Welcome to the latest, highly exciting installment of Who What Wear UK's Best Wardrobes in Britain. It's where we do exactly what it says on the tin: delve into the most fantastical, awe-inspiring and downright influential wardrobes. We're honing in on the women who cause the street style photographers to press their shutters as well as the characters you don't yet know—the ones who fly under the radar with secretly incredible clothing collections.
When it comes to women I'd like to be more like—and I do mean literally be rather than simply dress like—Alexis Foreman is at the top of the list. She is warm yet confident, chic but entirely relaxed, well-dressed but not painstakingly so, and above all, she's a right bloody laugh if you're lucky enough to be sat next to her at an event. The term "influencer" can conjure up some negative connotations. (Although, to be honest, editors aren't considered to be the friendliest bunch either.)
Still, there are a handful of genuine people who influence not just the clothes we want to put on our backs but our entire approach to fashion and style itself. Brighton-based graphic designer turned fashion-and-beauty expert, Foreman has inspired countless people to turn their backs on faddy trends and throwaway fashion and to instead refine their wardrobes and beauty routines to a trusted and select few items that suit you and stand the test of time. Her sensitively curated Instagram grid is an honest place where only the brands she really stands behind get a place in the spotlight, and it's refreshing to see someone who sincerely gets every ounce of use out of an investment piece or expensive serum.
She may be too humble to realise it, but for anyone aspiring to be more considered and minimal in their aesthetic, then Foreman is the woman (and feed) to know. We stepped into her world of cashmere coats, cosy lounge sets and Maison Margiela Tabi boots to discover more.
On Foreman: Raey jacket and trousers; Arket jumper; All Blues earrings; Birkenstock x Jil Sander sandals
Tell me a bit about your career path and how you ended up doing what you're doing now.
I was a graphic designer for 15 years, and towards the end of that, I was doing a bit more art direction with my job. Then I had a blog, which had been going for quite some time. With the introduction of Instagram, I started to post there, and I got quite busy with, you know, PRs asking me to go to events and things like that, and I was taking time off my job to go into London and do this. It got to a point where I couldn't do my job properly, and I was not able to completely commit to "content and influencing," so I made a decision to leave my job. It was a great decision. The first six months were kind of like tumbleweed; there were no actual paid jobs or anything like that. Still, it was fun and it slowly picked up. That was about four years ago that I made the jump.
On Foreman: KCST lounge co-ord; Birkenstock x Jil Sander sandals
So did you ever expect that you'd end up working in the fashion industry?
I've always loved fashion—and beauty as well—but I did my degree in graphic design, and as soon as I finished my degree I thought, "No, I don't want to do this; I want to go and work in fashion." For about six months, I went to live in London, and I was like, "Okay, no, I'm doing the wrong thing here!" So then I went back to graphic design and started my journey there. That's why I think I started the blog; I still felt that there was this lacking in my life of being able to express my passion for style and fashion. Initially, I started the blog as an online scrapbook, saving up things that I loved, trends that I liked—wish lists and things like that—and then it progressed to posting outfits of myself. I don't think I thought I'd ever work in fashion, based on what I had done as a degree, but I'm really glad that it naturally and organically progressed that way. With the content I create, that influence and design that comes in, where I like to be quite curated—tonally, everything works well—so I feel like it's a bit of a marriage of both of those things.
On Foreman: Raey coats (grey and white); Kassl Editions trench; Mark Kenly Domino Tan Cape
Do you have any early fashion memories?
It's really funny you ask because only a couple of days ago, I was saying how grateful I am that I get sent all of these lovely things—it's like a dream come true. I told my husband that I remember vividly as a young girl sitting at the dining table with one of my mum's catalogues, back when catalogues were a thing. I remember flicking through the shoes—I have a real thing for shoes—and seeing a stiletto and thinking, "Oh my gosh, that's so beautiful," and cutting it out and thinking if I cut it out, it will come to life. I just loved fashion (mainly shoes) and also beauty campaigns in magazines, so there was definitely a leaning to it—I always wanted to look nice.
On Foreman: The Frankie Shop jacket; Raey tracksuit
I just have to ask: Have you always been this chic?
Haha! No! Oh wow, that’s nice that you think I’m chic. No, I haven’t. Years ago, I was much more colourful. Not to say that colour isn’t a chic thing, but I was a lot more experimental. One phase was during my degree… My final-year project was actually an e-commerce fashion website (so I think all the signs were pointing this way). I bought a batch of T-shirts and cut all of the seams off so they were raw and used car spray paint and made these stencils and sprayed various designs on them, and I wore them with such pride. That was an interesting one. At the time, I thought I looked incredible. And those really fat belts with rivets in them? I used to wear those really low slung on the hips, and I cut the waistbands of my jeans so just the zip [was exposed]. There was a lot of DIY.
Do you live by any style rules?
I think, really, it’s just keeping it simple and not overcomplicating a look. Even sometimes, I might style something with a belt and then just feel like it’s too much and take the belt off. Sometimes I feel like I’m boring, but I have to feel comfortable, and I have to feel like my outfit is balanced, visually and proportionally; things need to be balanced in a way. And sometimes that’s to do with shapes or with how much I’m wearing or layering. So I’m very feelings-based.
On Foreman: Naked Shoulders dress; A.W.A.K.E. Mode sandals; Bottega Veneta clutch; Agnes earrings
At what point did minimalism start to come to the fore of your own wardrobe?
I actually think COS was quite a moment for me. When COS appeared, it was like, "Oh wow, there's this whole minimal approach!" I think I was dipping into the H&M trend section before that, and then COS came along, and [I was] like, "Okay, this feels like it strikes a chord in me, and I want to dress like that." That's when it started, and then about three years ago, roughly, I made a decision to distil down my wardrobe into a palette that I felt was manageable, so I chose black, grey, camel and white—that tonal range. That's partly because of how it looks—and I think that it suits me—but also partly because of the ease of getting dressed in the morning. I'm busy, and I've got three boys, and it was just like, I haven't got time to really think about what to wear in the morning. I need this to work for me, but I still need to look good.
How do you get ready in the morning?
So it would’ve been different before the pandemic: I would've thought, "I want to wear those shoes or that jacket," and I'd build the outfit around it. Post-pandemic, and after all the lockdowns of wearing so much lovely loungewear and cashmere, I have such a leaning to want to be comfortable, but then there is the odd day where I just want to feel really smart and sharp, and then that will dictate what I wear. But generally, right now, I just want to be comfortable, so that will dictate.
On Foreman: Raey coat; COS jumper, trousers and shoes
Talking of your boys, did you find having children impacted the way you dressed?
When I first had them, no. I made a conscious decision. I was the first of my friends to have kids, so it wasn't like, "Oh, you dress like this when you're a mum." But I was looking around and thinking people seem to lose their way or they just don't look that good, so I made a concerted effort; as soon as I had Frank, I was like, "No, I'm still going paint my nails, and I'm still going to wear nice things." You do have to find the time to do it, but it made me feel good to be presentable, and it made me a happier mum, and as the boys have grown up, they always say, "Oh, mum you look great," or "I love that," or "Can you wear this outfit today because I love it when you wear that?" So it's nice they've grown up with me making an effort, and they feel part of that as well.
For anyone wanting to create a minimalist wardrobe, what are the essentials?
For me, a tailored trouser—a black trouser. One that fits nicely to your shape, and that will be different for everybody. So personally, for me, as a size 12 (sometimes 14, depending on the brand), I love a nice high-waisted tailored black trouser that doesn't cling and is the right length. I have to say, it's really important to use a tailor where possible. I found a great one here in Brighton, and I drop things in if they're not quite right on the waist. Rather than never wearing them or feeling uncomfortable in them, I always get them adjusted. Other key pieces would be a black roll-neck. I wear it a lot during the autumn and winter. Obviously, a white shirt. I don’t wear white shirts that often, but I always lean on them when I don’t know what to wear, perhaps for a dinner or something like that. A white shirt works so well with a trouser or some jeans, hair back, a nice earring or red lip; it’s a classic look. And a trench coat is an absolute must.
Is there anything you own multiple versions of?
Yes, I have a lot of trench coats and coats in general. Cream coats. I feel so chic and elegant in a cream coat, and if it's nice and oversized and soft and makes me feel happy, even better!
Some people equate minimalism with boring clothes, so how do you swerve trends but still find items that have a point of difference?
I probably do that with shoes. I keep the clothing side very clean and always concentrate [on making sure] that the fabrics I wear are as pure as possible, so always cashmere, wool or cotton, not really many synthetics. Then I’ll explore and be a bit more adventurous with the shoes, whether that’s a type of dad sandal or dad trainer or my Tabi shoes—you know that strange split toe—which I think some people think is a bit weird, but I just feel like a really clean and minimal look and then these little Tabi toes look really good.
Clearly, you love Raey, but are there any other brands you keep coming back to?
I love Kassl Editions, a great Dutch brand that does fantastic trench coats—all its coats are fantastic. It also does bags as well, which are also fantastic. When I wear a Kassl coat, I'll always get complimented on it. I think it's just that the design is that little bit different. Other brands I love but I can't afford are The Row—just incredible. Oh gosh, there are loads. Jil Sander, love. And then in terms of the high street and more affordable, I always love Arket. COS I think is doing really well right now. So those are my favourites.
You're very good at spotting up-and-coming brands. Any you want to share?
I have recently been finding quite a lot of Russian brands that I love. One of them is called 12Storeez, and I think that it is just doing really nice things. I had the privilege of working with them recently, and the brand's coats are just incredible—so soft—its knitwear is beautiful, tailoring is great, shoes and accessories are fantastic. The quality is just amazing, so, yes it is a hot tip. I think its already available in the UK.
On Foreman: The Frankie Shop jacket; Raey tracksuit; Holzweiler socks; New Balance trainers
Thanks for having us, Alexis!