10 Things I've Learned From Working With Fashion People
The Debrief: Some simple things non-fashion-person Stevie Martin has picked up while in the company of chic work colleagues
Just over a year ago I started working at The Debrief, having never really looked at a fashion-based magazine in my life. Sure, I would read Grazia now and again, but when it came to putting clothes on my body, I was the person who would freak out in Primark and leave with nothing except an owl pillow. I was still wearing my wardrobe from 2006 when I was about two stone lighter and really went in for that Vintage Granny phase a few of us dabbled in. Every morning, I’d get dressed in a cardigan, black leggings and doc martens. Every summer morning, I’d get dressed in a cardigan, black leggings and doc martens before realising it was too hot and having a breakdown.
Since being in close proximity to people who dress well, and dress well consistently, I picked up a few tips that I now use all the time. I don’t have breakdowns anymore, apart from when I’ve left my favourite dress in the laundry too long and it smells like a gone-off library.
1. Wear shitloads of rings
On all different fingers, and mixing silver and gold isn't a problem. When I first started, I worked with Pandora Sykes - now The Sunday Times’s Wardrobe Mistress - and she had shitloads of rings, and one that looked like an eye that I was quietly obsessed by. Because I have no autonomy, I started to slowly buy myself fun rings from stalls whenever something good happened. Got a freelance job from a really cool magazine? Buy a ring for £8 by Elephant and Castle train station. Did something really brave I never thought I’d do? Stop off at kooky shop that smells of incense and buy a ring that looks like a vine leaf. Eventually I found a ring that looked like an eye and my collection was complete - but more importantly, even if I’m having a really gross, sloppy day, the fact I’m wearing loads of rings makes it look intentional. And way cool. You can also, by the way, mix gold and silver. Big time.
2. Slicked back hair is king
If you're like me, and haven’t washed your hair because you're fucking disgusting, separate it into a side parting and slick back into a low bun. Use either gel or your own head grease. Hello boys. It always looks smart and goes with any outfit - but if that sort of style freaks you out, then try one of these other slicked back looks. Because they genuinely don't look as repulsive as you'd think.
3. All black is the best
Culture editor Jess Commons only wears black, occasionally navy and even more occasionally, grey. Because of this, the woman looks incredibly put together and classy, and every accessory stands out a mile. I went out and bought some black jeans, a bollockload of black tops, and this has become my staple for when I can’t think of what to wear. Try it next time you're panicking in front of a mirror - pick a black thing, put it with another black thing, and add some killer jewellery. Thanks Jess Commons.
4. Coloured shoes are also the best
Especially when you’re wearing all black. I recently bought some silver shoes (I like to go on ASOS at work and ask everyone whether the things I’ve selected are ‘fashionable’ - apparently silver shoes are ‘fashionable’) and get about 14 compliments a day, if I wear it with all black.
5. Carry plasters
Cool shoes need breaking in and will make your feet bleed. Carry plasters. The ones with little pads on them. We’re not just talking heels here, we’re talking all shoes.
6. You don’t need to look manicured
I always thought fashion was about looking perfect. Actually, the more effortless you look, the better. Messy hair in a bun. Messy hair in a centre parting (this makes anyone look instantly fashiony). No accessories. Trainers. Minimal eye make-up with bright red lips. Chipped nail varnish. If you wear it with panache and like you don’t give a fuck, you can look cool in anything.
7. You can pull stuff off
If you think dungarees will make you look like a big prick, try them anyway and you might be surprised. Leather trousers might initially make you gag but there could be leather skirt that makes your arse look great. If you go into it with optimism, then you’ll find things you like. If you go in, like I used to, with innate ‘I’ll look shit in this because I’m not a model’ pessimism then you set yourself up for failure. Who knows, you might look really good in culottes!
8. Simple is better
When in doubt, go with the option you feel most comfortable in. Basically, if you need to ask someone whether the fact you’ve got your back out for a second date is ‘too much’ and you make a wrinkly eyebrow face, go and put your back away. Because nobody wants to spend what should be a nice occasion thinking about their own back. Same goes for if you have to keep asking everyone whether the dress goes with the shoes, and not quite believing the answer. Just go and wear the thing you wanted to secretly wear anyway.
9. Buy loads of socks that are the same colour
… And bin all the others. For me, it’s black trainer socks and black ankle socks. I have a few ‘special socks’ for various occasions (Slobbing about the house! Hanging around the house! Being in a house!) but mostly they’re all black, which means I’ve always got some on hand and I don’t spend my life losing them and having different coloured feet.
10. Everyone cries while jeans and bikini shopping
It’s a fact. And if you don’t, then you’re dead inside/really confident within yourself. Well done.
* Correction: in the original article it said Pandora Sykes had an eye of Horus ring. She doesn't. It's a ring that I thought looked a bit like an eye.
Apologies to Pandora and to everyone who I misled.
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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM
Picture: Jason Lloyd-Evans
At work? With your gran?