Celebrity stylist Sara Parker Bowles shares the secret to perfecting your look

Sara Parker Bowles is a celebrity stylist, fashion editor and, now, founder of Wardrobe Revivals — a personal styling consultancy that emphasises circular fashion, timeless style and dressing with confidence. Here, Sara shares the key to perfecting your look

Sara Parker BowlesSara Parker Bowles is a celebrity stylist, fashion editor and founder of Wardrobe Revivals.

If I had the choice, I’d wear head-to-toe Prada and Phoebe Philo, with a bit of Sacai, Isabel Marant and The Row thrown in for good measure. In reality, all the designer pieces I own come from sample sales, markets or my favourite pre-owned websites. I like Reformation for shoes and Zara for accessories (like shoes, bags and scarves) as they are always current. I love shopping at Portobello Market early on a Friday morning — I still get a thrill from finding totally unique pieces.

My background is in journalism: luxury publishing, celebrity profiles and, of course, fashion. I was an editor at British Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, reporting on all the major collections from New York, Milan, Paris and London Fashion Weeks for many years.Kate MossWhen you work in fashion, you spend hours waiting and watching — and that’s where the education begins. Watching, mesmerised, as Kate Moss is photographed by Corinne Day, wearing a vintage prom dress and Vivienne Westwood pirate boots. Waiting for the Dolce & Gabbana show to start while drinking in all the front row action — the crazy characters with their cartoon-character hairstyles and head-to-toe Issey Miyake; the French Vogue editors with their bright green chubby furs, brilliant bed-hair and Alaïa belts; the British editors, intellectual and cool in Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan; and Anna Wintour, ever inscrutable, in dark glasses and Chanel. Watching off-duty models backstage or wafting around Paris, surreally beautiful and almost always dressed down in biker boots and baseball caps, vest tops and good jeans. Over time, I gathered this sartorial knowledge, as if by osmosis.

My style incorporates well-cut comfortable trousers in charcoal or black and a cashmere crewneck, or denim with trainers or penny loafers and some Hommesgirls white socks. I have jeans in multiple styles by multiple labels – Paige, Frame, J Brand, True Religion, Re-Done, Reformation. I like a bit of masculine tailoring – an oversized blazer or Tom Ford shirt — but I’ll mix it up with a silk La Perla camisole and heels for night. I wear a lot of black for evening. I adore the sexiness of [Harper’s Bazaar global fashion director] Carine Roitfeld’s signature silhouette of pencil skirts and killer heels but I just can’t wear heels the way I used to, so I always return to my New Balance trainers or Adidas Gazelles.

But in terms of classic style icons, I love Charlotte Rampling — especially her Ossie Clarke boho dresses in the 70s — Lauren Hutton’s effortless off-duty, safari-meets-American athleisure-luxe, and, of course, Jane Birkin. Kate Moss, Irina Shayk and Sofia Richie are modern day icons.Irina ShaykSTYLE REVIVAL

Although I meet some of the most successful, attractive and intelligent women through my service, I am constantly surprised by how intimidated they can be by fashion – the sheer volume of choice and constant feed of social media trends can be alienating and overwhelming.

It was the combination of recognising I had accumulated this style know-how and hearing all my friends moaning about ‘having nothing to wear’ (when I knew full well they were all in the possession of perfectly healthy wardrobes) that inspired me to start my own styling consultancy, Wardrobe Revivals. The aim is to help women de-clutter their wardrobes, identify what they have and what’s missing, and then build that wardrobe into a hard-working, super sleek collection of go-to outfits they love and can rely on.

Wardrobe Revivals focuses on making the most of what you own and encouraging mindful shopping and, crucially, it’s confidence-enhancing, rather than critical.Sara Parker BowlesThis method is also inherently circular. It’s impossible to have an authentic, responsible conversation about fashion these days without sustainability being part of the conversation. Fashion needs to be more environmentally responsible, and there are many brilliant pre-owned shops out there right now — Sign of the Times, HEWI, Rokit, Vestiaire Collective and The Real Real are just a few of my favourites.

A big part of my service is to demystify the art of dressing: with a few simple sartorial style strategies, I really believe that anyone can dress well and feel confident. I encourage individuality: it’s important to establish your own taste and discover what works for your body and your lifestyle.GET THE LOOK

Building a good quality capsule wardrobe will form the foundation of your style and enable you to create go-to outfits. Once you have established your classic pieces, it’s easier to make the right decision about what to add.

Wear one thing that’s a talking point — and that can be as avant-garde (a deconstructed jacket, a surprising neckline) or as accessible (a statement shoe, a velvet ribbon worn as a choker, a fabulous belt or scarf) as you like. Otherwise, keep it simple.

Sometimes it’s not just what you wear but how you wear it. And with just a few little tweaks, you too can achieve that playful but pulled together look that Jane Birkin mastered so effortlessly:Jane BirkinThe tuck: It’s almost always more flattering to draw attention to your waist so, if in doubt, tuck your shirt in and add a belt. The fashion crowd favour the asymmetrical tuck: just one side of the shirt et voila! A sartorial nonchalance that can’t fail to deliver.

The rolled-up sleeve: On T-shirts, shirts, jackets – an imperfect roll of the sleeve can give your outfit that instant insouciant quality.

Up-turned collars: Especially on coats, jackets and cotton shirts layered under a knit. It instantly elevates your look.

Accessorise your accessories: Tie a favourite scarf onto your shopper or weekend bag to make it personal.

Crop your trousers: Former French Vogue editor, Emmanuelle Alt, crops all her slim cut trousers. The effect is a really flattering silhouette — and it’s particularly useful if you are on the shorter side.Sara Parker Bowles essentialsSARA’S PERFECT CAPSULE COLLECTION

Every woman’s wardrobe must-haves

Two coats: a greatcoat in soft caramel, black, marshmallow or cream, plus a trench coat

Jackets: an oversized blazer and a black evening jacket

Shirts: tailored crisp shirts in blue, white, and khaki and a beautiful silk shirt

Knits: some lovely knits in V-neck, round neck and roll neck styles

Tops: good quality white or grey t shirts (James Perse, Uniqlo and Sunspel are my go-to brands)

Trousers: a pair of tailored black trousers that fit just so, and a great pair of jeans

Skirts: a long, bias-cut silk skirt in black, cream or (as Diana Vreeland put it) ‘pig white’

Dresses: an LBD for evening and a couple of neutral day dresses (I would also add a 90s-inspired slip dress)

Shoes: a great pair of boots, a smart pair of flats, trainers, heels and sandals


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