Kate Phelan Talks Sense On High Street Shopping, in The Guardian

Kate Phelan in The Guardian The Fashion, image Daniel Stier for The Guardian

Kate Phelan in The Guardian The Fashion, image Daniel Stier for The Guardian

Just in case you missed it, there was an excellent feature in The Guardian’s The Fashion (issue 6) this weekend, where Kate Phelan, as Topshop’s creative director, explained how she gets dressed, now she’s 50.

Turns out, it’s pretty much as she’s always been getting dressed…..in her own words….

“Some elements of the way I dress have been constant since I was a teenager, when I became obsessed with a Bruce Weber Vogue shoot based on Edward Weston and his women. I remember taking the magazine into Exeter to get my hair cut like the picture, then buying a fisherman’s jumper in a sailing shop. I bought a grey pencil skirt, dug out my school shoes and ankle socks, got my dad’s overcoat and got the look. I still dress like those pictures in a way.”

I’ve always been a fan of how Kate dresses, she did ‘Gentlewoman Styling’ long before the term was coined. I used to see her on the frow in her role as creative director at British Vogue and she always had this understated, easy elegance that looked wonderfully wearable. Now she combines her role as Topshop’s creative director with work at Vogue, which sounds like the perfect job to me.

In the feature, she recommends shopping Topshop Boutique, (ahem, as we recently did here) because the classics -a khaki shirt, a camel coat- are done so well.  She talks a great deal of sense on how to approach dressing…

“I think if you want to buy a camel coat, you should always be able to get one, regardless of season or trends. The same with a V-neck jumper and a white cotton shirt. It’s that simple approach to fashion that allows you to dress it up as much as you want, or dress it down. It still leaves a lot of it up to you.

If you start with a very classic approach to your clothes, you can add anything flamboyant to that. If you start the other way round, it’s much harder to tone it down afterwards. Start with the boring bit, then add to make it feel more relevant to what is going on in fashion.”

Take a minute to read the whole feature here. When I was in Topshop a few weeks ago and fell for that suede two piece skirt suit, I had a good touchy-feely session with of the rest of the Boutique range, there were quite a few things that were both well made and good quality that I could have been tempted with.

Images, Bruce Weber for Vogue

Images, Bruce Weber for Vogue, inspired by Edward Weston

And that Edward Weston inspired Bruce Weber shoot for Vogue that started it all for Kate? It was styled by another of our girl-crush older women Grace Coddington, who has a new fragrance out this spring. I know! Fabulous, I haven’t sniffed it yet, but as soon as I do, I’ll be telling you.

Meanwhile, here’s a few more Topshop Boutique clothes to consider.
[show_boutique_widget id=”368303″]


  • sarah says:

    Really impressed by Topshop Boutique, would never have found it without you. BUT, no sizes over 10 left in the things I like. Do they restock or is that it? Fast fashion really is fast.

  • Amanda says:

    Sarah, glad Boutique has hit the spot, and yes you need to be fast. I actually have seen size 14 and 16 in some things, and the easy fit stuff such as the wrap coats and knits are generous- ish. But the brand don’t over do the larger sizes, and that is our next battle, to make all retailers understand we need more bigger sizes. Keep an eye on the website, as larger sizes do get replenished Ax

  • Jane says:

    I loved that photo shoot too, Talisa soto if memory serves and frankly these days it often does not! Also rather like the way “our Miss Phelan” (as she was named in the Tatler office where I was a lowly intern back in the day) dresses, I remember her wafting by in lovely gentlewoman styling. The boutique range looks promising too will take a look.

  • Monix says:

    Might try Topshop now (though their size 16 is a size 12 anywhere else – when oh when are the fashion industry going to agree on sizing?).
    Went over to the Guardian site to read the article – the comments are hilarious!!

  • Sue says:

    Those Guardian commenters are a snipey lot, aren’t they? Kate Phelan looks lovely and pared down, and I’d so love to look like that even a little bit of the time. However, at my age, I think I’d rather save up for Margaret Howell for these sort of forever items. And, personally, I do really really mind about crappy seams and wonky stitching in stuff that I’m looking to buy.

  • Faye says:

    Nice article but sorry Topshop clothes are not built to last.

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