Even during the most sociable non-COVID times, it's very easy for a fashion editor to exist in a bubble of one's own industry companions. It's the kind of safe space where we egg each other on to definitely buy those super-expensive Bottega boots (so classic!) or start wearing our jackets perched on our shoulders instead of firmly on our arms (so chic, though!). However, I'll always say the same thing to any young budding style journo: Fashion is not an island. We do not exist alone and we certainly cannot function without the contribution and influence of other parts of our culture, society and economy, or without the input of other creatives. It's important to look outside of one's inner circle to understand the mood in the real world, and no more so than when you consider that the majority of people shopping in this country will not work within the occasionally bonkers business of fashion.
Trends, clothes and stores need to cater to more than just editors, buyers and stylists, and as such we're always aiming to ensure that our content does the same too. The kind of women we feature in our stories don't just wear cute outfits for a living, they often have important jobs, are busing looking after their children or have the kind of whizzy entrepreneurial side hustles that make us feel rather lazy. So with a New Year within touching distance, I was keen to know how cool women who don't work in fashion are looking ahead. What are they buying? What are they really steering clear of, and why? From a poet to a florist, a lawyer to a marketing guru, below are six women I love to follow on Instagram and wanted to hear more from. Keep scrolling to get their DL on 2021.
The obsession of mine is real: I've been watching Sarah Jane's collection of frilly collars and extra-pretty outfits build over the past few months, and I'm in awe of how, as a busy NHS nurse, she manages to pull these mega looks off in her spare time. "I work full time for the NHS (proud proud proud) within a specialist eating disorder service and often find myself working nights at the weekends within my local general hospital to help towards investment pieces," she tells me. "The Victorian era resonates a lot with me. Wowee mutton sleeves and velvet. Luxury brands I enjoy are Ganni, Shrimps, Batsheva and AlexaChung. I find these to be playful and a nod to details I particularly enjoy ie frills, ruffles and collars."
WHAT SARAH JANE'S NOT BUYING: "I try my hardest to shop vintage or second-hand designer where possible but don’t always truly follow this rule when it comes to my working wardrobe. This I’m trying to change."
WHAT SARAH JANE IS BUYING: "I have followed Maison Cléo for many years and try to invest in independent, handmade pieces by individual designers. Most recently I discovered Benjamin Fox and I’m beyond smitten. Ciara [designer and founder] is so kind, humble and each piece is clearly made with lots of love. Vintage Laura Ashley is also a comfort of mine, particularly the needlecord pieces.
Next on my wish list is a pair of the Bulla Babies by Nodeleto in black. They will look well good with socks and a Batsheva dress. I allow myself a pair of 'treat shoes' each year and work hard to fund these. I’m also after some chintzy chairs for my lounge but will head to a musty auction for those."
If you're an interiors enthusiast and you're not following wallpaper guru, Laura Hunter of @nofeaturewalls, then your Instagram feed is simply not complete. "I am a country dweller and lover of bold patterns and florals in fashion and interiors," she tells me. "I am partial to a bit of wallpaper and vintage style and as well as renovating my house I love to showcase new wallpaper designs as they make the ultimate backgrounds to my outfits."
WHAT LAURA'S NOT BUYING: "I will not be buying any more high end 'business loungewear'. I think dressing up and treating parts of my home as a workspace is key, but injecting some personality."
WHAT LAURA IS BUYING: "I will be buying furniture and office accessories items to seriously upgrade my home office situation as it looks like many of us, myself included, will be working from home for the foreseeable. This includes buying some pieces with pizzazz that I'd never get away within the office and I am finally going to get a nice pen without fear of leaving it on someone else's desk."
Seeing Harriet's dreamy floral artworks pop up on my IG feed is a pure dose of escapism—and then there are the many other accounts she runs alongside it to keep me entertained too. She also specialises in mini flower arrangements and beautiful watercolours of posies, amongst other things. I can't imagine the time and work that goes into each creation, but I've also been enamoured with her personal style each time we've met IRL. Here's her take on 2021.
WHAT HARRIET'S NOT BUYING: "I am a big believer of owning items you absolutely love. That touch your heart or are beautifully crafted useful objects, that serve a purpose. As well as being aesthetically in line with your style. So, in 2021 I will not be buying any items that have no purpose, are smothered in plastic and feed into the fast fashion, consumerist way of living. which, unfortunately, has become so common in today's world. I will be looking to support and buy from small businesses and brands that are ethically and socially aware."
WHAT HARRIET IS BUYING: "My home is filled with lots of art—both antique finds and work by contemporary artists too. In 2021 I am looking to support contemporary artists and creatives. Buying, in particular work of black artists and artists of colour. I have my eye on a beautiful print by Charlotte Edey, who is an illustrator that works across the mediums of print, textile and embroidery. As well as prints, she also creates beautiful tapestries; so I better add one of those to my list for 2021 too."
Charlotte is one of those multi-tasking slash-generational women who cannot be pigeon-holed: She's the founder of marketing agency, SevenSix, a public speaker (who is often asked to talk about inclusivity marketing) and a very stylish influencer to boot. She's also a co-host of a podcast alongside Bianca Foley which aims to demystify and break down the confusion surrounding sustainability.
WHAT CHARLOTTE'S NOT BUYING: "2020 has been the year of the tracksuit and I’ve never looked and felt so relaxed. For 2021 I’m looking to wear more 'real' clothes and will not be buying any more loungewear."
WHAT CHARLOTTE IS BUYING: "I just bought an incredible tux from Label/Mix that I know I’ll be wearing individually and separately for the next few months, and I think I’ll be renting more investment pieces like that along with knitwear from ByRotation. That being said I want to be comfortable so I’ll be pairing these standout pieces with trainers like some neutral Puma Cruise Riders which feel like you’re walking on a cloud."
If you think all lawyers wear stuffy pinstripe suits and court shoes, think again! Commercial laywer Thandi Maq has flipped that kind of business attire on its head and the whole team here loves following her fashion movements, both work-ready and during her downtime… not to mention the current middle-ground many of us are experiencing WFH. We have a feeling her following is going to skyrocket next year…
WHAT THANDI'S NOT BUYING: "No more house plants! I'll also be putting a pause on cosmetics as I'm on a mission to use up the panoply of beauty products I've managed to accumulate. The latter being the harder of the two as I'm a self-confessed product junkie, a problem that's been heightened by lockdown living!"
WHAT THANDI IS BUYING: "Given we'll most likely still be in a period of various shades of lockdown in the coming months I'll be investing in some chic outerwear for all those winter walks we'll be taking for much of the first few months of next year. The Stand coat is for those bracing winter days and the Barbour is perfect for that consistent English drizzle we all know and love."
Greta is a poet, actress, filmmaker and model who is just as likely to be found fronting a major fashion campaign (you may recognise from the recent H&M x Vampire's Wife collaboration) as she would be tugging at the heartstrings of her social media followers with thought-provoking, emotional words. The FT described her earlier this year as "an enigmatic beauty—part English rose, part vamp—with a mind to match." Precisely the kind of smart, stylish person we want to see more of in the future, thank you.
WHAT GRETA'S NOT BUYING: "I won’t be buying any single-use plastic items from supermarkets such as Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s or Waitrose. Instead, I will be shopping in smaller local farm shops such as Macknades."
WHAT GRETA IS BUYING: "In 2021, I will be supporting independent bookshops and cinemas which have massively struggled through the pandemic. I think the biggest freedom we have is the arts. It brings peace and hope.
"The bookshop Shakespeare and Company in Paris where I have performed my poetry a number of times offer a year-long membership. If I could, I would spend all my money on art. I love these paintings by Robert Montgomery, especially The Beginning of Hope, luckily he is my husband!
"I love the handmade underwear by the independent brand Sarah Brown London, and I've recently moved house and am looking to furnish it. I will not be buying anything new and will be most likely refurbishing it with antiques and recycling things I find. I love the Flash Walk antiques on a Sunday in Hampstead or Vale Antiques in Maida Vale, and I've also found a great French antique site called Selency. And for special one-off things, I go to Cave Things by Nick Cave."