Editor’s letter: Who wrote the fashion ‘rules’ anyway?

In fashion, there are the rules that we as a society seem to agree upon without a word passing between us. Things like, don’t turn up to the office in a bikini and flip-flops. Pair orange and lime green, or polka dots with tartan at your peril. But then there are the strange, idiosyncratic diktats we impose upon ourselves. I often receive mail from readers who tell me they ‘can’t’ wear a certain dress style or colour. I always wonder if this is the truth or just the nonsense we tell ourselves so often that we end up believing it.

In my case, years of being told I was unattractively thin as a teenager made a big impact. To this day, my friends often rib me for hiding my frame in a slouchy jumpsuit or a pair of baggy trousers. It’s a hangover from that teenage phase of thinking looser clothes would make me look bigger, less (to my mind) ‘scrawny’. ‘I must cover my legs’ is only a rule in my own head. It took my long career in fashion magazines to slowly learn to trust the gaze of others – professional stylists in my case – rather than always believing my own running commentary every time I looked in the mirror. 

This issue gave me a timely reminder of the pointlessness of ‘hating’ any parts of our bodies. We have an interview with Sinéad Burke, the educator, influencer and powerful fashion industry voice, who was born with dwarfism. Here is a woman who, as a young girl, felt excluded from fashion. Rather than accepting this, she approached it with an interest in how she might change the conversation. And she’s now having a positive impact at the highest levels of fashion, educating major retailers in how to make getting dressed something that everyone can enjoy. 

Our cover star, model Lottie Moss – Kate’s little sister – is finding her own voice, launching a business career and speaking out against the sexual exploitation and body fascism that often plague the industry. As Lottie says, ‘You don’t have to be stick thin to be a model any more.’ 

So I urge you to ignore the rules you tell yourself about getting dressed and enjoy our fashion pages. I hope you’ll approach them with a sense of fun. Let’s all pause the next time we think we ‘can’t’ wear something we like the look of. Take a trusted friend shopping and make each other try on clothing that’s out of your comfort zone. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you see in the mirror. 

Enjoy the issue. 

Editor’s picks

A few things I’m coveting this week

My work bags have to be hands-free. Satchel, £285, tarajarmon.com

Love that yellow pop. Shoes, £98, boden.co.uk

I’ve always had a thing for houndstooth. Coat, £99.99, zara.com