Lynda Bell is a fashion editor and stylist, working for the likes of Boden, Marks & Spencer and Harrods. (She’s also styled such diverse names as MTV presenter Laura Whitmore, Olympian Michael Phelps and businesswoman Karren Brady.) You can read all about her and check out her work here, and read her blog Elle Belle, too.
Lynda and I met when we worked at Easy Living magazine – where I was frequently blown away by her kindness, energy, great taste and eye for putting a look together (and for a bargain: “Is that bag Prada?” “No, Zara”.) She’s now freelance – frequently jetting off on an early flight to style her latest job. Fortunately, I managed to pin her down one sunny Sunday to give us the lowdown on her look – and some genius styling tips, too. Hurrah.
“My aim is to look like a French girl”
My look is preppy classica with a twist. I love how [Fashion Director of Tank magazine] Caroline Issa and blogger Haneli Musteaparta dress – they both always look incredible. When I think of people who have the most successful style, they key thing is that they don’t follow every trend; they have their own uniform and style. I stay true to my style: when I have to go for an interview or fashion week, I’ll just add my emphasis to a trend, like wearing a spotty shirt with a stripy jumper; or platform heels instead of flats.
“My go-to shops…”
Zara for just about anything from a plain t shirt to a blazer; Bimba and Lola for prints that are hard to find on the high street, embellishd jumpers and the accessories, which are stunning ; and Bicester Village for treating yourself: if you go, I recommend Prada for the sheer volume of stuff, Alexander McQueen, Marni and Jimmy Choo.
Outfits from Bimba and Lola’s summer lookbook
I love Boden for jeans, shirts and knitwear. Honestly, their jeans are BRILLIANT. And they offer SO Many types of jeans – and they’re at a really good price point and quality. (They don’t have too much stretch; for stretch I go to Topshop.) I live in Gap. Right now, I’m wearing their knitwear – I love that American preppy style, like a denim shirt under a jumper – not too girly. And you’ll generally find me in layers – because I’m always cold! Something like a shirt with a shorter jumper on top; or a shirt with contrasting patterned jumper – spots with stripes from Gap or Boden.
I’ve recently rediscovered Mango – which has been under my radar for a while: it’s very fashion forward for a high street store. I love this jewelled sweatshirt.
“I wear slim jeans”
…Because on the high street, skinny jeans are too skinny and look like jeggings. I wear Topshop Jamie jeans. I buy two pairs: one in my correct size and one which are shorter so I can wear then with flats as an ankle skimmer. I’ve been wearing them to death with my brand new biker boots from Dune – . I have been hunting for the perfect boots for ages and could never find the right ones. These are perfect.
If I’m not in jeans, I’ll wear a lovely pair of patterned silky printed pj-style trousers (NOT wide leg – you have to be six foot tall for those) from Zara; or H&M have great printed trousers at the moment, too. I’ll team them with a similar colour top but with a different print.
“I go for flats with a twist”
I like pointy flats – for instance, a ballerina shoe with a pointed toe from And Other Stories. And I love my jewelled Marni sandals from Bicester Village. I’m a magpie: I love colour, reflection and texture.
“I’m just about to change to a lighter jacket for Spring”
And I look for classics with a twist in fabric, colour or shape. I have my eye on this beautiful cropped trench from Zara. A beautiful blazer is a forever piece – and I still looking for my perfect one! I do keep coats and jackets forever. Coats should be a classic you can wear with anything.
“Let your heart guide you when it comes to investment pieces”
I love my Chanel boucle jacket. I bought it from a sample sale because it came with a dress – and it’s the jacket which I’ve worn umpteen times.
I love my Prada black leather tote which fits into the crook of your arm perfectly.
My wedding dress was from Oscar de la Renta – I think people were expecting something crazy, but it was understated and I loved it to death. I adore my shoe collection, too: I have some one of a kind sample sale shoes, two or three pairs which were never actually made. no one else will ever have them.
“I’m wearing my Mulberry Lily bag to death”
(Which I found at Bicester village.) I also love the French brand Tila March – they have a fab canvas bag with leather buckle and handles. I love getting bags personalised (I have a Carolina Herrera bag with my initials embossed inside) – in fact, I get as much as I can personalised: my diary has my initials on it; I bought my husband a shirt with his initials embroidered on it. Personalising turns something into an heirloom.
The Lynda Bell style rules
1. There is NO point trying to wear something you don’t feel comfortable in – stay true to your silhouette. Know what looks good on you as regards shapes, colours and what suits your age: those are the pieces you build your wardrobe around.
2. I have two rules when I buy clothes: I will only buy things if they fit with what I already have in my wardrobe, and that I love.
2. Opt for multi-tasking pieces, like a shirt you can dress up, or wear with a sweatshirt with collar poking out.
4. I keep clothes and accessories for a long time if it’s something I love, even if it’s cheap – but I do get rid of things if I haven’t worn them for a year. Emotional attachments are unreasonable: give it to someone who’ll wear it and love it.
5. Know what size you are in your favourite shops and shop online. Or shop during the week if you can (that’s the joy of being freelance): you’ll have the time and space and you’re won’t feel rushed. Westfield at 9am on a Tuesday is heaven. Go out with a plan e.g. I need jeans/a dress for a wedding. Think about a time when you wore something and it felt great. Think about whose style you admire: what can you take from their look to make you look great?
6. Don’t make yourself wear a label because you like the idea of label or the shop. For instance, I love Cos but the shapes are not designed for me. If it doesn’t suit you, you’re wasting time and money,