The Chic List: ‘Why fashion was my saviour’

Over the course of a lifetime, things happen that change our perspective forever.

They come out of nowhere from some dark unseen corner and completely knock the stuffing out of us. Somehow we manage to pick ourselves up and carry on, but we are not the same as we were.

Wearing bright, happy colours like this Sezane maxi dress helpedme work through my grief after my brother’s death.

Two things in my life have changed me very much. Firstly, becoming a mum to a wonderful son, who is now aged eight.

Secondly, losing my brother, who had just turned 40 and become engaged, in a horrible road accident. Taken out of this world just like that; no explanations, no warning signs. It came like a sledgehammer and knocked me right over.

So what on earth has this got to do with fashion you may ask?

My answer is everything, because the clothes I wear are an extension of my personality and all the events – good and bad – that have shaped it. So if I change, my wardrobe – the ultimate form of self-expression – will naturally evolve, too.

Becoming a mother was a dream come true but, like many others, I found myself lost in a thick post-baby fog. In the midst of sleepless nights, women can lose their sense of identity as their self-esteem ebbs away.

During the months of baby classes and nursery pick-ups you often find yourself literally nameless – referred to only as ‘so and so’s mum’. The fact that I didn’t even have a name made me more cross. As did the fact that dressing down, not up, was the norm for my new role.

But instead of being a hindrance, fashion became my saviour. It gave me a new passion that was about more than the daily routines of feeding, changing and pushing buggies round the park–away of rediscovering myself and my sense of self-worth.

Something similar happened when my brother died. Clothes became a crutch to lean on, a source of self-expression and a way of celebrating happy memories through all the sadness and despair. I wore my grief quite literally on my sleeves.

So whenever people try to tell me, as they frequently do, that fashion is frivolous and meaningless – I couldn’t disagree more. The clothes we wear are who we are, the sum of everything that’s happened to us.

In my old age, I want to look back at my life and consider myself well-read, well-travelled and well-dressed. And this wretched pandemic, which has stolen so many precious weeks and months, makes me feel that even more.

Dress, £345, rixo.co.uk

A chic shell print? This nails it.

Dress, £395, Fil de Vie, matchesfashion.com

Tie-dyed, kaftan-cut and perfect for beach to dinner.

Top, £45, cosstores.com

Your go-to halterneck for easy elegance.

Bracelet, £11.99, zara.com

Offset neutrals with chunky wooden jewellery.

Blazer, £79, cosstores.com

Team with white jeans for a crisp look.

Flip-flops, £25, Havaianas, arket.com

A pop of sunshine for your summer whites.

Follow me on Instagram @thestylistandthewardrobe