One of the many things I love about London-based stylist Martha Ward‘s super-chic, feminine style is her way with a skirt. Not just for the evening, not just for special occasions, but almost every day Martha chooses a skirt or perhaps a pair of cropped trouses. Not that she’s anti-jeans, it’s just that when you have a wardrobe stuffed with ridiculously covetable skirts and perfect cropped trousers, an eye for putting an outfit together and inside knowledge from working in fashion, then why wouldn’t you?
An expert at mixing established designers with high-street brands, vintage finds and up-and-coming labels, Martha provides the perfect lesson in how to look effortlessly stylish, beautifully individual and fabulously put together. Recently, I have found myself falling into the trap of resorting to jeans almost every day – and quite frankly, I’m getting a little bored. And so, I for one, am feeling incredibly excited that Martha has agreed to let us in on some of her style secrets. Wardrobe inspiration, here we come…
“Depending on the weather, I’ll either go for a full skirt or a slim leg cropped trouser.”
Then I’ll choose a blouse (Negarin London do my most beloved) or a knit loosely tucked in, a cross-body handbag, and kitten heels or flats. And almost always a statement necklace. They are looks that are not only comfortable, but also simple and fairly chic, so are good for meetings and appointments, and can be suitably teamed with either a heel or flat. The jewellery and heel option means it can be smartened up, or carried into night-time if need be.”
“I love a full skirt that sits on or just below the knee.”
“I have multiple printed and brightly coloured varieties from J.Crew, a very chic voluminous cream one from H&M, and a heavily appiqued number by Chloe which is great for a chic day event (see top picture). I also wear skirts at night too, ALWAYS a pencil skirt. My favourites for night-time include a cream tweed boucle (Dolce & Gabanna), a cream silk slip (Prada), a bright red vintage YSL number and a printed one from Michael van der Ham.”
“While jeans don’t make up my daily uniform, they do crop up occasionally. I have a current obsession with Joe’s Jeans – a faded pair with a slim leg in a ‘boyfriend’ style is my latest discovery. Another recent unearthing is Koral denim – I have a superskinny pair in pastel pink which are great for summer. However, my trusty favourite is MiH – they have such a great range and they do a brilliant skinny style which I love. For someone that doesn’t ‘do’ denim on a daily basis, I have a ridiculously broad collection!”
“When it comes to tops, it very much depends on what else I’ve got going on as to whether it’s printed or plain.”
“But I’m a sucker for a white blouse. Preferably with lace detail. I have a collection of vintage ones that fit that bill nicely. And I love the puff sleeve blouses that Negarin London do. I have 3 of those. And again, sleeve length depends on what I’m wearing with it. I tend to pull (or roll) my sleeves up anyway. I also love Zara and H&M knits.”
“I mostly wear flats in the day as I usually have an inordinate amount of marching around to do.”
“I like Tod’s or Chloe. If I have meetings or a lunch, then a kitten heel is a good option – my favourites are slingbacks from Nicholas Kirkwood (the detailing on his shoes is exquisite), or low heel court shoes by Valentino or Jimmy Choo. Their Anouk style is a winner for the day.
“I have worn very decorative and ornate neckpieces for many years now.”
“My favourites are from Lulu Frost and J.Crew, I’ve been buying them for ever. And not forgetting an amazing, eclectic horn number from Marni. However, I’m also partial to a collar and have a large selection of vintage lace collars which I attach to everything. I embrace the Victorian and Edwardian white lace collar look wherever I can.”
“I change my bags quite a lot – depending on what I’m wearing.”
“Almost all of my bags, however, have long straps so they can worn across the body. I love to be hands free! My favourites include a black/white python number by Tod’s, a black Chanel classic 2.55 flap-bag with long gold chain, and an orange/red Elsie bag by Chloe. I buy a bag whenever I fall in love with one. A selection of handbags is a girl’s necessity! And not forgetting the ultimate travel bag, large enough to stockpile at the airport; mine is a Tod’s tote.”
“I guess the main difference is a high heel thrown into the mix, a touch of lipstick, and a razzy evening bag.”
“I mostly veer towards a pencil skirt and a high heel for the evening. Party wise, I have a shocking pink Roksanda Illincic dress which always puts me in the right mood. She knows how to do a killer silhouette. And, if it’s a major party then I’ll slip into an Alessandra Rich dress. I am so in love with everything she does it practically makes me weep. Her lace dresses are literally the most beautiful creations in the world. Having said that – I have a lot of vintage dresses which work for night, and 2 of my other more relaxed favourites are by H&M and ASOS.
I have a fabulous mirrored Jimmy Choo evening bag (long chain, once again) – always a conversation starter. And several vintage evening bags (my newly acquired 50s lucites are my current faves) and a couple of vintage raffia numbers for the summer. I also have a Charlotte Olympia raffia flamingo clutch which I adore. And I have a pair of patent Tod’s Signature bags (long chains) which I often rely on for night-time outings aswell as day.
Signature miniature patent leather bag, Tod’s
I don’t wear any make-up during the day. Just a series of antioxidant and SPF products from Skinceuticals. And a good nourishing lip balm. At night my absolute go-to products are – Bobbi Brown tinted moisturizing balm, Clinique Naturally Glossy mascara, MAC bronzer and Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic for a brightening spritz. And more often than not, a bright lipstick – either MAC or Chanel. I like unisex scents, and Jo Malone do a great range of such aromas.
HOW TO SHOP
1) I am a bit of a hoarder so don’t clear out nearly enough. I found a t-shirt yesterday I’ve had since I was 9. And I still wear it. But, there’s nothing worse than regretting chucking something out. Generally speaking though, if you haven’t worn something for 18 months and don’t steer towards it anymore, then it should be passed on.
2) I am a creature of habit, so tend to find myself buying the same things time and time again (white blouses, Breton tops, vintage lace dresses, Victorian nighties, mostly) but am also up for taking a risk and stepping out of my comfort zone. I advise it. As it never goes unnoticed and it’s nice to do something different occasionally. I preached this to a client recently and it’s transformed the way she dresses and she is over the moon (as am I). We all get stuck in our own ways, and it’s good to step outside of the box sometimes.
3) I am constantly stopping into vintage shops, wherever I am. Be it in Brighton, Islington, Edinburgh, Miami or Amsterdam. I literally can’t walk past one without being lured in. Hammersmith Vintage Fashion Fair is great (next one 23rd June), as are Anita’s Vintage Fashion Fairs, another favourite. And I love Camden Passage. Although, nowhere is really secret or sacred anymore. They’ve all been uncovered.