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Tess Daly knows a thing or two about fashion. The former model has co-presented Strictly Come Dancing since it started in 2004, and thoroughly embraces the show’s glamour and high-octane dressing, which is why she has been selected as Pandora‘s new brand ambassador. “People tell me they look forward to seeing all the dresses every week so I don’t want to disappoint.” Tess is marries to fellow TV presenter Vernon Kay, 41, and they live with their two children, Phoebe, ten, and Amber, six, in Fulmer, Buckinghamshire. Here are her five tried-and-tested style rules…
1. I’m comfortable in my skin so I want to feel comfortable in my clothes.
I can’t suffer for fashion; I’m too long in the tooth for that. Strictly is a case in point. I work with a stylist on my outfit for the week’s show. But it’s got to be something easy to wear as I’m cantering across the dance floor in high heels up to 30 times in the course of an evening. I love anything by Roland Mouret and Stella McCartney. She’s a woman who gets how other women want to dress and accentuates your good bits. I loved a polka-dot one of hers I wore on Strictly in 2011. It looked quite risqué, like I wasn’t wearing any underwear, but it was lined in a nude fabric. We didn’t get any complaints that I know of – well, probably just from my mum saying, “I’m not too sure about that one, love!” Spanx are my best friend. They streamline your silhouette so clothes hang better and also hold your tummy in. Television is unforgiving so every little helps! Claudia [Winkleman, her Strictly co-host] and I have been friends for years, and we walk about fashion all the time and what we’re wearing on the show. We’re in and out of each other’s dressing rooms, scanning each other’s clothes’ rails and gasping with delight: “Oh! Jammy!” Claudia’s a real girls’ girl. clothes, shoes and children are our favourite subjects.
2. As you get older, you definitely find what suits you.
Now I tend less towards faddy fashions and more towards investiment buying. If I’m going to splurge, I want it to stand the test of time – good coats, good shoes, good ahdnbags. I’ve got Equipment silk shirts that I bought in Paris back in 1999, and they look just as good today. I love Anya Hindmarch’s bags, especially her clutches – her designs are so witty – and Marc Jacobs, which I often buy from The Outnet. And I can’t resist a gorgeous stiletto from Guiseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo or Gina – they’re so beautifully made. I bought a Karl Lagerfeld black tux jacket in the sale recently too. But if I want a bright-yellow or electric-blue jacket, I’ll pick one up from Zara and it will look great all season. Britain has the best high-street shops in the world bar none. We’ve got real value-for-money fashion here, and it’s definitely good to mix things up a little.
3. There’s nothing like a shoulder pad and a stiletto for making a woman feel confident and in control.
For an important meeting, I’ll wear a tailored trouser, maybe something from The Kooples, with a heel, and perhaps a Sandro tux. I love effortless style. Whether it’s Elle Macpherson in a white trouser suit, or Julianne Moore in Tom Ford – they’re effortlessly gorgeous at any age. It’s important not to let the clothes shout – let them whisper. I’ve had too many style disasters to mention, and have tried to learn from them. Stay away from mustard – it doesn’t suit my skin tone. Browns and burgundies must never be seen on TV – they look so sludgy. And too many ruffles and lace must be avoided. Less is more. I’ve pared down my fashion over time.
4. Jumpsuits can hide a multiple of sins.
At the weekend, I tend to live in skinny jeans – J Brand or Topshop’s Baxter – and tees or a jumpsuit. I love one-piece dressing – throwing on one thing and not having to think about coordinating it. I know lots of people are slightly scared of them, but jumpsuits are very forgiving. I always choose ones that are a little loose around the waist and stomach. No breathing on the weekends, thank you!
5. Let your family dictate what you’re wearing…to a certain extent!
I’m not allowed to wear anything on the school run that’s borderline brave. I once turned up in a pair of tracksuit-bottom-style trousers that had a sparkly stripe down the side. My eldest took one look at me and said, “Mum, I’m walking in front of you! Don’t ever wear them again.” Children want you to blend in. My husband is definitely more conservative when it comes to women’s fashion. I’ve learned to take anything he says in the fashion stakes with a pinch of salt. Men don’t get fashion from a woman’s perspective. There are certain things they just don’t understand. Brogues, for example. But I don’t dress for men, I dress for myself – or for other women. A compliment from a woman means way more than a compliment from a man.
Strictly Come Dancing is on BBC One on Saturday and Sunday nights.