas?

Yes, every time my dad asks me to explain my outfit I know I’ve got it wrong.

Is there a piece of clothing you’ve always wanted to own? Why?

A tailored two-piece suit because it would last a life time.

Would you say you are a shoes or bag girl?

No idea.

Do you have an all time favourite style purchase?

A mini-dress given to me by my grandmother. It’s fluorescent pink and gold checked with long sleeves and a high neck.

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