I’m starting a new series today that celebrates my personal attitude to fashion. I adore clothes, no question. I’ve always had strong opinions about what I wanted to wear, even when my choices were…questionable (my 3 year old self insisted that an outfit of swimsuit, dungarees and wellington boots clearly outdid a princess dress for Halloween.). In high-school, when H&M was considered the shop to buy from, I was saving all my birthday money to purchase Anne Fontaine blouses in the sale. It never bothered me that I wanted to wear different things from my peers; or that, far from owning dozens of tops from Zara, I was happy with one lime green jumper with a bow at the collar from Tara Jarmon.
Gradually, piece-by-piece, I’ve created a wardrobe that consists largely of items that I have worn and loved for years. Without even being particularly conscious of it at first, I have always been drawn to classic, quality garments that never go out of style and showcase beautiful materials, patterns and fine attention to detail. I have never been a lover of fast-fashion, and I am so pleased that the slow-fashion movement is increasingly gaining momentum. Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t only shop designer items, and I’ve got plenty of Zara and Uniqlo pieces that are in my closet too, but I will say that my shopping criteria never changes. I still look for quality, good design flair and timeless style, whether I’m choosing clothes from Anthropologie or Lindex. I have a black Zara blazer that I’ve owned for years, whereas my favourite LBD is from MaxMara. In general, though, it has to be said: you get what you pay for.
For this new ‘Wardrobe Stories’ series, I’ve decided to share with you the sartorial loves of my life: the clothes that have seen me through many important events, that I turn to time and time again and that escape every wardrobe purge I make. These are the pieces that I consider to be my best all-time buys and are the pillars of my style. First up, my favourite statement dress by Anna Sui.
I bought this dress for my 22nd birthday party (I’m now 29, so you can do the math!) at a boutique in Hampstead that stocked a delightful mixture of Anna Sui, Acne, Cacharel, Repetto and others (sadly, it has since closed). I can still remember when I first tried on the dress and falling completely head-over-heels in love with it. At the time, it was the most expensive dress I’d ever purchased (and I had to give up other indulgences – like coffees, meals out, or any other unnecessary purchases – for a long time in order to buy it), but since then I can’t count the number of times I’ve worn it, and I still get a thrill every time I reach for it.
I’ve always loved Anna Sui’s boho, but feminine designs. Her dresses are perfect for more petite ladies (I barely make 5Ft 3″), as generally they are cut quite short, and I always appreciate the gorgeous materials and decorative touches that are used in Anna Sui clothes. This dress combines patterned satin and velvet with hand-embroidered stitches at the cuffs and bodice. It is perfect for so many different occasions: weddings, dates, parties, or simply for when you want to feel glamourous. A statement dress is just as important an addition to your closet as a little black number: it adds interest and depth to your style and oozes confidence with a hint of fun.
This time, I wore the dress for an outing with my Mum on Valentine’s Day (she’s always my favourite person to spend time with). First, we stopped by Laduree to select some of their daintiest and most delectable macarons. I always love visiting this tiny shop in the Burlington Arcade; it makes me feel happy every time I step inside Laduree’s gold and pastel world. And then there’s the best of decisions to make: rose petal or cherry almond macarons? How about 2 of each!
After umming and ahhing over french patisserie, we strolled along some of the blissfully quiet backstreets of Mayfair, peering into the windows of rare book and art shops, before going on to the Royal Academy to see the Monet to Matisse exhibition (it was fantastic, by the way – I’ll be writing it up properly another time, but do go if you get a chance. I was in heaven surrounded by so many Monets!).
After touring the exhibition (this time I was sensible and brought my ballet flats to change into – my feet were much happier!), we headed down to the fantastic Shenkman Bar in the Keeper’s House (the entrance to which is just to the right of the gallery – you can see the door behind me in the above photo). We decided a glass of something pink and sparkling was appropriate for the day, and we sipped happily as we chatted about our favourite paintings from the exhibition.
Although my dress is 7 years old – so no longer available! – below I’ve chosen some similar options for statement dresses to give you inspiration:
champagne taste on lemonade budget options:
millionaire or living on beans on toast indefinitely options:
I’d love to hear – what clothing pieces do you treasure that you’ve held onto for years? Which items make up the foundation of your style and wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below!