I’m really excited today to be able to introduce my Stylish Thoughts guest blogger – it’s Maggie Alderson, famed author and journalist, ex-editor of UK Elle Magazine and the reason I used to always buy The Age newspaper on a Saturday (because her column was in The Good Weekend magazine) and when I lived in the UK read The Times (cos that’s where her column was there). I’m also lucky enough to have met Maggie, many, many years ago when I was a publicist for Penguin Books Australia I took Maggie on her publicity tour for her first book Shoe Money. I will always remember as I picked her up from her hotel for the first time and we jumped in my car she said to me “You have the most amazing skin on your hands. What’s your secret to not getting age spots in this harsh Australian sun?” my answer, if you want to know it, is to wear sunscreen as handcream (particularly in summer and always while driving).
Maggie has a new book of her columns (if you’ve not been lucky enough to read them already or want to experience the pleasure of Maggie’s writing all over again) out now called Style Notes
(Penguin rrp$24.95). Currently only available in Australia in stores but of course you can buy it online. If you like her style check out her blog Maggie Alderson Style Notes
What is the secret to great style?
Wearing what makes you feel good. It doesn’t matter how ‘on trend’ and expensively dressed you are, if you don’t feel fabulous in your clothes you will never look good in them.
We all know in our hearts what makes us hold our heads up a little higher and swagger a little when we put it on – tune into that instinct and develop it.
What is the one thing you would spend a lot of money on?
Things you wear every day. Relatively speaking I probably spend the most money on T shirts – in that £70 is a lot to pay for something you can buy for £5.
But I wear T shirt-style tops every day of my life in various combinations and the expensive ones I buy last me, literally, for years. They come back perky wash after wash (on the machine cashmere cycle, then dried flat…)
The cheap ones I buy to wear for gardening, or really slopping around, go peculiar after one wash. Cost per wear the expensive T shirts – my favourite brands are Velvet and Splendid – are down to about 0.001p.
What is the one thing you wouldn’t spend a lot of money on?
Evening wear. I always find things from ‘good as new’ designer sell-on shops, or vintage stores, and when I’ve worn it a couple of times I flog it on again. It’s fun to have something new for a special occasion – even if it’s only new to you…
How do you balance new trends with a more timeless look?
I try and avoid new trends at all costs. I would be mortified to be seen wearing this season’s ‘look’. Over a certain age it’s just tragic. Such a sign of insecurity.
You can reference trends in a subtle way – that can be fun – and avoid things that are glaringly ‘out’ because they were very recently ‘in’. But really I just buy things I like when I see them. If someone says leopardprint is a trend good luck to them. I just love it.
What is your current obsession?
Navy blue. Really dark rich navy blue. For everything except shoes, I don’t like blue shoes.
What’s not worth the money?
An ‘It’ bag. What a brilliant piece of marketing that was. I can’t believe adults got sucked into it, really believing that it would set them apart to pay over the odds for a bag everyone else wants to have… uh? I hate that kind of shopping, it’s like painting by numbers.
Smart to me is buying a bag because you love it and will continue to love it into old age. I’ve invested in a few key Gucci, Prada and Anya Hindmarch bags over the years and they are with me for the duration.
I still use the first Prada bag I ever bought – in 1989 – and a Chanel from the same era. Beautiful, well-made things never date and age with character.
What’s your favourite short cut to style?
Mad interesting costume jewellery and scarves, great shoes, statement handbags. I’m an accessories obsessive at heart.
Mostly I like to wear very simple clothes and then add interest with all the other bits. Or I’ll wear streamlined pants, one of my expensive t shirts and throw a vintage fake leopardskin jacket over the top. Ping! It’s all about the ping! thing for me
What’s the worst current trend?
Torturous shoes. I find the trend for insanely high platforms a worry. I’ve seen able-bodied women at fashion shows who had to be physically helped back to their limos because of their ridiculous shoes. What’s stylish about that?
What are your favourite websites?
I know it’s not exactly original, but is there anything better than The Sartorialist? The quality of light in his pictures is so beautiful. I love Sabotage Times because it has such a quirky roster of writers. The Daily Mail, because it delivers a smart tabloid hit with consummate style every day. BBC Radio 4 Home – where I can listen to all the great programmes I’ve missed.
Who are your style icons?