The waiting game has started and now I really must go. When I was thinking about my last post before going on maternity, I thought it should be words.. a little reflection on the truly amazing journey that Wearing it Today has been for me.
But words are not my thing, so I asked someone who knows what they are doing to sit down with me and help me reminisce.
We sat down on my sofa on a Sunday afternoon, surrounded by our kids mess, me heavily pregnant and planning yet another house move, a cup of tea in one hand and her home made banana cake in the other. And here is how it went...
So how did Wearing It Today all begin?
I’d just done a maternity cover at Red, as Acting Shopping Editor, and I was thinking: what next? I found freelancing hard. I was 26 and single. I needed a reason to wake up in the morning and get dressed. I’d recently met a girl from New York on a trip - she had her own fashion company and her productivity was so inspiring. I came back feeling like I should do something like that too, then a techy friend suggested I start a blog. It was only six years ago and The Sartorialist was the holy grail back then. People still thought blogs were self-obsessed and taking a picture of yourself everyday was showy-offy, but most of my friends continually asked me for style advice, or where I bought things from, so I thought I’d just do it for them - and so Wearing It Today was born. It was supposed to be a project for a year and I wanted it to be really true: exactly what I was wearing every day. The concept was – and still is - daily inspiration from a fashion editor’s wardrobe.
|20th February 2010 - WIT's very first post|
So why didn’t you stop after a year?
I just loved the community aspect of it. It was a responsive concept quite quickly – within a few weeks, people I didn’t know had found it and were commenting. At the time, even four new people and one comment meant a lot to me, so very soon I realised I wouldn’t finish it at the end of a year. Now on Instagram I have around 32k followers and roughly the same on the blog.
Are you surprised at WIT’s success?
Well, I don’t necessarily see it as a success. When I measure myself against people who started blogs at the same time as me - Man Repeller, Garance Dore – they have had global success. WIT has been fulfilling for me – it’s always made me feel like I had my own thing and filled a hole when my career wasn’t doing so well. But you have to be realistic – if after ten years that sort of success hasn’t happened, it’s time to think about modifying what I do…
What are the best bits about WIT?
Having something that’s mine - as a fashion editor, what you do is often determined by advertisers and editors. When I was single, there was nothing I loved more than sitting on the sofa at night writing a WIT post, and to this day, I still love it. I have a passion for fashion within me and I love talking to an audience. I know the WIT readers better than any other. Having this freedom and being able to reach out to this community is what has kept me going.
|Posing in front of 'the WIT Wall'|
And what are the worst?
Comparing myself. We live in a world where we are constantly trying to be better. At first I didn’t do that as much, but now I can’t help but compare what I've achieved to others. I want WIT to be the best it can and have a million followers and it sometimes gets me down that I haven’t achieved that.
But I’ve been lucky in that I’ve experienced very little negativity, while doing WIT. The unfair criticisms are the ones that get to me, when people are spiteful or mean. I made the mistake once of reading a Mumsnet thread about me and I got to a point where I had to just turn away. I’m not a celebrity but it gave me a sense of what they must experience. That thread bothered me for days and now I know it exists but I won’t look at it again.
The terrible outfit comments don’t upset me though. If you put yourself out there, you have to be okay with people assessing you – that’s why WIT has a fail button. Sometimes I’m fascinated by people’s reaction and wonder: what was it people hated so much?
"WIT is not about buying what I’m wearing, it’s about inspiring you to create similar looks from your own wardrobe."
Is there anything you’ve worn which you regret now?
That Stella McCartney hat! It’s a riding hat in felt, which I loved, but it really didn’t suit me - everyone failed that outfit! I ended up selling it just recently. But I tried to make it work.
Which has been your most popular post of all time?
The holiday summer packing one – it’s an really old post actually. It’s a photo – taken in the flat I used to live in when I was single – and I took an actual picture of my entire suitcase from the top. Then I listed my rules. They’re still the rules I live by today: I colour coordinate, I take three of everything, everyone knows those rules.
What have been your WIT highlights?
Definitely the events – meeting the women who read your blog and being associated with a brand you love is always exhilarating. My first J.Crew event was a highlight. Greta was six months old when J.Crew first invited me to this bloggers lunch to celebrate their pop-up store opening. Petro looked after Greta for me and I wore a green skirt I’d bought for my post-baby WIT box. Jenna Lyons wasn’t at the lunch but I met her at the pop up shop later. We talked about babies and lipstick, and later I got an email saying ‘Jenna would like to do something with you’. Now I’ve hosted three events with them.
|At my last J.Crew event in September 2015|
What surprises you most about your readers?
How much they shop!
But you shop just as much!
I really don’t. As a fashion editor – and a blogger - people send you stuff. It’s your job to try the things out, test them and then share your opinions. When I was at Red I would put these clothes on a page, but now readers are more interested in seeing them worn by real people, in a more personal way. When I do posts, lots of the clothes I feature, I already own. People get frustrated when they see me wearing things they can’t buy, because they’re no longer available – but WIT is not about buying what I’m wearing, it’s about inspiring you to create similar looks from your own wardrobe. On a weekly basis there might be one or two new things on there – but I haven’t always bought them.
Do you think you should be more transparent about which things you are given and which things you buy? People may think you're only saying something is good because you were given it...
It's become obvious to me that people, in general, do want to see that transparency. But I feel really uncomfortable talking about how I get paid in my line of work, and I think anyone else, from a lawyer to an architect, would feel the same. For some reason in fashion it's different and people are expected to be ‘transparent’ in a way that’s almost a privacy invasion. The bottom line is, I would never wear and promote something I don't believe in. I work in fashion, so whether I have been gifted it, bought it with a press discount, in the sales, at the outlets, or full price it doesn't make a difference, if it's on WIT it's because it's worth owning.
"I don't believe in fast fashion and never really have. I think most of my readers have grown with me too and hopefully share my mindset. They’re the one who are now shopping on Wardrobe ICONS, which was basically created from this philosophy."
You said earlier you like the freedom of WIT but has it been harder to maintain integrity now you’re working more closely with brands?
No, not at all. The trust and respect of my readers is far more important and I would feel like I would be betraying not only them, but myself. Every brand I've worked with is one that I loved at the time and every product that I’ve featured is something I believe was worth shouting about to WIT readers.
Some readers probably feel frustrated that you started off sharing stylish high-street buys but now WIT is way more expensive. Do you worry about alienating readers?
Wearing It Today has quite faithfully followed my life in real time. When I started, I was on my first job as a fashion editor and my income was different, but mainly my mindset was different. I was younger and didn't mind buying cheaper items. But over the years, quality and longevity became really important to me. I started making smaller investments like shoes and bags, but then it became apparent that if I wanted my wardrobe to work harder, it would all have to be better quality. Now when I'm buying something I always think: how long will I wear this for? How long will I love it for? Unfortunately most of these ‘forever’ items are expensive ones, but there is no way I would trade my MaxMara camel coat with a cheaper version from Marks & Spencer's or my Chanel 2.55 bag with a similar copy. I really do believe in owning less but having quality. I still love the High Street and own a lot of cheaper items which I regularly feature on the website, but these have to be worthwhile buys too. I don't believe in fast fashion and never really have. I think most of my readers have grown with me too and hopefully share my mindset. They’re the one who are now shopping on Wardrobe Icons, which was basically created from this philosophy.
|One of the most criticised and most loved posts of all time - the Stella McCartney cape|
So Wardrobe ICONS is where your heart is now?
It’s where WIT was leading – though I didn’t realise it at the beginning! When I started WIT I was happy to post every day, but then I got married and had my daughter, and now I’m not prepared to work every evening and weekend. As well as needing to refine how I worked, I also realised I could refine my concept. My style has developed into what Wardrobe Icons is – buying less, but buying better. When I came back from maternity leave with Greta I did a post on WIT asking readers for feedback. They said they wanted to see other women whose style I loved, more features on dressing for your size and how to build the perfect wardrobe. I had an extraordinary amount of replies - I kept them all and I still refer back to them now. I realised the next step wasn’t an improved WIT – it was Wardrobe Icons.
"The bottom line is, I would never wear and promote something I don't believe in. I work in fashion, so whether I have been gifted it, bought it with a press discount, in the sales, at the outlets, or full price it doesn't make a difference, if it's on WIT it's because it's worth owning."
And then Petro came on board?
Petro and I worked as fashion editors at Happy together. We had become great friends. We both had babies at the same time and one holiday, whilst breastfeeding together, I told her my idea for Wardrobe Icons. She wasn’t sure at first but over the summer, became more into it – and then suggested we do it together. From the first day we decided we’d do it Petro was properly committed. She came up with a plan immediately, which I found daunting at first, but her enthusiasm was contagious and very soon we had layouts and it became so exciting. I’d returned to my old job at Red after my maternity leave but very quickly it became apparent I couldn’t do both things at once, so I left to pursue Wardrobe Icons.
Is it hard to work with someone else after doing WIT alone for so long?
To my complete surprise the creative process has been smooth. I don’t know whether it’s just luck but we’ve never really disagreed. The two of us potentially serve a slightly different woman. Petro’s taller, she can do tailoring really well and can pull off a more masculine style. I’m more of the frilly girly girl. One of the strengths of wardrobe icons is that we’re collaborative.
|Petro and I at Wardrobe ICONS office|
On WIT – and Instagram - some might say your life looks a bit too perfect – why don’t you show off the crappy bits too?
I strive for perfection. I like the table to be nice when you come to lunch, for the food to be nice, the invitation to be nice. That’s what I’d be doing even if no one else was looking. And although it might look like I’m sharing a lot on my blog and Instagram, it’s actually an edited version. I rarely share stuff about my husband or too much about my daughter. I try to keep the bits you see to be about me and fashion. In a way, the mess feels too intimate.
How has having a child changed you?
It’s made me realise life can’t be perfect! I’ve learned to give in to mess and just let it go sometimes. Also, now I would never judge a woman for whatever she does: parenting, work, all of that. Having children makes you much more understanding, tolerant and respectful. I used to make snap judgements. Motherhood is such a ride and can be so tough – and it was for me - so now I would never comment on how anyone else does things.
|Greta and I shot for The Grace Tales|
What are your top three style rules?
Never, ever buying something you don't love. I get heart palpitations and a little flutter in my stomach when I find something that I know I am going to love. But it’s not cost dependent - there are things in my wardrobe worth £20 that I still love today (like my Accessorize clutches) and others I have spent a small fortune on, but all of them were great buys. Another rule is to pay attention to what looks good on your body shape, I don't embrace trends just for the sake of it, only the ones that look right on me. And finally don't buy according to size. I am technically an eight but have items in my wardrobe that are size 14. I buy according to fit and that is something that has completely revolutionised the way I dress.
Who are your style icons?
I’m really loving Roberta Benteler from Avenue 32. Of course Jenna is gorgeous, but for me now it’s more about random women I see on the street and how they style things. But Giovanna Battaglia I love – she’s always classic but there’s something a little bit out there too.
Professionally, Miuccia Prada is someone I find really inspiring. She’s always a step ahead of everyone, every season. I always think I hate her shows, but six months later I’m buying a pair of her crazy shoes or recreating a colour combo she’s done.
"Never, ever buy something you don't truly love and buy according to fit (not size) - that is something that has completely revolutionised the way I dress."
If you could only shop at one place on the High Street, one mid-range store and from one designer, which would they be?
Mango is brilliant, especially in the summer. They really serve all different customers, from my sister who’s 21 to my mum who is 60. J.Crew would definitely be my middle, but I'm not really one of those people that sticks to one designer religiously. Generally I would say that I am more of an Isabel Marant/Chloe/Tory Burch/Anna Sui girl in the summer and transform into more of a Celine/Joseph/ girl in the winter. Always with Aquazzurra and Gianvito Rossi shoes And always, always designer bags – Chloe is a recent favourite. Finally I morph into any Italian Sicilian Dolce e Gabbana girl in the evening!
What’s the best investment you’ve ever made?
My MaxMara camel coat. A good coat and can really make or break an outfit. If you buy something classic and good quality, from a designer, you’ll wear it forever. But second, and I know they’re niche, but my Joseph leather leggings. They make your legs look brilliant, look good with flats and heels, you can wear them to work or at the weekend or going out. They’re ageless: you can even wear them at 60 with the appropriate top. I got mine from Vestiaire Collective but if not, I’d have saved up the £600 for those exact ones. Then there's a crazy pink Jil Sander maxi skirt - I might not wear it every day, but when I do it makes me feel sensational!
|At the Paris shows wearing my pink Jil Sander skirt|
What’s on your shopping list?
A Hermes Constance bag – which is a little cross body bag. I want a Louis Vuitton travel bag with the monogram at the front. I might get it as a ‘push present’ with my new baby’s initials, which makes it feel like an investment in their future! And next I want another coat. I have a good black Zara coat but not a really expensive one. I’d like a Celine one.
What do you think is the biggest wardrobe ‘transformer’?
It’s a shoe. It’s so versatile in a way a skirt, or a jacket, or jewellery isn’t. A shoe can transform a little black dress, a boho dress, it can make something more day, or more evening. That’s why I’ve got so many. I could get rid of quite a lot of my bags quite happily but my shoes are always an investment.
What is your fail-safe, go-to outfit?
Jeans - slightly cropped, a cashmere jumper and statement flat. A bit boring perhaps, but that’s what it is.
"I feel sometimes in life you have to push yourself to do something different. I’ve reached a point with WIT where I’m not sure there’s a lot new and exciting I can bring – and I don’t want to waste people’s time."
Is there anything you wish you’d known when you started WIT?
I wish I’d known about the more techy side of things. I did my blog without any SEO training and I often wonder, if I’d known more about the technical side, would it have done better? But otherwise I think I’ve had good training. I am so grateful for my magazine days – I learnt from working in the fashion cupboard and being inspired by amazing people like Isabella Blow. That training really shaped me as a professional. Petro and I feel that our website is different because we are former fashion editors – not just bloggers.
Why do you think WIT has found such a loyal readership?
Because I’ve never been avant-garde. When I started out, The Sartorialist was photographing out-there outfits – the crazy hat with the bright coat with the cool shoes. But I wanted to see the cargo pants with the smart flats and the Breton tops. That’s the thing with WIT – it’s not ground breaking, it’s not about crazy fashion. I just wanted to do normal.
You’re off on maternity leave – starting tomorrow. If you don’t talk to WIT readers again for a while, what’s the last thing you’d like to say to them?
I just want them to know, that leaving WIT for a while is not something I want to do, but something I feel I have to do, because my life has changed. It’s not a goodbye forever. I really hope our conversations will continue through Wardrobe ICONS – and you’ll still get that regular glimpse into my life on Instagram – though maybe not always on a WIT wall!
I feel sometimes in life you have to push yourself to do something different. I’ve reached a point with WIT where I’m not sure there’s a lot new and exciting I can bring – and I don’t want to waste people’s time. I don’t want it to be average. I hope WIT readers understand that the concept of the blog has now evolved into something even better: Wardrobe Icons. Hopefully it offers the same thing, just a slicker more professional service. I still cherish my WIT community and so hope they’ll join me on this next adventure…
"I don’t want the blog to be average. I hope WIT readers understand that the concept of the blog has now evolved into something even better: Wardrobe ICONS."