Beauty editor of The Gloss Sarah Halliwell shares her nostalgic wardrobe which is packed with hard-working gems – and celebrates an authentic personal style …
Tales From My Wardrobe, a new style series that explores the wardrobes of THE GLOSS community, is a love letter to the pieces we reach for again and again, the hard-earned investment purchases that make us smile with each wear and the items that supercede mere ‘clothing’ to carry memories and foster emotional connection.
Beauty editor of THE GLOSS Sarah Halliwell may be known for her eclectic scent collection and her impassioned love affair with lipstick, but her wardrobe is equally as captivating.
Halliwell doesn’t believe in wardrobe purges. A champion of cost-per-wear longevity, you’ll find her re-wearing a Stella McCartney dress from 2003, preferably with silver necklaces bequeathed to her by her beloved godmother some years ago.
It’s about a sense of personal style that’s authentic rather than leaning towards a particular trend. (See how her love of sea-swimming penetrates what she wears on a daily basis.) Just as a good scent evokes nostalgia, Halliwell’s wardrobe is an elegant jaunt from the past to the present. Here, she shares her favourite designer bargains, the best place to nab vintage gems and why a velvet smoking blazer is the coolest thing you can possibly own …
Summer espadrilles were sourced at a marine clothing store on a recent trip to Brittany.
My favourite piece in my wardrobe right now is probably a black velvet jacket I was given by a tailor in Soho when I was writing about him for Time Out years ago – someone had forgotten to pick it up so he adjusted it to fit me perfectly and lined it in saffron-yellow fabric. It’s ancient and I love it. Also, a soft Ros Duke scarf (great for warming up after swimming) that I bought in one of her regular sales (it’s worth being on her mailing list).
The most sentimental item I own is my grandmother’s eternity ring, inherited from my godmother – a reminder of two women I adored. And a chunky silver pill-holder ring I remember trying on as a child. I love the evocative, nostalgic nature of clothes and jewellery.
The most recent item I bought is a pair of striped navy and red espadrilles for €18 from a marine clothing store in Brittany.
The biggest investment I’ve ever made was when I fell in love with an emerald-green velvet suit (I definitely have a weakness for velvet) and bought the jacket at a half-price sale. I hunted down the matching trousers on eBay, which softened the blow.
The best bargain in my wardrobe is a black silk halterneck top with covered buttons by Donna Karan. I got it at a Hong Kong sale shop in 1990 for nothing and still wear it now. Serious cost-per-wear wins. Most of my wardrobe ticks the box for longevity; I keep things for so long.
I used to go to designer warehouse sales in London in my twenties (long before The Outnet) and you could pick up heavily discounted Dries Van Noten silk skirts and Ghost dresses; I’ve kept these and wear them still. I don’t really believe in wardrobe purges – in my experience you often regret the things you get rid of. A midnight-blue velvet Stella McCartney dress, so soft and comfortable, bought in a sale in about 2003, has seen me through endless weddings and events, and is still going strong.
As teenagers, we used to buy old men’s coats and jumpers from jumble sales and unearth things at secondhand shops and markets, still the most fun way to shop though it’s harder to find hidden gems you can actually afford now. Vestiaire Collective can be good for browsing treasures (and my neighbour finds great bargains there) though their customer service is lousy if there are any hitches.
The least ‘fashion’ things I own that I wear all the time are as follows: scrunchies, flannel pyjamas, dog-chewed Birkenstocks, a Dunnes swimsuit. Equally, I can never leave the house without sunglasses, five lipsticks and some perfume.
Heavy silver fish necklaces, from the Greek isles, are a treasured heirloom from Sarah’s godmother.
My most hard-working accessory? A pair of prescription cat-eye sunglasses from Ace & Tate; my godmother’s watch, an oversized men’s watch by Longines that’s slim and faded.
I inherited a lot of my godmother’s clothes and jewellery when she died, from cashmere jumpers (she lived in black) to a sequinned 1930s dress she wore to my 21st (where she danced outrageously with all the handsome guys). Her heavy silver fish necklace (brought back from Greek islands) reminds me of her, as does Chloé perfume; I also have an outlandish 1970s fur coat with Joan Collins-in-Dynasty shoulders, which she wore with oversized vintage Dior shades. I am also very lucky to have a lipstick-red hat given to me by Philip Treacy when I interviewed him – a treasured souvenir of meeting a maestro.
A lipstick red hat by Philip Treacy takes pride of place in Sarah’s wardrobe.
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