Do you have a go to outfit that always makes you feel confident?
I’ve got a lovely Prince of Wales check Prada dress that I put on when I need a bit of confidence and also a beautiful brown print Marni one that is easy to wear and smartens me up psychologically. But if there was one thing that makes everything better that would be my favourite Tabi Margiela boots. When I put those on everything is fine.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
My husband says I never pay attention to anything anybody says, but if it’s written in a book I sit up and take notice. I wish I’d paid attention to advice, that’s a good resolution!
Do you have a role model? If so, who is it and why do they inspire you?
Every time I write about someone I get inspired by their journey and story. Maya Angelou was an amazing woman to write about: she had such dignity and faced the world with a kind and loving heart despite having a hard childhood. She makes me feel humble and want to be a better person.
I have always been interested in books and clothes and when I was growing up I was always fascinated by the author as well as the stories they wrote. I have been obsessed by books and clothes all my life so looking at what writers wore seemed a naturally interesting topic to write about.
What are your top tips for any budding writers or women looking to change their career?
I teach at The University for Creative Arts in Epsom and I always tell my students if they want to write they should practice and put what they feel down on a page. Write every day if you can find the time. Get your ideas out and articulated and see where it takes you. So many great writers took time to find their voice and you don’t find anything unless you start looking for it so if you want to write: make a start! Leave the ego at the door and have a go!
Who do you feel were the top three most stylish authors?
I really love Simone de Beauvoir’s look: a little glamorous, a little beatnik, a tiny bit frumpy and little bit elegant. It’s not for everyone, but I’m keen on quirky fashion. I’m also a fan of Nancy Mitford and her English eccentric style: tweeds and walking shoes, ball-gowns and cardigans. Patti Smith is also a top favourite: I think her androgynous, slightly edgy style is progressive and liberating: she wears what she likes and looks amazing. I love to read these women’s work too, but all of the authors in my book are real favourites of mine.
Who is your favourite author? And, what do you love about them?
Donna Tartt is one of my absolute favourites as she is such a craftsman of words and expert writer that she is a real joy to read over and over again. Her novels take you on an amazing journey. Her book, The Secret History, I read first when I was at school and I think books you read when you are an impressionable teenager can stay with you in a romantic and gorgeous way: reminding you of a moment in time and the person you were.
What are you working on at the moment that we should look out for?
I’m rushed off my feet working on a new book which I’m really excited about. It’s a bit of a secret and also I hate going on about something unless it’s done – otherwise I might jinx it!!
Being original and authentic is a great quality when it comes to clothes… looking at a person’s wardrobe is like reading a good book.
Which three key fashion items do you think have had the biggest impact on popular culture?
Yves Saint Laurent said he wished he’d invented blue jeans and I think that is a good place to start! Trainers too if you think about their evolution into the world of high fashion from their sporty roots – looking at hip hop in the ‘70s and how they were appropriated into a style accessory, well I think they have to be a contender too. Additionally something like the T-shirt has also become a major fashion player, it’s a blank canvas for you to say what you want so for many reasons the T-shirt is a good 21st century fashion item.
How does our wardrobe express our persona?
Part of the premise of my book was that going your own way and not slavishly following fashion has a lot of interest and intrigue and is really a very powerful way of asserting yourself in a small (or large) way.
Describe what is the geek chic librarian look?
I guess it’s short code for a nerdy, square, slightly awkward but intriguing fashion sense that’s a bit off the radar of the fashion trends. Having said that – when I did my shoot it was all the rage because Prada had done a very clunky, librarian-esque collection that season and had very much put it under the spotlight.