Want to know how to stay looking hot in the winter? Anna Mason talks to five, high-flying fashionistas to see how they stay stylish
Dressing stylishly can be a real challenge in winter.
Even a damp English summer affords us opportunities for skipping out of the house in a favourite dress, wearing all those bright, happy colours and prints and generally donning whatever we fancy.
But when the freeze hits, our main priority is keeping snug and if you’re anything like me, your idea of fashion heaven is slipping into a pair of fleece pyjamas and cosy socks and watching Sex and the City under a duvet on the sofa.
Some people however seem to look effortlessly chic no matter what the weather’s doing.
I spoke to five high-flyers on the North East fashion scene to find out how they manage to stay stylish while keeping warm – and what they love about winter dressing.
Kate Fearnley is a Teesside-based designer with a raft of awards to her name, including Cosmopolitan’s Fashion Entrepreneur of the Year 2010.
Her quirky, feminine style has won many celebrity fans including Alexandra Burke, Sarah Harding and Pixie Lott.
Speaking from her Kate Fearnley Boutique in Middlesbrough, she said: “I like the change of seasons as you get to change yourself. I kind of feel more myself with the way I dress in autumn and winter than in summer.
“In summer I dress quite vintage, quite hippy-ish, but in winter I wear a lot of black, with heavy biker boots and my leather jacket comes out.
“Autumn colours are my colours, the shades that most suit me so I go for reds and jade green – as well as black.
“I love fur coats because when you put them on you feel instantly glam. Topshop, Miss Selfridge and New Look do good fake fur versions.”
So what’s Kate incorporated into her own winter collection?
“We have a great winter party dress in the collection. It’s a long-sleeved jersey so it’s warm and it has a feminine, vintage Goth feel. I designed it for myself to go to a wedding and ended up including it in the collection,” said 36-year-old Kate.
Kate is running a competition to win one of the dresses through her Facebook page, Kate Fearnley Boutique.
Naomi Austin has many strings to her bow.
Not only is she a fashion designer and illustrator, she is also Course Leader of Fashion at Cleveland College.
The 41-year-old said: “I am a massive fan of winter, a ridiculous fan of snow and Christmas and I love winter fashion.
“I was gutted this year when it came to summer, because I was obsessed with a hat. It’s a teddy bear hat with ears and pom-poms and I wore it to death last winter. I love stupid hats. I have 20-odd hats, including those really fluffy Russian ones.
“I actually kind of like the idea of looking quite funny and cheering people up with what I wear. There’s a rainbow jumper in my wardrobe that I feel quite amusing in and I’m coveting an alphabet jumper from the winter collections. I’d get one with a big ‘N’ on the front. The designer version I like is expensive, about £320, but I predict they’ll start to come out on the high street soon, so I’m holding on. Watch this space for the alphabet jumper!
“Also, I’m addicted to glitter and sequins. A sequinned shrug feels really glam for winter. I have some silver Red or Dead shoes and a lot of chunky, statement jewellery from Mikey I use to dress up blocky, monochrome clothes. I think you need to dress to lift your mood when the weather’s awful.
“The US fashion editors inspire me, like Anna Wintour, the way they’ll wear solid colour but dress it up with crazy accessories and shoes. And I love red lipstick. I wear MAC Ruby-Woo, it changes your whole demeanour when you put that red lipstick on with a black dress, it just transforms you.”
Douglas MacLennan is Principal Lecturer in Fashion at Northumbria University and Director of International Development at Northumbria’s Design School.
In his time nurturing future design talent he has seen graduates progress to labels Louis Vuitton, Escada and Calvin Klein, to name just a few.
Douglas, 64, said: “Dressing for the British climate is a distinct challenge at any time of year. Because it’s an island, it’s so subject to change.
“In the winter, what I don’t want is to be buying two completely different wardrobes. I travel a lot, so I have to consider the weight of clothes. From my own experience, anything light you can layer works well.
“A goose-down, quilted coat is ideal as it’s warm but lightweight.
“I source collections from London, Paris and Moscow and what has grabbed me is a genius shoe from Prada. They’ve found a way of binding coloured rubber to leather and the result is almost like a galosh, an overshoe.
“mrporter.com stocks a kind of galosh for men, almost like what I remember my father and grandfather wearing.”
Douglas added: “I have to say Ugg boots don’t do a lot for me! They were fun when they first came out, but they really don’t do well in the wet. When the rain starts to gradually creep up a person’s leg due to the length of the trouser, it’s very unfortunate. I remember once owning a pair of white trousers that reached right to the floor, even when I wore them with Cuban-heeled shoes I would have that problem!”
Rebecca Mason was crowned Miss Sunderland 2012.
The 20-year-old is signed to Sunderland-based Glamrus Model Agency and is the face of Olivers Dental. Rebecca also designs for her web-based vintage fashion business, Underground Clothing.
Rebecca said: “I’m quite tall, I think about 5ft 10inc or 5ft 11inc, but I always wear high-heeled ankle boots in winter. I’m like the Big Friendly Giant.
“You have to have a good pair of wellies too: mine are plain green and make me look like a farmer!”
When it comes to glamming up in the winter, Rebecca says it doesn’t take her long.
She said: “I actually get ready to go out quite quickly. I couldn’t take ages. Ten minutes tops to do my make-up, even for the glam Christmas parties.
“When it comes to clothes I’d rather go for elegant and long than short. Covered up can look demure, but sexy at the same time.
“My latest dress for going out this season is quite plain, long to my feet but with a slit up the side. It has long sleeves but at the top, in the back, it has a little bit cut out. I wear it with a detailed necklace.”
Rebecca admits that she hates the cold.
She said: “I love being warm, but like most girls, if I’m going out in Newcastle I won’t take a coat! I’ve got my eye on a couple of coats in Zara and I’m going to invest in a new style this winter.
“I’ll experiment with what I wear but really, I’m kind of old fashioned. I prefer knee-length to tiny skirts and no matter what season it is, summer or winter, I always wear my gold watch. It’s gold with a thin strap, like an old woman’s watch! I wear a lot of white in winter, too, although lately I’ve been going for black as well. I just try to look elegant.”
Anna Caygill is the owner of Dolly Mama.
The shop, in Northumberland Street, Darlington, is an award-winning boutique stocking cult labels, vintage and reconstructed clothing.
“I’d describe my style as comfy chic,” said Anna, 26. “I’m a mum and I have quite a hectic lifestyle but I still want to look good.
“On those cold winter mornings when I have to be out of the door quickly, I dress for comfort, speed, and warmth. I have a couple of gorgeous, heavy-knit jumpers from Love that I rotate between. They wash really well and don’t need to be ironed, so it’s just a wash, a little tumble and it’s ready to throw on again. They’re slouchy, cosy and look cool.
“Sleep-in rollers are a great thing, especially when it’s dark and cold and you want those extra minutes in bed. Just stick them in at night and all you have to do when you get up is take them out and run your fingers through your hair.”
Anna also confesses that for her, flats are the way forward.
She added: “My days usually mean I’m nipping here, there and everywhere, so it’s flat shoes or wedges for me. We have a new suede wedge boot in the shop that lengthens the leg but feels really comfortable, too. I know I’m going to be living in them this winter.”
So who does Anna think has good dress sense?
“I think the Saturdays have really good style. Especially Mollie – she has a knack of putting together an outfit. They wear quite a few of our brands: Sugarhill Boutique is a favourite of theirs.”