Looking back at photos of me aged 15, on the set of Disney Club wearing purple cord flares, buffalo platform shoes (wait, aren’t they in again?) and a purple gilet, I laugh. Once, I would’ve been embarrassed by little round-faced Fearne, who had no clue about clothes. But now, as I hurtle towards 40, I’ve realised I still don’t have a clue. And that is A-okay.
All we can do is learn what clothes work for our shape and personality, and worry less about what is ‘in’. You don’t need the knowledge of Caryn Franklin – just a little intuition on what works for you. It’s a feeling, a demeanour that you get to know more every time you put on an outfit that makes you feel at your best.
For instance, I feel strong and grounded in a suit. I feel fierce. Think Katharine Hepburn with the swagger of Liam Gallagher. In a suit, I’m ready for whatever comes my way and I’ve never met one I didn’t like. When I had to tackle a nerve-racking speech on mental health at the University of Cambridge, I gravitated towards a white suit paired with an old white silk shirt I’ve had for more than a decade, with a black bow tie and patent brogues. I felt engulfed in that suit’s power.
Learning what doesn’t suit you is also important: I’m allergic to strapless dresses as I’ve inherited the shoulders of an American football player from my dear late nan, Ruby.
A note to all on this matter: Kate Moss is the only human who can wear a waistcoat with nothing underneath and look good. The rest of us look like Gareth Southgate after a night on the lash (no offence, Gareth, you’re a hero). Believe me, I tried this at the start of my 20s – the ‘anything goes’ years – when I rocked up to a party in too-tight jeans, an unflattering waistcoat and a flat cap, drowning in enough jewellery to weigh down the sturdiest pirate. I looked like a blinged-up chimney sweep. Leave it to Moss, always!
Some clothes hold a certain magic, as memories are woven between each thread. I have a dress I’ll never throw out as I wore it the night I met my husband. The cut is just right; not too clingy, both tomboyish and coquettish. I felt good, and can only imagine that my husband saw that particular joy emanating from me on that hazy night in Ibiza. This dress wasn’t necessarily on trend, or of an overtly sexual nature, but it was very me. Soulmate clothing is like a second skin, allowing you to feel free and like an exaggerated version of yourself in the best possible way.
I don’t believe expensive always equals quality. I have bargains from second-hand shops (such as Rokit and Beyond Retro) and upcycled old basics that remain my all-time faves. I noticed some incredible tie-dye pieces on the catwalks this summer, then my eyes watered at the prices. So I bought a kit online and tie-dyed my own pieces instead. Today, there are fantastic brands sourcing fabrics sustainably, such as Origin Africa, which makes beautifully printed basics.
I can’t shop like I did in my 20s, when I’d buy cheap, bad-quality novelty dresses to wear once without knowing or caring where or how they were made. Now, I buy way less. And hardly ever, in fact. I’ve had most of my everyday clothes for years– the odd exception being when I have to get something for a work do (which is rare, due to my age and a love of being at home).
I enjoy seeking out brands that share the story of how their clothes are made and the ways they are improving how the industry works with the planet. It’s an exciting time for fashion. Which reminds me, I’d better get myself a sustainable power suit.
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