How To Dress Like Fashion’s Most Influential Women

From luxury leggings to statement sleeves, we ask Britain’s most important fashion insiders what to buy and how to wear it. 

These are the women in the know about fashion, running your favourite brands and labels behind the scenes. From the creative director that runs Hobbs to the head of design at Debenhams these women live and breath fashion.

With the new season just around the corner we ask them what we should we wearing this autumn/winter as well as their top styling tips? 

NATALIE KINGHAM: Buying Director, Matchesfashion.com

WHO: Natalie Kingham has worked her way up from being a shop girl at Joseph. She now oversees buying for Matchesfashion.com, one of the world’s biggest luxury fashion sites.
TREND TIPS:

Oversized silhouettes: This is a key look for the upcoming season. The bright coats from Simone Rocha, sports jackets from Balenciaga and puffer jackets from Vetements are some of the statement pieces.
Lady of the manor: Think opulent and eccentric. The styles from new brand Attico really define this trend – silk wrap maxi dresses with bold prints that look luxurious. A huge trend this season. Preen really stood out with beautiful velvet dresses that have a daylight-to-twilight versatility.


IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING…

The new-style kitten heel worn in a relaxed, deconstructed way

(Marni; £400). matchesfashion.com

JO HOOPER Pure Collection

WHO: Jo joined cashmere specialists Pure Collection, now one of the world’s largest online retailers of cashmere, earlier this year following her role as Director of Womenswear Buying at John Lewis.
TREND TIPS:

Caped crusaders: Capes and blanket wraps are versatile and very much the modern shape of the season. They look great with wide-leg jeans or elegant with cropped tailored capri pants. Think Jackie O!
Leathered-up: A leather legging or skirt gives your outfit some edge – pair with a sweater or wrap-cardigan in soft neutrals and greys.
Roll-necks: The key layering piece of the season – invest in one made from superfine cashmere, which will feel sensational next to the skin.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… Our new Sempre cashmere tunic dress (PRICE TK) in a silhouette that offers versatility is something you can wear time and time again.
purecollection.com

LEANDRA O’SULLIVAN, Head of Design Womenswear, Debenhams

WHO: Leandra came to Debenhams earlier this year from Asos. She has almost 20 years experience, having also designed for Warehouse and Karen Millen.  
TREND TIPS:

Dark romance: Taking this summer’s floral vibe into winter, mixing luxurious and textured fabrications such as lace, velvet and satin finishes.
Athleisure: a whole new concept in how we dress for our busy lives, this is a major shift in fashion. Look for bomber-jacket silhouettes, trackpant-style trousers and sweats.
Embroidery: After years of clean lines and silhouettes, I’m excited to see more decoration and texture.  

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The Nine by Savannah Miller floral tea dress (PRICE TK) will give your wardrobe an instant update. debenhams.com

 

JANE RAWLINGS Creative Director, Mint Velvet

WHO: Jane Rawlings, former Head of Design at Principles, started Mint Velvet in 2009 with two fashion-industry friends.
TREND TIPS:

Slouchy silhouettes: Think of the Nineties: look for twist, drape and knot details in knits as well as the return of the wide-leg masculine trouser.
Dress down: Pretty pieces such as a lace-trimmed blouse or ruffles work best with skinny jeans and a relaxed boyfriend jacket.
Flat shoes: Wearing flat shoes definitely give all the trends a more modern feel.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The black crepe cape jacket (£119) – I love this super modern twist on a blazer. mintvelvet.co.uk

 

MANDY WATKINS Creative Director, Hush

 

 

WHO: Australian-born Mandy started the loungewear label Hush from her kitchen table in 2003.
TREND TIPS:

Star struck: Stars are the big motif of the season and were all over the Alexander McQueen show. Our range of T-shirts and knits have either a scattering of stars or one single large star.
Boho glam: Seventies boho glam is big – think jumpsuits in forest green and rich burgundy, or ditsy-print maxi dresses.
A touch of shine: Team a metallic T-shirt with boyfriend or skinny jeans, and finish off with a black jacket. Effortless chic whether you’re 18 or 80!

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The elegant Rita shirt (£59) will suit any occasion – dress it up with a smart pleated skirt or down with jeans. hush-uk.com

 

QUERALT FERRER Design Director, M&S

 

WHO: Spanish-born Queralt is the former head of design for M&S’s Autograph and Limited ranges. She worked for Massimo Dutti and Zara.
TREND TIPS:
A fresh take on tailoring:
One of our biggest trends this autumn. Aim for a timeless style with a modern twist. For instance, add a great lightweight coat over a dress.
Moody blooms:
Dark floral prints are everywhere. They work best as a tea dress or maxi-dress.
Opposites attract:
Wear a piece of knitwear with leather trousers, say, or a velvet suit with trainers.


IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… Autograph’s floral dress from the Romantic Explorer range (£65). The piece’s moody print gives the dress a style update for the new season.
marksandspencer.com

JAKKI PAY, Design Director, House de Nimes at House of Fraser

WHO: As well as heading up the womenswear design team, Jakki is behind the department store’s much-anticipated new label, Maison de Nimes, available from this September.
TREND TIPS:

Authentic denim: There’s a huge move towards more authentic denim washes and weaves with less stretch. Silhouettes have become looser and more masculine.
Contrasting texture: Texture is key for the season and we have tapped into this using brushed fabrications and embroideries. Contrast a fluffy knit long-line cardigan, say, with a brushed check shirtdress.
Love your layers: As the seasons blur, we have designed items that can be worn at any time. Ensure the colours tone and contrast shapes – for instance, a slim jean with a volume shirt.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The tassel poncho (£75). Layer it up into autumn with a roll-neck or checked shirt. houseoffraser.co.uk

 

SHAILINA PARTI Buying and Merchandising Director, Jigsaw

WHO: Shailina joined Jigsaw in 2014 coming from Jaegar, where she was Brand Director. She has also worked as Buying Director at Monsoon.  
TREND TIPS:

Bold rich colour: This is a move away from patternation. We’ve taken this trend into our beautiful new coat silhouettes and executed them in brave colours such as Golden Moss, Bottle Green and Redwood.
A total look: If you’re feeling confident, choose a single colour and dress in it head to toe. Soften this effect by wearing slightly tonal shades and mixing textures such as a soft silky skirt with a chunky textured knit.
Statement dressing: Choose one statement piece such as a brightly coloured coat or an embellished sweater and give it a blank classic canvas to stand out against such as navy or black.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The Matchinsky coat in Golden Moss, £279 jigsaw-online.com

EMMA FARROW Head of Design, Finery London

WHO: Emma is one third of the heavyweight fashion trio who launched the Finery London label to great fanfare last year. She came from Topshop, where she was design director.  
TREND TIPS:
Overblown sleeves:
They’re definitely this season’s heroes. There have been strong historical references bubbling under for a while now: the Elizabethan leg-of-mutton or Victorian flared cuffs. These shapes are being reinvented by designers in modern fabrications.
Follow the high-low rule:
If I chose a brave statement piece to wear, I always make sure I would ground it with one of my wardrobe staples. For example, a shirt with a new statement sleeve with my trusted old jeans.
Demure cut-away sections:
This summer we have seen shoulders hailed as the new erogenous zone. This notion continues into winter with peekaboo cut-outs in unusual places in knits and jersey tops. 



IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The bubble ferns/scratchy floral hybrid tea dress (£75). Vintage-inspired print but in a contemporary and modern silhouette for the season.
finerylondon.com

 

SANDY VERDON Creative Director, Hobbs

WHO: After a stellar career working for French Connection and Next, Sandy Verdon left her role as creative director of Jaeger in 2008 to oversee the classic British brand Hobbs.
TREND TIPS:

Red: Wear it as a highlight colour with black or navy, but red looks especially new when worn with burgundy.
The statement blouse: The humble blouse takes centre stage this season emerging as a key item to update your wardrobe. Pie crust necklines, trumpet sleeves, frills and ruffles turn a simple staple into a seasonal heroine. Wear with the new midi length skirt or a simple tapered pant.
Military tailoring: Every woman needs a military coat. Our version is collarless; a contemporary take on understated British style.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The Odelia coat, (£349): the new silhouette in this season’s key colour. hobbs.co.uk


 

JO BENNETT, Head of Buying for Womenswear, John Lewis

WHO: The brains behind Somerset by Alice Temperley and Kin, Jo’s latest venture is Modern Rarity – which she co-designed – the department store’s first luxury ready-to-wear label available from September.
TREND TIPS:

More is more: This was spearheaded by Alessandro Michele at Gucci. There’s a buzz around mixing up print, pattern and colour giving the opportunity to be braver and more individual.
Extreme proportions: Everything from floor-sweeping super-wide-leg slouch trousers to oversized sleeves and wide shoulders.
Conscientious shopping: The real trend is how our customers are changing their shopping behaviours. We’ve seen a desire for pieces with greater longevity. There is definitely a move away from fast, disposable fashion.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… Our lightweight, transitional coatigan in ivory (£100).
johnlewis.com/modernrarity
 

 

KIM WINSER CEO, Winser London

WHO: After spotting a gap in the market for beautifully made clothes without designer prices, Kim Winser OBE started her own label in 2013. Previously, the first woman on the board of M&S before moving to Pringle and Net-a-Porter.
TREND TIPS:

Ruffles: Who doesn’t love a ruffle? They make you feel super feminine, yet paired with a sleek black trouser for work or drinks, give a sense of chic confidence.
Embellishment: Haberdashery is key, and can elevate even the most simple pieces to a more luxurious level.
Matchy matchy: Look at colour – I often chose two pieces in one shade, such as a top and jacket. Dressing this way is flattering, stylish and modern. A knitted coat is on trend so do look at a matching a coat and jumper.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The reversible poncho (£89). It’s designed in a top-quality merino wool, and you can wear it either way round so you have two ponchos in one.
winserlondon.com

 

SARAH CURRAN Managing Director, Very Exclusive   

WHO: Sarah Curran MBE made her name with online fashion store Mywardrobe.com. She joined Very Exclusive in 2014.
TREND TIPS:
Gothic revival:
Look for pieces with delicate lace detailing and in sumptuous velvets. For a grown-up take on the trend, pair Joseph leather leggings with the velvet lapel boyfriend coat from McQ.
Clean winter whites:
Make a simple statement with a crisp white blouse or classic lace dress.
Precious metals:
All things sequinned, metallic and shiny are key this season. Give a nod to a trend by accessorising your look with a chic sequinned bag.


IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING…
The Anna Sui purple fringe detail jacket (£450). It’s a real must-have forever piece. veryexclusive.co.uk

BARBARA HORSPOOL Clothing Director, The White Company

WHO: Barbara, who has been described as a ‘fashion heavyweight’, joined lifestyle retailer The White Company in 2014. Previous jobs include heading up womenswear design at M&S and product director at Jigsaw.
TREND TIPS:

The new coat shape: Oversized and super-soft in sheepskin, double-faced Italian cashmere or the softest wool knitted layers to throw over your everyday outfits.
Pale grey: A versatile shade and the easiest neutral for the season ahead.
The technical legging: Athleisure is so important this season – it’s fine to wear leggings for work as well as play. Pair with oversized tunic knits and leather trainers, or style up with blocky-heeled ankle boots and a leather biker jacket.

IF YOU BUY ONLY ONE THING… The Indulge cashmere hooded sweatshirt (£319). It represents everything our brand stands for: luxury, simplicity, comfort and confidence. thewhitecompany.com
 

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